Friday, August 30, 2013

Foodie Penpals - August Reveal!

This was my second month participating in Foodie Penpals. The first month was a warm-up and now I'm into the swing of things the second month. I'm loving this program. I cannot say enough good things about it. I have a blast picking out items for others as well as receiving unique local products I've never seen before. It's fabulous! Strangely enough, a former high school classmate is participating as well. She happened to look at the penpal list and saw my name on it. This world keeps getting smaller everyday, doesn't it?

The Lean Green Bean

This month, I was paired up with Lauren of Everyday Lauren. She is a really cool girl from Wisconsin. We exchanged a few emails at the beginning of the month to discuss preferences and such. Go check out her blog and send her some love! She sent me a pretty amazing package. I received it the day of our little road trip to follow the USA Pro Cycling Challenge for a few days here in Colorado. Perfect timing. I was able to bring some of the snacks with us to enjoy on the drive.

Here was my loot:
I had never heard of the crackers. They were quite tasty and held us off for dinner on our drive from Vail to Fort Collins (via Boulder where we stopped for dinner). Love them. I realize they aren't 100% Paleo since they do have potato starch, but I'm not too concerned about a little bit of potato in my diet.

I also wanted to mention that I sent my food package to Bri over at Bri Cooley's Strange Truth. Go check out her page to see what I sent her! She doesn't have anything posted yet, but hopefully she will soon! 

To sign up or learn more about Foodie Penpals, go to The Lean Green Bean's page. Enjoy! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

ABC's of Paleo: "C" is for Cherries (Cherry Pie with Crumble Topping)

It's our third week in the series "ABC's of Paleo." Here's a recap of ingredients and what has been made so far.

Week 1 - A is for Artichoke - Roasted Artichokes with Creamy Lemon-Garlic-Dijon Dip
Week 2 - B is for Bison - Bacon-Bison Chili

This week, our ingredient is Cherries. We have a couple of cherry trees in our backyard, which prompted my ingredient selection for this week. About a month ago, one of our trees was teeming with bright, red cherries. Unfortunately, the birds got the best of our second tree. We do put nets over the trees, but didn't do a great job with the second tree. We actually had a bird get stuck into the net of the first tree (which was pretty secure). I spent over 30 minutes trying to get the bird out, because I didn't want him to eat all my ripe cherries! We ended up with quite the yield from just one tree. After picking my basket of cherries, I rinsed and pitted them. Once dry, I froze them in a single layer on a baking sheet and then put them all in a Ziploc bag for later use.

Cherries are a delicious fruit. I won't get too into the scientific side, but it is worth mentioning that they have a number of antioxidants and have an anti-inflammatory effect. I do enjoy eating the frozen cherries right out of the bag. They're a tasty summertime treat.

Paleo Cherry Pie with Crumble Topping
Serves: 8


  • 5 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 heaping T. tapioca or arrowroot
  • ½ t. vanilla extract
  • ¼ t. almond extract

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 3-4 T. local honey
  • 6 T. cold grass-fed butter, cut into small pieces

Crumble Topping:
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 4 T. melted grass-fed butter
  • ¼ t. almond extract (optional)

  1. Move oven rack to lower third of the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make the filling:
Mix together all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside while you make the crust and crumble.

To make the crust:
  1. Blend almond flour, pecans and sea salt for 10-20 seconds in a food processor.
  2. Add honey and butter.
  3. Process until the dough comes together into a ball.
  4. Press into a pie dish.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until crust is golden.

 To make the crumble:
  1. While the crust is baking, add all dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Blend with a spatula or spoon.
  2. Add melted butter and almond extract (if using). Stir until well-combined.

To assemble the pie:
  1. Pour cherry mixture into your pre-baked pie crust.
  2. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the entire pie.
  3. Place pie dish on a parchment paper-lined baking pan to prevent any spillage in the oven. Trust me, burnt cherry pie filling is not something you want on the bottom of your oven.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  5. Bake pie for 30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes to ensure crust isn’t too dark. If crust is darkening too much, then wrap aluminum foil around the edges of the pie dish.
  6. Let the pie cool completely until cutting into it. The pie will be runny if you cut into it too soon. I think the pie tastes even better after it has been refrigerated. It will help thicken the filling.

I also made homemade vanilla ice cream, which tastes great alongside a piece of this pie. My ice cream contains only 3 ingredients: coconut milk, vanilla bean/vanilla extract and honey. 

Bon appetit! 

We'll be taking a break next weekend due to other scheduled events, but will continue with letter "D" on Sunday, September 1st. What "D" ingredient would you like to see? Duck, dates, daikon radish and dandelion greens are all possibilities. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

ABC's of Paleo: B is for Bison (Bacon-Bison Chili)

This is week two of the series ABC's of Paleo. Here's a recap of what I've already made. 

Week 1 - A is for Artichokes - Roasted Artichokes with Creamy Lemon-Garlic-Dijon Dip

With week two comes a new ingredient, bison! Bison are naturally grass-fed, lean animals. Bison meat has high amounts of iron, making it a great option for those of us who need an extra boost in that area. Per 3.5 oz. serving, bison has the more iron than ground beef, chicken, pork or salmon. It's by far the leanest with only 2.54 grams of fat and only 143 calories. Not only is it packed with nutrition, but it tastes great too!

We've had a number of cloudy and rainy evenings here in Colorado, so I decided to go with chili. How does bacon fit in? Well, I think bacon makes just about anything taste better. So the question is... why not add bacon?

Bacon-Bison Chili
8 servings
Rating: 10 clubs

  • 12 oz. bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, finely diced
  • 2 lb. grass-fed ground bison
  • 4 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 2 t. oregano
  • 2 t. dried parsley
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup homemade chicken or beef broth

  1. Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and reserve in a paper-towel lined bowl.
  3. Add chopped onion, carrots, bell pepper and jalapeños to the bacon fat. Cook, stirring regularly, for 5-7 minutes or until veggies begin to soften.
  4. Add the ground bison to the veggies, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the spices and minced garlic. Mix well to combine.
  6. Lastly, add the broth, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir everything together.
  7. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Ladle chili into bowls and sprinkle with the reserved crumbled bacon.

You may have noticed some wilted green leaves in my bowl. I had some leftover spinach that needed to be used, so I tossed it into the chili at the end. You can add whatever veggies you have on hand to bulk up the nutritional content. I served our chili with leftover Paleo “Cornbread”. The next day, I ate leftover chili with crushed plantain chips. Either option is delicious. If you are Primal and eat raw dairy, a sprinkle of raw cheddar would taste amazing. 

What did you make with bison? 

Next week in the series: C is for Cherries! Let me know what you'll be making. Keep in mind that I will link up your recipe in my post. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

ABCs of Paleo: A is for Artichoke!

The "ABCs of Paleo" is starting off today! I've been a little absent over the summer with blogging. I'm typically someone who does well with a routine. With that being said, I thought it would be fun and engaging for you and motivating for me to create a weekly series around Paleo cooking. I came up with the "ABCs of Paleo" after seeing a friend and fellow blogger's "Meatless Mondays from A-Z." I'll be coming up with a unique ingredient each week (often times a couple weeks in advance) for each letter of the alphabet. You are more than welcome to join in on the fun by creating a recipe associated with the ingredient of the week. I'd love to link your recipe to my post each week. You can also post your dish in the comments of the weekly post. I will be posting on Sundays, so please send your links by Saturday night to ensure they're included. This will be an exciting journey. It may also be an opportunity to introduce you to a new food that you never thought to purchase or were intimidated about preparing. 

Without further ado, lets begin with the letter "A." As the title indicates, the first ingredient of our series is Artichoke. I'll be honest, I had never in my life purchased a fresh artichoke from the grocery store. This was a first for me. Here's a little background on artichokes. They are part of the thistle family. The edible part is the flower head before it blooms. Artichokes are quite nutritious, containing Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fiber, along with numerous minerals. 

If you are like me, then you've eaten artichokes before, but either they were canned/jarred or frozen. I've used artichoke hearts on pizzas, in pasta dishes (pre-Paleo) and in casseroles. I had never prepared a fresh artichoke. It turns out it's quite easy to do. I steamed my artichokes and then baked them in the oven. I made a creamy dip to go alongside the roasted artichokes. 

Roasted Artichokes with Creamy Lemon-Garlic-Dijon Dip
Serves: 6-8 appetizer portions

  • 2 whole artichokes
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper 

For the dip (makes about 1 cup):
  • ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 6 hours
  • 3 oz. fresh water (just over 1/3 cup)
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 T. grass-fed butter or other fat of choice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ t. Dijon mustard

To prepare your artichokes:
  1. Cut the stem off the bottom of the artichokes so they’ll sit flat. Also, cut off the top tip of the artichokes (this is a step that I missed, but think it’s a valuable one).
  2. Fill a large sauce pan with water.
  3. Add the artichokes and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce heat to medium and allow to steam for about 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375°F.
  6. Drain the artichokes and place them into a baking dish.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

To prepare the dip:
  1. Drain and rinse the raw cashews.
  2. Add cashews, fresh water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and Dijon mustard to a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until creamy.
  3. In a small frying pan, melt the grass-fed butter (or other fat of choice) over medium heat.
  4. Sauté the minced garlic, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. It only needs to cook for a minute or so.
  5. Add garlic and butter to the blended mixture. Blend again until incorporated.
  6. Pour into a serving bowl.

To eat:
Pull the leaves off the artichoke, dip in the sauce and scrape the leaves with your teeth to pull as much meat off the leaves as possible. The further in you go, the more meat will be on the leaves and the more tender they’ll be as well. Once all the leaves have been removed, pop out the “choke” (which is inedible). Then you’ll have the hearts left. The hearts are the best part. 

Fresh artichokes are a new ingredient to me. I would consider making them again in the future. I personally enjoyed the dip the best. I think the creamy dip would taste delicious mixed with chopped artichoke hearts. For now, I may stick with the jarred artichoke hearts for dips or casseroles. The whole artichoke was an interesting process. One objective of this series is to step outside our comfort zones and try something new. This was one of those times for me. 

Have you ever prepared whole artichokes? If so, how did you prepare them?