Harvest Casserole (AIP Friendly)

Harvest Casserole

I love the warm colors, and flavors, of fall. I’m always excited when I start to see a variety of winter squashes and crisp apples appear in the stores. Winter squashes are a great, safe starch- they are affordable, and there are an amazing array of tastes, textures, and colors available.

My Harvest Casserole has been a favorite in our family for years, and somehow I have never blogged about it! This is a great meal to make ahead, and just pop in the oven before dinner, so it is great for a busy family. It is also a wonderful meal to share with others, when a friend has a new baby or an illness in the house. It freezes well, too. It is a comforting mixture of butternut squash, crisp apples, raisin, and ground beef, a bit savory and a bit sweet- and just perfect for a chilly evening. Harvest Casserole is also a great food for a baby who is just starting to experience combined tastes and textures. It was my son’s favorite food when he was 10 months old. (Of course, now he won’t touch it because it is all mushed together- more for me!) I love eating the leftovers for breakfast, too.

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Plantain Pancakes- Version 2.0 (Paleo, Vegan, AIP, Grain, Egg, Dairy Free)

Plantain Pancakes

One of the first recipes I posted on Created To Be Paleo was our favorite Plantain Pancakes (here). Still a great recipe, but I have continued to tinker, and come up with what I am calling Version 2.0 (and knowing me, there will probably be a 3.0 someday.) They are just enough different that I thought a new post was called for.

I make up a few batches of these one or two mornings a week, and then keep them in the fridge or freezer for an easy breakfast. In fact, I make them so often, I don’t ever even have to reference my little scribbled Hello Kitty paper for the recipe to make them any more. Aurora likes to sit up on the counter and help me make them- she helps peel the plantains and runs the blender, then licks the yummy batter. My kids and husband love them with chocolate chips, but I prefer them with fruit, like strawberries, peaches, or cranberries. (They are pictured above with cranberries- a surprisingly fun combination of sweet and tart that I LOVE.) I love that they don’t require any added sweeteners, and that they are from our favorite ingredient, plantains, which makes them inexpensive, too. And because they don’t have any added sweeteners, they were a nice Whole Life Challenge compliant breakfast (or dinner) treat for me.

I’ve found that as long as you use approximately the same size plantains, it doesn’t really matter too much in terms of the final product- this recipe is very forgiving. And the riper the ripe plantain is, the sweeter the resulting pancakes will be.

 

Plantain Pancakes
Yields 12
A delicious breakfast staple in our house. Make extra to grab later in the week. Try them with chocolate chips or the seasonal fruit of your choice.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 large ripe plantain (anywhere from solid yellow to black- the riper it is the sweeter the pancakes will be)
  2. 2 large green plantains
  3. 1/4 C oil
  4. 1 Tbsp vanilla
  5. 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
  6. 1/4 C chia seed meal (ground chia seeds)
  7. 1 tsp baking soda
  8. 1-2 Tbsp water may be needed to make a smooth batter
  9. Mix-in of choice: chocolate chips, blueberries, sliced strawberries or peaches, cranberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat a non-stick griddle or skillet to med-high (about 300)
  2. Peel the plantains and cut into chunks. Add to a high speed blender along with the oil, vanilla, and ACV. Puree until a smooth batter is formed.
  3. Add the chia seed meal and baking soda. Blend until well combined. If batter is too thick, you may need to add 1-2 Tbsp water.
  4. Stir in any mix-ins and spoon by generous spoonfuls onto the preheated griddle. Use the back of the spoon to spread out the batter a bit. (Not too much though, the thicker they are the better they seem to reheat.)
  5. Turn after a few minutes, when the edges start to look a bit dry. Cook until done, then enjoy!
  6. Makes 12-15, depending on how large the plantains were.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

 

 

 

Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken Thighs (Paleo, AIP)

Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken ThighsA few months ago I was waiting (forever!) to get some blood work done and Rachael Ray was on the TV. My ears perked up when I heard her talking about grilled lemons, and I started imagining what I could do with that amazingly mouthwatering idea. A little thought, and a look at my garden and the basil growing like crazy, and an amazing new recipe was born. The best part, is that it is so simple and easy, but the flavors will amaze you. I have shared this meal with friends several times, and they have been delighted with the results.

When you grill the lemons and the natural sugars caramelize, you have the most amazing combination of sour, sweet and smoky. Pair that with fresh basil and a whole lot of garlic, and it really is an almost sinful meal to enjoy and share. I chose to use chicken thighs, because they are so inexpensive and forgiving when you grill, but you could use chicken breasts as well.  And just for fun. try grilling up a few extra lemons (on foil so they don’t get greasy) and try making a Lemon Vinaigrette or some Grilled Lemonade, sweetened with a bit of stevia or honey.

Grilled Lemons

You can marinate the chicken ahead of time, so it is especially great for entertaining, because you just have to grill and serve, leaving plenty of time for chatting and sharing life together.

 Grilling

Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken Thighs
Serves 6
Tangy-sweet grilled lemons, fresh basil and garlic are a delicious combination when paired with grilled chicken thighs. You can marinate the chicken several hours, or even a day ahead of time, for a quick and tasty summer meal.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  2. 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  3. 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed (or more, if you LOVE garlic like I do!)
  4. 1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 2 lemons, cut in half
Instructions
  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste. Place thighs in a gallon ziptop bag or shallow baking dish.
  2. Combine the basil, garlic and olive oil and pour over the chicken thighs, mixing well to evenly coat the chicken.
  3. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to a day in advance. Remove the chicken from the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  5. Grill the chicken thighs until done, turning halfway through cooking time. (About 20 minutes total.)
  6. While you are grilling the chicken, place the lemons cut side down on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes, until the sugar starts to caramelize and the juices begin to run. Remove to a plate to cool.
  7. When the chicken thighs are done, generously squeeze the grilled lemon juice over them and serve.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

 

 

Heavenly Chocolate Cake from Plantains (Grain, dairy, egg, soy, and tree-nut free)

Heavenly Chocolate CakeAurora’s food allergies can be so challenging to overcome- all grains and legumes, plus tree nuts, eggs, and coconut (among many others.) It has certainly been an adventure to come up with fun treats that Aurora can eat and we can all enjoy. For her 2nd birthday, I really wanted her to have a delicious cake just for her. And because the girl loves her some chocolate, it had to contain plenty of chocolately goodness. This cake turns out so moist and tender, every bite deserves being savored.

As you probably already know, plantains are quite a staple in our household, from tostones and plantain chips, to quick breads and pizza crust, plantains have become our go-to base for many new experimental recipes. This recipe just a few minutes to whip up, and is equally good in cake or cupcake form. I make my own plantain flour by dehydrating green plantain slices and then grinding them in a high speed blender until a fine powder. You could buy some here, or try substituting coconut flour.

Heavenly Chocolate Cake from Plantains
Yields 1
A delightful, allergy friendly treat for your next birthday party- or just because! This makes a delicious, tender, moist chocolately cake that will please even the pickiest eater.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 large ripe (mostly black) plantains, peeled and cut into chunks.
  2. 3 Tbsp oil of choice
  3. 1 Tbsp vanilla
  4. 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  5. 1/2 C plantain flour
  6. 1/4 C cocoa powder
  7. 1 tsp cinnamon (opt.)
  8. 1 tsp baking soda
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. Additional 1-2 Tbsp water, if needed
  11. 1/2 C chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cake pan(s) by lightly greasing, or muffin tins with muffin liners. (I like to use silicone.)
  2. Place the plantain chunks in a high speed blender, along with the oil, vanilla and ACV. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until well integrated. If batter is too thick, add 1-2 Tbsp water until a smooth, not too stiff batter is achieved. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon into the cake pan or muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes for cupcakes or 35-40 minutes for cake. They are done when slightly firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool slightly before taking out of pan.
Notes
  1. We served this with a filling of crushed strawberries and a touch of honey, and then topped with cut strawberries.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Plantain Pizza Crust or Sandwich Bread (Grain, dairy, egg, soy, nut-free)

Plantain pizza crust

Sometimes I feel such sadness for my kids as they navigate all of their food allergies and GI issues. They are already quite aware that they eat very differently than most of their friends, and we have already had some issues come up with birthday celebrations and playdates. A few weeks ago, my 4 year old son pulled the jar of Daddy’s peanut butter out of the pantry and asked if he could have some with his apple slices. (We were out of almond butter, which he loves.) I told him that he couldn’t eat it because he is allergic and it would hurt his body. When he asked why he was allergic I replied “because that is the way God made your body.” He replied in a very sad, subdued voice “I wish God had made me a body that can eat all kinds of food.” It broke my heart.

Aurora at Castle Park

God didn’t create my childrens’ bodies so they could eat all kinds of food, but I am so very thankful that He did create them to be able to enjoy a wide range of healthy foods, and that He started to raise up awareness of the Paleo movement and its surrounding community right when we needed it the most. My kids eat a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, safe starches, fats, and healthy meats. And because of ideas from other Paleo bloggers and my own need to creatively meet my family’s nutritional needs, I have even been able to bring in occasional treats that nourish their bodies and comfort their sweet hearts. (I am also thankful that I don’t have the checkout line meltdowns when they see all the candy there!)

Jonathan is at an age where he understands when I tell him he can’t eat a food because he is allergic. Unfortunately, Aurora at age two, doesn’t understand, and will eat anything and everything she can get hold of, which can be really tricky at playdates and church.

Aurora at Castle Park

Every kid loves pizza- at least in the US. And I have really struggled to come up with a pizza alternative that my whole family could enjoy together, without thinking about what is missing or different. It is a bit of a struggle to come up with a crust that is delicious, fairly close in texture, taste and substance to the original (wheat) version, and is dairy, egg, nut, soy and grain free. I have made it a couple times with my Chebe Bread Hack, but that gets a bit gummy. Before Aurora joined our family and we didn’t have a tree nut allergy to contend with, I adapted an almond flour pizza crust by Elena Amsterdam (from this cookbook.)

But it was definitely time to think way outside the box and come up with something that would work for a pizza crust for the whole family. As always, I circled back to our love of everything plantain, which I think must be one of the most versatile foods on the planet. We have really loved integrating this into our menu planning- it’s so fun to have a pizza night every once in a while! (In fact, Jonathan asked for it for dinner tonight.)

We top our pizza with homemade basil pesto, bell pepper, zucchini, pepperoni, ham, sausage, and sometimes caramelized onions. Just choose your favorite toppings, or let your kids make their own delicious creations.

4 Plantain pizzas

As an added bonus for my sandwich loving son (who has never had anything that could even remotely be considered sandwich bread), I discovered it makes a great sandwich bread. Great to have a “bread” we can use to make and take sandwiches for a picnic.

Sandwiches with plantain bread

Jonathan approved

Plantain Pizza Crust or Sandwich Bread
Serves 6
A delicious pizza crust or sandwich bread made from plantains. Soooo good!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 large green plantains, peeled and cut into chunks
  2. 1/4 C nutritional yeast
  3. 1/2 C pumpkin puree
  4. 1/4 C oil or fat of choice (may need additional to make smooth batter)
  5. 1 tsp. baking powder
  6. Optional: salt and Italian seasoning to sprinkle on top.
  7. Pizza toppings of your choice. i.e. tomato sauce or pesto, veggies, pepperoni, sausage, etc.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using a high speed blender, puree all of the ingredients together until a smooth batter is formed. You may need to add a bit more oil to get a smooth batter.
For pizza crust
  1. Spoon about 1/4 C of batter onto prepared baking sheets. (I can usually get 4 crusts on a baking sheet.) Use a spatula to spread out into a small circle, about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. (For a thin, crunchy crust, spread it thinner. If you like a doughier crust, spread it thicker.)
  2. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly add toppings. Return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, until crust is cooked through and toppings are done.
For sandwich bread
  1. Spoon all of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula, gently spread it out until it is a uniform 1/8 inch thick.
  2. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  3. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into sandwich bread.
Notes
  1. Remember that you can control how crispy or doughy the crust is. Just spread it thinner or thicker according to your preference.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Flounder Stuffed with Kale

 Flounder Stuffed with Kale

Because of my daughter, Aurora’s allergy, we don’t have fish as often as I like, but when I found some wild-caught flounder filets at a great price,  I decided to give it a try. This is a quick and simple meal to prepare, but with the rich green of the kale, deep red of the dried cranberries, and the sprinkling of bacon on top it is a visually stunning meal to present to your family or guests. The first time I served this, my husband told me that he felt like he should have dressed up for dinner. And the same husband who doesn’t usually eat kale will gladly accepts seconds of this. We have had it many times since, and it has become a family favorite.

Feel free to experiment with different varieties of fish. We also really enjoy it with Swai, which is a lot more cost effective.

Swai stuffed with Kale

 

Flounder Stuffed with Kale
Serves 4
A beautiful, rich meal that is deceptively easy to prepare.
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs wild-caught flounder filets
  2. 12 oz package bacon, cut into small pieces
  3. 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces (you may want more kale, depends on how much you like it!)
  4. 1/4 C dried cranberries
  5. 1/8 C sliced almonds
  6. 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare the flounder filets by patting dry, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste, and placing into a foil lined pan. If desired, drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown and fish gently flakes when pricked with a fork.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the bacon pieces until crispy and brown. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to cool and crisp. Reserve the bacon grease.
  4. Add the kale, cranberries, and almonds to the bacon grease in the hot skillet. Toss gently with lemon juice, and continue to cook until the kale is a bright green.
  5. On each plate, scoop a generous serving of the kale mixture. Add a flounder filet on top, and sprinkle generously with the bacon pieces.
Notes
  1. Pairs nicely with steamed vegetables and baked sweet potatoes.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins

We love our plantains, whether green or ripe, and we have eaten them in pretty much every way possible. A while ago I had some ripe plantains growing ever riper and sweeter by the moment, so I thought it would be time to experiment, and we are so glad we did! I have gotten rave reviews from everyone I have shared a taste of this simple, sweet quick bread with. Even Jonathan, who as much as he loves plantains has consistently balked at any plantain baked goods gobbled it up. I love that there is no added sweetener- it is only the sweet, ripe plantains and the raisins that make this delicious, moist quick bread a sweet treat. Someone who tasted it exclaimed “It tastes like Christmas!” and for me it is a reminder of some of my favorite quick breads from my childhood.

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins- loaf

This recipe calls for plantain flour, which I make myself by dehydrating plantains and then grinding them to a very fine flour in the blender. But you can purchase it here (although it is pretty pricey!) You could also try experimenting with some other Paleo-friendly flours, like coconut.

For a delicious variation that is just right for a birthday celebration, try substituting chocolate chips for the raisins. A definite crowd pleaser!

Sweet Plantain cake with Chocolate chips

 

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins
Serves 12
A simple, slightly sweet quick bread that is sure to please even the pickiest eater.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 extra large ripe plantains (yellow, with some black spots) - approx. 16-20 oz.
  2. 1/2 C plantain flour
  3. 3 Tbsp oil of choice (i.e. coconut, olive, lard)
  4. 1 Tbsp vanilla
  5. 1 tsp baking soda
  6. 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  8. scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  9. 1/2 C raisins, opt. (more or less to taste)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a loaf pan by lightly greasing bottom and sides with oil.
  2. Peel the plantains and cut into chunks. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  3. Add oil and vanilla, blending until well combined. Add remaining ingredients, except for raisins, and blend until well combined. Gently stir in raisins.
  4. Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth out the top.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 min until top is firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Immediately turn out onto a cooling rack, and allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying.
Notes
  1. For a delicious variation, try adding chocolate chips instead of raisins! Sooo good.
  2. I have toyed around with the idea of making little tea sandwiches, perhaps with a cashew cheese filling.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Chebe Bread Hack

Chebe hack

I’m not sure that most people in the mainstream Paleo community would even consider

Chebe Bread Hack (Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free)
Serves 8
A great flat bread option to enjoy with soup or a delicious curry. Or try it as a pizza crust or wrapped around a yummy hot dog for pigs in a blanket.
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box Chebe All-Purpose Mix
  2. 1/3 C carrot puree
  3. 2 Tbsp oil (I usually use olive oil)
  4. 2 Tbsp chia seed meal
  5. Water (approx 1/3-1/2 C)
  6. Additional oil to bush on top
  7. Opt: salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, or any other spices you would like to spread on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add the Chebe mix to a mixing bowl. (Be careful, it is a very fine powder and will go everywhere!) Then add the carrot puree, oil, and water. Mix until well-combined. It will look a bit crumbly.
  3. While the mixer is running, slowly add water until dough begins to form into a ball. (If you've ever made regular bread you will know exactly what I mean.) It usually takes just over 1/3 C water for me to get the right consistency.
  4. Knead dough (with the mixer or by hand) until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
  5. Divide the dough into equal sized balls. I usually do 6-8 when making flat bread, or 4 when making pizza crust.
  6. Roll the dough balls out between two pieces of parchment paper, until about 1/8 inch thick. (You don't want to make it too thick or the resulting bread will be gummy.)
  7. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Prick each flatbread several times with a fork. Lightly brush top with oil. If desired, you can season it to taste with salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until done. (It may puff up.) The bread will make a hollow sound when tapped. Enjoy immediately!
Notes
  1. For pizza: Prepare as above, then top with desired pizza toppings. (i.e. tomato sauce or pesto, pepperoni, veggies, etc.) Bake 12-15 minutes until done.
  2. For pigs on a blanket: Wrap the rolled out flatbreads around a hot dog. Lightly prick the bread with a fork, brush with oil and bake 12-15 minutes until done.
  3. For bread sticks, roll a small piece of dough between your hands until desired thickness is reached. Bake 13-15 min.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

 

 

Cooking with Kids: Pumpkin Pie

A few days before Halloween this year, we were over at my Mom’s house to celebrate a birthday in the family. She gave each of the grand kids a sugar pie pumpkin and a tray of paints and told them to go to town decorating them, which they did with great gusto. She also told them we would be able to wash the paint off and be able to use them to make pumpkin pies.

Aurora painting pumpkinJonathan's painty hands

Well, the day before Thanksgiving, Jonathan decided that we had to use his pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. So he spent a joyful half hour at the sink washing all of the paint off so we could make a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I baked the pumpkin that evening, and early Thanksgiving morning the two of us got to work in the kitchen.

He helped me scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the shell to puree it in the food processor.

Scooping out the cooked pumpkin

 Then we got to work making our crust. He helped me measure and mix it, and then press it into the pie pan. We used this recipe for the Gingerbread Crust from PaleOMG. We pretty much followed the recipe, substituting coconut oil for the grass-fed butter. I would suggest lowering the oven temperature and watching the crust very carefully for doneness, since our crust was burned in a few places.

Then onto the filling, using our homemade pumpkin puree. We chose this Raw, No Bake Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Filling from Living Healthy With Chocolate, because it has chocolate, and I can get Jonathan to try just about anything that has chocolate in it! (I had serious doubts he would actually eat a regular, pumpkiny pie, and I really wanted him to eat and enjoy the food he had made.) It paired beautifully with the Gingerbread Crust, and set up nicely after a few hours in the fridge. (We also made a couple crust-less ones in ramekins, since his Nina tries to not eat too many nuts.) The only thing I would change here is to maybe add some mini-chocolate chips to the filling, but it was otherwise perfect and amazing!

The chef

A sweet kiss

urora's kiss was even sweeter!

 Everyone in the family enjoyed Jonathan’s addition to our Thanksgiving feast! And most importantly, my super-picky eater loved it!

Yum!I had a delightful time in the kitchen working with my precious son. Usually I am so rushed trying to get meals on the table that it is hard to take the time having “help” in the kitchen requires. But I am so glad I did it that day! It is certainly a joyful memory I will always carry with me. I think I’m going to have to make my little chef an apron of his own. (I have a love of aprons- I got two new ones for Christmas!)

Fun in the kitchen with Honey

 

Cube Steak & Gravy

Cube Steak & Gravy

Comfort food. We all have favorite foods from our childhoods that remind of us of simpler, more carefree times. For me, one of my favorite comfort foods ever is Cube Steak & Gravy. It is simple and fairly quick to prepare, and most importantly, fairly inexpensive. (Which is probably why it is one of my favorite comfort foods- I think we probably had it fairly often because it was so cheap. I also love liver & onions for the same reason.)

I make it just the way my mama does, and serve it over mashed malanga, with some sauteed okra and summer squash on the side. A perfect meal that the whole family enjoys, especially me!

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