Creamy Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Creamy Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Verdes | Paleo Spirit

For anyone with a dairy allergy or intolerance the term “creamy” can be a little depressing. We long for those smooth sauces that add a luxurious texture and rich flavor to our food. Fortunately, “necessity is the mother of invention” and that is true in the case of “Cashew Sour Cream“. Turning soaked, raw cashews into substitutes for dairy products is a technique often used by vegan chefs in creating dairy-free dishes. But for those of us with dairy allergies/intolerance we can take advantage of this trick to create our own unique recipes. (See my recipe for How to Make Raw Cashew Cream)

Creamy Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Verdes | Paleo Spirit #dairyfree #paleo

Creamy Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Verdes are made with grain-free tortillas filled with seasoned, shredded chicken and topped with a combination of tomatillo salsa verde and “Cashew Sour Cream”. The resulting dish captures the essence of classic Chicken Enchiladas Verdes without the grains and dairy. The spiciness will depend in large measure upon the salsa you use – whether it be my homemade version or a jarred variety. The paleo tortillas lend a more “crepe-like” texture to the dish than standard tortillas. But I think you will agree creamy chicken-filled crepes are pretty delectable and should satisfy your craving for creamy chicken enchiladas quite well.

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Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars

Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars: Paleo Spirit

It started snowing early on Saturday morning, far earlier than expected. The flakes were the big, fluffy kind you see when the air temperature is not terribly frigid. We were inclined to stay inside and enjoy the view from our warm home. But, unfortunately, we were out of coffee and there was grocery shopping to be done. So, I grabbed my husband, Gavin, and we trekked to the store to stock up on supplies. In a state like New Jersey where snow is no stranger you would think people would know not to panic-buy. But judging by the bustling grocery store, that is not the case.

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars

paleo cranberry bliss bars

After deftly battling the crowds, and stocking up on necessities, we ventured to Starbucks for a pound of their Christmas Blend coffee. I am no stranger to Starbucks and may have mentioned before my penchant for the Grande Americano with Heavy Whipping Cream. But each time I’ve been in the store in recent weeks the seasonally available Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar has been sweetly calling my name. I resist. In fact, having celiac disease means there’s really no way I even seriously entertain the notion of eating one of these beauties. It’s sad, actually.

Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars: Paleo Spirit

But I got a bright idea! I would have Gavin eat one and describe, in detail, what he tasted so I could make a gluten-free, paleo-friendly version of the Cranberry Bliss Bars. And that is exactly what we did. He ate it a little too quickly if you ask me. And in fact I got a little snippy telling him to slow down, that the ONLY reason he was eating it was because he was on a mission – a mission of mercy to those of us longing for, yes, CRAVING, one of these things!

Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars:

At that point all I heard was, “cream cheese…lemon…ginger…*garble* some kind of chunky white stuff, oh, that’s probably white chocolate..boy, that was good!” And with that, the cranberry bliss bar was history. Gee, thanks for that in-depth analysis, honey.

Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars:

So let’s go for it. This recipe for Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and (mostly) free of refined sugars. The dried cranberries will almost certainly contain sugar. So if you are just absolutely opposed to it then this recipe is not for you. But compared to the original recipe, and most other treats you will be offered this holiday season, this recipe has far less sugar and still manages to be moist and delicious.

Paleo Cranberry Bliss Bars: Copycat Starbucks Recipe Continue reading

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Mango and Mandarin Orange Paleo Cheesecake Tart

Paleo Cheesecake Tart

There is almost nothing better in spring than taking walks to enjoy the first flowers of the season. The emergence of daffodils always signals for me that winter is truly over and all the wonderful weather months of the year are yet to come. William Wordsworth also appreciated daffodils, writing a masterpiece of a poem dedicated to these symbols of rebirth. The poet not only exulted in the sight of the daffodils but realized his indulgence in such displays of natural beauty carried over to more mundane times when they would “flash upon” his “inward eye”. More reason to make time to appreciate beauty as a way to enrich your life and sustain your health.


by Williams Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.yellow daffodils

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Hipstamatic daffodils 4x6
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
Single daffodil
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Mango and Mandarin Orange Paleo Cheesecake Tart

Daffodils* blooming is also the time of year when fresher flavors are in order. Following on the heels of the Paleo Key Lime Pie I share this recipe for a frozen paleo cheesecake tart that also incorporates the refreshing flavor of citrus. This no-bake, grain-free paleo dessert contains a dairy-free “cheesecake” layer of mandarin orange flavored cashew cream topped with a puree of mangos and mandarin orange juice.

Paleo Cheesecake Tart

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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:

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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Spaghetti Squash Gratin (Primal & Gluten-free)

Spaghetti Squash Gratin:

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. 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

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 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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Korean Shingo Pear Flaugnarde (Clafoutis)

flaugnarde slice with yogurtWhen I initially made this recipe I referred to it as a clafoutis.  But it turns out a clafoutis is a rustic French dessert traditionally made with black cherries. Whenever the same dish is made using a different type of fruit it is known as a flaugnarde. Here’s how to pronounce flaugnarde. I had to play that soundbite a few times to get the pronunciation down (in spite of my slight Texas twang). It’s a funny word that sounds a lot better than it looks. And the dish itself is delightfully warm and filling.

This flaugnarde recipe makes use of Korean Shingo pears. These pears are similar to other asian pears but they are larger and very round. (You could substitute with other types of pears or even apple slices.) The Shingo pears have a high sugar content and a delicate, almost floral taste. They are nicely crisp and would probably be terrific in a salad. But they also work particularly well with this flaugnarde which is perfect as a breakfast or brunch dish. It is not a particularly sweet dish but could still be used as a dessert. If you like custards and/or bread puddings like I do then you will probably enjoy this moist flaugnarde. The 1/4 cup of coconut crystals is optional. I tried it both ways and it was good each time – just a little sweeter with the coconut crystals.

A slice of the flaugnarde for breakfast with a couple of farm fresh eggs fried in ghee is pretty heavenly. My sons, who eat dairy, like to slather it with full fat Greek yogurt.flaugnarde slice with eggs

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Paleo Pecan Pie / Tart

paleo pecan pie tartTexas has a robust pecan industry and, not surprisingly, pecan pie is very popular there. Not far from my hometown is the famous Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. They have been using Texas pecans since 1896 in their fruitcakes, pecan cakes and pecan pies that ship all over the world. When I was growing up there, pecan trees, which are native to Texas, were in my front yard. I still remember the little old man coming over and using a “pecan picker upper” to harvest some from under our trees.  A few days later he would show up at our doorstep with a homemade pecan pie just for us!  It was his way of saying thanks and the gesture was much appreciated.

Unfortunately, celiac disease or gluten intolerance means having to avoid gluten in a pecan pie even if it comes from a famous bakery, a nice neighbor or a well-meaning host at a party. If you want a standard pecan pie there are about a zillion recipes in cookbooks and online. But almost every one of them will have a wheat flour crust or, minimally, will be chock full of sugar, sugar and more sugar.  “Low carb” recipes often have tons of artificial ingredients that make me think “why bother?”  This recipe is different.  It is not only gluten-free but also takes into account my desire to stay as close to paleo as possible. So gone is the corn syrup, brown sugar and processed white sugar. The filling is sweetened only by dates, applesauce, pure maple syrup and a little molasses. Oh and there’s a bit of rum too. But that’s optional. Sort of. Continue reading

Paleo Ostrich Egg Brunch

The boys and I took a trip into New York City the other day and stopped by the Union Square Greenmarket.  My husband, G, had been there the previous Friday and let me know there was a farmer selling ostrich and emu eggs.  Unfortunately, he was sold out that particular day. But Sweet Pea, Big Boy and I were in luck because, on the day we stopped by, the farmer from Roaming Acres Farm still had a couple of ostrich eggs

The price was $30 for one fresh ostrich egg or $20 for a hollow shell.  I purchased the pterodactyl-like egg which was then wrapped in bubble wrap for the trip home.

We were pretty excited to give the egg a try but given the sheer volume of food, and our desire to share the experience with others, we invited some friends over for a Paleo Ostrich Egg Brunch.  In preparation for the extraction of the egg from its shell G selected two drill bits for his Dremel tool.  Paleo Spirit

He used the smallest bit to drill a starter hole in one end of the egg then moved up to a larger bit until he had a hole big enough for a straw. 

We initially tried to extract the egg by inserting a straw slightly smaller than the hole and blowing into the shell.  We ended up drilling a tiny hole in the other end of the egg and blowing directly into that hole.  This second method proved successful.  Once the ostrich egg was out of its shell and into a large bowl I added:

  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

We cooked the mixture in two batches on medium heat in the fat rendered from duck bacon

And, drumroll please……Here’s what the finished product looked like.paleo scrambled ostrich egg

The only difference we noticed between this ostrich egg and regular chicken eggs was some gelatinous ribbons running throughout.  It was part of the white of the egg and looked rubbery. One guest said it reminded her of “lardons” – “pieces of bacon or pork which are inserted in meat in the process of larding” usually in French cooking.  Though initially off-putting it was actually quite tasty and not rubbery at all.

Sweet Pea and Big Boy were VERY excited about brunch!Paleo Ostrich Egg Brunch

Accompanying the scrambled ostrich egg for our “Paleo Brunch” we served some duck bacon, fresh strawberries, gluten free jelly donut cupcakes (recipe from Elana’s Pantry), orange juice and coffee with heavy cream. Paleo Ostrich Egg Brunch

Sweet Pea was pretty jazzed at being allowed to indulge in a tiny bit of coffee and cream in his little Sweet Pea-sized coffee cup.Paleo Brunch

The unanimous opinion was that the ostrich egg was delicious.  The heavy cream and duck fat certainly did not hurt matters.  The texture of the egg itself was very tender – more fluffy than similarly cooked chicken eggs.  It fed four adults and two children with a lot of leftovers in spite of the fact we adults had pretty sizable portions.  My estimate is we ate the equivalent of about 18 chicken eggs.  Here’s a photo of the leftovers.  Paleo Ostrich Eggs

The farmer had estimated the ostrich egg would provide an equivalent of 18-24 chicken eggs.   It seemed to me we had closer to the equivalent of 28-30 eggs.  We certainly could have invited over a few more friends  Given the successful experience there will most likely be a next time!

Paleo Ostrich Egg Brunch

Big Boy imagines he is holding a real pterodactyl egg.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Kale Salad LR

While the squash and zucchini plants have suffered some damage from the dreaded vine borers, the kale plants are still going strong.  I used to say “I don’t DO kale” but have come around to the dark green side in a major way.  The following recipe came to mind when I realized that one of the benefits of kale is its ability to stand up to heavier sauces in its raw state.  Warm bacon dressing is used with spinach in part because it tastes good and also because spinach is more substantial than lettuce and can tolerate that type of dressing. Kale is even more hearty so I decided to try out a warm andouille sausage dressing that would match up well with the texture and taste of this particular green.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

G and I have been getting very comfortable with the concept of eating “dinner for breakfast” so it no longer seems weird to us to have kale in the morning.  This recipe also calls for fried eggs which is something easy to make in the morning and it really goes well with the salad.  G doesn’t like the egg on top of the salad and just eats it separately.  Personally, I think the egg on top is delicious and the egg yolk adds a nice creaminess to the dressing.

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

Kale Salad with Warm Andouille Sausage Dressing

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