Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mayo, Mayo and more Mayo!

Growing up I always assumed that mayonnaise only came from the grocery store. I thought Mr. Hellmann's was the only one who knew the secret to making this amazing condiment. Making it myself never crossed my mind until my first Whole30. 

Since I would be avoiding all processed food, store bought mayo was definitely out of the question. I thought the canola and soybean oil were bad enough until I found out about this next ingredient. Most all store bought brands contain EDTA which stands for Ethylene-Diamine-Tetra-Acetic acid. You got it, ACID in your mayo! It is used to protect it from spoiling and prolong self life. The FDA claims its "safe" to consume... you can be the judge of that. This family won't be eating it anymore!

The best part about saying goodbye to conventional mayo, was the joy of making it myself! It can be slightly daunting on your first attempt, but trust me its worth it! Mr. Hellmann's can't beat the real thing! It. Is. Amazing! 

Homemade Mayo:
Adapted from The Wholesome Heart

1 egg (preferably farm raised, organic, or cage free)
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4cup+1cup light olive oil (not extra virgin, preferably organic)

Let the egg and lemon sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Then crack egg into food processor and add lemon juice. Let them sit together for another hour. No need to cover.

Then add dry mustard, salt and ¼ cup of olive oil. Pulse a couple times then blend for about 20 seconds.

Next is the most important step. Turn processor on and pour the remaining 1 cup oil through the small tube. POUR VERY SLOWLY, almost a drip at times, but steady. This should take 4 minutes so set a timer to be sure.  Be patient, it's worth it! At right around the 4 minute mark you will hear the pitch change as the liquid starts to form the emulsion. It will start to look like normal mayo.  

When complete put in a airtight container in the fridge for at least an hour before eating. The mayo lasts as long as your eggs do, so mark the mayo with the expiration date from your eggs.

Here is a recipe staple in our house that uses this amazingly delicious mayo!

Homemade Mayo Ranch Dressing

Dry Herb Mix (use organic spices when possible):

2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

Mix all ingredients and store in a airtight container. Makes about 3 Tablespoons.

1 cup homemade mayo
2 Tbsp. vinegar (red or white. Use balsamic for a creamy Italian flavor)
1 Tbsp. dry herb mix

Put all ingredients in a jar, shake or stir and enjoy! You will never go back to store bought ranch again!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Paleo Favorites, Part 1 - Trader Joe's

Maneuvering through the Whole30/Paleo/Organic world seemed daunting to me at first. Although my shopping cart has always been full of vegetables, fruit and meat, my staple items were changing just like my diet was. I would pick up a product, look at the ingredient list and put it right back on the shelf. But as time went on I become more and more familiar with different products and it got better. But I always wished someone had a list I could follow to make it easier.

So for all you PaleoTastic people out there, I'm doing just that! A list of staple items I love, where you can find them, how much they cost, and what they are used for. Hope you enjoy!

Trader Joe's: I love Trader Joe's for certain items. But most of all for their nut selection. The prices are considerably less than other outlets and they taste great. These all can be turned into "Nut Butter", simply eaten alone, or made into a Paleo trail-mix. Nuts are a great source of healthy fat, aid in lowering cholesterol, and help fight cardiovascular disease. Just remember to monitor your intake, 1000 calories of nuts can sneak up on you very quickly! Here are my favorites to buy.

1lb. Bag raw almonds - $4.99 - Ingredients: Almonds
1lb. Bag organic dry roasted and salted cashews - $7.99 - Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Salt
12oz.. Bag dry roasted and salted - $8.49 - Ingredients: Macadamias

Here are a few more items from Trader Joe's that I stock up on - Raw Honey, Organic Coconut Oil and Thompson Organic Raisins. Yet again their prices are hard to beat. Other retailers could sell a different brand for double the price, if not more, especially when it comes to Coconut Oil. This healthy fat source oil is a staple in Paleo households and is the only oil that can withstand higher heat cooking without breaking down. Coconut oil can be used in many different ways. It can simply be heated while sauteing vegetables, melted to coat sweet potato fries while they roast or added to a Paleo baked item in place of vegetable oil.

Raw Honey is an amazing quality product. The "raw" means that it isn't tampered with or heated so it retains its naturally occurring enzymes. It tastes wonderful and doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste some conventional honey may. I use it as a substitute for white sugar when baking Paleo treats such as Chocolate Zucchini Bread. (Recipe to come!)

Thompson organic raisins are not only an amazing price but are simply just raisins, no extra sugar added and they taste amazing. Add them to your nut mix above for a little sweetness. Once again use in moderation so you don't spike your sugar level and calorie count to high.

16oz. Organic raw honey (Fair Trade) - $5.99
16oz. Organic virgin coconut oil - $5.99
1lb. Bag Organic Thompson Raisins - $2.99

All three of these products have only one ingredient in them! What the label says is exactly what it is.

More favorites coming soon, stay tuned!


Monday, October 7, 2013

National School Lunch Week

In honor of National School Lunch Week I thought dedicating a post to the infamous packed lunch was definitely in order!

Packing a healthy lunch helps a child sustain energy throughout the day. Unfortunately that has become less and less the norm when over processed, 100 ingredient, prepackaged items fill our grocery store shelves. Lunchables ring a bell...Ohhhhh the dreaded lunchable. Just hearing that word or seeing a parent buying them... MAKES ME CRINGE! They are probably the worst deception on the market today. Take a look for yourself...

This is the ingredient list for the "Oven Roasted Turkey" and "Cheddar" cheese lunchable. I put quotes around those words because they aren't really what they say they are! Full of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, soy, artificial colors... the list goes on and on! Parents reach for these items because it takes no time to prepare and its cheap.

Here are a few of my tips for making lunch a success:

1. Get portion controlled containers, preferably BPA free, made from high quality plastic, or glass.
2. Get a freezable lunchbox that will stay cold up to 8 hours and that holds your containers in an upright manner. Here is a link to the one I love, it folds up and takes little to no room in your freezer. Packit Personal Cooler
3. Pack a lunch with color and variety! Kids like colorful food just like we do so of course lots of veggies and a small amount of fruit are great options. Also, try not to pack the same thing over and over. Mix it up a little and you will be surprised how much more they eat!
4. My next rule may sound harsh to some, but it works and I'll tell you why. If my daughter comes home with items left in her lunch box (which is very very rare now!), she must finish them before eating anything else! Once I started enforcing this rule, she starting finishing more and more of her lunch at school. Think about it... how often do we throw away food off our kids plates? If you give them an appropriate portioned controlled amount, they should finish it all. Completing a meal will help the urge to snack constantly throughout the day.

The only way to ensure our children get the nutrients they need and crave, is to pack it ourselves! So here are a few examples of what I pack my daughter.

Lunch 1: Local (pesticide free) sweet plum, organic cucumber and bell pepper, homemade chicken salad and pumpkin pie spiced roasted organic carrots and butternut squash (both recipes to come). I gave her a fork and she could either eat the chicken salad by itself our eat along with the veggies. She also eats her carrot mix cold.
Lunch 2: Local (pesticide free) cinnamon, sea salt and coconut oil roasted purple sweet potato, Grass fed English cheddar cheese, organic granny smith apple, Egg Salad and organic cucumber and bell pepper (recipes to come).

Lunch 3: Local (pesticide free) sweet plum and my version of a Cobb salad. Baby organic lettuces with Applegate Farms Roasted Turkey and Ham, organic carrot, cucumber, no sugar added cranberries, crumbled goat cheese and hard boiled egg from a local farm.

All of these lunches took very little time to put together. When trying to eat healthy, preparation is key! If you prepare ahead of time healthy, delicious, homemade lunches are obtainable.

From My PaleoTastic Kitchen to yours... have a great day!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Yummy, Healthy Paleo Snacks for kids!

Let’s face it, kids want snacks. Ok, parents do to… pipe down people… snacks for all!

Everywhere we turn someone somewhere is putting out a product that lures unsuspecting parents in. Whether it’s a Disney character or sponge bob or the new kid on the block, angry birds, these characters are all over products in all locations of our grocery store. I guarantee not one product actually provides adequate nutrition for our kids well being. So, what to do about it? Avoid them at all costs! Instead turn to homemade, easy, delicious items your kids will request over and over again! NO SUGAR ADDED! NO PRESERVATIVES! NOTHING PROCESSED!

Living Paleo I stick to three solid meals a day, but every once in a while having a snack is necessary. Although I always recommend veggies or nuts as your first option, these healthy and fun snacks are all Paleo approved. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started, enjoy!

Homemade Almond Butter – Almonds are amazing! Rich in dietary fiber, calcium, protein, essential vitamins and minerals, not to mention the disease and cancer fighting agents it represents! I could go on and on about them but the bottom line is… Eat them! They are a nutrition home run!

Recipe yields 12oz. of Almond Butter

12oz Raw Almonds
½ Tbsp. melted coconut oil
Pinch of Sea Salt
The following can be added in ½-1 tsp. - Vanilla extract, Cinnamon, Pure Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 350.

Scatter almonds on a baking sheet and toss to coat with oil and sea salt. Roast for 6 minutes until the oils release from the almonds. Go directly from the oven to a food processor. Start processor and let run for 2 minutes, and then pause for about 30 seconds or so. Repeat 1 more time. During the 2nd pause, scrape down edges of the bowl. Here is where you can put in any of the add ins from above.
Example: Maple Vanilla, Vanilla Cinnamon, Cinnamon Maple, or just 1 of the 3 by itself. 
Then start processor again for 3 minutes. Be patient it will start to change from a meal to a smooth consistency.  Once you see it change, stop processor, scrape down edges and stir up a little to make sure it is all incorporated. Process again for another 30 seconds and Viola! Healthy homemade amazingly delish almond butter! Store in the fridge and devour its yummy goodness! (If you prefer a super runny nut butter you can add additional coconut oil while processing. I recommend adding in a tsp. at a time so you don't overload it with oil.)

Serve on Paleo Crackers (Recipe to come!)
Eat with Carrots, Red bell pepper, bananas, apples
Or just eat a spoonful (1 spoonful, not 10!)

A favorite to make my kids are these…

Tad Poles on a Lily Pad  (My daughter made it up, isn’t it adorable)
Yields 1 serving

6 slices Organic English (Hot House) Cucumber
1-2 Tbsp. Homemade Almond Butter
12 Organic (Sugar Free) Raisins

Spread Almond butter onto each piece of cucumber. Arrange 4 raisins in the center of 3 cucumbers. Place the lid on top of each raisin filled cucumber. Sit and watch your kids devour this yummy goodness!

Next up a refreshing drink recipe that is dairy free, sugar free, guilt free and awesome!

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie – This yummy delight boasts one of the most versatile fruits on the planet... the coconut! It produces Oil, Amino Acids, Butter, Milk, Water - the list goes on and on! The coconut has over 15 essential vitamins and minerals, is considered a healthy fat source and keeps our heart healthy by raising our levels of good cholesterol and not effecting the bad! We will delve into all things coconut on another day, but here is a recipe to hold you over until then.

Recipe yields 4-10 glasses depending on cup size

1 can full fat organic coconut milk
1 can organic pineapple chucks (drained) or 1 small fresh pineapple chopped
2 medium very ripe bananas (chunk up and freeze)
Ice to taste

Throw all items in the blender and enjoy. Don't you dare throw any leftovers away. Turn them into Popsicles! Kids go crazy for these!

Well that concludes for today. Thank you for reading and sharing. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy weekend. See you back here in the PaleoTastic world on Monday.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Paleo?

I am definitely feeling the love today. Thank you to all my family, friends and people I've never met before. The support feels amazing. This exciting new endeavor means the world to me, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, back to the task at hand. First off, I am not a nutritionist, just a mom who cares that our kids grow up eating healthy, high quality foods. These are my opinions and beliefs based on countless amounts of research that I've done. You are more than welcome to agree or disagree. All I ask is you keep an open mind. High powered, wealthy food companies aren't going to care about our kids well being, so we have to stick together. Information is power, and they can't fool us forever.

Let’s discuss what Paleo really is and what it means to me. The Paleo diet is an attempt to eat how caveman did. Anything they could find, hunt, or gather was all up for grabs. That list included meat, fish, eggs, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, fruit and seeds. With everything else in the typical American diet being off limits. No grains, unrefined sugar, dairy, legumes, processed food or oils of any kind. Although there are new exceptions to the Paleo lifestyle now, these are the main principles to follow.  The best part about being Paleo, besides the amazing health benefits... no more calorie counting, no more fat gram counting... just EAT GOOD FOOD!

When I was contemplating the switch to Paleo I saw this infographic below. For me, it made the choice clear... take a look.
The Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo

So that sums up why I believe Paleo isn't just a diet, its a lifestyle. Its quality over quantity. We only have one body, one shot to get it right... that's it! Taking care of it should be of the utmost importance!

Just remember, this is a journey about being healthy, not perfect. We all have off days, myself included. I'll give you an example... After an all day adventure to an amusement park with 2 kids, the last thing I wanted to do was cook, so pizza happened. Was I proud of that? No. But it was a onetime thing and I was over it the next day! I live as close to a Paleo lifestyle as possible and try not to sweat the small stuff. Change takes time and commitment to a goal. We are in this together. 

Have a super PaleoTastic day!

Check back tomorrow for our 1st recipe posting - Yay! 

Please comment in the section below with questions of any kind! I will compile a list of your questions and have a Q&A post as time progresses. You can also contact me at with questions as well!