Dessert before dinner after a week of *whoa.*

Sometimes, bad days happen.  Sometimes, a bad day happens, and it turns your week into a bad week.  Sometimes, bad days happen multiple times a week.

This was one of those weeks.  Between the sudden death of an amazing woman I wish I could have become better friends with, my anxieties about our family dreams and our hopes for easing those anxieties unfulfilled, and an unexpected contact from someone I tried to cut out of my everyday life a few months ago, I am desperately glad that tomorrow is Friday and we can lay this week to rest.

So, today, the Pirate family is having dessert before dinner.


Strawberry Mango Milkshake

About 1 cup of frozen mango chunks, 2 cups of frozen strawberries, 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, and enough raw milk to blend it all together.  Made enough for Captain and I to have a big glass, while each Cabin Kid got a nearly full plastic cup each.


Also, my lilacs are blooming!


Paleo No-Bake Freezer Cookies

paleonobakes

I am a sucker for No Bake cookies.  Normally made with peanut butter, chocolate, copious amounts of white sugar, butter, and oats.  Not-so healthy.  I could eat an entire batch by myself.

I recently joined a clean eating group on Facebook through my Crossfit box and have taken one in a series of 4 ‘Master’ Paleo cooking classes.  At the first class one of the gym members turned me on to Hemp Hearts.  Huge, amazing amounts of plant based protein, from a totally renewable and environmentally friendly resource.  I dig it.  They’re crunchy-ish.  I decided to try swapping my usual Grape Nuts with them to top my Greek yogurt in the mornings and it’s definitely a change I can keep!  They’re pricey, but the serving size is so small that they go a long way.  For some reason once I’d tried them, I thought, I wonder how these would do as a sub for oats in No Bakes?  Thus the experiment commenced.

Hemp Hearts, Coconut Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter, and Chia Seeds are things you may not already have in your pantry. 

Ingredients: 

1/4 c. coconut oil*
1/4 c. coconut butter (optional- I added it to see if it would help keep the cookies firm)
1/4 c. canned coconut milk*
1 c. honey*
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/4 c. sunflower seed butter*
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. hemp hearts
1 c. chia seeds

Melt coconut oil and butter together on stovetop over medium heat.  Add milk, honey, and cocoa.  Bring to boil, stirring frequently, then boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and immediately mix in seed butter and vanilla.  Add hemp hearts and chia seeds and stir well.  Using a tablespoon, place drops of cookie ‘batter’ onto parchment or wax paper and place in freezer to set (do not stack them until they have firmly set!).  Store in freezer until you are ready to enjoy them!  This recipe made 24+ cookies.



 

They definitely are not a classic No Bake, but they are T-A-S-T-Y!  A perfect quick fix for a sweet tooth!

I would like to suggest using a granulated sugar instead of honey, as the honey seems to prohibit the cookies from maintaining solid form unless frozen.  DARN, sounds like I need to make another test batch soon!

*Any of these can be subbed- oil for ghee or clarified butter, coconut milk for another milk, honey for a different natural sugar, seed butter for nut butter.  If you try this with any changes, please let me know how they turned out!!

**Edited to add:  Both of my morning trainers thought they were great!

20 toothless toddler Paleo/Primal friendly snacks

The domestic pirate

Mr. Monkey is 19 months old and has 6 teeth.  SIX.

 

What do you feed a child that wants what everyone else is having but can’t chew it all?!  Especially when what we’re having for snacks is stuff like raw veggies, dehydrated fruits and meats, and nuts and seeds?

Now I know that gums are hard enough for kids to be able to mash up most foods, but MM’s front teeth are sharp enough to get big chunks off of things like carrot sticks, and, let’s face it, some things are just too tough to eat without molars.

Through the interwebs (read: Pinterest) and our family’s experience I’ve come up with a handy-dandy list; all of these are Cabin Kid approved.

Raisins/Dried fruit– Give them a mini-box of raisins and you’ve given them a snack AND a task.  Win-win.

Avocados– My boys go nutso over this mushy, green, healthy fat and nutrient packed food (Why do we give our kids fat, you ask?  Check out some of the reasons here and here)

Soft fruits– Melons, grapes, berries, etc.  If you get canned fruit (the Cabin Kids love mandarin oranges) check to make sure it’s canned in fruit juice, not syrup.

Tomatoes– Slices or wedges, if your kids can handle nightshades, are great for little fingers.  Halved cherry or grape tomatoes are great, too.

Apple/Pear slices– Without the skin; MM just spits it out and leaves it in random corners anyway. Pair them with:

Nut butters*– Almond butter is a favorite in our house, but I know lots of people love Sunflower seed butter, too; or

Cheese– We’re just venturing away from processed string cheese and into the world of raw dairy.  I’ve found an amazing medium cheddar that is soft and Oh-so tasty from a local farm at our health food store.

Olives– Unfortunately, my kids only like black olives thus far.  But, it’s another plant based fat that my kids go gaga over.  Plus, see if they can get an olive on each finger and, TA-DA, another task!

Bananas– The Cabin Kids would eat bananas all day long if I let them.  Whole, sliced with almond butter, dehydrated, doesn’t matter.  Say banana and they go ape-shit (see what I did there? *snort*). I know bananas should be with the ‘Soft fruit,’ but my kids love them so much, in so many ways, that I thought they deserved their own spot.

Fruit leathers– Pour some unsweetened applesauce on a dehydrator tray, let it run for 12 hours or so and, VOILA, you have fruit leather.  CB can chew it, while MM enjoys sucking on it.  As his saliva works its magic, the fruit is slightly rehydrated and easier for him to eat.  There are a few good brands out there without added sugars and preservatives but I really encourage you to try your own.  We have lots of frozen plum puree that we’ve added in several times, and berries would make an awesome addition, too.

Larabars– Again, I encourage you to make your own.  It’s super easy (if you have a food processor) and way cheaper than $1 per bar if you have a place you can get almonds, raisins, and dates in bulk.  Just use a 1:1:1 ratio on your nuts, dried fruit, and dates, pulse until all crushed/combined, then press into a lined pan and chill, cut, and wrap.  The ground nuts are small enough for toothless kiddos to manage easily, and the dried fruits hold it all together.

Fruit and yogurt– Frozen raspberries in a little bowl of yogurt that they can stir on their own is ridiculously exciting.  I mean, RIDICULOUSLY.  They love watching the yogurt slowly turn pink from the thawing raspberry juice and always exclaim when they get a chunk of cold fruit.  If your kids can handle dairy, this is a great snack for a quiet afternoon at home (where you can have a washcloth handy).

Applesauce– Another one you should have a napkin handy for. 

Pickles– Crunchy on the outside, but soft enough inside for those gums to get the job done.  We prefer baby dills, since they’re little hand friendly and don’t pose as big of a choking hazard.

Uncured deli meats– Roll them up with some cheese, mashed avocado, or a Paleo/Primal friendly tapenade.

Hard boiled eggs– Because, duh.  We love eggs.  Slice them if you think your little one’s hands may not be able to handle a slippery sphere.

Pepperoni sticks– We have a great uncured brand available locally.  I have to snip the tough ends off for the boys and bite MMs to break the casing a bit for him, but they love them.  As do Captain and I.

Baked goodies–  A quick Google search will reveal loads of recipes for quick and easy Paleo/Primal baked treats.  Paleo Parents has a great Anytime Cookie recipe in their book, Eat Like a Dinosaur (which I recommend for any full or partial Paleo family), that you can customize with your kids’ favorite dried fruits and nuts.  Just make sure you watch the natural sugars in some of the recipes you may come across.  Even though they’re healthier than conventional baked goods, a treat is still a treat and should be given in moderation.

Smoothies– Full fat coconut milk, some nut butter, a piece of fruit, and a handful of spinach.  Who doesn’t love a green smoothie?!  Customizable with endless possibilities.

Frozen fruit pops– Blend up your favorite fruit combination and freeze it in a popsicle mold.  Perfect for a lazy, hot afternoon, or a special picnic on the kitchen floor treat.  Plus, no dyes, additives, or surprise ingredients!  Add some coconut milk for an extra punch of good fats, or some spinach for a sneaky bit of veggies!

Do your kids have a favorite snack?

*We avoid peanut butter/peanuts mostly because the Cabin Boys are mildly allergic to it.  Some great info on why you should consider avoiding peanuts and peanut butter can be found here and here.

Grassfed slow roasted beef (back and short) ribs and veggies; Plus a Kale sautée recipe for leftovers!

The domestic pirate

We were supposed to have a game night a while ago.  Some friends ended up sick, others couldn’t find someone to stay home with their youngest to get him into bed at a decent time, and a few had other plans.  No biggie.

Except I had put a few packs of beef ribs in the fridge to thaw the night before.  Hm… What to do?

Cook it up anyway!

I’ll be honest, I was super intimidated by the ribs.  For some reason I thought it was going to be a big, messy process.  I poked around online looking for a few different methods and decided to that slow roasting in foil packets looked easiest.

I need to work on my plating, ya?

I gave the ribs a sea salt, pepper, and chili powder rub with some olive oil.  Wrapped them in a giant foil packet and let them sit in the fridge until about 4 1/2 hours before I wanted dinner to be served.  Preheated the oven to 225 and cooked those babies for 4 hours, flipping the packet (which was an adventure, trying not to lose all the juices) halfway through.  Then Captain tossed ’em on a grill for a few minutes to give them a good crisp.

Beets were boiled then peeled and sliced.  Asparagus was sauteed with butter, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.  Zucchini coins were also sauteed in butter, with salt, chili powder, and pepper.

It was a hit all around.  Mr. Monkey especially loved the crispy fat and marrow…

 

We ended up having a few ribs leftover, so a few nights later I popped the bones out, trimmed the big pieces of fat off and cut them up into bite sized pieces.  I tossed it in a heavy bottomed sautée pan with some coconut oil to reheat and get a little crisp.  While the beef was doing its thing, I slivered some almonds then added them to the pan.  I washed and chopped a few big handfuls of purple and green kale while the almonds toasted with the beef.  I threw in a handful of raisins, waited a minute, then added the kale.  Quickly sprinkled some salt and pepper on it, then tossed everything around while the kale heated through.

Easy peasy!  It’s a favorite of ours with any meat; ham, chicken, bacon, beef… or just some flaked parmesan cheese.

It’s great cold, too.

The 11 ways sushi is like sex

sushilikesexfeatured

The other day I had sushi for the first time in YEARS.  Since before I was pregnant with Mr. Monkey.  I had a serious craving for it and there’s a great little conveyor belt place near our house that has smoked salmon and cream cheese, tempura shrimp, and chicken katsu rolls.  All definitely preggo safe.  So I indulged and IT WAS LIKE SEX IN MY MOUTH.  Except for, you know, actually being sex in my mouth…

ANYHOO… that got me thinking… sushi is kind of like sex!  Let me count the ways…

But, no matter the other similarities, it’s not okay to invite your friends over for one of them.  Unless you roll that way *snicker*.  No judgements here!  Just don’t expect an invite to our house for anything called ‘hand rolls’ anytime soon.
P.S.  Sorry, but I couldn’t resist throwing the fish one in there!  You know what they say… When in Rome and all that.

Experiment! A pledge to my children.

The domestic pirate

For a long time we’ve I’ve struggled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Captain doesn’t care one way or another, as he doesn’t seem to have health issues related to the type and amounts of food he eats.  The kids and I, on the other hand, do have issues.  Gut issues, skin issues, behavioral issues…  Issues that I’ve been in and out of denial about.  Issues that, because of this first trimester exhaustion, I just haven’t been up to the task of facing.

I have to remind myself that these issues only make my days more difficult.  That feeling good is just as important as getting enough rest right now.  That if what I’m eating is making me feel like crap, what is it doing to the little bodies of my children, and the one that’s currently incubating?  I’m constantly wondering if my pregnancy nutrition with the first 3 Cabin kids is the baseline for all the issues they have with allergies and digestion now.

So I’ve come up with a pledge to my children, and my experiment will be to stick with it, for as long as possible, and check in occasionally with how we’re all doing and feeling.



What would you add to the pledge?  Will you make it to your family with me?

Primal breakfast with link to Lemon Raspberry Pancake recipe!

The domestic pirate
I felt the need for berries this morning!

Technically, this is our second breakfast.  The kids do nothing but nag for food as soon as they get out of bed, so we usually give them a banana first thing and this morning they wanted apples as well.

I think that’s one of the big things I really feel like I’m doing right as a parent.  My kids LOVE fruit.  There was a long time Cabin Girl would choose fruit over sweets.  And when it’s ‘special’ fruit, like berries we don’t have often, they go NUTS.

So this morning I made these Grain Free Lemon Raspberry pancakes from The Urban Poser and topped them with ‘Mom Jam’ (the Captain’s Mom always makes copious amounts of absolutely scrumptious raspberry jam; it does have a small amount of sugar, but since we aren’t eating it on toast or sandwiches every day, I’m okay with it).  I cooked up some uncured pepper bacon and served everyone a small dish of Greek yogurt, topped with more berries.

Definitely nourishing.  Tons of protein, good fats, and the pancakes taste like little fried lemon curd cakes, so the kids think they’re getting a treat first thing in the morning.

Mr. Monkey seems to be coming down with something, so for lunch I’ll be taking some of the chicken I cooked up for the freezer and simmering it in bone broth with some onions and carrots.

After we watch the Seahawks beat the Falcons, OF COURSE.

Back Into Freezer Cooking: Paleo Style: Part 2- Shopping Costs and Cooking with Eggplant Lasagna Tutorial

The domestic pirate

I’m hoping to make this an infinitely numbered series as I progress in my Paleo freezer cooking adventures.

I took Cabin Girl shopping with me to give the Captain a break.  Hah.  Like being left with 3 and 1 1/2 year old boys is a break.  I have shopping rules for her; Use 1 finger to touch, no touching food, pointing out everything you like or wish you could have is like nagging me, no asking for things, etc.  She did good for the most part, though towards the end we were both ready to be home.  A 6 year old can only follow so many rules, you know?

We ended up buying more than what we needed solely for freezer cooking, but the extra stuff was on our list (gotta have milk, ya know?).  To figure out how much I spent on freezer meal stuff, I highlighted and totaled the ingredients on the receipts:

Yep, we shop at Grocery Outlet and WinCo.  Their canned and packaged foods are by far the cheapest in our area.  We get our produce, meat, and dairy from a local grocer though.

Total, we spent $69.10 on a projected 15 meals for our family of 5, not including the cost of the organic, grassfed beef (which was a Christmas gift from my parents) in our freezer.  That’s less than $1 per person, per meal.  Likely $1.50 per person once meat costs are factored in.  Are you sold on freezer cooking yet?

After getting everything home and unloaded I mapped out my plan of attack:

Tons planned for the first day, then I’ll be making more stuff to slowly add to the freezer throughout the next week.

Our flurry of a cooking day went like this…

Throw ground beef, beef broth (homemade), chopped celery, onions, and peppers, 2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes with chilis, 1 can of tomato paste, and loads of seasonings into a crockpot on low.

Put a whole, frozen chicken in an oven safe dish.  Slather in oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and whatever else ‘billows yer sail’.  Cover with foil and stick in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.

Brown 2-3 pounds of seasoned ground meat (I used half beef and half turkey, because it had been in my freezer for a while) with a diced onion in a giant soup pot.  Add 2 giant cans of tomato sauce and 3 cans of stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil and bring to a simmer.  Add spices and some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.  Let it simmer a bit.

Gently cook some thinly sliced eggplant in butter:

Pancake griddles are good for lots of things!

Layer it in a freezer friendly baking dish with some of the simmering marinara, fresh baby spinach, and generous amounts of grated cheese:

A Romano snow is the only kind of snow I like.

  Repeat until you run out of eggplant.  Pretend to be savvy and make a horrible attempt at a pretty drizzle of marinara:

Don’t be jelly of my mad culinary skills.

Let it cool before putting the lid on and freezing it!  Let it thaw in the fridge the night before you want to eat it then bake it (I’m gonna say 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour should suffice).

STIR THE CHILI!!!  ADD MORE SPICES!!!

Make 2 pans of Crazy Cabbage, sans cheese.  Don’t forget to cover them with foil… like I did.  They’re a bit brown and dry, but still smelled amazing coming out of the oven.  Let them cool, put a lid on them, put them in the freezer.  Again, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, cook a bit in the oven then top with cheese.  I’ll be adding some homemade bone broth to it to moisten it up since, you know, I’m awesome.

Make Egg Muffins and Coconut Flour Pancakes (which, ironically, my pancake griddle stopped working for). 

Check chicken.  If it appears to be done take off the foil to let the skin crisp for about 15-30 minutes.  Once it’s done, out of the oven, and relatively cool, divvy it up into ziplocks.  DON‘T THROW AWAY THE CARCASS!  Either put it in a ziplock to freeze for another day, or wait for your crockpot to be available to make bone broth.

Leave the chili until it’s been in the crockpot for a good 6 hours, then divvy into freezer and microwave safe glass dishes.

Take a picture of your achievement!

I also sliced up a bunch of browned bananas I got on the cheap and put them in the dehydrator with some applesauce to make banana chips and fruit leather.  Between that and my crockpot full of bone broth, this morning was pretty eventful, too!

Back into Freezer Cooking: Paleo Style: Part 1- Find What Works and Plan It!

The domestic pirate

I’m hoping to make this an infinitely numbered series as I progress in my Paleo freezer cooking adventures.

This year we’re focusing on becoming a more financially aware and responsible family.  Part of that, for me, means getting back into freezer cooking to stretch our monthly food budget.  It also means lots and lots of receipts and being on top of tracking where our money is going.  None of the worksheets I found online really impressed me, so I made my own:

Totally awesome and professional, right?

Anyway, it’s a work in progress.  Hopefully along with the freezer cooking series I can update our financial plan progress as well.

Now, to the meat of this post.  I started with Pinterest (duh).  Freezer cooking is old hat to me, but, since we’ve been eliminating grains, sugars, and starches as much as possible, we got away from it for a long time and I needed a refresher.  I found Mark’s Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, and Life as a Plate to be the most helpful.  Poke around, they have great stuff!

Keeping what we have stocked in our freezer and what I know my family will eat in mind, I added recipes I’d like to try to a list as I followed various links through the interwebs, including the main ingredients for each dish:

Are you in awe yet?

From that list, I chose a few meals that had similar ingredients (i.e. crazy cabbage, beanless chili, and meaty marinara all share ground meat, canned tomatoes, and bell peppers while roast chicken, bone broth, stew, and pot roast need carrots, celery, onions, and various other root veggies).

From there it’s checking your spice supply, seeing where the best deals on meat and produce are for the week, and making your shopping list!
 
Check back to see what I bought, spent, and cooked in Part 2!
 

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