Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Veggie-filled Meatloaf Muffins

There is something so comforting and filling about meatloaf, and it's surprisingly easy to turn it into something paleo by omitting the bread crumbs and using almond flour instead. Also, by finely chopping your vegetables and adding them, you can even feed these to picky veggie eaters and have great results! That sounds like a win in my book, for sure! Plus, it makes a healthy little meatloaf muffin that is full of healthy protein and vegetables. It's almost like a one pot dish, but in a muffin!

You could certainly make this in a meatloaf pan if you wanted to, I just like the portability and portion-control of muffins.

1) 2 pounds of ground beef (or 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork or sausage)
2) 2 eggs
3) 2-3 cups of tomato sauce
4) 1-2 onions and/or 3-4 large carrots, very finely diced or shredded
5) 1/2 cup of almond flour
Optional: Add in more veggies if you'd like, such as peppers or celery

**Makes: 24 muffins

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Finely dice or shred your vegetables. The smaller, the better!
3) Add in your eggs, almond flour, and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce.

4) Add your ground meat.

5) Mix using your hands, until everything is thoroughly combined.

6) Portion into 24 muffin cups, and bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes, depending on how big your muffins were. They should be browned on the top when done. They'll release a lot of liquid, so if using a regular muffin tin, place it on a cookie sheet to catch the splatter.

7) Top your cooked muffins with a spoonful of tomato sauce, or as much as you'd like. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Homemade Sauerkraut

I just got back from my very first trip to Las Vegas yesterday. I went with my best friend, who lives over 1000 miles away from me, and our plan was to see the Britney Spears concert. We had a great time indeed, but I realized when I got home last night that I barely ate a single vegetable while I was there! I kept it gluten-free so I wouldn't feel sick, but most meals were served with potatoes for a side instead of some healthy greens. So now that I am home, all I want to eat are some vegetables and definitely some probiotics! Thankfully I have some homemade sauerkraut on hand to give me both!

I had never made my own sauerkraut before I started dating my boyfriend. I didn't really even eat it that often at all, except maybe on a bratwurst at the fair every few years. But when I started dating my boyfriend, who is Polish, I wanted to try my hand out at making some sauerkraut for him. It is really VERY simple, it just takes a few weeks of fermenting in the cupboard. I even made a jar for his parents and they liked it so much they asked for the recipe! When you can please the native sauerkraut eaters with your recipe, you know you've won!

I took the easy way on this recipe by using bagged coleslaw mix instead of chopping/shredding my own cabbage and carrots. The bags run about $1.50-$2.00 each, so if you would prefer to chop it yourself, you can make this recipe for about $1! How crazy is that?

1) 3 bags of coleslaw mix (minus the dressing), or 2 heads of cabbage (shredded), plus 2 carrots (shredded)
2) 1/2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of salt
3) 2 cups of water
Optional: I've added in 1 shredded apple before, or 1 diced jalapeno, or used both green and red cabbage.

Makes: 2 large mason jars of sauerkraut (32oz each)
**I recommend using the wide mouth mason jars

1) Shred your cabbage/carrots if you did not buy the prepacked bag.
2) Add the shredded vegetables to a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of salt.
3) Let sit for 15 minutes, during which the cabbage will begin to wilt and release a little water.
After sitting with the salt on it
4) Squeeze your shredded vegetables to try and release some additional water.
5) Pack your vegetables into two large mason jars, pushing down firmly to compact. Fill up both mason jars with your vegetables until you run out. Make sure the jars are even, they should both be about 3/4 of the way full.
Compacting the cabbage
6) Mix 2 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt to create a water brine. Pour into each mason jar until the water now is above the cabbage, at least 1/2 an inch. You may have some leftover water brine. If you need more, just make another batch of water brine following 1 cup water: 1 teaspoon salt.
Filled with water above the cabbage
7) Using a smaller lid for a mason jar, or a large piece of cabbage, or whatever you have, press down the cabbage inside the jar until it is compact and virtually no cabbage pieces are above the water. Then find something to weigh this down (I used a heavy shot glass). This keeps the cabbage under the water level and out of the oxygen, so it will ferment. Cabbage that touches the air will mold, cabbage under the water will not.
Weighing it down
8) Place in a cabinet to ferment.
See how the cabbage is way below the water because of the lid and weight?
9) Check on your cabbage every 2-3 days and scrap off any mold that may have occurred. This mold is totally natural and just needs to be removed. The rest of the cabbage is fine, I promise!
10) After 2 weeks of fermenting, every time you check for mold and scrap it off, taste your mixture. Does it taste like sauerkraut, and to your liking? If not, let it sit longer. (Due to the cold water, mine took almost a month to ferment this time. Normal summer weather will be about 2-3 weeks of fermenting).
11) Once the sauerkraut tastes to your liking, remove your lid and weight and put a lid on the jar. Store in the fridge. Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chocolate Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Happy Valentine's Day!

I had never cooked with chia seeds before this recipe, but I have been seeing it a lot in recipes lately and when I saw a bag at our local Costco, we bought one so I could try my hand at some chia seed creations.

Seeing as I had to add a fair amount of sweetener to this dish, we certainly won't make it on a regular basis. But it was really delicious for a nice Sunday night treat after a great meal. You could portion it into small servings to have a nice, healthy-sized dessert too. We ate this in two days between the two of us, because it was THAT good!

You could essentially add anything else you'd like to this dish. Next time I want to add up some chopped banana slices!

1) 1 can of coconut milk (15 oz)
2) 1/2 cup of chia seeds
3) 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
4) 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
5) 3-6 tablespoons of honey (to taste)

**Makes 2-4 servings

1) Get your ingredients ready, because this recipe is quick!

2) Mix your coconut milk, cocoa powder, vanilla and 3 Tablespoons of honey together. Stir well. Taste and check the sweetness. If it's not sweet enough for you, add more honey. (I added about 5 Tablespoons because we were going for something fairly sweet).

3) Sprinkle your 1/2 cup of chia seeds on top of your liquid.
4) Stir to incorporate.
5) Place in the fridge. The longer it stays, the thicker it will get. We tried it out after 1 hour and liked the texture, but we also ate the other half the next night, and it was very good (and very thick!) as well.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hearty Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

This recipe is very similar to my pot roast recipe. But last time we ordered some meat from US Wellness Meats, we got some stew meat as well and I was trying to figure out how best to use it. Stew meat does best when it is cooked low and slow, to make it more tender. This is why the slow cooker is such an awesome tool for lower quality meats such as stew meat. So you can enjoy your grass fed beef but at a cheaper price!

You could essentially throw whatever you want in here, but I am always a fan of lots of carrots, onions, and occasionally a sweet potato or two thrown in for good measure.

1) 2 pounds of stew meat (the package will actually say this)
2) 2-3 onions, chopped
3) 1-2 pounds of carrots, either diced or use baby carrots (I always add a lot of carrots because they're my favorite once they're all soft and juicy! So I did about 2#, but you could do less)
4) 1-3 sweet potatoes, diced (I added two of them. Sweet potatoes have a tendency to explode in the crock-pot and create a thicker sauce for the meal. If you want them to stay intact, cut them into really big cubes.)
5) 1-2 tablespoons of spices of your choice (I added italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt)

**Makes 6 large servings

1) Add your stew meat to your slow cooker.
2) Add in your chopped carrots, onions and sweet potato.

3) Add your spices to the crockpot and stir to mix everything together.
4) Cook on low for a minimum of 8 hours. If you cook it closer to 10-12 hours it'll be even more tender, but 8 in the minimum you should cook this.
5) Enjoy! Portion it out for leftovers and have a hearty meal to keep you full and satisfied.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pet Treat: Super Healthy Liver Jerky

One of the greatest things about living in Austin is all of the farmer's markets, especially the ones that are open year round. We go about every two weeks and stock up on local eggs, produce, and meat. We make it a habit of getting a treat for our dog too, and we ran into a little stand that sells homemade dog treats. One of the things she sold was liver jerky, which our dog just loved! I decided I wanted to try and make some at home, and try to save us some money. So we just bought a pound of liver from our local farm that we get eggs from (they had pork liver, chicken liver, and duck liver! What a selection!). Total cost for the liver was $4, and it made about 4 times the amount of liver jerky that we had previously bought costing $5. Not only does our dog get tasty morning treats now, but we saved ourselves a little money in the process. Plus, doesn't making it at home just make you feel super awesome and accomplished??

1) 1-2 pounds of fresh liver (Pork, Chicken, Lamb...)
**I highly recommend buying from a farm or going organic on this one, because liver is the organ that processes all the toxins an animal eats, and buying it conventional can be a no-no because all of the antibiotics/pesticides/etc that the animal was exposed to are now just hanging out inside that liver. Nobody wants to eat that!

1) This is easier in a food dehydrator, but you could do the same thing in your oven on the very lowest setting possible. Arrange your liver pieces out onto your dehydrator, making sure they have space on all sides.
2) Dehydrator on the setting for meat/jerky (160 degrees), for 4-8 hours. I checked on mine every hour after 4 hours. They should be completely firm to the touch. If cooked less, they'll still be tasty but will be harder to get off the trays and won't last as long in the fridge.
3) Either keep whole or chop into bite-sized pieces.
4) I placed half in the fridge and half in a baggie in the freezer.
5) Feed them to your pets! I give my dog one treat every morning and she is certainly a happier, healthier dog as a result.
Note: You could certainly eat these yourself, if you're brave!