Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe and How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin

It’s the time of year of all things pumpkin! I am jumping on the bandwagon big time with instructions on roasting a whole pumpkin and a recipe for a paleo pumpkin spice latte.

Our CSA has recently been offering THE most gorgeous pumpkins. Our farmer,Sara, explained that “Cheese” Pumpkins (presumably because they look like a big wheel of cheese?) are especially great for baking. The last few visits to farm have yielded a few of these pumpkins – now what to do with them?

How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin

Having never cooked a pumpkin before, I took to Facebook to ask the folks if they roast their pumpkins whole or cut them up. Almost everyone advised me to cut it up first so it would cook faster and “more evenly”. But I was feeling very lazy and I don’t know about you but I HATE trying to cut pumpkins or butternut squash. I always feel like I am going to stab myself or cut off a finger. So I decided to gamble and just cook the thing whole. It was a risk because no matter where I searched online the only whole-pumpkin-cooking references I found were for much smaller sugar pumpkins. But my process ended up working out beautifully and I wanted to share it in case anyone else has a larger pumpkin they want to cook.

How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F  
  2. Wash the pumpkin thoroughly
  3. Place the pumpkin in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate its sizePaleo Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe
  4. Rub some oil into the skin of the pumpkin – this will help keep it from burning
  5. Pour two to three cups of water into the bottom of the pan
  6. Place the pan with the pumpkin into the oven and roast for 90 minutes – keep your eyes on it towards the end to ensure there is not a lot of scorching happening
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the pumpkin to cool off (it will continue cooking) for at least 30 minutes but longer if necessary to ensure it is cool enough to handle

*My pumpkin weighed approximately 10 pounds and was about 14-16 inches wide. So you may need to adjust the time depending on the size of your pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

  1. Once the roasted whole pumpkin is adequately cooled, cut it in half and remove the seeds and fibers (save the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds and throw out the rest).
  2. Cut off the skin and use a food processor (or high speed blender) to puree the pumpkin until smooth. You will have to do this in several batches.
  3. Put the pumpkin puree into containers and refrigerate or freeze for future use

I roasted my whole cheese pumpkin on a Saturday when I was just hanging around the house anyway. So taking the extra time to cook was not an issue and it was nice not to have to battle with cutting it up prior to cooking. The pumpkin yielded approximately 10 cups of pumpkin puree! -two of these large mason jars and then about half of another one.

paleo pumpkin spice latte

The puree was nicely sweet and very smooth and I could not get over the color. Look at the orange. The screen does not do it justice.

paleo pumpkin spice latte

Once I had enough pumpkin puree to feed a small army, I was on the lookout for great paleo pumpkin recipes. Coincidentally, I came across several after downloading the Harvest Your Health Bundle Sale a few days ago. One of the first recipes that caught my attention was one for paleo pumpkin spice lattes.

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are a favorite this time of year and Starbucks seems to have cornered the market. I admit to being a fan of Starbucks and my usual drink there is a Grande Americano with Heavy Cream (no sugar). When the fall season arrives, indulging in a Pumpkin Spice Latte a time or two is on the agenda. But, honestly, the way pumpkin spice lattes are served at Starbucks is just WAY too sweet for me. Typically, I ordered the latte with only one pump of syrup which always makes me question the wisdom of paying a premium for something and then eliminating the premium ingredients! Sigh. So I REALLY just need to make these at home and making them dairy-free would be ideal.

I found a recipe in the bundle from the book “A Paleo Pumpkin Thanksgiving”. by George Bryant. This recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Spice Lattes is easy to make, dairy-free, has a more prominent pumpkin flavor (it uses puree!) and you can adjust the sweetness to your own taste. (recipe used with permission from George, photo is my own) Continue reading

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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!

Sausage and Kale Sauté Continue reading

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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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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

paleo breakfast porridge Continue reading

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Spaghetti Squash Gratin (Primal & Gluten-free)

Spaghetti Squash Gratin: Paleospirit.com

Warning! The recipe for Spaghetti Squash Gratin contains dairy ingredients. This one is going to be hard to resist. So if you are strictly dairy-free you might want to stop reading now.

PaleoSpirit.com Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Okay, if you are still reading I will assume you eat dairy products from time to time.

Minimally, I hope you are not inclined to inform me in the comments the paleo diet does not include dairy. (Actually, yes it does depending on your tolerance and the type of dairy. But let’s not argue. Okay?)

Perhaps we can agree on the term “primal” which is typically used to describe a paleo diet or recipe that does include some dairy products. So let’s agree the following recipe is a Primal Spaghetti Squash Gratin.

spaghetti squash gratin by PaleoSpirit.com

The dairy in this spaghetti squash gratin is not just any old dairy, it’s one of the most wonderful cheeses known to mankind.

I’m talking about Gruyère cheese.

Gruyere cheese for primal spaghetti squash gratin

If you have never tried Gruyère you are really missing out. Gruyère is a type of Swiss cheese. This is the same cheese found atop high quality French onion soup. When added to a gratin it imparts a simply amazing flavor. And, in my experience, it is worth splurging on the original version made in Switzerland as opposed to domestic U.S. varieties. The flavor of the original Gruyère is unsurpassed and you need less of it to get the characteristic creamy, nutty, earthy and complex flavor in a recipe.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

This dish is great on chilly autumn and winter days. The spaghetti squash still has a slight crunch and the nutmeg accents the Gruyère perfectly. It would be delicious with steak and a salad or really any meal that you may, in the past, have served with (God forbid) Macaroni & Cheese.

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Basic Paleo Egg Muffins

Well, I managed to survive my first week back at work. Thank you to everyone who wished me well and offered a prayer. I really appreciate it. Making my transition a little easier was my pleasant surprise at the windowed office with a nice view. Yea trees and grass!

The drive is pretty substantial and it’s a good thing I drive a hybrid because otherwise a big chunk of my paycheck would go just for gas! The longish drive gives me the opportunity to listen to audiobooks again. This something I did years ago and really enjoy because it’s a great way to multitask. (I get my books either from the library or from www.audible.com) Right now I am reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It’s one of those classic novels that I somehow managed to NOT read during school years. There’s a movie coming out in November so I figure now is the time to do it. Hopefully, the 38 hours (yes, 38 hours!) of audio will make my commute more tolerable.

One of the things I have noticed about being back at work is how awkward it feels to sit for most of the day. I SIT in my car then SIT at my desk for hours then walk to lunch or to a printer occasionally but mostly….I SIT. For the last two plus years I have been active from sun up to sundown. Aside from sitting here at my computer writing or editing photos, I am almost always standing or walking. So this is going to take some getting used to. Hmm. Maybe a standup desk is in order….

Here’s a shot of my feet from Saturday morning. It felt so wonderful to get back into my Lululemon leggings and Vibrams after a week of high heels and business suits. Aaah, heavenly comfort on a frosty morning.

Vibram Fivefingers

After this photo was taken I popped down to the local farmer’s market and found a few lovely ingredients for paleo breakfast. The following recipe for basic paleo egg muffins comes from those ingredients and my need to make breakfast fast and easy now that I’m more pressed for time. It’s one of those recipes that has the potential to get really fancy with the addition of various spices and veggies. I’m keeping it simple because this is the way my kids seem to like it best.

basic paleo egg muffins

You can make these egg muffins ahead of time then reheat in the morning for a quick meal at home or on the go. All you need is a pound of (ideally organic pasture-raised) pork breakfast sausage and a dozen eggs. With just those ingredients and a little oil, salt and pepper you’ve got breakfast – double it and you have enough for a few days.

basic paleo egg muffins

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Paleo Banana Cardamom Bread

Well, today a new chapter in my life begins. I’m starting a new job after being home full-time with my boys for almost two and a half years.

It’s a big day for me and I’m excited and a little nervous. Being home has been wonderful and I have enjoyed every second of the time with my children. Having the time to be able to focus on healing my body and soul has been priceless. With help from God, a few good friends and loved-ones, I have come a long way. Working on this website has been a creative outlet for me and I have enjoyed all the comments and emails I have received over the months. But, with new found health and vitality, the time has come to take on a new challenge. While I will definitely be busier than ever I fully intend to keep posting here.

In fact, I am quite sure I will need to come up with strategies for managing our paleo diet while working a very intense schedule. When I was preparing for my busy week ahead I decided to make some paleo banana bread to store away for breakfasts for at least a couple of days. We usually eat meatier fare in the mornings and I have had the luxury of time to devote to kitchen clean-up. Now, not so much!

Paleo Banana Cardamom Bread

The addition of cardamom came about mainly because I wanted to make something a bit different from the standard banana bread flavor. But the motivation to use this particular spice was the result of my own disorganization when it comes to grocery shopping. I was recently making a recipe that called for cardamom as one of about a zillion ingredients. When I was in the grocery store I could not for the life of me remember whether or not I had ground cardamom. So, of course, I bought a big jar of it. Come to find out, I already had two other jars! So I tried desperately to figure out what flavors go with cardamom. This spice has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. In addition to being used in Indian cooking, cardamom is used in baking in many Nordic countries. Once I heard this news it occurred to me that it might compliment the flavor of banana – and I was right. Whew! That’s a relief. Something to do with the cardamom now.

paleo banana bread

When using almond flour I almost always add some coconut flour. Almond flour seems too wet and the addition of coconut dries it out a bit. The combination of the two seems to hit the “sweet spot” in grain-free baking. I had to make this a few times to come up with the right ratio as well as the best sized pan and oven temperature. The recipe for paleo banana cardamom bread you will find below is moist and aromatic – perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon.

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Duck Confit Sweet Potato Hash and a Day in New York City

Paleo Breakfast HashMy husband G works in New York City. He had to work late on Friday night and all day Saturday so his company put him up in a hotel. The boys and I tagged along for moral support. The fact that we could enjoy some of the greatness that NYC has to offer had NOTHING to do with it. Nope. Nothing. It was purely sacrificial on our part. ;-)

Since we were there early Saturday morning, the boys and I made our way to The Breslin which is a restaurant in the Ace Hotel. We ordered the “Full English Breakfast”  – one for me and one for the boys to split (plus an extra side of sausage, of course!)

Breslin English Breakfast

The breakfast came with blood pudding, also known as black pudding or blood sausage. It is a popular dish in many parts of the world but not something Americans tend to eat. No matter how paleo-esque it might be, the thought of eating blood pudding did not fill me with glee. The restaurant would not allow for substitutions so I did try the pudding. But while it essentially tasted like breakfast sausage, I could not get past the IDEA of eating blood.

Here’s a photo of the pudding – it’s a terrible shot but you get the idea.

Not appetizing. Sorry all you blood pudding fans…

Everything else was delicious but I made the mistake of letting the boys sit next to each other so it ended up being one of the most expensive and frustrating breakfasts I have ever had. My intention of taking lots of photos did not pan out partly because it was very dark in the restaurant but mostly because I was just so aggravated. The boys were far more manageable after they stuffed themselves with lots of pork products and eggs. Whew! (For more info and photos of The Breslin you can check out Nom Nom Paleo’s recent post.)

The High Line Park

After breakfast we headed to The High Line which is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It was opened in 2009  and is owned by the City of New York. It was saved from demolition by the community and is an amazing example of how to use a historic site as public space.

Here’s our view of the Empire State Building.

Empire State Building from The High Line: PaleoSpirit.com

And some of the interesting architecture visible from The High Line.

Buildings from The High Line: PaleoSpirit.com

Nathaniel enjoyed pretending to be a giant standing in the middle of the street grabbing (literally) a cab.

Moving along The High Line trail we happened upon a dashing cellist.

Cellist on The High Line: PaleoSpirit.com

Then Benjamin bounded down some of the seats lining a street overlook when disaster struck. This shot was taken about ten seconds before he fell and broke (we suspect) his arm. (And just by the way, I HATE that sign in the background.)

So that was the end of our walk. We headed back to the hotel to decide what to do with the poor little guy. Before driving back home we made a final stop at Grom for some gelato. For some reason this made Ben feel much better. Hmm.

One of our other fun experiences in New York, albeit Long Island, was referenced in my last post. For brunch in the village of Southampton I experienced duck confit sweet potato hash. It made enough of an impression that I determined to make a version of it at home. The hash uses sweet potatoes instead of the standard white potatoes which are generally eschewed on the paleo diet. But aside from that, the taste of sweet potatoes with the fatty, rich duck meat is exquisite and it’s far more beautiful than white potatoes anyway.

Duck Confit Sweet Potato Hash: PaleoSpirit.com

Duck confit is prepared by salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. The meat is rubbed with salt, garlic, and herbs then covered and refrigerated for up to 36 hours. Duck confit is often sold in cans but I was only able to find the individual legs in a local grocery store.

Duck Confit

Once you have some duck confit you can begin the process of making the duck confit sweet potato hash.

First you will need to find some sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes: paleo duck confit sweet potato hash

Then peel them.

peeling a sweet potato

Then dice them.

diced sweet potato for paleo duck confit hash

Grab a red onion, dice it up, chop some fresh parsley and congratulate yourself on being an ace sous chef.

Duck confit sweet potato hash ingredients: Paleo Spirit

Now it’s time to get serious about cooking the duck confit sweet potato hash. Continue reading

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Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti (Paleo & Vegan)

Paleo Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti:: PaleoSpirit.com

Living in Italy many years ago I first became acquainted with biscotti. It was long enough ago that biscotti were not well-known in the United States. After returning home, I hosted a feast for my extended family that included an authentic almond biscotti recipe. It was something new for my family. The recipe I used was from an Italian cookbook I had purchased in that country and the resulting confections were quite crunchy and dense. In fact, I will never forget how my great aunt Ann enjoyed them. She enjoyed them in spite of the fact that she might have popped her jaw out of place trying to crunch one!

The recipe I have for you today is quite different. This is a grain-free, paleo and vegan recipe for chocolate pistachio biscotti. It uses almond and coconut flours and the resulting cookies are nicely crunchy but not so dense and hard that you will break a tooth or hurt your jaw. My great aunt Ann has passed away now, but I’m quite sure she would have enjoyed these biscotti even more than the “authentic” version.

Paleo Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti:: PaleoSpirit.com

School is back in session for us this week. After school my boys and I enjoy having a snack together and talking about our day. Taking the time to connect with loved ones is important. But it is also important to nourish other friendships by spending time together. Sharing food and drink can be an important part of bonding. It is also a great way to show hospitality – something that seems almost a lost art these days.

I love the poem “A Time To Talk” by Robert Frost. It reminds us of a simpler time when life had a more leisurely pace. It speaks of a man working in his field but taking time to enjoy the company of a good friend who had stopped by. He forgets, for a little while, his responsibilities and chores and simply enjoys spending time with his friend. We should all take a little “time to talk” with people we love and maybe even open our homes in hospitality to someone new, someone who might become a friend.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

Paleo Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti: PaleoSpirit.com

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