Paleo Chocolate chip banana bread — aka Black Bottom Banana Bread (paleo, gluten free, grain free, dairy free)

Yes, it’s paleo.  I was super excited and intrigued!  This came out so moist and delicious; I just had to share!

Recipe from Living Healthy with Chocolate

Black Bottom Banana Bread (paleo, gluten free, grain free, dairy free)

 Ingredients
  • 1½ cups blanched almond flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
  • 1½ cups ripe bananas*
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. in a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda and salt
  2. add the bananas, coconut oil, vanilla, egg and honey to a food processor and pulse to combine ingredients
  3. mix together the wet and dry ingredients using a spoon to form a batter. Be careful not to over mix or the batter will become oily and dense.
  4. divide the batter in half. Add the cacao powder and chocolate chips to half and pour into the bottom of an 8½” x 4½”-inch medium loaf pan greased or lined with parchment paper
  5. spoon remaining batter on top and bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 45 minutes.
Cook’s Notes

* To measure 1½ cups of bananas, chop the banana into small pieces and fill the measuring cup.

Apple bananas enhances the flavor of this bread, so make sure to use it if you can find it for sale at your local stores.

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins

My Bear absolutely loves sweets.  I’m currently still in the transition of going paleo and eating clean, however, one can indulge every now and then, right?  Last Thanksgiving, we hosted both our families and I was stressing to figure out what to prepare.  I have minimal baking experience.  So I needed something easy and straightforward and most of all tasty!  I stumbled upon this recipe and it was a hit.  It’s one of my Bear’s fave fall recipes — and he loves cream cheese.  It was a great compromise for flavor (cheese cake is appalling to me, but it’s my Bear’s fave) and texture.  For all the new bakers out there, give this recipe a try (see link at the bottom: huge props to The Novice Chef for this outstanding recipe!).


PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE SWIRL MUFFINS

yield: 18 MUFFINS

prep time: 12 MINUTES

cook time: 18 MINUTES

total time: 30 MINUTES

pumpkin-cream-cheese-swirl-muffins-1-sm

INGREDIENTS:

  • FOR THE MUFFINS
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (pure pumpkin puree)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • FOR THE FROSTING/SWIRL
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place paper baking cups into muffin pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar and brown sugar.
  4. Beat in eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, until there are no lumps. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  6. Top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture and use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter. This will not look smooth, but it will bake up much prettier.
  7. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Mimi’s Chinese Chicken

This was one of my childhood favorites. If I wasn’t feeling well, I would drink the broth. I loved the tenderness of the chicken after being boiled. There was a ton of flavor! And I used to love pouring the sauce over rice as I really disliked the texture and blandness of white rice.  Thank you Mimi for teaching me one of my faves!

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 drumsticks (may be frozen or thawed)
  • 5 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • One Thai Chile or red pepper flakes
  • One small dab of honey or agave (very small)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • One bag of Asian spice pouch (either brand found at the Asian market) — see pics below


DIRECTIONS:
1. In a 3 quart sauce pan, place drumsticks in water (just enough to cover the drumsticks). Cover pan and bring to boil (med-high heat). 

2. Once boiling, skim off fat before adding spices. 

3. Add all spices. Stir well to make sure all ingredients are mixed. Water should still be boiling at this point. Boil one minute longer after all ingredients mixed well. 


4. Decrease temperature to med-low for 30 minutes (if frozen or until chicken meat looks like it’s almost falling off the bone). Keep lid on (do not lift lid to check on meat). 

5. Turn off heat after 30 minutes. 

You may use liquid as broth. It’s great for soup, broth to drink, rice topper, seasoning of veggies, etc. 

THE FINAL PRODUCT

Best convenient meals that work for me

Everyone seems to be busy these days.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re a student, professional, stay-at-home… everyone is running around in the rat race of life.  When I lived in Boston, I would have a delivery service called PeaPod deliver my groceries typically on my postcall day bc I knew that’s when I’d be home.  But today, delivery services have improved!  I’ll go through each of my favorites:




GOBBLE

For the person or couple or family who likes the idea of cooking and/or cooking together, Gobble makes it super easy to whip together a delicious meal that takes all the menu planning, grocery shopping, portion controlling out of it.  It’s my go-to date night meal.


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FRESHLY

Freshly is a more Paleo focused meal that offers single serving portions of breakfast, lunch, or dinner that is super quick and convenient!  Some of the best parts about this delivery service: high quality protein, no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, always gluten free, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and nutrient-rich veggies.  Need I say more?


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FRESH AND FIT

Fresh and Fit meals are more a local delivery food service that is super convenient and served in single serving containers.  It’s all natural and organic, seasonal, and comes from local, sustainable farms.  It’s more veggie intensive and they taste delicious!


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DAILY HARVEST

Daily Harvest is a wonderful way to blend up healthy stuff that’s super convenient and perfect for that sweet tooth craving!  Usually I’ll whip one of these up in the morning — either with water or coconut water or almond milk.  The directions are on each cup.  Oftentimes I’ll add my own protein powder, chia seeds, flax seed, etc. to boost my nutrition.  These shakes taste delicious — almost like a decadent milkshake (but one that’s actually healthy and good for you!).  So go ahead and have one for dessert!

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*** UPDATE March 2017 ***

SUN BASKET

This is now our go-to meal planner for the week! We love the nutritious aspect of this quick throw together meal delivery kit. It’s faster to prep than Blue Apron, but slightly longer to make than Gobble. The sunbasket ingredients are organic and as expected have a longer shelf life in the fridge. The recipes are super delicious and diverse. I prefer a paleo delivery kit and this one delivers!! 

Food Delivery Service for Dinner Prep #cooking #blueapron #gobble

Somedays, I get home from a full 12-hour day (or even a 24-hour day) and I’m exhausted.  It’s great to be able to open the fridge door and see all the ingredients you need to put a meal together — all without having to go grocery shopping!!

Food delivery has been amazing!  Who has time to grocery shop and meal plan when you’re already working 60+ hours/week?  The down time you do have, you want to spend with friends and family and yourself!

So, I decided to look at various food delivery options because:

  • Convenience
  • Healthier than restaurant dining
  • Cost savings
  • Learn to cook
  • Share with people you love

My first experience is with Blue Apron.  It’s basically $10/meal.  I ordered the 3 dinners/week option for two people.  It roughly came out to $65/week.  The dinners were ethnic, unique, seasonal, and delicious (and 500-700 cals/meal).  Portion size was huge — oftentimes enough leftovers to take for lunch the next day!  Prep work was roughly an hour per meal (chopping ingredients; no microwave use).  I had a very good experience with Blue Apron and highly recommend it to anyone curious to dive into cooking and using new seasonal ingredients.  Delivery materials are fully recyclable and fully reusable too!

Here’s another customer’s user experience:


 

My next experience is with Gobble.  Cost is roughly $12/meal.  I order the 3 dinners/week option for two people.  It is $72.70/week.  The dinners again are ethnic, unique, seasonal, and delicious (and 500-700 cals/meal).  Portion size is slightly smaller than Blue Apron — so no leftovers for the next day (i.e. the serving size can truly only serve two people with average appetites).  Prep work is quick…about 15 minutes (that’s bc some of the prep work involves using the microwave; there was no chopping involved!).  I’m a bit saddened by the microwave use, but time is precious and it seems that corners need to be cut somewhere.  I would still recommend Gobble to anyone who is extremely short on time and is interested in diving into cooking.  Delivery materials are fully recyclable and fully reusable too.  In fact, this company offers a recycle pickup when they make a delivery.

Is food delivery service worth it?

Spicy Thai curry

Cleaning out the fridge before my vacation:

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Serves 7!

Ingredients:

2 yellow bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 white onion
3 green onions
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 large handful cilantro
1 package tempeh
Red chili flakes
1 large handful bean sprouts
1/2 bottle Trader Jo’s red curry sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4-1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1) Chop bell peppers and white onion into cubes.  Dice shallots, roughly chop cilantro.  Chop green onions.  Set aside.

2) Heat up a large skillet on medium heat with coconut oil.  Place shallot and garlic in pan.  Break up 1 package of tempeh into ground pieces.  Place in skillet.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil and red chili flakes.  Stir until tempeh slightly browned

3) Add bell peppers, white onion. Simmer until al dente.  Add TJ’s red curry sauce.  Coat evenly.  Add green onions and bean sprouts.  Simmer.

4) Serve over rice (here’s a recipe I enjoy for Coconut Rice).  Garnish with cilantro and mint (optional)

5) Watch it be a real crowd pleaser!  🙂  Kick back and sip on a lovely pinot grigio or riesling… the spice and sweet together makes for a nice combo.

Coconut Curry Flounder

This recipe was adapted from this one here.  I didn’t have lemongrass or mussels…. so here’s my take on that recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 2 flounder fillets (I used flash frozen since I had it available)
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped in cubes
  • 1 thai chili, finely chopped (can substitute good pinch of chili flakes)
  • 3 teaspoons of ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 fl. oz.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Kelp noodles
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into four pieces and smashed (I didn’t have lemongrass, so I squeezed 1 small lemon)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves* (optional) — didn’t have this either
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Method

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and stir for a few minutes until they become soft and slightly translucent. Add the chilies, ginger, and curry powder and stir for a minute until fragrant.

2  Add the chicken broth and reduce half. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves if using and bring to a boil. When boiling, drain and set aside in a separate bowl/container.

3 Boil kelp noodles in boiling water.  Drain when slightly soft.

4  Season fish with salt and pepper.  Add some oil.  Place fish fillets in skillet.  Add some garlic for flavor.  Reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the fish is cooked.  Place kelp noodles in a bowl and top with the cooked fish.  Spoon previously made sauce over the kelp noodles and fish. Garnish with chopped cilantro and juice from lime wedges.