My Top 3 “Substitute” Foods and The Power of Habit

I like carbs. I like carbs a lot. When I play the “desert island” game, I’m pretty sure bread’s on my list of things I would require. And cheese, don’t even get me started on cheese. I eat it, and my tongue smiles, my insides beam with light, and my entire well-being is temporarily bursting with euphoria.

So let’s be honest, a part of me is screaming: “PALEOOOOOO!!!!!! I WILL AVENGE THEE!!”

Nonetheless, if I were to honestly evaluate the past 8 days of being strictly on this way of eating (we are no longer using the “d” word here at Chez Haley), I’ve come up with the following conclusions:

1) It’s not THAT hard to go without dairy; I was pretty much using it as a reason to avoid cooking meat and preparing vegetables. It takes two seconds for me to grab a few string cheeses or slop a bunch of cocoa powder in my quart of Fage and call it “dinner”, but that doesn’t make it okay.

2) Just as in everyday life, there is a way around the rules. Enter: substitutes.

You don’t have to be “paleo” to appreciate healthier alternatives to things like pizza, pancakes, and chocolate cake. You just don’t. As much as I espouse this movement in my writing, I do want to make it clear that I am not strictly a “Paleo blog”. My utmost intention is to provide you with good information that will allow you to live life more thoroughly. And as I’ve always stated, my proverbial door is open if you wish to tell me that I am failing at that. I mean that honestly.

Anyway, below are some of my favorite food subsititues of all time, let alone on the paleo protocol, along with links. to recipes I’ve cooked – or will cook very shortly here. Because God knows I don’t yet have the talent to create something this fantastic myself.

 

3. Zucchini pasta noodles

I just love pasta. Who doesn’t? Well, my Mom. But unless you’re my Mom, you are crazy-cray for not loving buttery, saucy carbosity all up in yo’ grill.

…yes. My eccentricity aside, I was so thrilled to have discovered “zoodles” through one of the best-known paleo food blogs, Nom Nom Paleo. While she had me at her blog’s name, Michelle Tam has captured the hearts of thousands of bloggers, journalists, and general food-lovers with her amazing, award-winning recipes that even sugar-fueled carboholics love. I recreated her Zoodles Recipe without meatballs and with goat cheese and it was incredible. I did it a second time with just plain ghee and it was even more incredible! Less is more, sometimes. Once you can nail down cooking time for your preferred firmness, this is the best thing ever.

Wish List (aka, “You WILL see me make this in the future” List)

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce

 

2. Pizza made with cauliflower crust

Oh man, if there’s one thing I love even more than pasta, it’s pizza. I’ve made this recipe before and it was simple, yet fantastic. It’s been over a year since I made this, but images of the tender crust and party of flavors still infiltrates my memory. Pizza, being the paragon of carby-cheesy fantasia, is adored the world over. Now you can enjoy a slice or 7 without capitulating! Yes, this recipe in its entirety only contains about 515 calories. That’s the amount in ONE large piece of Papa John’s cheese pizza. LOLWUT?!

The best recipes made with alternative crusts (lol) are also paired with cheese, though I’ve seen many-a dairy-free pizza online that looked incredible.

Wish List

Paleo Chicken Pesto Pizza

Frittata-za

 

1. Chocolate mug cake

Because chocolate.

Seriously, though. This has to be my number one for multiple reasons. It’s ridiculously easy, it’s fast, and it’s freaking chocolate. I cannot exude enough positivity over having discovered this. Whether I’m in a bind in the morning, need a mid-day boost, or am itching for a pre-workout snack, this recipe has been there for me through thick and thin. I made this recipe from PaleOMG and have been using it regularly for over a year.

Little did I know that there’s even an entire food group dedicated to “mug cake”.

Wish List

Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

Cinnamon-Apple Mug Cake

I suppose the lesson here is that no matter what way you eat, you can make it fun. And fun is a wonderful thing.

 

On another note, let’s talk about habit.

Ah, yes. Habit. We all have habits – positive and negative alike. Most of us are trying to create positive ones that we will stick with for the duration of our lives. All of us have bad ones that we would like to rid ourselves of. It’s no secret that bad habits die hard and good habits are hard to form, so how do we deal?

15 minutes a day.

15 minutes a day will get you fluent in another language. It will get you in shape. It will help you ace an exam. Commit yourself to 15 minutes of doing something every day and see where it goes. You could even try for 10 if it makes it easier. We all have 10 minutes to spare, right?

Another way to get yourself in the habit of something is to have a sense of accountability. That person or other motivator that keeps you in check. It could be a friend, a family member, a paycheck, an app, or just the CEO of U (aka, yourself, and the most important person in your life). It’s all about motivation and feeling “responsible” in a way. If you don’t feel a sense responsibility to do it, you won’t do it.

Brief as it was, I suppose you can consider that my extended “Thought of the Day”.

Off to my 15 minutes of exercise.

Recipe of the Moment (ROTM): Brussels Chips ‘n’ Bacon Bits

I really, TRULY should be sleeping. I’ve even set a timer for myself for writing this entry: 30 minutes, no más. If I can come within ten minutes of exceeding that, I’ll be impressed with myself. 

Anyway, after a cringe-inducing day (let’s just say: I could definitely improve upon my “wingin’ it” skills), I chose to remedy the overdriven state of my noggin with some gym therapy. I once wrote an essay about the mental health benefits of exercise, and for good reason: it works! I get a little miserable if I don’t move for a while, so this was a much-needed interlude in my evening. What was even better was the nourishment that followed said physical indulgence: enter, the latest and greatest snack craze – BRUSSELS CHIPS!

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These things are so dang good, they’ll erase any memory you had of hating brussels sprouts as a kid, I promise that. The bacon probably helps. As to why I’m eating something so seemingly random, I do feel obligated to jump in and let you guys know that I have returned to the paleo way of things. Except this time, I’m doing the unthinkable. Yes, I’m giving up dairy in addition to everything else that paleo already bans. So no grains, beans, sugar, peanuts, or even cheese, which everyone knows is my favorite food on the planet and planets beyond.

What kind of sadistic person am I, you ask? Why in  the world would I give up my favorite food in existence for a “crazy diet fad?”

I suppose it’s because I’m curious, and not just because of paleo. Paleo isn’t the first “diet” to associate dairy with negative effects. That was a vegan thing before it was a paleo thing. It’s also part of the “GFCF” thing that some circles are talking about for autism prevention. I’ve found, however, that research is difficult to do on food unless you experience food yourself, so I’m taking the initiative and going at least four weeks without dairy to see if I feel any better or different. Today was my first day. 

Audience: “Alright, let’s just get to the brussels chips.” Done deal. Allow me to regale the story of…

Brussels Chips with Bacon

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 7-10 minutes (depending on how burnt you like your chips)

Outer leaves from at least 10 large brussels sprouts (for 1 serving…and believe me, you’ll want more than one!)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2-4 strips of bacon

Instructions:

1. Peel the outer leaves from as many brussels sprouts as you have the patience for. I had peeled about 30 smaller ones, which took monumental concentration and perseverance, thank you.

2. Stick ’em in a bag and pour some olive oil, salt, and pepper in there to taste. Even if you have a ton of leaves, do not put more than one tablespoon in there; you don’t want them too oily.

3. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes – even more if you want them extra crispy.

4. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into small strips/bits (I literally cut them, as seen below) and microwave for 2-3 minutes. I know, I’m lazy. If you want to get fancy, simply place the bits in the oven with the sprouts, with the understanding that 1) you need to ensure the bits are actually bits and not strips and 2) the grease will saturate the leaves and might make them soggy.

5. After everything is done cooking, toss the two together in the same bag and – voilà! You’ve created a masterpiece.

I suppose I’ll need to give a formal update tomorrow after I have these as my work snack, but I’m predicting some great snacking power here already. Feel free to try this and let me know your thoughts. 

By the way: 23 minutes. Not bad!

– H

Thought of the Day: If you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic! (from “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” by Napoleon Hill)

ROTW: Paleo Honey-Almond Cookies

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This week’s recipe is, admittedly, a bit of a late post. I actually made these cookies a couple weeks ago and am just now posting about it. Amazing how having so much free time can be such a distraction 🙂

Anyway, I decided to make these cookies for my fully-Paleo brother, who has admirably lived by the ways of the hunter-gatherer for a few weeks now. They are SUPER yummy, not too sweet, and the perfect way to satisfy a carb-y craving without the Insulin Police speeding over. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

PALEO HONEY-ALMOND COOKIES (w/vegan version!)

Adapted from Civilized Caveman Cooking

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20ish minutes

Yield: 12 Cookies

Diet Compliance: Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan (if you tolerate honey, sub coconut oil for butter on the glaze, and use flax eggs)

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

So simple, a caveman can do it!
So simple, a caveman can do it!

Cookies

  • 2 and 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil (can sub for coconut oil; I didn’t have any at the time)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed + 4 tablespoons warm water (for vegan eggs) or 2 actual eggs

Cinnamon Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons raw honey, melted
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter or ghee (or coconut oil for vegan version)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • slivered almonds (to top cookies after glazing)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Combine the almond flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and stir well.

3. Add your oil, honey, vanilla extract, and “Veggs” (or eggs) and mix into a soft dough.

4. Roll dough into 1-inch diameter balls and flatten out slightly; place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.

photo 3

5. Place in the oven and bake for 9 minutes.

6. With cookies in the oven, combine your honey, butter (or oil), and cinnamon for your glaze in a small bowl and mix well.

7. At the 9 minute mark, pull your cookies out of the oven, and using a basting brush, brush your glaze on all of your cookies.

8. Sprinkle pinches of slivered almonds on top of each glazed cookie.

9. Place your cookies back in the oven and bake for 9-11 minutes or until done.

10. Remove from the oven and cool for one minute, then transfer to paper towels.

11. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container. Cookies should last for up to 4 days.

Warning: These cookies will disappear in seconds!
Warning: These cookies will disappear in seconds!

As promised, here is the nutritional information for these cookies. Please remember that the saturated fat and fiber contents are not listed. Also, this amount is for the vegan version; with actual eggs, it will be slightly more caloric. But, it’s always nice to at least know the calories, fat, carbs, and protein per serving!

NutritionLabel

As work-time draws closer, I’m looking forward to designing and cooking up more recipes for everyone. And while I love summer, I’m REALLY looking forward to fall – stews, roasts, pies, oh my! Nonetheless, stay tuned for more summer recipes and have a great rest of the week!

Thought of the Day: Try to take your time more often. Life may be short, but it’s just as bad to move too fast as it is to move too slow.

Life After Travel and ROTW: Rainbow Curry

As I stepped into the crisp and bustling night air of Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago, I couldn’t help but look around and drink in my surroundings. I saw the familiar panorama of buildings, all built no earlier than the 20th century. I saw signs in one language, one that is as familiar as my own reflection. I was face-to-face with my stepdad (who kindly picked us up from the airport), whom I hadn’t seen in 12 days. It felt like it had been months. Indeed, it was a moment that I took to register the fact that I am no longer in Italy. I can’t even believe it.

There is something about an amazing trip that is eternal, and I’m not just talking about the pictures. It is the heightened sense that you get for the world and the beauty that other places have – whether through the nature, people, food, or traditions. This stays with you forever. Often times, you end up appreciating your own home more, or in ways you didn’t before. This is a little more fleeting, but still important. Unfortunately, these trips are not without their rites of passage, and every great trip seems to end with a few days of bittersweet reminiscence. I won’t use the term “depression”, because you can’t go on a bike tour through a gorgeous country while surrounded by indulgence on every side and be “depressed”, but it’s easy to confuse the two feelings. Combine leaving Italy with a stressful going-home experience (on top of normal jet lag), and you’re looking at a solid day or 2 of this feeling…maybe a couple weeks.

I guess the point of this entry is to show that if you are currently feeling melancholy after an amazing vacation, you’re not alone. But I’m here to tell you that this too shall pass, and as long as you keep yourself occupied now that you’re back, you will feel better in no time! One of the biggest tips I have in addition to keeping busy is sharing stories of your trip with others. I know it seems counterintuitive, but sharing with others will make increase the longevity of the trip, make others happy, and give you good feelings. Finally, even if it’s super far away, start planning your next trip or special outing! No matter what, there is always more to do, always new places to explore.

To be honest, I am JUST now getting out of this feeling and starting to really appreciate the home I have. Yes, I know you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy for not initially being stoked on coming back to Laguna Beach, but rest assured that do I appreciate it – I simply enjoyed my trip a little too much 🙂

Though I am focused on being back in the comfort of home, I decided to be adventurous with a new recipe today. Unlike last week’s, it is largely of my own design. Granted, I looked around tirelessly for a curry recipe that encompassed all the ingredients I had on hand, and this recipe borrows from them all in some way. It turned out to be a yummy, but very mild curry. Spice aficionados, my apologies for getting your hopes up! Here it is:

Haley’s Rainbow Curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Diet Compliance: Low-carb (without potatoes), paleo, vegetarian (if you can tolerate animal products), gluten-free

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

Why "Rainbow", you ask? Just look at this spread!
Why “Rainbow”, you ask? Just look at this spread!
  • 2 13.5-ounce cans of coconut milk (tip: try and get the kind without guar gum, such as that from Natural Value)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium carrot, slided into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1 small potato of choice (I chose Okinawan purple potato found at the Asian market)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 5 sprigs of Thai or regular basil (I used regular; Thai is better)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (Red Boat is the healthiest and best)
  • 1/4 cup yellow curry powder or paste
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves or zest of one lime (I used the zest)
  • cinnamon to taste

Instructions

1. As a first step, make sure you have all of your vegetables prepared and sitting on the table.

[no picture available; I was too dumb to do this]

2. In a large saucepan, mix the coconut milk and curry paste or powder to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. After it starts boiling, stir until smooth – about 2 minutes.

Smooth operator!
Smooth operator!

3. While still boiling, add the chicken broth, carrot, broccoli, red bell pepper, onion, potato, basil, lime, and fish sauce. Stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

4. Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are tender – 20 to 25 minutes.

Jacuzzi time for the broccoli family!
Jacuzzi time for the broccoli family!

5. After cooking, ladle the curry into bowls over rice, noodles, chicken, or just plan. Garnish with cinnamon.

I solemnly swear to get out of the habit of "eating-then-snapping".
I solemnly swear to get out of the habit of “eating-then-snapping”.

…And there you have it! This is a fairly easy recipe and stores well in the fridge for a couple of days. Again, it is extremely mild tasting, so the (rare) coconut-loving child can have a feast!

Also, if I can maintain the patience to do this, I will start making these nutrition labels (I called them “calorie-thingies” earlier) for each of my recipes. Last recipe didn’t count, because taralli should be saved for I-really-don’t-give-a-dang moments only. This label, I know, is not super comprehensive…let me get there ;-). Note especially that the amount of saturated fat is not listed – trust me, there’s a fair amount in this recipe, being made of coconut and all, so bear that in mind if you are watching your sat-fat for whatever reason (talk to the paleo folks about that!!).

NutritionLabel

Thought of the Day: Get into a routine of regular exercise early in your life. Later on, you’ll be glad you did.

-H

Recipe of the Week: Taralli

Buona serra! Guys, can you tell that I’m trying to extend my recent Italian vacation as long as I possibly can? 😉 In my defense, this truly is a simple, yummy, and extremely versatile recipe, and I’m hoping that you like it.

Before I go any further, I’ll need to address some FAQs/PAQs (potentially askable questions) that I hope are helpful. I was going to make a separate entry, but I’m not exactly rollin’ in the fanmail. Here we go:

Q: How do I make a comment on your blog?

A: Click on the little grey icon in the top right corner of each post that looks like a round speech balloon. It will then take you to the page where you can comment and read others’ comments.

Q: Now that Italy’s over, what’s next for IC?

A: DON’T REMIND ME! :-‘( But to answer your question, IC will still live long and prosper. As traveling is a true passion of mine, I will continue to document the places I travel in the same detail I did Italy. If I’m only there for a short period of time, I will probably do “X in 24 Hours”-type posts, which are always fun! I’m also passionate about food, so in addition, I will try and post at least one recipe and/or restaurant review per week. Who knows, maybe I’ll have an occasional philosophical post here and there. All-in-all, I will never post less than once a week and I will make every effort to make each entry applicable to the populace (rather than just a long-winded, pointless rant).

Q: Can I use your pictures/other material for my own purposes?

A: Sure, why not. It’d be kind weird to take it and pass it off as your own, but otherwise I’m not some artist or remotely well-known person, so go nuts.

OKAY! Now that we’ve gotten that stuff out of the way, let’s take a journey through the wonderful world of taralli.

Readers of IC have become familiar with taralli through reading about my obsession with it. Like most pugliese cusine, the ingredients are simple, but the flavor is strong. These tiny, crunchy, bagel-like biscuits are commonly served with an aperitivo or with bread before dinner. While they are often tinged only with the light flavor of olive oil, they are often made with finocchio (fennel), peperoncino, or even primitivo wine!

Traditional Pugliese Taralli

(Adapted from Italian Connection)

Prep Time: 1 hours, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: About 25 taralli

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour for crunchy taralli; cut with “00” flour as needed for softer taralli (I used 1/4 cup “00”)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp water (if dough is too dry)
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seeds or cracked black pepper
Look at that fancy salt!
Look at that fancy salt!

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
  2. Add the oil and wine, and mix with a fork until the dough forms into a rough mass.
Does this count as "rough"?
Does this count as “rough”?

3. Dump the dough onto a wooden board and knead it for about 5 minutes, until it is smooth.

TA-DA!
TA-DA!

4. Knead the spices into the dough (or divide the dough and add spice to ½ of the dough) – knead well to distribute the spice.

5. Cover the dough and let it rest, along with your arms, for 15-30 minutes.
6. Pinch walnut-sized pieces of dough, roll first between your hands, and then against the wooden cutting board, so that the dough forms a thin rope, about ½ inch (1 cm) in diameter and 4” long (10 cm).

image-3 image-4

7. Shape each rope into a ring, and seal the edges together by pressing lightly, then set aside the taralli rings on a wooden board and cover with a towel.

image-5

8. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil.

We moved the party over here!
We moved the party over here!

9. Put 6-10 of the taralli into the boiling water, and when they float to the surface – this will only take 30-60 seconds – remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a cloth to dry and cool.

The texture they have after boiling
The texture they have after boiling

Tip: Try not to plop one tarallo on top of another when dropping them into the pot, and if they stick to the bottom, give them a gentle nudge with the slotted spoon.
10. Put the cooled taralli on baking sheets and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F (200°C) for about 25 minutes, until golden.

Ahhhh che bello!

11. Remove and cool on racks on racks on racks.

So how did they turn out? Pretty decent, I’d say. They’re a little “airier” than the taralli we bought in Italy, but they are quite flavorful (particularly of fennel) and just as addicting. If I were to redo the recipe again, I’d probably add some other flavors – maybe even go bold with chocolate!

Thought of the day: Before you complain about having to help someone, think about how much better you’ll feel after you do it.