Happy [Paleo] Friendsgiving!

Happy FRIENDSgiving!

 My heart is so overjoyed to have spent Saturday evening accompanied by friends, laughs, and gratitude! We had the pleasure of hosting a Friendsgiving event at our home. This meant LOTS of scrumptious foods and desserts to share, so I made sure to add some to the menu that were delicious and nutritious.

Our lovely friends arrived and everyone channeled their “inner Picasso” and drew on little index cards all the things they’re thankful for! Kudos to Austin to thinking of this awesome ideas! 😉Thankful Wall Thankful Wall Thankful Wall

Do I have a creative group of friends or WHAT? 

After a round of games, the turkey was finally done! This, by the way, was the first turkey I have ever cooked so I was truly elated when… “Guys!! The red thing finally popped up! It’s done! And I think it actually looks good too!”Turkey Time

Thank you men for handling it from here...
Thank you men for handling it from here…

There were a variety of foods that friends brought, but again, I made sure to sneak in some healthy Paleo options to share. Let’s start off with a delicious Sweet Potato + Pumpkin Casserole. It’s so good that your friends won’t even miss those marshmallows– well, maybe. It’s worth a shot. 😉Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole

Paleo Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Casserole (serves 9)
Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes
1 16-oz can 100% pure pumpkin
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp cinnamon, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Honey, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees and fill a large pot with water. Chop all the sweet potatoes into large chunks and place in pot. Place the pot on high and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Once finished, remove from heat and strain all the excess water.
2. Return sweet potatoes to pot and add 1 tbsp of olive oil (for dairy-tolerant folks, you may use butter instead). Mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Then, add in your can of pumpkin and mix together thoroughly.
3. Add in pumpkin spice, coconut milk, vanilla, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon to mixture. Mix thoroughly once more. Next, transfer mixture to casserole dish (I used a 9×9 pan).
4. In separate mixing bowl, toss almonds with cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Toss until evenly coated. Garnish the top of casserole with chopped almonds.
5. Finish off your casserole with a drizzle of honey over top of the almonds.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. ENJOY 🙂

Paleo Sweet Potato CasseroleHow is that for a mouth-watering Paleo spin on a classic? Well, we’re not done yet. A fresh salad came to mind while I perused the grocery store on that Fall morning and then it hit me: Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad. I love when the grocery store inspires you! Also, this gem is Whole30 Compliant!Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped SaladDino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 bunch Dino kale
3 cups spinach
1 small gala apple
1 green bell pepper
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Coat a oven-safe dish in coconut oil. Place washed cranberries in dish and stick in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop up kale, spinach, apple, bell pepper, and walnuts into bite-size pieces. Try to make everything about the same size. Place all ingredients in large bowl.
3. Once cranberries are finished, add them to the bowl. Toss all ingredients together.
4. If desired, add your favorite dressing (I suggest a balsamic) or top with some of that Thanksgiving turkey! EAT UP 🙂

Okay, so my salad is more "layered" than "tossed", but it was all for the photos, people!
Okay, so my salad is more “layered” than “tossed”, but it was all for the photos, people!

Other food items included green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a plethora of desserts. I will admit, I sampled a bit of everything. I will also admit that due to this I had a major sugar-induced headache for the next two days (Is a “food hangover” a thing? Because I think it is). Sometimes you pick your battles and choose to indulge every once in a while. Just choose wisely, then get back on track!

This is the "Remember to Make Wise Choices" Face.
This is the “Remember to Make Wise Choices” Face.

Happy Friendsgiving

I am so thankful to these wonderful people in my life (and those who couldn’t make it too) and I am happy to have celebrated Friendsgiving while sneaking in Paleo recipes at the same time. Thank you all for being my guinea pigs!


Happy Friendsgiving!
Maybe you can try some of these, or be inspired to find more Paleo Thanksgiving dishes for this year’s feast!Give Thanks

 

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Inspiralized

BIG NEWS! I officially am the owner of a spiralizer, thanks to my wonderful mother and her willingness to part with hers. SCORE!

Before I move forward I would love to answer that question you’re pondering: Yes, “spiralizer” is a word and no, it is not a special weapon made up in some action-comicbook series. Seriously, Google it. I’ll wait…

See? Good, now back to the spiralizer and all its glory. Ain’t she a beaut?SpiralizedPasta used to be one of my favorite meals. Though, I’m not talking about your average spaghetti and red sauce here… #basic. I’m talking about the what seemed to be endless combinations of delicious sauces, proteins, and vegetables all intertwined with ribbons of wheat & gluten-filled goodness. Mmmm. I was always coming up with new creations when making pasta; plus, it was an easy meal for a college kid to throw together and make a “one-pot wonder meal”.

Now that the pasta days have basically come to an end, I have been hankering to get my hands on one of these spiralizers to make ribbons of veggie pastas. ZOODLES FOR ALL!Ooodles of ZoodlesMy original thought was to dazzle you with a ton of Paleo-friendly spiralized pasta recipes, but then I realized one awesome lady, by the name of Ali, over at Inspiralized.com has an entire BLOG dedicated to all things spiralized. Seriously, look at how mouth-watering some of these photos are:IMG_4282-copy IMG_4477-copy Turnip Noodles

I mean… TURNIP NOODLES? I don’t know that I would have ever thought of that. Dang, she’s good. But wait, there’s more! We need not limit ourselves with pasta over here, friends. I have started to experiment in the chip-department with my regular Sweet Potato Chip recipe, but with using the spiralizer rather than the mandolin. Which, for me, is safer since I my fingers constantly seem to gravitate towards the blade when using a mandolin. Safety, for the win!Spiralized Sweet Potato ChipsSpiralized Sweet Potato ChipsAll this being said, I am super excited to add this gadget to my kitchen and I can’t wait for more recipe-creating opportunities it will bring! Maybe it will inspire you as well to test one of these out!

Do you own a spiralizer? If so, what is your favorite thing to “spiralize”? If not, then what is your favorite go-to kitchen gadget? 🙂

Eating Evolved Coconut Butter Cups

I’m about to change your life.
That may be a bit extreme, but you get it.
Eating Evolved has created the most incredible butter cups I’ve ever experienced. Ever.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Butter Cups, welcome to my life.
(And if you’re lucky, yours too!)Dark Chocolate Coconut Butter Cup

You know you can trust a company that states: “Chocolate: It’s food, not candy.” Yeah they have my vote already. Well, I have been hearing a ton of positive comments about Eating Evolved, therefore giving them a shot was on the “To Do List”. I didn’t know where to start. The website has all kinds of amazingly delicious creations. From Sea Salt + Caramel Coconut Butter Cups to the Vanilla Bean + Coffee Chocolate Bar, the list of star-studded chocolate options makes you want to just have all of them at once. Okay, yes, all at once. #sorrynotsorry

In efforts to pace myself, I ordered my first Eating Evolved experience via coconut butter cups. Currently, the company sells three varieties:

Classic Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate Mint
Dark Chocolate Caramel + Sea Salt
Is your mouth watering yet?Eating Evolved Coconut Butter Cups

When the chocolatey-treasure box arrived at my door step, my first instinct was to devour all the chocolate, but then the logical-side of my brain kicked in shouting, “No! Then it will all be gone and you will be sad! Pace yourself, lady!” The emotional/impulsive-side of my brain actually listened this time (surprisingly) and I carefully sampled eat one over the course of this past month. A month. Now am I impressive, or what?

The verdict is in!
Likes:
1. EVERYTHING: Well, I am going to try to be more specific than that so this post is actually helpful, but that word was the first thing that came to mind.
2. Ingredients: a Paleo (and Vegan) dieter’s friend. This ingredient list contains zero dairysoyor gluten products. Thank you, Eating Evolved. This is an incredible feat in the chocolate world and we really appreciate it.
3. Flavors: I am not trying to give a cheeky, optimistic answer here. I really loved all three magnificent varieties of these coconut butter cups. I was not disappointed by any of them (in fact, quite the opposite). I will, however, give you my “rankings”: Caramel + Sea Salt, Mint, and then Classic. Again, all of them were AMAZING, but if you put caramel + sea salt on chocolate, you have me wrapped around your pretty little finger.
4. Sugar Content: These treats are not super-sugary at all! One cup has only 3-5 grams of sugar (depending on the variety). It then had me curious about a typical peanut butter cup, which by the way, has 10.5 grams of sugar!! Mint Creme Coconut Butter CupsNeutral:
1. Availability: The company is relatively new, from my understanding, so I know this is just in the beginning stages. My hope is to soon find these at my local grocery store versus online. This isn’t a terrible issue, but just something I am hopeful for in the future!
2. Packaging: This is basically my fault. I live in a hot state. Florida isn’t known for our cool, crisp weather. I should have listened to the website that said, “pick the warm weather shipping option”. Nahhh, it will be fine. I think there is a cold front coming. Silly, Victoria. My cups were a tad melty when they arrived so I stuck them in the fridge for a bit to harden up. Lesson learned. #mybadClassic Coconut Butter CupDislikes:
I always give my honest opinion about the products I review on this blog. I honestly have zero dislikes about this product. I GREATLY enjoyed every last bit of the coconut butter cups. I believe they are fairly priced (although I always hate paying for shipping no matter what the product). The ingredients are of high quality. The company makes me want to jump on board with what they are promoting. No complaints here.

Eating Evolved Coconut Butter CupsNow head on over to Eating Evolved and get yourself (and maybe your friends if you like them enough) a package (or three) of these incredible Dark Chocolate Coconut Butter Cups. They will not disappoint! Just remember, if you’re in the heat of the South, CHOOSE WARM WEATHER SHIPPING. That is all.

Enjoy every delicious, sweet, chocolatey bite! 🙂

Tips for Being a Dinner Guest on a Special Diet

Whether you’re Paleo, or following the Whole30 program, or just trying to stick to healthy eating habits, it can be daunting when someone invites you over and you immediately go into a tizzy about what you’re going to eat and if you’ll be tempted by all the deliciousness that is sure to be available at the party/dinner/bbq/etc. WILL THERE BE CARROT STICKS AVAILABLE?! Ah!Autumn Party

Fear not, friends. You can do this AND enjoy your time with your friends and/or family.
This just calls for a little preparation.

1) Ask the host about the menu.
My lovely friend Lauren, from The Thinking Closet, had our church’s children’s theater team over her house for a fun Fall Party & BBQ. I LOVE seeing the words “BBQ”. You can pretty much guarantee that there will be a plain hot dog, hamburger, or chicken breast available. She included some food details in the invite, so I didn’t need to ask further questions, but don’t feel embarrassed about asking the host if needed. It’s also a great opportunity to sneak in a question about what to bring: “I wanted to know what was being provided so I make something different to bring for our dinner!” See? Not frightening, nor hard.Thrive Life & Thinking Closet

2) If you feel comfortable, tell the host about your dietary restrictions.
This is just if you feel close enough to the host (maybe it’s your mother or your best friend) and you want to just double-check about having something available to munch on. You don’t need to do this, especially because of my next step, but if you feel okay doing so… go for it.Dinner Table

3) Bring a dish to share that you can eat too!
This is a win-win. Not only are you being all courteous and whatnot by bringing a dish to said dinner/bbq/party/whatever, but you also now have provided a healthy addition to the meal that you know, without a doubt, is perfectly suited for your diet. Generous and nutritious, look at you go!

4) BYOC
Seriously. Bring your own chocolate. There is a 99% chance there will be some type of sweet available to you at the party. Most likely cake, brownies, cookies, or cupcakes. There is also a 99% chance that these items are not Paleo-friendly, unless you brought them. Trust me, those stats are all legit. With all that being said, get yourself some Paleo-approved chocolate and use it to satisfy the sweet tooth that is sure to come your way while everyone else is enjoying cake and eating it too. This particular evening Eating Evolved’s Mint Creme Dark Chocolate Coconut Butter Cups were my sidekicks while cupcakes were being consumed by other guests.Mint Creme Coconut Butter Cups5) Be present.
Don’t get consumed with what you can and cannot eat. Enjoy the time with your family and friends! Meet someone new! Get in on the games! Laugh! Talk! Have fun and don’t fix your mind on food. 🙂Party 1 Party 2


Thank you Lauren for having us all over to celebrate the Fall season and enjoy some laughs, great food, and wonderfully entertaining games + conversations!

What are some things you do to stick to your healthy eating habits when enjoying outings & events?

 

East End Market

Call me Captain Jack because I just found treasure.
That line was disgustingly cheesy, I know, but you need to understand how incredible this place is.East End Market

Rejoice! Calling all foodies, yoga moms, and business men on lunch! Plus, everyone in between. East End Market, located in Audubon Park District in Orlando, Florida, is absolutely a hidden gem.

The Market showcases some of Central Florida’s top food entrepreneurs, tradespeople, artists, and chefs. The two-story structure is home to a dozen merchants, a large event space, a demonstration kitchen, an incubator kitchen, offices, retail shops, a full-time, award-winning caterer and a world-class restaurant.

East End Market is not only a hub for local food and culture, but also a community space fostering creativity and collaboration.

Inside the MarketThe entire property was stunning. There seems to be something for everyone: coffee, sushi, smoothies + juices, a bookstore, craft beers, local farm produce, bakery items, floral + plant gifts, and MORE. Seriously, something for everyone!

Of course, I had a few of my own favorites that I would LOVE to share with you all.

Skyebird

SkyebirdSkyebird 2This place was my favorite (with a close runner up). Skyebird captured my attention immediately– the colorful display of produce and teas, the mouth-watering menu, and the fresh atmosphere. I simply had to give it a try. After checking out the menu, and getting a few recommendations, I went with the Skye’s Favorite Smoothie. Skyebird's FavoriteNot only do you get the opportunity to pull up a chair and watch the magic happen, but the beautiful part about the “magic” is that they actually are slicing and dicing the fruits and veggies in front of you! How many smoothie/juice places have you seen that just pull out a container of pre-sliced produce that makes you wonder how long it was sitting there? Now that is fresh. I would also love to add that the adorable glass jar it comes on is your to-go cup! If you bring it back for a refill, you get $0.50-off your drink!All Things DeliciousThe staff was amazingly friendly and happy to help with decision-making, which I often need help with. My smoothie tasted wonderful and from some of the “regulars” I talked to agreed that the menu items were always fresh and delicious. I highly recommend swinging by Skyebird when visiting the East End Market.

Lineage

LineageIf there is good coffee, it will be found. I am a coffee fanatic and as soon as I walked into the market, Lineage was the first place I stopped. Lineage serves all kinds of coffee in various styles: French press, cold brew, pour over, and Chemex. Fresh BrewTheir incredible roasted coffees take on an art form when being brewed. The aroma lures you in as your walk by and begs of you to stay. When you stick around you’ll meet wonderful staff and down amazing brew. Relax and enjoy the experience. ahhhhh. 🙂

 Porch Therapy

Outside PorchSucculentsWhen first arriving to the market, I was greeted by the loveliest of plants and flowers sprinkled throughout the patio area. I noted the signage that indicated Porch Therapy was responsible for the beautiful display and that customers were welcome to pick any plant of their choosing and bring it inside for checkout. The abundant array of plants and flowers were such a colorful greeting into the market and Porch Therapy’s interior was no different. I had a wonderful conversation with the owner, chatting about her business, along with the ins and outs of the market. This place makes my “Top 3 of East End” with ease.Indoor Porch Therapy


East End Market was an experience. I love when places capture all your senses and allow you to enjoy the present moment! This is a place where community gathers, feasts, and learns. Speaking of learning, East End also has fun events and cooking classes for the public, if you’re interested! I highly recommend you check out East End if you’re local. If not, whenever you happen by Orlando and are sick of the theme parks, a stroll over to East End Market will not disappoint!East End Outdoor 2

I hope you find a local gem of your own! And if you have a favorite in Orlando (or anywhere really) leave a comment!

Cheers! 🙂