Monthly Archives: July 2014

Fudgy Paleo Espresso Coconut Brownies

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O.M.G.  These BROWNIES!!!!!!!!  I’m pretty sure are straight from heaven.  One bite and I looked at them and said  “I can’t quit you!!!”  I got the original recipe form Paleo Fondue, but adapted it a bit.  On the original recipe, they have a coffee frosting that goes with it, and I can only imagine how it would have been – it’s basically a buttercream coffee topping, and I decided to forego it and put some roasted coconut and berries on top.  I also think pairing this with a berry preserve would be amazing.  I threw in shaved coconut in the brownie itself, but adding your favorite fruit, nuts or chocolate chips would just make this ooey gooey brownie even better.  BUT – they are just fine on their own!

Just a note on the preparation – I put the original specific directions below, but I didn’t sift or make any of the ingredients “super fine” because I didn’t have time.  It still turned out perfectly!!

INGREDIENTS:

For the Brownie
  • 6 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 6 ounces of Solid Semisweet Chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 4 Tablespoons of Packed Coconut Flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbs of Gluten Free flour
  • 1 cup of Coconut Sugar
  • ¼ cup of Strong Hot Coffee (I used fresh brewed espresso)
  • ¼ cup of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of shaved coconut
  • ½ teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of Kosher Salt
*** – If you want to go a little crazy – 🙂
For the Mocha Frosting
  • ¼ cup of Pastured Butter, melted
  • ¼ cup of Pastured Butter, softened
  • ¼ cup of Strong Hot Coffee
  • ¾ cup of Sucanat or Palm Sugar
INSTRUCTIONS:
For the Brownie
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Ensure eggs are at room temperature. You may run them under warm water for about 10 seconds while shelled.
  3. Gently melt the semisweet chocolate and oil in a double boiler. You may use the microwave at 50% heat at 30 second intervals with intermittent stirring.
  4. Stir in the coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder.
  5. Measure the sugar and coconut flour and add to a food processor. Give a few pulses to make a superfine texture.
  6. Sift together the superfine coconut flour, sugar, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Beat the eggs and add the dry ingredients. Beat until combined
  8. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and coconut and beat until incorporated.
  9. Pour the batter into the lined 8×8 pan.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F until a toothpick inserted into the center of the batter comes out clean.
  11. When done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.
****For the Mocha Frosting
  1. Measure the sugar and add to the food processor. Give a few pulses to make a superfine texture.
  2. Gently heat the sugar with the ¼ cup of melted butter and coffee until dissolved or mostly dissolved.
  3. Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours. It will look terrible at this stage, but don’t despair. It is beneficial, but not necessary, to mix every now and then while cooling.
  4. When the mixture is cold enough, beat in the softened butter 1T at a time on high speed. I find the hand mixer best for this task.

 

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Summer Mediterranean Cucumber Herb Salad

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I was lucky enough to be invited to dinner where this simple, glorious, fresh herbalicious salad was made, and I just had to share it!  This is such a great summertime recipe and super simple and beyond fresh.  All of the herbs and dressing are to taste, so feel free to play around with the amounts.  The fresher the ingredients, the better this salad will be!  Add a protein to it or pair it with chicken or salmon – mmmmm!

Ingredients:

  • 6 small sweet peppers
  • 4 cucumbers (English is preferred)
  • 10 tomatoes (cherry or small heirloom) – quartered
  • basil (handful)
  • parsley (handful)
  • lemon – the juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

Clean and chop the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Chop the basil and parsley and mix in with the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Juice 2 lemons and add the red wine vinegar and olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mix well and serve!

Cheat Week!

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This weekend was one of the best of my life.  My best friend since the age of 12 came to see me in Nashville for the first time.  Cynthia moved across the street from me at the end of 5th grade, and little did I know that my new neighbor would change my life and become my life-long best friend. Even though she moved away in 8th grade, we both ended up at the same college and lived in a room – yes 1 room in twin beds -together for 4 years.   Now, THAT’S friendship!!

Some of the memories that I have with this amazing woman are the best memories I could ever ask for – from shyly meeting her for the first time, to dress up karaoke shows for our parents, to tearfully saying goodbye when she moved to Arizona in 8th grade, to sitting in our dorm room floor eating an entire funfetti cake, to standing beside her as she said “I do.”   Now, as adults, we have the blessing of continuing to make great memories.

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As for me, I began celebrating the entire week before she arrived in preparation for her coming to Nashville!  You know I like to bake, so i did!  And even though Cynthia doesn’t have a sweet tooth, I had to have the house smelling good and stocked with healthy yummies for her arrival.  Obviously, I had to taste everything that I made, and so I did.  🙂  And that was the beginning of my cheat week…  (The dish below posted on my blog last week is one of the yummies I made!  Another one – Lemon Banana Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Bread too is one that will be making an appearance soon.)

Personal Paleo Peach and Blackberry Almond Butter Cobbler

Personal Paleo Peach and Blackberry Almond Butter Cobbler

Once Cynthia got here, the adventures really began!  We both agreed it was probably a good thing that we don’t live in the same city because we would be broke (and probably over-weight!). The first day might have been the best.  We went shopping, ate at the new restaurant Flip Side and St. Anejo for dinner, got massages, ate Sweet Cece’s (not mad at it), and did I mention shopping?!  I went running both Friday and Saturday and came up with this blog on my run, so there aren’t any pics of Friday’s foods.  Saturday, I came armed and ready to snap pictures of my foodscapades.

Day 2 consisted of more catching up, a jog, and early lunch – Burger Up – I opted for a kale salmon salad and a BOWL of truffle fries – whaaaat?  (With aioli).  So bad, and so worth it.  We took off to the Country Music Hall of Fame then came back and walked around 12 South.

For dinner I had some of my best girlfriends come to Urban Grub to meet Cynthia, I shared a meat and cheese plate and then had the scallop special for my entree – soooooo good!!  Some of us had wine, and all of us partook in the bread selection…

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Look at all of these beautiful ladies!  I’m so lucky to call them friends.  I was missing a couple of my favorites, but they were there in spirit.  (And Corky’s mom all the way from Australia enjoyed her last night in the US with us as well!)

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Our last morning we just enjoyed coffee and catch up time, rented bikes and took them to my friend Robin’s house to say hello and then came back to 12 South and took a stroll to all of the hotspots – Frothy Monkey, Portland Brew (where we had the amazing yogurt and granola!), White’s Mercantile, and the Filling Station.  The perfect end to a perfect weekend.

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I normally eat the same things every day – pretty clean and have cut out a lot of sugar.  This weekend, all of that went out the window – fried chicken, chips and guacamole (all not mentioned because it was Friday) fries, frozen yogurt, chocolate, banana bread, fruits, popovers, biscuits, meats and cheeses… whew.  My body is a bit in shock, but tomorrow is a new day, and I’m ready to hit it making good choices and healthy decisions.

I think a lot of us – especially women – get caught in a vicious cycle of obsessing over weight, what we eat, and working out.  We eat bad then we feel bad and say “screw it – I’ve already messed up today so I’ll just keep going and start fresh tomorrow.”  Then we do the same thing the next day all the while constantly weighing ourselves and not seeing that ugly number decrease.  If we have a french fry (or 37) or a piece of cake we feel terrible about ourselves and it’s hard to make good decisions when you’re down.  I just want you guys to know – it’s not impossible, and we are all in this together.  You are not alone in feeling you’re a part of cycle that keeps going. I’m working on a way to help people find balance between enjoying life and not restricting or obsessing over what you’re eating or your weight.  It’s about finding a real life, realistic way to live, eat and truly enjoy life.

The moral of the story is – eat, drink, and be merry, but don’t go overboard.  There is a way to balance life, enjoy it and not feel guilty.  Am I going to step on a scale for the next week??!  Oh, HELL NO!!  I know that if I saw that number I would be disappointed, but I am not defined by that number.  Yes, my clothes are a tad bit snug, but I know what I need to do.  One little healthy decision will snowball into 100 more if I can just keep making them.  The work that I put in now will be worth it.  You know, looking back on last week and this weekend – I wouldn’t take back one of those truffle french fries or one second of my time with Cynthia!

Personal Paleo Peach and Blackberry Almond Butter Cobbler

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I made these last night and could not even wait a day to post them – THAT’S how good these things are!  They are a mouthful to say and a delightful mouthful to eat!  The key to this recipe is getting fresh fruit.  I got the peaches from the Peach Truck at the 12 South Farmer’s Market, which is held on Tuesdays 3:30-6:30pm through October.  I also got the blackberries there as well.  Really, you can add any kind of fruit you want.  I found the original recipe on Paleo Grubs but added a few little twists of my own.  If you’re looking for a reason to go to the Farmer’s Market – HERE IT IS!!!!!!   I’m posting the original recipe made for a serving size of 2.  I quadrupled it and put them in individual cupcake tins with the wrappers.  I would use 2 of those for 1 serving.  Having 1 “cupcake cobbler” is just not enough!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small peach, cored and sliced
  • blackberries (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup almond flour/coconut flour (I used a combo of both)
  • 2 tbsp almond butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of coconut sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine peaches and coconut oil until peaches are well coated.
  3. Pour mixture into a creme brûlée dish, baking pan, or cupcake tins (with inserts) and spread evenly on bottom and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and coconut sugar if desired.
  4. Combine flour, nut butter, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl until a crumble forms (add more almond flour if needed to reach this consistency).  I also added a little coconut sugar to this as well and chopped walnuts (or pecans would be GREAT too!)  Someone also mentioned adding Trader Joe’s coconut almonds – ummm.  Yes.
  5. Sprinkle evenly over top of peaches.
  6. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crumble becomes golden brown.  Dust with cinnamon and sugar if desired.
  7. I bet this would be delicious with some coconut milk ice cream. Just saying.

 

 

Paleo Chocolate Chip Banana Bars

 

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Looking for a little all-natural sweet treat?  This will do just the trick!  I found this recipe on I Am Baker, so check out that blog as well for more awesome eats.  These little guys are dense and rich and healthy!!  What more could you ask for?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • coconut oil for pan

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in food processor and blend on high for 1-2 minutes. Scoop out batter into bowl and add most of the chocolate chips, gently mix to evenly distribute.
  2. Press batter into 8×8 pan greased with Coconut Oil.
  3. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over top and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

From Here to Happy

 THINK HAPPY.  “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln 

Well, good ol’ Abe said it right, and he hit the nail on the head!  So many times if we just change our thinking, we can change our lives.  Many of us struggle with finding, seeking and keeping happiness – especially us gals.  There’s a lot to deal with in this crazy world, and it’s easy to let ourselves worry about everything.  A lot of women struggle with eating issues, comparing themselves to the magazines and other women, and trying to fit into their “skinny jeans.”  It can become a crazy cycle we fall into chasing the inevitable invisible carrot and forgetting about where we are in the moment.

Sometimes we need to Just stop, take a deep breath and reset. Sometimes thinking of all of the great things in your life, the blessings you have, and the people in your life helps.  Usually the good outweighs the bad.  🙂  And sometimes actually doing a few simple things can make all of the difference.

Being a fitness enthusiast, it’s also easy to fall into a rut, so I’ve made a list of a few things that I’ve found lately that lift my spirits and get me from wherever I am to happy.  🙂

Buy yourself some flowers.  Every Tuesday I go to the 12 South Farmer’s Market and have fallen in love with the flowers from Humble Flowers!  These sunflowers are bigger than my head and put a huge smile on my face!  You can pick up a bouquet for $12, and it’s so worth it.  I walk in and see these every time I walk into my house.  Insta-happy!!

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Get yourself a new workout outfit (maybe a bright, happy one!).  Sometimes just having new threads or kicks will make all the difference.  I got the outfit on the left at Lululemon (duh!), and found these crazy new kicks at the Nike Factory Outlet store in Opry Mills for less than $60!

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Try a new route.  Maybe you need to try a new running route, a new workout routine or class, or maybe make a change in your life.  A small change can go a long way, so go for it.  You’ll never know what you may see or do by just taking a left instead of a right.  🙂

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Plan a trip.  Having something to look forward to is so important.  I know personally, I get caught up in the daily grind, and forget to take time for myself.  Sometimes completely removing myself from my daily environment is the best thing I can do!  Having that time booked on the calendar gives you something to work towards and look forward to.  It’s the light at the end of the tunnel!  I snapped this beauty on my last vacay.  Sometimes all you need is just a dose of inspiration and a change of scenery.

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Tell someone that you care about them.  I love to send random texts to friends just saying – I’m thinking of you.  How can that not make someone’s day? Usually doing something for someone else will bring a genuine happiness to your life.

Make a new playlist.  Music is good for the soul!  Here are some happy songs that’ll put a smile on your face –

Good Life – OneRepublic 

Happy – Pharrell Williams

Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bob Marley

Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

Beautiful Day – U2

I’ve Got a Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

So, there you go folks!  Just a few things that may brighten your day or your week!  I hope some of these help you get from here to even happier!

 

 

GF Cinnamon Peach Banana Bread

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It’s peach season, so I’ve been trying to take advantage of the fresh peaches available!!  They are soooo good on their own, but why not use them in baking and cooking too?  I always have some bananas that need to be used, so I found this awesome recipe on Ambitious Kitchen that combines all of these great ingredients I had laying around!   Mmmm, mmm, good!

 

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I like Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup finely diced peaches (about 2 peaches), plus about 8-10 thin peach slices for topping
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping – I used coconut sugar!
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain vanilla greek yogurt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, oil, 1/2 cup sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and egg and whisk again until well combined. Whisk in diced peaches. Add in dry ingredients and yogurt alternatively, folding together well combined.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Top with thinly sliced peaches and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top. Dust lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or toothpick comes out almost clean in center.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan gently and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Cut into thick slices and enjoy!  It’s even better the next day!