Spoodles: Sweet Potato “Noodles”

A few years ago, I heard about the phenomenon of spiralizing vegetables to create noodle shapes. When I saw pictures of the spiralized creations, I was puzzled as to how they got to be in that shape. That’s when I found out there are actual devices that spiralize the vegetables to create the effect of spaghetti, and decided to buy this spiralizer from Amazon. You can spiralize zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots — the possibilities are endless!  The price is relatively inexpensive for the creative, fun dishes you can create.

Today’s recipe is sweet potato noodles (or “spoodles,” as I like to call them), sauteed in coconut oil, sprinkled with salt, cinnamon, and coconut sugar, and melted in a dab of butter.  I added some chopped chicken breast on top, which added a nice sweet/savory combination of flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, spiralized
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • A dab of butter

S1

Preparation:

In a large nonstick pan, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add the spoodles to the pan.

S2

Cook them in coconut oil for 10 minutes or until the spoodles turn very soft. Add salt, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and butter. Toss to coat. Remove from heat.

S3

You can eat the spoodles alone or you can add chopped chicken on top like I did.

S4

I really enjoyed this dish, and hope you do, too!

S5

Coconut Flour Breaded Shrimp

Coconut shrimp is sinfully delicious. I can just picture the golden brown coconut exterior that’s been fried to perfection and the crunching sound it makes as you bite into it. It was this craving that came to mind one day that made me want to adapt a gluten-free version of it. The recipe I came up with is so easy but so good at the same time. With minimal ingredients, it’s my go-to meal when I’m in the mood for a lazy dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional, I’ve left this out before and it tasted just as great)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 24 small shrimp; thawed, raw, tail-on, and deveined
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for frying

Preparation:

Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

While you wait for the pan to get hot, mix the coconut flour, shredded coconut, pepper, and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs.

Dip the shrimp in the eggs and then, press firmly in the dry coconut mixture, making sure to coat each shrimp completely.

Drop the shrimp into the hot pan and fry for about two minutes on each side or until golden brown. Let the shrimp cool on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. You can enjoy the shrimp as is or drizzle with some honey for extra flavor.

Shrimp

Deliciously Crispy Paleo Waffles

I admit that my waffle maker, until recently, had been quietly stashed away into a dark corner in one of my cupboards. I like waffles and have experimented with some recipes but none of them gave me that classic crispiness that traditional gluten waffles are known for. Luckily, I recently ran across Ashley’s 3 Ingredient Crispy Waffles recipe on her blog and decided to give it a go. I figured I didn’t have much to lose with a recipe that requires only three ingredients.

I didn’t have any full-fat coconut milk, so I used the light coconut milk I had on hand and prayed for the best as my waffle sizzled away in the waffle maker. Needless to say, my heart was quickly won over by these waffles! The tapioca flour made the waffles crispy but also gave them this incredible elasticity that made them chewy at the same time. The waffles were also subtly sweet from the coconut milk with a hint of a nutty undertone from the almond flour. They were so good that I had them two days in a row and plan to make more this weekend.

I topped mine with melted butter, a dash of cinnamon, chopped pecans, bananas, and maple syrup! Be sure to head over to Ashley’s blog for this brilliant recipe.

W1

Savory Beef & Vegetable Stir Fry

Valentine’s Day today was perfect. I feel like when you’re with the one you love, every day should be a day where you express your love and appreciation for one another. Sure, getting flowers, chocolates, and gifts are always nice, but now that I’m married, I find that every day is Valentine’s Day, and that I don’t necessarily need material things to make me happy. What makes me happy these days is my family and knowing that at the end of a long day, I can come home to the ones I love and count on them to cheer me up, no matter what may have gone awry. So, for Valentine’s Day today, my husband and I didn’t have anything extravagant or lavish planned. We randomly decided to have a fun day out, a family day so to speak, with each other and our son. We woke up together, shared a delicious breakfast, and decided to take our son to the park since the sun was shinning brightly in the bright blue California sky and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees.

Afterward, we grabbed a bite to eat, did some shopping since the President’s Day sales were so enticing, and came home to unwind. We were hungry by then, as lunch had worn off, and wanted to make something relatively simple. I looked in the fridge and saw we had the basics: beef for stir fry and a load of different vegetables that needed to be used before they spoiled. They say the more color you add to your diet, the better it is for your health and your waistline, so I was excited that we had so many vegetables that I could use. Tonight’s dish was a winner; the ingredients meshed beautifully together to create a savory stir fry that was packed full of flavor. The end result was a beautiful and colorful dinner that my husband couldn’t stop raving about and one that my son loved, too.

One thing I want to mention is that I didn’t measure how much olive oil I used. As a rule of thumb for this dish, use olive oil liberally any time the pan gets dry and you need a little more moisture to nicely sauté the vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beef for stir fry (it should already come thinly sliced)
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups mini bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Chop all your vegetables and set aside. Look how gorgeous all the bright colors look next to each other!

Din 1

Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a nonstick pan and cook beef over medium heat until browned.

2

Once browned, drain the fat in a bowl to discard later. Add a few splashes of olive oil, and season the beef with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika; stir.

3

Add the onions and cook for a few minutes.

4

Continue cooking the onions. Add the bell peppers. Feel free to add more olive oil, if needed.

5

Add the garlic and mushrooms.

6

Continue cooking until the onions get nice and soft and the bell peppers become tender.

7

Add the green onions.

8

Cook the green onions until they are slightly soft, but not mushy, and still a little crunchy. Then, add the cilantro.

9

Mix all the ingredients around to combine and remove from heat.

Here’s the finished product!

10

Nights like tonight, when I’m in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by my loved ones, I’m reminded that you don’t need to go overboard on these commercialized holidays in order to feel the true essence of what the holiday should really be about. Yes, it’s nice to dress up, go out, and eat at a fancy restaurant, but equally so, a night in to celebrate can be just as lovely, if not lovelier, when you’re in your home with your loved ones and don’t have to worry about overpriced menus, hidden ingredients, long waiting times, and crowds.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Paleo Cinnamon Cookies

Let’s talk snickerdoodles. They’re soft, they’re chewy, they’re sweet, they have cinnamon all over them, and like all other cookies, they taste great with a cold glass of milk to wash them down with. When you’re on a gluten-free or strictly Paleo diet, more often than not you crave a good cookie. When I came across this pin on Pinterest for Paleo Cinnamon Cookies and saw that the cookies not only looked easy to make but needed minimal ingredients (all of which I had in my pantry), I was thrilled. The only alteration I made was using almond flour, instead of almond meal. Using almond meal gave the cookies a more grainy, undesirable texture and taste for me.

SN2

SN1

I love that the recipe calls for coconut oil, instead of butter, as I found using coconut oil gave these cookies a richer and moister taste. Be prepared to make a few batches of these babies because I assure you, they will be gone fast.  Like most other Paleo treats I make, these don’t last very long in our home. I highly recommend doubling or even tripling the recipe to have extra batches on hand.

Succulent Pressure Cooked Lamb

Shortly after our son was born, we decided it might not be a bad idea to invest in either a slow cooker or pressure cooker. After watching an infomercial for a pressure cooker on TV, we were sold. We bought one from Target and the particular one we got definitely gives you the most bang for your buck because it’s both a pressure cooker and a slow cooker, all in one. Each time we’ve used it, it’s cooked meat (and our meals, as a whole) to perfection. When we recently got some lamb, I knew that the pressure cooker would, once again, come to my rescue. I love using it because it’s pretty much foolproof and cuts down your cooking time significantly. You just throw everything inside and let it work its magic.

With it I made lamb, which had been stuffed with cloves of fresh garlic, and then, generously seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary. It stewed in broth, along with onions, golden potatoes, and sweet potatoes. The lamb was so tender and juicy that it fell apart at the touch of our forks.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lamb, boneless, cut lengthwise into 2 inch pieces
  • 10 cloves garlic, cut into thirds
  • 4 golden potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lamb 1

Preparation:

Wash, rinse, and pat the lamb dry. With a sharp knife, cut small slits into the sliced pieces of lamb, and insert a few pieces of garlic in each.

Lamb 3

Season each side of the lamb generously with salt, pepper, and rosemary.

Lamb 4

Lamb 2

Turn on your pressure cooker and pour the oil inside the inner pot. Place your lamb inside and sear the meat until it is lightly browned on all sides.

Lamb 6

Remove the lamb and set aside in a bowl.

Place the onions and potatoes inside the same pot and cook for a few minutes.

Lamb 7

Add the tomato paste and broth. Put the lamb back in the pot.

Lamb 8

Place the lid on the pressure cooker and program to cook for 30 minutes. Once done, turn the valve of the pressure cooker to release the steam. When the steam is completely released, remove the lid.

Now, get ready to breathe in the delicious aroma of lamb that looks like it’s been braising all day in a slow cooker.

Lamb 9

Transfer to a Pyrex or baking dish to serve.

Lamb 13

You can eat the lamb and vegetables on their own or serve with white rice or cauliflower rice.

Lamb 11

I wasn’t kidding when I said the meat was literally falling apart.

Lamb 12

Perfection in as little as 30 minutes! You can easily fool everyone into thinking you slaved over this meal all day in the kitchen.

Bon appétit!

Harsh Reality

As soon as you begin school, the famous question that gets asked is,

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I remember hearing this question a thousand times throughout my childhood. Teachers and parents would ask, and we were all expected to somehow know what we wanted to spend the rest of our lives doing at such a tender age. As a kid, big decisions like that are fleeting. One day I would want to be a doctor, another day I would want to be a lawyer, some days I felt like I wanted to be a psychologist, and once I even wanted to be the first female president of the United States. You can say I was pretty ambitious!

I always had a knack for writing but felt like my occupational dream needed to be more grandeur. I had an innate ability to connect with others and was empathetic to the core, which lead me to the decision to pursue law. Initially, I wanted to be an immigration lawyer because my grandparents and relatives lived overseas and I felt the pain and struggles of so many other children, who at such a young age like myself, had to grow up living worlds away from the people who meant the most to them.

In high school, college, and university, I kept my major as English but had the goal of taking the LSAT after graduation and attending law school. I remember my parents paying ridiculous amounts of money for those LSAT courses, in hopes that I would fulfill my dream and be a successful member of society. After taking a few of the full-length practice tests in my LSAT class, I knew I was in for trouble when I saw there were logical reasoning sections, which, in other words, meant math and logic games, also known as the dreaded word problems we all hated in school. Math was the only subject that I really ever struggled with my entire educational life. I always ended up excelling and receiving A’s but mostly because my dad had a degree in math and was a genius. Back home, he learned algebra ridiculously early in elementary school.

I struggled with the logic games like crazy. I surrounded myself with a wealth of resources, such as the Logic Games Bible, but no matter how hard I studied, my mind simply couldn’t wrap around and grasp the fundamental concepts of the logic games. The first time I took the LSAT, my score wasn’t nearly high enough to get into the schools I had my heart set on. The second time, my score had improved but was still getting me no closer to the schools I wanted to get accepted to. Despite that, I still held on to a tiny shred of hope. I went to the primary school I had my eyes on and met with the Dean of Admissions. I told him about my interest in the school but admitted that my score was lower than the average student’s. I still remember how unsympathetic he was. Sometimes, you hear remarkable stories about how someone in a position of power took a huge leap of faith because they saw potential in that individual but that didn’t happen here. Stories like that are so foreign to me because I feel like I have worked tooth and nail for every accomplishment I’ve achieved in my life. I was never thrown any miracles. My successes in life have been strung together with good old-fashioned hard work and perseverance.

The Dean simply looked at me and said in a very straight-forward manner that I basically didn’t have a chance. And, that was that. My childhood dream was crushed, my parents’ money was wasted, my efforts and their efforts were all fruitless. And, for what? Because I couldn’t pass the math section of the LSAT to get into the school I wanted? It seemed absurd. I was a smart student but according to law school’s standards, apparently not smart enough. I could have persevered, not given up on my dream, went to some out of state law school that would accept my score (and, there were a few that would) but I wasn’t willing to put any more sweat, blood, and tears into this than I already had, which lead me to believe that I never truly wanted to be a lawyer bad enough or else I wouldn’t have given up my so-called, “dream” without a fight.

It took years to come to this last conclusion and be at peace with my decision to not pursue law school. For years, I felt the guilt of failing — a feeling that really had been very unfamiliar to me up until that point. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, as cliche as that sounds. Now, although I am not a lawyer, I work at one of the top companies in America and have a work-home life balance, which is so important. I think to myself that God had something better in mind for me, that it wasn’t written in the stars for me to be a lawyer because I may have spent even more of an investment into the field, only to end up hating it. My own LSAT teacher became a lawyer, passing the LSAT with a nearly perfect score, but ended up retiring after a few years and starting a music band. When I found that out, it lessened the sting. Let’s not forget about John Grisham who quit his law profession to be a writer.

There are three points to this story:

  • Point #1: Life doesn’t always go as planned. You may have one plan for your life but God may have an entirely different one in mind for you.
  • Point #2: Life isn’t fair, but as the famous quote says, it’s still good.
  • Point #3: Everything happens for a reason.

I leave you with one of my favorite poems of all-time by an unknown confederate soldier. I hope it resonates with you as much as it has (and still does) for me.

Unanswered-prayer