Parsnip and Celeriac Soup with Fried Beet Matchsticks (plus Giveaway)

Parsnip Celeriac Soup: PaleoSpirit.com

Just down the street from our home lies a lovely, family-owned Christmas Tree farm. In spite of this, we have opted for an artificial tree the last few years primarily because of my son’s tree allergies. But, I will admit, another factor is the artificial tree is “pre-lit”. Yes, the convenience trumped the natural beauty of the real thing – at least until now. This year we decided to take a chance with the allergies and opt for the full cut-your-own-Christmas-Tree experience.

Tree Farm

Nathaniel found a “little tree”.

Little Tree

His little tree reminded us of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree.  We ultimately chose a larger tree and the boys took turns (with close supervision!) cutting it down.

Help with cuttingcutting

The tree farm is close enough we could walk home with our tree.

G carries tree-2

We really had fun with cutting our own Christmas tree. It looks and smells great and I’m pretty sure we will be tossing out the artificial tree and going natural from now on.

The experience reminded me of a poem by e.e. cummings I memorized for seventh grade English class:

little tree by e.e. cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

Christmas tree

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde) and a Giveaway

This post is SO long overdue.

There is an explanation for my seeming fall into slackerdom. Did you know I have a full-time job with a two hour per day (minimum) commute?! (A total of over 420 miles per week driving – thank God for my hybrid!). Oh yes, and a husband…and a couple of kids… and a house and, and…. Then there’s the ole perfectionism which prevents me from posting until I labor over everything for a good while.

Being able to be a full-time blogger would be great and, who knows, maybe one day that will happen. But, alas, blogging is not going to replace my current day job anytime soon. In the meantime, if I’m going to post more often I’ll need to get more efficient with recipe testing and photo editing and be a little less perfectionistic about it all.

This Roasted Tomatillo Salsa is really easy and packs a punch depending on how spicy you want to make it. Roasting the veggies adds to the depth of flavor and is similar to the Roasted Tomatillo Peach Salsa from a few weeks ago. I used it to make Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Verdes which is yet another post in my queue that I am hoping to finish soon!

Paleo Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde)

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Roasted Tomatillo Peach Salsa with Pan-Fried Halibut

Pan-Fried Halibut with Roasted Tomatillo Peach Salsa | Paleo Spirit

The peach kick continues with this recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Peach Salsa. Tomatillo salsa, also known as salsa verde, contains roasted or otherwise cooked tomatillos.

Tomatillos - PaleoSpirit.com

In spite of growing up in Texas where tomatillos were plentiful, I do not recall ever eating a fresh one. I feel a little lied to! No one told me tomatillos are delicious raw. Our CSA grows them so this was the first year we had several gorgeous, green gems lying around just calling out to be turned into salsa….or eaten fresh?

cut tomatillo

The salsa is the best I have ever made and I am a bit of a salsa snob. The combination of roasted and fresh flavors is delicious and the smooth and chunky texture makes it perfect as a dip or a relish to go on meat dishes.

Roasted Tomatillo Peach Salsa

We made the salsa on a weekend that included a bit of outdoor fun. The nearby Delaware Water Gap area is a gorgeous place that is only a bit more than an hour west of New York City. The funny thing is I read the “Paleo Indians” along with the Lenape tribe used to roam these hills. How appropriate! We frolicked in the river that included a few mossy rocks from which we jumped into the cool waters of the deep pool.

Lea at waterfall

Later we hiked up the mountain and enjoyed the beautiful views. I love this photo of my oldest son, Benjamin, because just a couple of days after our hike he told me of his intention to become a Christian. His faith and courage are inspiring and I’m so proud of his decision.

On Mt Tammany

Ben told us he is ready to be baptized but said he wants it to be private (not in front of the entire church) and he does not want anyone to get “mushy”. Good luck with that last part, Ben. :-)

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Bacon and Heirloom Tomato Frittata with Basil

paleo breakfast recipe

Summer brings many wonderful things. One of summer’s best offerings is the heirloom tomatoes that grace our gardens and farmer’s markets. Today’s recipe for Bacon and Heirloom Tomato Frittata with Basil is the perfect way to showcase not only the full-bodied flavor of heirlooms but their beauty as well.

paleo breakfast recipe

In the garden this year I planted several different types of basil; sweet basil, globe basil and purple basil. This beautiful bounty has languished in my garden far too long. So for this frittata it just made sense to combine the flavors of the tomatoes with basil. The colors of the purple basil and the petite leaves of globe basil are the most unusual and striking and perfect when paired with the heirloom tomatoes.

Purple basil

Our family feasted on this heirloom tomato frittata prior to taking a trip to a nearby arboretum to enjoy the trees, flowers, meadows and a babbling brook. Summer is the time of year when my adopted state of New Jersey shows it is truly worthy of its nickname The Garden State. But summer moves along a little too quickly for my taste. Taking photos is a way of capturing the fleeting days of beauty and fun that passes by all too fast.

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Double Green with statue

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pink flowers 2-5

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Rainbow Chard with Shiitake Mushrooms and Wild Garlic

Rainbow Chard with Shiitake Mushrooms and Wild Garlic

Today we have our second pick up at Uncle Bill’s Farm CSA where we will choose from among the lovely produce picked fresh this morning. New Jersey spring season means lots of greens overflowing in our bushel baskets. One of the most beautiful of them all is rainbow chard. It’s considered one of the healthiest veggies around, with high amounts of vitamins A, K and C. Rainbow chard is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein.

I grew rainbow chard in my raised bed gardens last year and that is when I fell in love with the beauty of this healthful leafy green. We harvested some of it when my mother-in-law was visiting and together she and I enjoyed the beauty of the deep greens of the leaves and strikingly bright and varied colors of the stems.

Rainbow chard paleo

paleo rainbow chard

Rainbow chard paleoRainbow Chard

In order to make use of the produce while it is still fresh we need a few different quick and easy recipes that combine some of the ingredients. After seeing the absolutely perfect rainbow chard last week at the farm, I determined to create a dish that makes use not only of the chard but of the wild garlic that was also available. The addition of the shiitake mushrooms makes this a heartier side dish that could pass as a main dish for you vegans and vegetarians.

Rainbow Chard with Shiitake Mushrooms and Wild Garlic

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Easy Paleo Recipe: Sausage and Kale Sauté

Paleo Sausage and Kale Saute

Today’s recipe for Sausage and Kale Sauté comes after a bit of a hiatus. Regular posting is a little tough lately because my job is very busy and my commute is just as long as ever. But G’s commute just got a LOT shorter. Yay! He is no longer schlepping into New York City everyday on the train. Now that he works much closer to home our lives are already easier. Whew! This new recipe is a great one for when he makes dinner: fast and easy and perfect for a weeknight dinner. It’s also great to make ahead and take to the office for lunch.

The Dr. Oz Show

Before we get to the recipe I want to share an interesting happening. Have you heard of Dr. Oz? I’m sure many of you have. He’s a successful cardiologist and popular author and TV host. Well, one of his producers has been recruiting people for an upcoming episode featuring the Paleo Diet. They reached out to me with a few questions on my Paleo success story. The only problem is the questions focus a lot on total weight loss. The request was for “before” and “after” photos, total weight loss, size before and size after, etc… They also asked about medical condition symptom reversal but the focus of the show seems to be mainly about weight loss. My paleo success is primarily a health story. I don’t really have a remarkable “before” picture. So I submitted my “after” photo and told my Paleo story and we shall see if they are still interested.

On the Paleo Spirit Facebook page I posed the following question,

“Aren’t the health benefits of Paleo just as important as dramatic weight loss?”

Here are a few of the answers I received:

“More so, imo, because not everyone who is overweight has medical issues.” – Danica

“And not everyone with medical issues is overweight…” – Michelle

“I went Paleo to help an autoimmune disease. The weight loss was a wonderful side effect.”Kelly

Absolutely!!!! I believe they can be (and in my case are) interrelated. Having Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowel, and being overweight, I am living proof of the multiple benefits of choosing to live a Paleo lifestyle. I was super sick and terribly weak and those were my motivators, for sure. Now, fourteen months and 45 pounds later, my MS symptoms are almost non existent and I have not had one digestive flare up. So as far as I’m concerned, the health benefits are the driving force, with weight loss being the (grain free, refined sugar free) icing on the cake!!! – Michele

It will be a few days before I find out if they will have me on the Dr. Oz Show. Even if I am not one of the selected guests, my hope is they will focus primarily on the health benefits of Paleo with the weight loss aspects featured as just another great side effect. No matter what happens, only good can come from the word about Paleo getting out to the masses.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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Paleo Mini Meatloaves

Paleo Mini Meatloaves

Few things are as beautiful as a field or forest with freshly fallen snow. Wintertime in our neck of the woods is sometimes a Currier and Ives painting come to life. It is a time for Holidays, for celebrations with family and friends, for warm blankets, cozy fireplaces and of course, for feasts. Put simply, wintertime is the comfy season. So why not spend the comfy season with some delicious, comfort-foods? Meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food in my opinion. It’s not fancy but it warms you up and makes you feel satisfied.

I’m always on the lookout for a good meatloaf recipe. But the trouble is most of them contain bread crumbs, powdered soup mixes or prepared sauce ingredients that I do not want to eat. The alternative was to come up with my own recipe containing only healthful ingredients. I had some trouble making full-sized meatloaves because they never seemed to hold their shape. The solution was to make meatloaf in muffin tins.

The recipe I bring you today is for paleo mini meatloaves. You could call them paleo meatloaf cupcakes if you prefer. Whatever you call them, these little meaty muffins are sure to be a hit with your family – including finicky children.

I performed the solemn duty of meatloaf tester. It was a tough job but someone had to do it.

paleo meatloaf

The little morsels definitely passed muster. They reheat well which makes them great to take to work for lunch. These paleo meatloaves are so chock full of vegetables they make a meal in and of themselves. If you have picky children this might be a mechanism for getting some veggies into them without hearing objections.

Here’s how I make them. Continue reading

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Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

Today’s post is written by my husband G who is a Baltimore, Maryland native and die hard Ravens fan. He’ll introduce our new recipe for Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets just in time for Sunday’s Ravens-49ers match-up. The following recipes may come in handy for Super Bowl parties if you are looking for some delicious finger food without all the junk. Take it away G!

Super-Bowl Sunday – It’s an American tradition!

Since the first Super Bowl game was played in January of 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, the game has morphed into a mega-event that can captivate an entire nation for one Sunday afternoon. If you believe the statistics, nearly 85% of all Americans will be watching this year’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. Simply put, that’s incredible!

And let’s not forget the drama surrounding Super Bowl XLVII. For starters, the head coaches of each team are brothers! That’s right, brothers! John Harbaugh coaches the Ravens and his younger brother Jim coaches the 49ers. Then there’s the impending retirement of the Raven’s team leader and future Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, as well as the ascension of wonder-boy 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick to genuine NFL superstar. All in all, it looks to be a great game as fans around the country hunker down in front of their televisions to cheer on their team.

And what Super Bowl party would be complete without good food? Unfortunately if you’re eating Paleo, the pickings are often slim…but it doesn’t have to be that way! In the spirit of great tasting, all-American bar-food that goes so well with football and the Super Bowl, we’re happy to present…

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets!

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets: PaleoSpirit.com

These paleo buffalo chicken nuggets are surprisingly tasty! (Our family fights over these every time Lea makes them.)

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets: Paleo Spirit

Now for the recipes…first come the chicken nuggets, then homemade blue cheese dressing, dairy-free ranch dressing and how to make a plain paleo chicken nuggets version. Continue reading

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Baked Eggs in Prosciutto-Filled Portobello Mushroom Caps

Paleo Baked Eggs

It is COLD around here.

My friends and family in Texas tend to assume the weather in New Jersey is far harsher than it actually is. I sometimes find myself defending my adopted state insisting “the weather here is wonderful, not what you think!” And this is true…for the most part.

I love the four distinct seasons; the lingering, flower-filled Springs, the sunny Summers mild enough to allow ample, comfortable time outdoors and the crisp Autumns replete with colorful changing leaves and apple orchards brimming with produce.

But then there’s the winter.

It is not as snowy as other parts of our country – we are not covered in the white stuff for much of the season. And the average temperatures, relative to some other states, are reasonably mild. But my Texas blood has yet to completely acclimate to this cold. And this week is especially challenging. We have had temperatures in the single digits with below-zero degree wind chills. Some people love it. But I suffer through, dreaming of the days when the hyacinths and daffodils erupt through the soil giving a promise of more pleasant days to come.

But right now. It’s just cold.

Yesterday we ventured out to a local farm to stock up on meat and eggs. Their store was unheated. Sigh. Well, they did have one space-heater but it scarcely made a dent in the frigid air. The redundant meat freezers seemed almost comical. But it occurred to us the refrigerators were indispensable for keeping the eggs WARMER than the freezing room!

The grass-fed brisket, homemade pork breakfast sausage, ground venison and farm-fresh (not frozen) eggs were procured – QUICKLY – and we were on our way back to the relative warmth of our home. (Shout out to Ugg boots for improving my quality of life in the winter immeasurably!)

Now on to those eggs….

Eggs, prosciutto, portobello mushroom caps

Did you know you can bake eggs in a portobello mushroom cap? Well, you can. It’s a little challenging because, depending on the shape of the cap, you might experience a mishap of an escaping egg. They can slide off the mushroom if you aren’t careful. But I have confidence we can do this thing.

Here’s how I did it.

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Paleo Breakfast Porridge

I came across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt recently.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art.

A lot of meaning can be drawn from this particular statement. But in the context of health, it reminded me how we often take our wellness for granted. In our youth we may treat our bodies in a way that is less than ideal because we can get away with it. Eventually, the signs of abuse and/or neglect start to take their toll. When we start eating better, exercising, taking time to pray and/or meditate we may have the best of intentions but still struggle to stick with our new resolutions. Let’s take heart that the things we are doing now to take better care of ourselves, mind, body and soul will eventually pay off. We are investing in a future of better health and wellness. We are creating works of art.

Paleo Breakfast Porridge

Paleo Breakfast Porridge:: Paleo Spirit

Two years ago our family started down the path of creating a better, more healthful future for ourselves. As part of that, we began transitioning* to a grain-free diet. This paleo breakfast porridge recipe really helped us out during that time. Most people have never considered the possibility of a grain-free “cereal” and before going paleo we had not either. Our first “paleo porridge” was in a simpler form – just bananas (or plantains), coconut milk, almond meal and flax meal. It was born out of desperation – the desperation to make something that remotely resembled oatmeal or other types of hot cereal to replace what we were losing.

Since those early days, our paleo porridge has turned into a more complex dish. We began adding spices and all different types of toppings to the porridge. We always eat it as a side dish with a source of protein like sausage or eggs. It’s great with added berries, unsweetened coconut flakes and nuts. The sweetness will vary depending on the ripeness of the bananas you are using. We don’t typically add any additional sweetener but you have the option of drizzling a little maple syrup or raw honey on the porridge before serving if you like.

This paleo breakfast porridge recipe is easy and serves anywhere from 2-4 persons.

Paleo Breakfast Porridge Recipe

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