paleo

Coconog: Dairy Free Eggnog

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I love the Christmas season. Lights, family, gifts, ugly sweaters, snow. But let's not forget the real reason for the season: EGGNOG! Thick, sweet, spicy deliciousness. Anyone who claims to dislike eggnog is probably lying. For many though, it's the all dairy that keeps them from being able to fully enjoy all the magic of eggnog. In that case, I wanted to attempt a homemade eggnog that is dairy free as well as lighter and healthier than most store bought versions. And I must say...wow. I am 100% confident that you will enjoy this version just as much, if not more than traditional eggnog. 

Coconog: Dairy Free Eggnog

Time: about 15 minutes

Yields: about 1 quart

You'll Need:

  • 2 cans full fat organic coconut milk
  • 4 egg yolks*
  • 1/3-1/2 cup coconut sugar (honey, maple, or agave can be subbed here)
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice

Instructions: 

  • Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl either by hand or with an electric beater. Gradually add in sugar or sweetener as you whisk, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan mix coconut milk and spices over medium heat while stirring continuously until it comes to a low simmer. Turn off heat for the moment. 
  • Important! Temper the egg mixture before mixing it in with the coconut milk. You do not want scrambled eggnog. To do this, measure out about a cup of your warmed coconut milk. While whisking or beating the eggs, slowly  add in the milk, about a tablespoon at a time. By the time you add in the entire cup you should have a creamy, frothy, even mixture. 
  • Now you can dump the egg/coconut mix back into your saucepan. Heat everything again, and remove from heat just before it comes to a boil, or at about 160 degrees F. 
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  • Remove from heat and either serve warm (with a shot of rum of course), or let cool in the fridge.

Notes: I love the full fat coconut milk, but for a lighter option use lite coconut milk. You can also add in some almond milk after the nog cools to thin it out. Also feel free to adjust amounts of sugar and spices to your own liking. The best time to do this is when it's still warm so everything mixes more evenly. 

*Separating yolks from eggs can be kind of a shit show. I use this contraption to do the job, and it works every time without breaking a yolk. 

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Enjoy!

Superfood Energy Bites (Raw, Vegan, Paleo)

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I am very excited to be teaming up with Prana (Cherry Creek location) this summer to do various nutrition and fitness workshops. The first one is happening this weekend, and in preparation I was on the hunt for a delicious finger food to share.

You know how sometimes you need just a little something...something sweet, but salty, gooey and crunchy, and...chocolaty? And of course healthy, too. Well, these energy bites should satisfy on all accounts. 

This one was inspired by a recent post from one of my favorite food blogs, Detoxinista. These delicious little morsels are full of minerals, antioxidants, protein, omega 3's, and fiber. Not to mention naturally sweetened by only dates and cranberries. I made two variations as an experiment and both turned out great. (I don't know how it happened, but the Berries N' Chia kind of tastes like bubble gum, and I am not complaining.)

Btw, I've been trying out some different superfood powders. So far these are my two faves and are a key ingredient for the energy bites. 

Chocolate Walnut Energy Bites

Makes about 25-30 small chunks

Time: about 20 minutes

You'll Need:

  • 1 Cup pitted dates
  • 1.5 cups walnuts
  • 2 packets (1/8 Cup) Perfect Food brand Raw Green Super Food (chocolate flavor)
  • 1/8 cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In a food processor, blend the walnuts first for a few seconds. You don't want them too chunky otherwise the mixture won't hold together as well.

Add in the remaining ingredients and process for another 30 seconds or so. Ready? Stuff's about to get messy. Use your hands to roll the "dough" into balls of whatever size you choose.

Keep them as is, or roll them in a layer of cocoa.

Berries N' Chia Energy Bites

Makes about 25-30 small chunks

Prep Time: about 20 minutes

  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 packet Amazing Grass brand "Amazing Meal" superfood mix, pomegranate flavor
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt

This one is just as delicious and even easier to make. Throw all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a whirl .

You can also use a rolling pin to flatten the "dough" out on a piece of parchment paper and cut into bars. Enjoy!

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake (paleo, vegan)

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It's the middle of November and I still haven't posted a pumpkin recipe...shame on me! It's not that I haven't been eating anything and everything pumpkin, it's just been so hectic around here these days that I haven't had time to sit down and write out a good one.  I celebrated an early Thanksgiving last night with my dad's family, which gave me the perfect opportunity to play around with some pumpkin. This recipe was actually inspired by Detoxinista's Classic Raw Cheesecake. I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while now, but thought I'd give it a pumpkin makeover. Aaaaand, since I've been house sitting for the family I work for this weekend, I've been putting their Vitamix to very good use!

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This cheesecake is just as delicious without a crust, but since I had loads of family to impress, I made mine with a crust. I used Detoxinista's (love this blog) Raw Graham Cracker Crust. I had to double her recipe to fit my 9" pan.

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Be careful, the crust alone is dangerously delicious. I may or may not have saved some to eat on its own....

Now for the cheesecake.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus time to freeze overnight

Makes 1 nine inch pie

You'll need

  • 1 Cup cashew butter
  • 1 Cup zucchini, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Cup pumpkin puree (canned is easiest, but I actually had baked a pumpkin and had some left over which is even more yummy)
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla flavoring
  • 5-8 dates (I only used 5, but if you're looking for a little more sweetness, feel free to toss in a few more)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Process zucchini and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until you have a fairly smooth puree.

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Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. (Make sure to remove the pits from the dates!)

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Scoop the mixture into a 9" pan and smooth out the top. When I made this I actually forgot to grease the pan, but turns out it doesn't need it. Freeze overnight, or until firm.

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Serve to hungry family members and wait until after they've tried it to disclose what's in it!

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Crispy Cashew Chicken Tenders (gluten free, paleo)

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There are a few foods from my childhood that I just never grew out of; PB & J, mac n' cheese, CHICKEN TENDERS!! So naturally I've been completely hooked on these little morsels ever since I discovered how to make them.

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These chicken tenders are crispy and delicious, and don't require any bread or egg.  I suggest making a big batch, because they don't last long....

Crispy Cashew Chicken Tenders

Makes about 2 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

You'll need:

  • 1 lb Chicken breast 
  • 1/2 Cup cashews
  • 1/8 Cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Feel free to play around with the spices. I've made them with just the cashews and yeast, which works great, or you can even make "Italian" ones by using some oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper. 

Preheat oven to 350. In a blender or food processor grind the cashews, nutritional yeast, and spices as finely as possible without allowing it to turn sticky like cashew butter.  Slice your chicken into whatever size of strips you'd like. I've been doing about 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick pieces. 

Roll the chicken strips around in the "breading" until each one is completely covered.

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Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until they start to get golden brown and crispy on top. I also like to turn the heat up to broil for the last minute or two to make them extra crunchy.

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Now you have a plate full of crispy, healthy chicken tenders. I love them dipped in spicy honey mustard, or on top of a salad!

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Paleo, Vegan)

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Ever since I had my "ah-ha!" moment regarding dressings, (see Spinach Avocado Dressing) I've been playing around with all kinds of new concoctions. I've got a few that I really like so far, and this is one of my faves. This sweet and spicy sauce works great as a dip, on salads, or as a pasta sauce. YUM! Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 Cups 

Prep time: about 20 minutes

You'll Need:

  • 1 Cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper (or enough to fill about 1 Cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp oregeno
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to BROIL. In the meantime, slice the red pepper into spears.  Place a sheet of tin foil on a cookie sheet and lay the peppers out on the foil, skins face up. 

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Bake the peppers on the top rack for about 5-10 minutes. You want the skins to be brown and bubbly but not burnt, so watch them closely!

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Pull them out of the oven and fold up the tin foil to make a little pouch for the peppers. Let them sit for another 5-10 minutes. This will allow them to steam and soften a bit more.

CYMERA_20131015_144926Now peel off the skins. They should slide off really easily, but be careful as they will be hot! Discard (or eat!) the skins, and toss a cup of the red peppers with the rest of the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smoooooooth.  Super easy, super yummy. 

Tastes delicious with salads....

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and GLORIOUS with spaghetti squash!!

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Spinach Avocado Dressing (Paleo, Vegan)

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I was talking recently to a student of mine who just completed her first Whole30.  We'll call her H. One thing that changed her the most about this challenge was realizing how many foods she could cook and prep herself, rather than buying them at the store. It had never occurred to her that all the things she bought pre-packaged from the grocery store she could actually make herself from scratch. Seems obvious enough, but I recently had a similar "AH-HA" moment myself. I eat a lot of salads. Like a lot. They're easy, quick, and a great way to get in a bunch of veggies. I love raw veggies, but I have limits. A good sauce or dressing is a must if I'm going to eat salad, so needless to say, my fridge has to be stocked with them. I guess I just always thought that salad dressings were born and raised on the grocery shelves, but after talking with H that day, I had a major light bulb moment. I CAN MAKE MY OWN DRESSINGS!!! I know, probably sooooooo obvious to you guys, but this is big for me. This is especially awesome because even the healthier of store-bought dressings still have sneaky additives and ingredients that we can do without. I've been playing around with some different ones, and here is my fave so far.

Spinach Avocado Dressing

Makes about 1 Cup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

You'll Need:

  • One large avocado
  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup spinach 
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper (optional, but so yummy)

I hope you can handle this because it's really complicated....toss all these yummies into a blender or food processor and turn it on. Done.

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You're basically blending up veggies to pour onto more veggies. 

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