Friday, February 15, 2013

Paleo Valentine's Day 2013

I am married to Superman and it was Valentine's Day.  *happy sigh*

*ahem*  Okay, back to blogging.  For us, Valentine's Day has been a family event for many years.  The eight Valentine's Days I celebrated as a single mom before falling in love with Superman were all about having a day of love and pink and hearts and chocolate with my three daughters.  Yes, sometimes I had a date on Valentine's Day.  Sometimes I didn't.  But it was always a special day with my darling girls first.

Yesterday, after watching my kindergartener sort through his huge box of Valentines, I attempted to make a Martha Stewart Valentine craft.  It failed miserably.  The crayon shavings melted through the wax paper and sogged into the craft paper and paper towels I was using to protect the ironing board and iron.  I tried to juice the two mexican guavas I bought on a whim that were ripening on the counter.  It failed miserably.  Absolutely no juice in those things.  I tried to make coconut butter.  The coconut would climb the sides of the container and just stick there without blending.  So, in other words, it failed miserably.  Then I reached into the sink and sliced the top of my finger on a sharp blade (never put sharp things in a sink full of dishes).   After that, I spent over two hours driving kids to and fro (school pick-up, drama rehearsal, play date, soccer practice) during rush hour.  Ugh.

Good thing dinner prep was really easy.

Superman came home and grilled the pork chops he started marinating the night before (a little olive oil, some red wine, a bit of jalapeno, and spices).  I made Mango Quinoa and Paleo Chocolate Strawberries.

Wait.  Paleo Chocolate Strawberries?  Why, yes.  Yes indeed.

Coconut Mango Quinoa
2 c. quinoa
1 c. coconut milk
1 c. chicken broth
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 c. coconut flakes, toasted
1/3 c. green onions, sliced
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Bring coconut milk and broth to a boil.  Add quinoa, cover and simmer 15 minutes on LOW.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Serve.

Paleo Chocolate Strawberries
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 t. coconut oil
9 - 12 fresh ripe strawberries

Wash strawberries, gently dry with a paper towel, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Melt chocolate and coconut oil together by heating in microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring with a fork until melted.  (Take the chocolate out of the microwave when it is mostly melted, but several soft chunks still remain.  It will finish melting as you stir it.)

Scrape the melted chocolate into a small plastic baggie.  Snip a tiny corner off, and drizzle over the strawberries.  Place in fridge until chocolate is firm.  Serve without guilt to your chocolate-loving loved ones -- or selfishly eat them all yourself.  Totally your call.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


There's no reason to give up muffins while eating clean.  Here are two delicious recipes.  They both use coconut flour (which for some reason I have been unable to find in the Bay Area, so I always stock up when I'm in Provo).  Please be aware that coconut flour cannot be substituted straight across for any other kind of flour.  If you're into almond flour, please spend a lovely afternoon with Elana's Pantry.  She has a wealth of inspiring creations complete with fantastic photos.

Banana Muffins
Found at Heavenly Homemakers

2 - 3 ripe, mashed bananas
6 eggs
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. coconut flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder

Mix together the mashed bananas, eggs, coconut oil and honey until smooth.  Stir in the coconut flour, salt and baking powder.  Scoop batter into 12 paper-lined muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Found at Delighted Momma

5 eggs
1 T. vanilla
juice from two medium sized lemons
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
1/3 c. honey

zest from two lemons, chopped
1/2 c. + 1 T. coconut flour
1/2 t. baking soda
2 T. poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Zest the lemons.  Finely chop the zest and set aside.  Juice the zested lemons (I find the lemons are much easier to zest BEFORE they are juiced).

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Add the melted coconut oil and honey and mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, coconut flour, baking soda and poppyseeds.  Slowly stir them into the wet ingredients.

Use a large cookie scoop to fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups.  The batter is sort of fluffy and holds its shape.

Bake for 25 minutes.



Red Butternut Quinoa

Another quinoa recipe.  This is a quinoa-loving household.

Every month, we receive a copy of Family Circle magazine.  We never ordered it; it just arrives.  Sometimes it arrives with a notice that says "Warning!  This is your last issue!"  And we shrug and say, well, we never subscribed, so if it stops coming, no harm done.  However, I always look in the recipe section for something I can modify.  And usually, I am rewarded with something really fun.

Red Butternut Quinoa
3 c. diced butternut (1/2 inch cubes)
1 T. olive oil

2 c. quinoa, blanched*
1 c. chicken broth
1 can tomato paste + water to equal 1 cup
2 T. coconut oil

1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2/3 c. nuts or seeds
1/8 c. fresh basil, chopped

Toss the diced butternut in the olive oil.  Roast at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Combine the blanched quinoa with the liquids and coconut oil.  Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low heat for 20 minutes.

Stir salt, pepper, nuts and basil into cooked quinoa.  Fold in the cooked squash cubes and serve.

 *I'm finding that as quinoa gets more mainstream, what a person can buy in the store is already well rinsed, negating the need to blanch.  I've been buying TruRoots quinoa from Costco, and there is no need to blanch it.  In addition, instead of the usual 1:1 ratio of quinoa to liquid, the packaging suggests a ratio of 1:2 quinoa to liquid.  I have not found this to be a problem that would call for alteration of my previously posted recipes, however.


Yes, persimmons are ripe in November.  Yes, it's February.  No, you can't get persimmons right now.  But perhaps you'll think on this belated post next autumn, and be glad you had a few months to ponder on the joy that is the persimmon.

First, there are two different types of persimmon here -- Fuyu and Hachiya.  Please refer to this fantastic blog post for more information.  Second, it would seem that many people in the Bay Area don't know what to do with the fruit that grows on trees in their own yards.  I drive around and see neglected oranges and lemons and grapefruit -- and last Fall, persimmons.  Both kinds. 

Having never tasted a persimmon (how did I even know those trees were persimmon trees?  I'm not sure.  Something tickled at my brain until I did a little research), one day I finally got bold.  That's right, I parked the car, walked up to a stranger's house, and knocked on the door.  A very nice woman greeted me, and I complimented her on her beautiful (and loaded!) persimmon tree.  She was so gracious, and offered me a paper sack and the use of her fruit picker (you can buy them at Home Depot) so I could gather some.  She said she wasn't sure what to use the persimmons for, but I was welcome to come back and get more.  I did.  And then I proceeded to be bold and knocked on more doors.  I picked persimmons wherever people would let me.  My kitchen counters were covered in persimmons.

I tried several persimmon recipes, but I soon found that my very favorite way to eat persimmons was dried.  The Hachiya variety made better dried fruit than the Fuyu.  Chewy and fruity and sweet.  Everyone loved them.  I took some to the families that were kind enough to share their persimmons with me.  Hopefully they enjoyed them enough to use some of their persimmons, but still let me come back next year.

 The best way to cut persimmons for drying is to slice them right through the center axis, across the seeds.  Some persimmons have no seeds, some have only one or two.  As you're slicing, it's easy to extract the seeds from the flesh and then continue slicing.  But don't pry them out with a sharp knife, or you'll probably slice into your finger (sad experience is an effective teacher).

My favorite savory dish was a chicken with persimmons and mushrooms stir fry.  It sounded odd, but the flavors and textures were amazing.

Chicken with Persimmons and Mushrooms
inspired by Feeding Ger Sasser

2 T. coconut oil
3 lb. chicken, cut up
salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 "knuckle" fresh ginger, chopped finely
1/2 t. dried pepper flakes
5 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and diced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
juice of one orange

Brown the chicken in the coconut oil, season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Stir the remaining ingredients together in a large skillet.  Place the chicken on top and simmer 20 minutes.

Absolutely delectable.