Pictured Above: Roasted Broccoli, Butternut Squash Soup & Crockpot Pork Ribs
This was so easy and made the hubby so happy, I will be throwing it into the dinner rotation much more often. (He was so blissfully happy with his ribs and bowl of soup that he completely forgot the small fortune I spent that afternoon at a Columbia sample sale. Everything was a size Medium! My sister and I will be rocking new coats all winter.)
I was able to pick up some Todd Geisert Farm pork ribs at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market this week. My husband, like most men out there, loves ribs. I don’t make them very often because they aren’t in my “comfort zone” of things to cook. I love using my Crockpot, especially when it comes to cuts of meat that I am not familiar with. It is generally foolproof. I did some looking onto my favorite recipe sites and found easy enough directions from The Clothes Make The Girl on cooking ribs in the Crockpot.
Her recipe was for 5 Spice Slow-Cooker Pork, which I am sure would be delicious! However, Matt is not a fan of the 5 Spice. He requested a dry-rub BBQ style rib, which normally I would also love, but I have been avoiding nightshades, so the peppers and the paprika were not an option for me. (I realize that I am a huge pain in the rear right now, but it is temporary.) I decided to just follow her lead, but using the spices that I had at home with the same amounts of liquid.
The result was AMAZING!
Once again, this isn’t a “recipe,” more of a loose framework for you to get inventive. Do your own thing! The ribs will be fall off the tender. My hubby assumed that he would have to take them out of the Crockpot and throw them on the grill for a minute to get the crispy texture he liked, but he was surprised that they came out of the Crockpot crispy and perfect.
What is it with all the coconut products and the Paleo diet?
There are entire books devoted to the subject of coconut oil, coconut products and the potential “miraculous” health benefits. A quick Amazon search could net you a ton of reading. I am skeptical to say that any one thing is a miracle cure, but I love using coconut products and I genuinely think my brain works better when I use coconut oil as my main source of cooking oil. Coconut oil is full of saturated fat, which may scare you if you have listened to traditional/conventional nutrition advice over the years. Even Dr. Oz is on board! (I will be doing an F is for Fat blog post soon, so stay tuned for more specifics on why you shouldn’t be scared to add some fat to your diet.)
I could go into great detail about the Medium Chain Fatty Acids, Lauric Acid, fiber and vitamin/mineral content of coconut oil. I could also get into the anti-viral or anti-bacterial properties. There is even research involving Alzheimer’s and other serious illnesses. But, I am not a scientist, I am a cook, so get your Google on and do some research if these ideas are compelling.
Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, does a much better job discussing the variety of coconut products in a Paleo or Primal diet than I possibly could, so please take some time to read what he has to say. Keep reading to find out how coconut products now take up a lot of space on my pantry shelves and links to some of my favorite recipes.
This is my primary cooking and baking oil. Coconut is the best oil for baking and cooking because it is stable at a high heat. You do not want your oil to be “smoking” in your pan when you are cooking with it. Although I have tried various brands and have been happy with all of them, I buy it in large quantities from Tropical Traditions. I watch for sales and take advantage of free shipping offers. And no, it DOES NOT make everything taste like coconut. You can also use coconut oil as a lotion and for other skin and bodycare needs. It is versatile, high quality stuff! Coconut oil is popping up everywhere, you can probably find some at your grocery store, try to find unrefined if you can.
More information on coconut oil can be found here:
PRINTABLE Infographics from Balanced Bites on coconut oil versus other cooking oils:
I always have a few cans of coconut milk in my cabinet. Buy the regular, not the light. I use it for baking, for coffee & for cooking. You can even refrigerate it and whip it into a dairy-free whipped cream! Check out your grocery store shelves and look for the brand with the cleanest ingredient list. Most will contain a bit of guar gum for texture. That additive bothers a few people, but not most. Even Wal-Mart carries 2 or 3 brands of canned coconut milk. You may see some coconut milk in cartons in regular grocery stores and Trader Joes. The canned coconut milk is thicker and “cleaner” as it has less ingredients. We use the carton stuff on occasion, but more often use the cans. Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution) breaks down the ingredient list and his advice about purchasing coconut milk in “Coco-What??”
This isn’t the shredded coconut you grew up buying for cakes and other treats. This is UNSWEETENED coconut and it is drier than the standard stuff you remember. I keep a small bag on hand to use in specific baking recipes that call for a finely, shredded coconut.
These are also UNSWEETENED and sometimes called coconut chips because they are a much bigger flake, almost a shaving of coconut. This is one of our household staples. In about 3 minutes you can make tasty snack of Caramelized Coconut Chips. I send these in my daughters lunch daily and we have them as a late night snack. They are delicious as the base to a Paleo Cereal, which is simply a big bowl of coconut flakes, berries, nuts & sometimes mini-chocolate chips with coconut milk. Also a favorite snack at our house.
Coconut flour is NOT my preferred baking flour, but it can give you a fine texture that you cannot achieve with almond flour. There are a couple of things to take into account if coconut flour is new to you. First, the price may be a bit of a shocker! It is expensive. Second, take a look at the recipe you are about to try, it doesn’t call for much. The chocolate cupcake recipe I have linked to below calls for 1/4 cup coconut flour to make 10 cupcakes. If you are used to baking with regular flour, you know this is much less dry ingredients than you are used to. Coconut flour recipes are going to be small amounts of coconut flour mixed with more eggs/oils & liquids than traditional baking, because it is very dry. So, the cost starts to even out. Like I said, I am not a huge fan of coconut flour, but I do keep it on hand to help to lightly bread my chicken nuggets, make birthday cupcakes & occasionally pancakes on the weekend. Also, if you have a nut-free school, coconut flour treats may be allowed since they are not a nut, or a peanut. Some people do have a specific coconut allergy, but it is not usually airborne.
Coconut water is the clear liquid inside of a young coconut. You can find it at the grocery store, gas stations & Costco these days. Buy a single and see if it is for you, not everyone likes it in my experience. I would say it is actually 50/50. It isn’t cheap, but it makes a great post-exercise drink because of its high potassium, mineral and antioxidant content. It is low calorie and a very “clean” drink. There are so many brands being marketed right now that you do have to start reading labels, they are beginning to add flavors. Always read labels! I enjoy the taste of coconut water and I use it to mix drinks. Vodka and coconut water is one of my favorite drinks and it minimizes a potential hangover by keeping you hydrated. I can’t prove that, but I never feel poorly the next day if I have been mixing my drinks with coconut water the evening before.
Coconut Aminos are a soy & gluten free substitute for soy sauce. I get mine from Whole Foods or other health food stores. I am only familiar with the brand from Coconut Secret. As described on their site: coconut aminos are enzymatically alive and contain 17 amino acids as well as being a good source of sea salt in the diet. I have such a sensitivity to soy that I prefer to use coconut aminos to gluten free soy sauce. Many people because of availability & cost do use gluten free soy sauce with few difficulties. Give it a try and then make a personal decision. I do love the opportunity to make my own Chinese and other Asian inspired dishes.
Coconut butter and manna are essentially the same thing, whole mature coconut meat that is dehydrated and blended into a butter. Price points can be different and The Primalist did a great post explaining the differences between two of the most common products you will find on the shelf. If this is a product you would like to add to your pantry, give it a read before you spend your money. Currently, I am seeing a lot of Facebook and Instagram posts regarding coconut butter as it is a snack recommended on the 21 Day Sugar Detox from Balanced Bites. The best way to combat sugar cravings is to get a nice dose of healthy fats in your system. The coconut butter is naturally a little bit sweet and I also think it makes a nice little snack just off of the spoon. The Artisana brand sells individual servings in case you want to sample the product before you spend the big bucks. Also, these are handy little samples to pack for road trips, hikes or other traveling.
Recipes Using Coconut Milk:
You can essentially use coconut milk as a replacement for regular milk in any recipe. Coconut milk is thick and creamy and will give soups and sauces and amazing texture. Most people are surprised that the coconut flavor is not pronounced. Don’t be afraid, give it a whirl. If you have been using skim or 2% milk because of the conventional nutrition wisdom, you will likely be pleased with the rich tasting results. And it is GOOD FOR YOU! A curry dish is one of the most traditional places you will find coconut milk in a recipe. That isn’t really my thing as my husband and the other men in my life do not seem to care for curry, so I don’t cook with it.
One of the best drinks I have ever had was at a Brazilian restaurant, a Batida De Coco. It calls for a special kind of rum, but we were able to mix some up at home and they were delicious. The basics: coconut milk + rum + a cinnamon sugar rim. Amazing! Just use your regular amounts of mixer and alcohol and I think it will be a sure-fire winner! If the milk is too heavy for you, do half and half coconut milk/coconut water or just water down your coconut. We blended ours with ice for a cold drink.
Recipes Using Coconut Flakes or Shredded Coconut:
Recipes Using Coconut Butter/Manna:
If I missed anything or if you have any questions, please let me know by emailing email@example.com or leaving a comment! Thanks for reading!
If you are a faithful reader from the beginning, I apologize, this is an old recipe. It needed a better picture and a little revamping! This is one of my hubby’s favorite dinners. Unfortunately, it is one of the least photogenic recipes that I make. No matter what I do, it still looks like a big lump of almond butter on chicken and vegetables! It is, however, very easy and has a ton of flavor! Using some chicken and some Paleo pantry stables, this is a quick recipe that seems to be popular with several husbands of some of my blog readers!
This is originally a recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking. If you haven’t checked out this blog, you should. It is genius. She cooked with a Crockpot everyday for a year, in 2008, and blogged the good, the bad and the ugly. Simple, yummy food. She also has a child that is celiac so the recipes are already gluten free, they don’t need much adapting to be Paleo! One of my most used blogs for recipes.
Almond Butter Chicken
1. Spray a 4quart slow cooker. Put the chicken into the bottom and add the almond butter.
2. Add cumin and garlic.
3. Squeeze in lime, and add soy sauce/coconut aminos and chicken broth.
4.. Stir as well as you can to combine (the almond butter will be clumpy, and that’s just fine).
5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours.
6. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice and vegetables.
Other Asian inspired recipes to check out:
A pin on Pinterest caught my eye the other day for Cashew Chicken in the CrockPot. It was from the site, The Preppy Paleo. Cute website, by the way. You know what I love about the CrockPot? Throwing a bunch of stuff in and then walking away. Then, finding out hours later that what you threw in there has cooked up into a big delicious mess of flavor.
Turned out, this dish included the steps of breading and browning the chicken before you threw it in the CrockPot. Gasp. Honestly, why not just finish cooking it then and be done with it? Too many dishes and too many steps. So, I simplified this dish a bit from its original version and was very happy with how it turned out. If you have lived in or near Springfield, MO for any period of time, you know that there is no replicating Springfield Style Cashew Chicken. This recipe is good, but it isn’t that! I am sure that with some planning, some time and some experimentation you could bread some chicken and thicken up a nice brown gravy. Let me know what you come up with!
Crockpot Cashew Chicken
Happy to be home from vacation and with my favorite household item, my Crockpot! Made a huge batch of this semi-invented dish and have enough for leftovers. I am trying to be as Whole30 as possible and avoid nightshades for a while. Nightshades include tomatoes, (white) potatoes, eggplants and peppers. I still think I could see some improvements in my skin and general health and nightshades are the next step in the immune protocols that Balanced Bites, Chris Kresser and Robb Wolf discuss on their blogs/podcasts. Luckily for me, those aren’t my favorite foods.
This is a big recipe, so likely you can cut it in half. I do think it would freeze well.
Apricot Dijon Chicken
1. Spray Crockpot with oil.
2. Rinse thighs and put in whole.
3. Add apricots, mustard and coconut aminos.
5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
6. Crumble bacon on top.
7. Serve over veggies. I chose zucchini, but I think broccoli or cauliflower would be a good choice.
This dish could me made on the stove top or baked in a casserole dish. You can use any cut of chicken you like. Vary the vegetables. You could throw the chopped veggies in the last hour of cooking.
Little tip: If you want to avoid the situation where your husband leverages the time you spend on Pinterest against you, make sure to do some great stuff around the house and let him know you “found it on Pinterest.” Problem solved. Like this dinner.
These Honey Ginger Chicken Bites (http://www.americanfamily.com/recipes/honey-ginger-chicken-bites/39823) looked pretty good to me and I thawed out a bunch of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. After I really got to looking at the recipe, though, it seemed really sweet. Then I got a bit busy (and lazy), decided not to cut them up into bites. Then Matt volunteered to grill. So, moral of the story, don’t be afraid to play with a recipe, unless it is baking. Then you should follow it.
I chose to make a lot of marinade and reserved about 1/4 of it to cook the veggies in. I just added some chicken broth to it, threw the broccoli and mushrooms in and simmered until the veggies were tender. Then I poured the sauce and veggies over the chicken. Lazy was the theme of the night, so I didn’t bother thickening the sauce at all, but if you wanted a more sauce-like than broth-like consistancy, you could use some arrowroot powder.
Ginger Honey Chicken
1. Mix honey, ginger, vinegar, coconut aminos, sesame oil and garlic in a large bowl. Reserve about 1/4 of mixture in a small container.
2. Add chicken and mix well. Let marinate for a few hours to overnight.
3. Grill chicken or bake in the oven (Try 425 degrees for 20 minutes.)
4. Meanwhile, pour reserved marinade into a wide pan with high sides and add about 1 cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Add your choice of veggies, we used broccoli and mushrooms. Simmer until done.
5. Pour veggies and sauce over chicken. Serve.
This salad was a side dish offered at the amazing paleo-friendly restaurant that we ate at when we were in Scottsdale, Arizona. The restaurant was called Nourish. I hit the paleo jackpot with it being right in our condo complex. I think I ate there 3 or 4 times. Everything from the drinks to the desserts were incredible. All the allergens were clearly labeled and I could easily eat 80% of the menu items with no special requests. I was sold when I walked in and there were coconut aminos for sale next to the register. Check out their website and menu if you would like to see what a “dream paleo” restaurant would look like. http://nourish123.com/ The chef/owner also has a cookbook out, Freak at the Table, http://nourish123.com/cookbook/.
I made the first version of this salad at a baby shower a couple of weeks ago. It was delicious, but didn’t look so great. I boiled my sweet potatoes and they got a bit too soft, then got mushy when mixed with the avocado, which was also mushy. The dressing was a very simple mixture of coconut aminos and vinegar. The second version I made today, looks amazing. I roasted the sweet potatoes, added the dressing, tossed it to mix, then added the avocado at the last minute. Heaven!
I am going to give two options for the dressing, 1 being really easy and another with a few more ingredients and using a blender. Both are good, so feel free to choose based on your time and ingredients. Remember, I use coconut aminos because I have a pretty wicked soy and gluten allergy. Feel free to substitute regular or gluten free soy sauce for the coconut aminos.
Avocado Sweet Potato Salad
1. Toss sweet potatoes in coconut oil.
2. Roast in oven at 350 degrees till carmelized a bit and tender all the way through.
3. Let cool.
Inspired by: http://www.coconutsecret.com/recipies2.html
1. Run ingredients through food processor or blender. If using fresh ginger, strain.
2. If using powdered ginger, just whisk well in a large bowl.
1. Toss sweet potatoes with dressing.
2. Add diced avocado and mix gently.
My mom makes the BEST cole slaw, hands down. This one is pretty good and wildly different, so I don’t have to feel like I am cheating on my Mom. Creamy cole slaw is good, but you need some good mayo. This is easier and skips a couple of steps.
This recipe is heavily influenced by the Everyday Paleo cole slaw recipe. She must love cole slaw, too. There is a great recipe in the book (Get it, you will use nearly every recipe) and she mentions many variations throughout her blogposts. Check her out at www.everydaypaleo.com if you haven’t already. She is raising a family of 3 boys and it was the “first” paleo cookbook I got a hold of.
Mango Cole Slaw
1. Mix everything up in a big bowl and chill in the fridge. It tastes better after it sits for a while.
As one of my friends pointed out, it wouldn’t take much adjusting to turn this into a form of the Oriental Chicken Salad that is popular at a lot of big chain restaurants. Changing the oils to sesame, adding some soy sauce and throwing in some grilled or rotisserie chicken.
You could also take this in a Hawaiian direction with some pineapple and soy sauce/coconut aminos.
Or go crazy and add bacon. The point is to start with the base of cabbage and use what you have on hand to come up with a great slaw/salad. Even if you aren’t a great cook, start picking up interesting vinegars and oils on your trips to the store and doing some experimenting. They aren’t expensive and they keep for a long time in the pantry.
Made this one up tonight. Initially I was going to make the Orange Chicken from HealthBent.com,(http://www.health-bent.com/poultry/paleo-orange-chicken) but I didn’t have oranges. Minor problem. I actually was pretty short on groceries in general. I also was on day 1 of my Reborn Health Paleo Challenge, so I needed to use single-ingredient foods. I did have a couple of cans of pineapple (because I intended to make Everyday Paleo’s Tropical Macaroons sometime soon), and the ingredient list on those contained only one thing: pineapple. Score. Everything else in the recipe is a pantry staple, for me anyways. And if you are trying to do paleo, I suggest you add them to your pantry.
Here is a little breakdown on some the “stranger” ingredients, as I have a few new readers in the last couple of weeks.
Coconut Aminos – a substitute for soy sauce. You can also use Gluten Free Soy Sauce, but I prefer these. I buy mine at Whole Foods, but they are at some health food stores and available online at www.coconutsecret.com and www.amazon.com. For reference, I get my bottles for about $6 for 8 oz. Obviously, more expensive than soy sauce, but gives me the ability to eat Chinese and other Asian style foods at home. Between the gluten and the soy, I don’t eat out Chinese anymore.
Coconut flakes – These are a great snack. There is shredded (good for some baking and recipes) and flakes. I buy mine at Whole Foods, but my mom has picked them up for me at bulk food stores in the country. I pay about $2.99 for 7 oz./3 1/2 cups. Also, online. For instance, http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_dried_coconut.htm?s=gad&gclid=CPCLwNveh68CFUZgTAoddyvL_Q, today at Tropical Traditions you can buy a 1 Gallon Pail/2 lbs. for $11.69 (sale price). That is a pretty great deal. I am not going lie and say coconut products are cheap, but they are very health-FULL. Do some reading. Coconut oil, coconut flakes are packed full of nutrition and worth shopping around, looking for sales & buying in bulk.
Spicy Hawaiian Chicken
Marinate chicken in pineapple and coconut aminos for a few hours to overnight. I grilled my chicken, but it could be baked or pan fried in coconut oil.
Mix ingredients and cook in saucepan till it thickens. If there is not enough “juice” in the pineapple, you could add some chicken stock. Sauce will be thick and chunky, almost like a chutney.
Toast these under the broiler till the coconut flakes start browning. Keep an eye on this, it only takes a couple of minutes and it can go bad, quickly! (Think smoke detector!)
Plate your chicken, pour sauce over the chicken and garnish with coconut flakes and macadamia nuts. Serve with steamed veggies!
70 degree weather. March. Grill. Paper plate. Heaven.
The name of this chicken caught my eye when a friend pinned it on Pinterest. Key West is one of our favorite vacation spots! Simple dinner. Turned out really GREAT!
I served it with asparagus that I grilled in foil packets using the same marinade that I did on the chicken. There is also some pickled beets on the plate that I got from a friend. I have never liked beets in any way shape or form, but I loved these. Going to work on learning how to make that for myself next.
I found the recipe here:
I made some paleo adjustments in the oil and the parts of the chicken that I used. Also, who is going to juice a lime to only get 1 tsp out? Not me. I juiced the whole lime. I left out the oil, because I am too protective of my coconut oil to use it in just a marinade. My chicken parts were a little fattier, so I don’t see any need for the oil.
Key West Chicken