A March Snow and a Recipe: Seared Scallops with Strawberry Relish

Snowy Cows | photo by Lea Valle

This is the year I finally learned to love winter.

In Texas the seasons are: almost summer, summer, still summer and Christmas. So my first winter spent in the northeast U.S., those many years ago, was a shock to my system mixed with wonder and joy at the novelty of the abundant snow. That year the winter weather lingered long into spring leaving me feeling, novelty or not, I might have made a mistake in venturing out of the familiarity and warmth of the south.

Snowy Trees | Photo by Lea Valle

But subsequent winters were far milder. Sometimes, much to my surprise, I found myself disappointed there was not MORE snow. It was a creeping, unconscious adaptation to a climate with four distinct seasons – winter not the least among them.

Snowy Willow | Photo by Lea Valle

This year the winter seems never-ending. The roads have potholes, the school vacation days are quickly disappearing from the calendar and the longing for spring grows stronger every day. But no amount of complaining will change the inevitable coming of winter snow. And this year I finally have learned to accept and embrace it. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but when others bemoan the next storm, I am quietly rooting on the snowfall.

Snowy Fence | Photo by Lea Valle

In spite of the inevitable inconveniences of the season, there is strange comfort in the quiet, forced sequester at home while the snow envelopes the world around us. I look forward to the quiet drives around town drinking in the peaceful landscape blanketed in newly fallen snow. I relish visits to the neighboring cows who seem only mildly perturbed at the cold, strange white matter covering them and their home fields. Even the time sitting at my desk peering out at the peaceful falling of new snow is a time to appreciate, rather than curse, the essence of winter in all its glory.

Cow with Sign double

The cleanup and annoyances that are all a part of the onslaught will come later. But for a while I resolve to be like a child in awe of the proverbial “winter wonderland.”

Boy with Snow | Photo by Lea Valle

Taking in the world made new, camouflaged as a cloud.

Snowy River | Photo by Lea Valle

So if you find yourself in the dead of winter lamenting the snow, take a moment to reflect. Because if you have even a hint of the mind of a poet, you might agree that newly fallen snow, covering the old, is not only beautiful but a sermon itself on the beauty of repentance.

A March Snow Poem with Photo

Seared Scallops with Strawberry Relish Continue reading

HUGE Paleo and Wellness eBook Bundle Sale!

Harvest_Your_Health_Bundle_Sale_843X403

THIS SALE IS NOW OVER

Today I am pleased to bring you an absolutely astounding sale of 71 ebooks, meal plans, discounts and more for a price that seems too good to be true.

What is the Harvest Your Health Bundle Sale?

  • 71 ebooks with a total value of over $1,000
  • On sale for 7 days – October 7 to October 14
  • Sale price of only $37 – 97% off the total value!
  • If you were to buy each one of these eBooks individually, it would cost over $1,000.

My personal favorites are:

  • Paleo Everyday ($8.99) by Heather
  • 30 Day Intro to Paleo ($20) by Bill & Hayley Staley
  • Toadally Primal Smoothies ($9.99) by Todd Dosenberry
  • The Grain Free Lunchbox ($9.95) by Jolene Sloam
  • Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat ($14.95) by Melissa Joulwan
  • Broth: Elixir of Life ($12.97) by Patricia Lacoss – Arnold
  • 3 months of Paleo Meal Plans ($29.97) by Deliciously Organic
  • Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness $20 (1 month for 1 penny) by Sarah & John Fragoso and Jason Seib
  • 30% off Kasandrinos olive oil

These are my own favorites but there is much, much more.

Click here for the full list of what you get for only $37!

Some more examples…

Cooking/Preparing Paleo Food

Paleo-Everyday

  • Paleo Everyday ($8.99) by Heather
  • Paleogasm ($30) by Camille Macres
  • Paleo Snack Recipes ($17) by Suz Crawt
  • Paleo Chocolate ($4.99) by Ben Hirshberg
  • Paleo Ice Cream ($5.99) by Ben Hirshberg
  • The Grain Free Lunchbox ($9.95) by Jolene Sloam
  • 30 Day Intro to Paleo ($20) by Bill & Hayley Staley
  • Baking with Coconut Flour ($18.95) by Starlene Stewart
  • Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat ($14.95) by Melissa JoulwanWell-Fed-Paleo-Recipes-For-People-Who-Love-To-Eat
  • FastPaleo Top 100 of 2012 with bonuses ($14.97) by James Gregory and Ute Mitchell
  • Primal Tightwad: Maximizing Your Health On a Minimal Budget ($14.95) by Carolyn Rush
  • The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo: Shopping, Kitchens, Lunches ($10) by Alison Golden

Cooking/Preparing Real Food

  • Crazy for Kale ($5.99) by Hallie Klecker
  • Restocking the Pantry ($10) by Kresha Faber
  • Just Making Ice Cream ($12) by Marillyn Beard
  • Broth: Elixir of Life ($12.97) by Patricia Lacoss – Arnold
  • Back to School Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes ($4.99) by Stephanie Brandt Cornais
  • The Veggie Book: How to Pick, Prepare and Plate ($9.95) by Danielle Tate, Debra Worth, Sara Shay and Kayla Grey

Meal Plans

  • 3 months of Paleo Meal Plans ($29.97) by Deliciously Organicsimple-meal-planning-150x150
  • 4 months of Plan to Eat Meal Planner ($19.80) by the Plan to Eat team
  • 2 months of PrimalPal Membership ($9.99) by Chad and Chris (with several contributors)

Personal/Home Care (Skin, Hair, Teeth, Cleaning)

  • Clear for Life ($27) by Seppo Puusa
  • My Buttered Life: Gift Edition ($5) by Renee Harris
  • Natural Cleaning ($15) by Katie – The Wellness Mama
  • Natural-Cleaning-GuideUltimate Secrets to Acne Freedom ($29) by Tracy Raftl
  • The Holistic Mama’s Guide to Homemade Skincare ($19) by Roxanne King
  • Tips and Tricks to Remineralize and Repair Your Teeth ($12.95) by Ramiel Nagel

Fertility, Pregnancy, Babies, Children, Motherhood

  • First Bites ($9.99) by Hilary Kimes Bernstein
  • Birth Control Unlocked ($14) by Stefani Ruper
  • Fertilise Yourself ($19.95) by NatalieKringoudis
  • Fertility Yoga Program ($9.99) by Hethir Rodriguez
  • Eat Your Way to Parenthood ($35) by Gabriela Rosa
  • Mother’s Little Herbal Helper and Home Remedies ($12.50) by Natalie Vickery
  • Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen plus videos! ($30) by Wardee Harmon & Jami Delgado

Inspiration

  • The Paleo Miracle ($19.99) by Joe SalamaHomemade-Health-Beauty
  • A Practical Guide to Children’s Health ($17.95) by Kate Tietje
  • Primal Deliverance ($14.97) by James Gregory
  • Building Incredible Willpower by Dean Dwyer ($25) by Dean Dwyer

Fitness

  • Bodyweight Overload ($19.99) by Todd
  • Run with No Pain ($17) by Ben Greenfield
  • Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness $20 (1 month for 1 penny) by Sarah & John Fragoso and Jason Seib

Intentional/Simple Living

  • 25 Intentional Days ($25) by Andrew Miller21-Life-Lessons-from-Livin-La-Vida-Low-Carb
  • Change Your Body, Change the World ($9.99) by Frank Forencich
  • 21 Life Lessons from Livin’ La Vida Low Carb ($15) by Jimmy Moore

Detoxify

  • 21 Day Paleo Cleanse ($25) by Neely Quinn
  • Detoxification: 70 Ways to Cleanse, Clear & Purify Your Body, Space & Life ($9.99) by Linda Zurich

Online Magazine Subscriptions

  • Paleo Living Magazine (3 months – 7 issues) by Jeremy Hendon
  • Healthy Recipes Magazine 3 Month Trial (7 issues) by Jeremy Hendon

Discounts

  • 25% off Squatty Potty
  • 20% off Primal Pit Paste
  • 20% off Tisano Chocolate
  • 30% off Kasandrinos olive oil
  • 15% off Nikki’s Coconut Butter
  • 50% off PrimalPal for 6 or 12 months
  • $65 off PaleoFit/PaleoPlan for 12 months
  • 20% off Wild Mountain Paleo Store – Seafood isle
  • 15% off Redmong Trading (real salt, earthpaste, etc)
  • $30 off a $100+ purchase from PrimalBlueprint.com
  • Check here for more discounts

Yes, this is THAT huge.

Just two of these books alone could be worth the $37 asking price. But from now until October 14th at 11:59pm EST, you’ll get all these books, meal plans and discounts for that ridiculously low price.

And, they’ll be auto-magically delivered to you instantly. All you have to do is pay, then download the books to your hard drive.

Order Now for Just $37!

It’s called the Harvest Your Health Bundle Sale, and it’s only available for this week!

Important notes

  • The sale ends on Monday, October 14 at 11:59 PM EST.
  • Click on the links to the ebooks to learn more about them.
  • Due to the unique nature of this sale, no refunds will be offered. With the bundle containing 71 ebooks at a cost of 97% of their normal price point, everyone is bound to find immense value well worth $37.
  • This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them you’ll be taken to a website where you can purchase the Harvest Your Health E-Book bundle. I’ll make a commission for each purchase. Thanks in advance for your support!

Paleo Spirit in Brooklyn: Botanic Garden, Fatty ‘Cue and OddFellows

Brooklyn Bridge

It’s been decided. Brooklyn is where I want to live.

Of course, I also want to live in Costa Rica, Tuscany and New Zealand. Well, then there’s Hawaii, Sardinia and Austin. Okay, so maybe I’m a little fickle when it comes to places I have visited or wish to visit. But seriously, Brooklyn does have its charms. Having lived in the New York City area for many years it is a bit of a travesty we had never visited Brooklyn. So one Saturday in August we ventured to Brooklyn to take in a few sites and enjoy some tasty (hopefully paleo-friendly food). We tackled the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a couple of establishments serving cutting edge, high-quality eats: Fatty ‘Cue and OddFellows Ice Cream Co.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The gardens were recommended by an artist friend, Graydon Parrish, who lived in Brooklyn during his early art-school days. He knows I like flowers and did not steer me wrong because the gardens are absolutely stunning.

The BBG has a lot of educational sections for kids. I love how it provides an area for city kids to learn a lot about gardening and just have plain old fun interacting with nature.

Boys playing with watercompostingNat gardening

The flowers in the garden are amazing, astounding, astonishing!

Wisdom in a flowerBotanic Garden triple sign #2Sunflowers

Butterflies and flowers #2Butterfly and flowers

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden left us spellbound with all the natural beauty from the ponds with lilies to the Shakespeare Garden, Japanese garden, Gingko Tree Alley and more.

Botanic Garden Collage #1

Asian garden double #2

Fatty ‘Cue Restaurant

After our visit to the gardens we ventured to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn for dinner at Fatty ‘Cue. Continue reading

Paleo Key Lime Pie: Dairy-free, Nut-free and Vegan

paleo key lime pie

Spring has finally sprung around here and it feels like time to celebrate. This Paleo Key Lime Pie was inspired by the beautiful green hues that emerge as spring arrives. Far from the hearty stews, braised meats, roasted veggies and even rich dark chocolates featured in our kitchens and dotting the food blog landscape in winter, this key lime pie feels a world apart and just right for spring!

paleo key lime pie

The other inspiration for the pie came about after an email from a woman desperately hunting for a birthday dessert recipe for her friend. The trouble, you see, is her friend is Paleo AND vegan. And if that wasn’t challenge enough, the friend is also allergic to nuts. Impossible, you say? Well, at first I thought it was but keep reading and you will see the ingredients that make this dream come true.

paleo key lime pie

The day after I made the pie we had a scary experience with our youngest son. We thought Nathaniel had managed to dodge the allergy bullet. We found out the hard way that is not the case when he ingested a bit of walnut and ended up needing an Epi-Pen injection to stop his throat closing up. Thank God he is fine now and I will write more about what happened in a future post. But it seemed all the more fitting that we have a paleo dessert recipe that is safe for almost anyone.

Paleo Key Lime PIe

The Paleo Key Lime pie has no dairy, no nuts, no eggs, no soy, no grains and free of refined sugars. The taste is tart and refreshing and you will never detect the main, and surprising, ingredient – avocados. 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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Don’t Give Up Hope: Finding Joy in Tough Times

“If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.”

~Lucy Larcom (1824-1893), American poet

This past week was a rough one. Our family got some bad news and it has caused us to re-evaluate a few things in our lives. I have faith everything will turn out fine. But it does take some effort to see the bright side right now. One thing I have learned over the years is that happiness is mostly a result of our attitude. Being grateful for the good things in our lives is a powerful tool to combat the negative and the depression that often follows. To that end I am making it a habit to notice the good things in my life and acknowledge them specifically. I thank God for blessings each day even when I don’t feel like it.

The other major change in my life that has helped me cope with stressful circumstances is cleaning up my diet and getting my vitamin D levels into the normal range. These things have done wonders for my mood. I do not need medication for depression. The winter months used to leave me feeling blue but now I find even the gray days of the season calming and pleasant in their own way.

Frozen Lake

Continue reading

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Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket: Easy Paleo Recipe

Paleo Beef Brisket

This recipe for slow-cooker beef brisket was inspired by a dish served in my office cafeteria recently. After going back to work full-time a few months ago I have had to contend with the decision to eat the food there or not. The cafeteria is beautiful and has a lot of variety. Some of the dishes, like their beef brisket with peppers, are delicious. But I have taken to referring to the cafeteria as “Gluten City”. There is bread or wheat flour or soy in some form or other in just about everything. I usually opt for the salad bar but even the grilled chicken there is suspect because it has a coating on it. There are many days when I have a reaction to something eaten in the cafeteria even when it is a rather plain salad from the salad bar!

In addition to not grasping the importance of labeling foods for people with sensitivities, this particular office cafeteria has fallen victim to the notion that “fat free” or “low fat” is always optimal. Other than olive oil at the salad bar, there is not a lot of healthy fat to be found – not even nuts or yogurt with more than 0% fat content. I have recently noticed the “light cream” option with the coffee has changed to Half-and-Half. They think they are doing everyone a favor with these low-fat, high carb offerings.

Taking my lunch to work has become a new priority for me. I need things that can be cooked in advance in larger quantities and packed up for lunch the following day. This slow-cooker beef brisket recipe fits that bill. It’s really easy and can be thrown together in the morning before work.

Do you like my sign?

Take it or leave it

We found this in a store recently and it took about two seconds to realize we had to have it. I bet you could find it online if you wanted it in your kitchen. It sort of sets a tone for our family, if you know what I mean.

brisket vertical up close Continue reading

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Venison Steak with Cauliflower Couscous and Red Onion Compote (Paleo)

venison steak and cauliflower couscous paleoWhen my neighbor Tony gifted me with some very fresh venison steaks recently I was excited and a bit apprehensive. Where we live the deer are plentiful and I have long viewed them as pests. Prior to the installation of a high fence for my back yard, our garden was the scene of daily deer traffic. They ate my flowers, nibbled on my shrubs and left plenty of droppings near where my children played. So the idea of “thinning the herd” has never been offensive to me. The problem is I have never cooked venison before. What do I do with this?!

I got plenty of advice from folks who have experience with venison. I was tempted to marinate the steaks or use a brine. But I ultimately decided to go the simple route and just pan sear the venison steaks. The exotic flavors come primarily from the cauliflower couscous side dish and the accompaniment of the sweet and tangy red onion compote. These recipes are the result of my plan to treat the inherently paleo venison (hunter food!) with the respect it deserves. I wanted to add some sophistication to this meat and create something special with complimentary flavors.

While taking photos of the venison and cauliflower couscous I offered some to Nathaniel who eagerly submitted to being my taste-tester. But my voracious reader did a little multi-tasking during his taste-testing gig.

Oh how I love a reading boy!

Continue reading

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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.

Continue reading

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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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