Fabulous Shrimp Salad

I came across a picture today on Pinterest and it so inspired me that I turned right around and made the recipe for lunch!  So, of course I have to share it with y’all.  First, let me thank chef Mareya Ibrahim for sharing her version of this amazing dish on Pinterest.

Shrimp Salad from Chef Mareya Ibrahim

Shrimp Salad from Chef Mareya Ibrahim

Mareya’s version calls for one pound of cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped medium tomato, one diced avocado, a diced jalapeno, seeds removed,  1/4 cup chopped red onion, juice of 2 limes, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tbsp chopped cilantro, and salt and fresh pepper to taste

Here is the recipe with my own spin on it.  Mine isn’t as pretty as Mareya’s because I added thick tangerine infused balsamic vinegar, which turned the whole concoction brown. It was so brown I couldn’t get a good picture of it to share.  :) But don’t let the color stop you… the flavor is amazing!  And it’s a perfect mix of crunchiness, creaminess, and sweetness.

  • ¼ Green pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ Orange Pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 haas avocado, chopped
  • 1 lb of boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Juice of one medium lime
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon of tangerine infuse balsamic vinegar (you can substitute any fruit infused vinegar)
  • Tarragon, parsley, salt, pepper to taste

Boil and cool the shrimp, peel and devein.  Chop it up.  Toss all the ingredients in a bowl, chill for about 30 minutes, and serve.  It’s worth noting that it looked so good I could not wait for it to chill… and it was still fabulous.  :)

Suggested Uses

  1. Eat it right out of the bowl!  Try to use a spoon and sit at the table if possible.
  2. Serve on a heaping bed of fresh lettuce
  3. Serve over grilled fish or crab cakes
  4. Skip the shrimp and add some chopped peaches, mangos, or plums… then spoon it over some grilled chicken or pork chops.
  5. Use it as filling in a lettuce wrap
  6. For you grain eaters who accidentally found this blog… don’t despair… you can serve this with crackers or tortilla chips. It’s a great party food.

That’s it… easy peasy and super yummy.  If you try it out please let me know how it tastes.  If you create your own variety, as I did by adding vinegar and peppers, feel free to add that to the comments for other adventurous paleo cooks out there. A small note on the paleo aspects… I don’t fret over the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar.  I would bet money there is some sugar in it but I don’t know for sure, as it was bought from an artisan shop in Ruidoso, New Mexico and isn’t labeled with any kind of detail.  If you are super worried about that, try mixing your own by blending plain balsamic vinegar and some fresh fruit (raspberries or strawberries maybe?) to get a similar flavor. I do this all the time when making salad dressings and it tastes great.

Thanks again to Mareya for the inspiration!  Here’s a link to her amazing website. Check it out and follow her on facebook!

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Creamy Paleo Ice Cream

I recently wrote a post about fruity Paleo ice cream.  I’m reporting back that it didn’t turn out as good as I thought it would…. and I have a solution.  :)   The flavor of the fruity Paleo ice cream was wonderful.  But the texture was not what I’d hoped for.  I created a large batch of it and froze it overnight.  The next day it was like a brick of ice.  I had to thaw it for 2 hours just to be able to chisel into it.  Once I did, it was yummy.  But I’d hoped for a creamier texture.  If I made that recipe again, I’d apply two lessons learned:

1. Freeze it only about 2 hours.  I froze it overnight and got the problem noted above… the ice brick of fruit.  Had I only frozen it 2-3 hours I think the consistency would have been closer to what I was hoping for.

2. Make smaller batches.  I wanted a big batch so I could have some on hand, but once you freeze it for more than a few hours you end up with the ice brick.  So work in smaller batches, make it the day you want to use it, and enjoy!

NEW AND IMPROVED ICE CREAM….

After making the version noted above, I did some research online and found a better option.  This version is all over the internet and even the TV Show “The Chew” created a rendition of this last week.  That version includes almond butter, which I don’t eat and didn’t miss at all in my version.

Here are the instructions for making this Creamy Paleo Ice Cream that actually did look and taste like ice cream.

  • Cut up 2-4 bananas in slices about 1/4 inch thick.  I used 1/2 banana for each person I wanted to serve and it came out ok… except that we didn’t have enough for the seconds everyone wanted.  :)
  • Lay them in a single layer and freeze them for 1.5-2 hours.
  • Put the frozen banana ‘chips’ into the food processor and add 2 packets of stevia per banana, cinnamon and nutmeg to your liking, 1 tbsp of vanilla, and 1/4 cup of cold milk (I use full fat raw milk).
  • Whirl it in the food processor for a few minutes until it starts to come together in a creamy texture.  If needed add a little more milk to thin it out to your liking.
  • Serve in a small dish, topped with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream!

Recipe - Creamy Banana Ice Cream

UPDATE: I recently ran across a recipe similar to mine.  It adds almonds, which sounds lovely.  You can find it here: http://paleoeatsandtreats.com/paleo/make-your-own-raw-banana

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Fruity Paleo Ice Cream

Click here for an UPDATE to this post……

I ran across a post the other day by the good folks from PaleoEffects.com about Yonanas™ Ice Cream Treat Maker and how it isn’t necessary to buy the Yonanas machine in order to make frozen yogurt-ish treats.  I encourage you to check it out.  You’ll notice that I took a few liberties with my version of the recipe, adding WAY more bananas and some extra flavoring ingredients.  I encourage you to do the same.  If you love Vanilla, add it to your mixture.  Walnuts?  throw them in.

As the Paleo Effects post noted, it is as easy as combining all the ingredients in a food processor to blend them, then freeze the mixture.  That’s it.  Ice cream is one of my weaknesses so I was excited to learn about this great idea for a treat. Tonight, I tried it and it came out ok (so far) so I thought I’d share.  The taste was fabulous but I’ll have to report back tomorrow on how well it sets up and if it has the texture of frozen yogurt.  For now, here’s how I made it.

Get all the ingredients out.  My concoction includes 7 Bananas, organic Honey, Cinnamon, Vanilla Extract, 3 packets of Stevia (I use Sweet Leaf brand Stevia), a splash of organic milk, and some organic blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

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In the food processor I blended the bananas, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract, with a splash of milk.  If you are following the Paleo approach very strictly and don’t eat dairy, you can skip the milk.  I eat limited dairy but only raw dairy from a local farm.

After blending the bananas, leaving some chunky pieces, I added 3 stevia packets and all the berries.  I used 1/2 pint of strawberries, a small container of blackberries, and a large container of blueberries (lots of antioxidants).

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I pulsed the mixture a few times in the processor to mix it well but still leave it somewhat chunky.

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I put the mixture in a glass dish to freeze it overnight.  There was a little too much to fit into the container… so of course I had to eat it.  :)   I thought it tasted pretty darn yummy for just throwing it together.  I’ll let you know how it comes out after it’s frozen.

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Even My Dog Is Paleo

One of the many reasons I’ve been switching to the Paleo approach is to eliminate artificial chemicals, flavors, and colors from my diet.  These are often found in processed foods, so in the beginning of my Paleo project I became an avid label reader to watch for these things. About a month ago it occurred to me that if I am benefiting from these changes, perhaps my dog could too.  So I read the label on his dog treats and realized that the treats I gave him every day were full of chemicals.  I don’t want that for him anymore than I want that for myself.  So, I stopped.  I’d already switched him to grain free food about a year ago, to help his digestive system.  This would be one more thing I could do to help him have a healthy life.

I’d used those treats to give him his twice daily seizure medicine. I didn’t want to switch to bread (grains) or hotdogs (unless you buy very carefully, these are full of carcinogenic nitrates/nitrites and generally bad meat sources) so needed another solution. I decided on meatballs.   I went to the freezer and grabbed a one pound bag of the grass fed, no hormone, no antibiotic, locally sourced ground beef that I feed myself and made a tray full of tiny meatballs for him.  I made them about the size of a nickel and the one pound package of meat made about 40 little meat balls, enough for 3 weeks of am/pm pills!  The meat cost me about $6.50 so it came out to about $2.15 per week, which is only $.30 more than what I paid for the store bought treats. So for basically the same cost I was able to eliminate the chemical ridden treats from Rex’s diet.

 

I also make him homemade chicken jerky to help ween him from the store bought bones he currently eats.  Eliminating those bones completely is my next step and I’m also researching how to make other homemade dog treats.  To make the jerky I boil the breasts of free range, no hormone/antibiotic chicken. Yes, this is the same chicken I cook for myself.  It’s $5-7 per package and I get about 15-20 jerky strips from it.  I simply cut the boiled (and cooled) breasts into large strips (I cut width wise so they are wide strips) and then put them in the dehydrator for about 8 hours.  The time  you’ll need depends on the temperature on your dehydrator and the thickness of the cut meat.  Just dehydrate until they are crunchy and no longer pliable. He loves them. And no chemicals, grains, legumes, dairy, or sugar. All very paleo. :).  If you’re interested, this is the dehydrator I used.

 

 

To help hold your attention as you read this post…. here’s a picture of my adorable dog, Rex.  :)

Rex 2012 7 yrs

 

 

 

I recently read an article about pet lovers who feed their dogs coconut oil.  It’s full of amazing health benefits for us humans so why not for our pets, too? The article has inspired me to add coconut oil to the meatballs I feed Rex and see what happens.  I can’t put it on his skin/paws, as the article suggests, because Rex rubs up against all my furniture and walls, so I’d end up with a very oily house!  But I can definitely add it to his food.

If you are considering adding coconut oil to your own diet (I’d highly recommend it!  It’s very Paleo and full of health benefits.  I get mine from Wilderness Family Naturals but I have also heard Tropical Traditions is a good brand.  It can be confusing to buy coconut oil.  Do you want refined or unrefined, cold pressed, expeller pressed, or centrifuge pressed, heavy coconut flavor or light?  You can learn more about buying/picking the right oil for you from this great article.  I don’t like the flavor of coconut so I went with the centrifuge pressed oil for my family… including my dog!  :)

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It’s a Spicy Day

Today my shipment of spices arrived.  I’m so excited and am running out tonight to get a ton of ball jars to store them in (I like them to all be in a uniform size jar for easy stacking and storing).  As I started investing in my Paleo journey — emotionally, psychologically, and financially — I purchased a few Paleo cookbooks (see my Resources Page).  They all make liberal use of spices to keep things interesting.  As I explored the cookbooks It was easy to see that I was not prepared for living such a spicy life.  I thought I had a good selection of spices in my pantry but I was wrong.  Some of my spices were old and needed to be replaced and some of the spices the cookbooks called for were completely new to me.

Most spices don’t go bad but they do lose potency and flavor over time.  Ground spices lose flavor faster than whole spices like nutmeg or cloves.  The rule for how long to keep spices seems to vary by who you ask, but it falls somewhere between 6 months and 3 years.  Most of mine were over a year old and since I was running low, trying to add to my stash, and being mindful of the age of my spices… I just decided to start from scratch.

I tried to stock up at the grocery store but found the spice aisle overwhelming (too many choices) and not easy to shop in with all the other customers constantly walking in front of me while I tried to read labels and explore the options.  So I went a different route.  I got online and ordered a whole range of spices from Penzey’s Spices.

Stocking up on spices as you start living a more Paleo lifestyle is a relatively inexpensive way to get started if you don’t do what I did and replace them all at once.  Spices encourage you to try new flavors when cooking with “the same old meat and vegetables”.   It also encourages your creative side when it comes to cooking and that is a good thing because it can reshape the way we think of food.

When you decide which spices to get, consider the age of your current spices, how much of each you have left, which you use regularly, and which show up in the paleo recipes you’ll find on the great Paleo blogs and in the Paleo cookbooks.  I started by picking some of the recipes I’d want to try first and making a note of the spices they required that I didnt’ have… then I checked my current stash and made a list.   In the end I chose to restock all of my spices but you don’t have to make that kind of investment just to get started with some new flavors.

Whether you hit the grocery store or buy online is up to you. But I will say that buying from  Penzey’s Spices was easy, convenient, and fun because they had such a variety of spices to explore and I could do so in my jammies, not in a crowded grocery store.  I particularly like that Penzey’s tells you about the spices… where they come from, why that matters, how to use them, etc.  And they offer options such as buying items whole or ground and they sell in a variety of sizes and price points.

So go forth and spice up your own Paleo life.  Feel free to check back and let me know what you’ve tried and how it worked out for you.  I’ll do the same as I start experimenting with my new cookbooks.

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Getting Started With Paleo

Cover of "The Paleo Solution: The Origina...

Cover via Amazon

I started exploring the “paleo” or “primal” eating approach a few months ago.  As soon as I got 1/4 way through “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf… I was hooked (check out his blog when you get time.  Warning, it’s addictive.).  I moved on to blogs, books, cookbooks… anything I could get my hands on.  It was a natural extension of the interest I’d already developed around organic foods, non GMO foods, and grass fed meats, and more.  I should admit that ‘interest’ for me equates more to google searches, blog reading, lots of blathering to my friends and family…. but rarely to any significant changes in my life.  But this felt different.  It was tough to argue with the science that Robb shared, hard to ignore the desire in my heart for something more in my life than pain, exhaustion, obesity, food addiction, and overall poor health.

As I dove further into the Paleo pool I saw a natural synergy with some overall changes I’ve been wanting to make in my life, including living a slower, smaller life, taking up less space on the planet, learning to can foods, reducing the use of plastics, losing weight, finding health and energy, sleeping better, and and learning to live without the illustrious (yes, that’s sarcasm) institutions of big agra, big pharma, and big business.  After a few months of exploring and making some small changes, I tried a 30 day cleanse… and lasted a whopping 2 weeks.  It became clear to me that changing every aspect of my life was going to take more than a few weeks and more will power than I could muster.  So I decided to be reasonable… to make the changes over the long term in small doses, with deliberate actions.

In this blog I’ll share my journey into the paleo life…what I’ve done so far and where I’m headed.  My hope is that this blog might help if you are interested in Paleo but don’t know where to start.   Paleo is more than food… it’s about quality of life, health, choice, and maybe even a bit of a revolution in our world and in myself.  Join me for the journey and I’ll share the resources I find, the tricks that work, the friends that help, the food I cook, the challenges I face, and the better life I create.  Robb and the other Paleo experts tell us that the Paleo lifestyle is what we humans are designed for.  And it is high time I create the life I want by designing it and then building it… so that’s my project… learning to be Paleo by Design.

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