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.

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.

Coastal Cruising & ROTW Preview

Well HELLO! My, has it been a while. It seems I’ve already had trouble sticking to my once-a-week rule…I hope all is forgiven!

The past few weeks have been a bit crazy, admittedly. Thankfully, time has healed some of my melancholic, bittersweet longing for Italy. While I still dream about it, I’ve at least stopped fantasizing about jumping into other travelers’ suitcases, which is a start – right? In effect, only the positive effects of my travel remain. I just have to go back soon. 🙂

Anyway, the “corner” of the world I was just in, the California Coast, may not seem like something all that out of the ordinary for me. As a California native, most people assume you know about everything that the Golden State has to offer. The truth is, I don’t even think that’s possible! It turns out my state is HUGE and nearly as diverse as the country itself.

When my mom nudged me awake last Monday morning and asked if I wanted to join my stepdad and niece on a trip up north to San Francisco for a few days I naturally said yes. Road trip? With my amazing family? C’mon, I’m all about that! My “yes” was about as enthusiastic as you can get, with a vigorous spring from my bed to match. I packed my bag, went to my Bar Method class, and set out for the open road with them around 10:00 am.

My trusty iPhone 4 can probably regale the tales of NorCal better than I ever could, so I’ll just sum it up briefly and leave the rest to pictures. Our first three nights were spent in the Sunset district, near where my older brother lives. I hadn’t seen him or his family in over two years, so this was amazing! We visited Golden Gate park, the zoo, and the nearby beach. The water looked pretty tempestuous, however, so it was definitely a “viewing visit”.

On Thursday, we drove from San Francisco to Monterey and went to the aquarium! This was probably my favorite thing on the whole trip. We saw people coming from all over the world and for good reason: this truly is the best aquarium ever. We had dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf later that night and stayed in the amazing Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row. The restaurant we ate at, Fisherman’s Grotto, was a fantastic destination spot and would definitely be my first choice for a restaurant there. While CR is a bit touristy for those seeking an authentic Monterey experience, it is certainly worth a see. Before the aquarium we ate at the Fish Hopper, which is probably one of the better restaurants right on the Row.

The drive down the coast from Monterey to home (Laguna Beach) on Friday is worth its own paragraph: talk about INCREDIBLE! It started with the 17-mile drive, passing by Pebble Beach and other award-winning golf courses; artsy Carmel followed shortly thereafter. Then we head into Big Sur, the land of giant redwoods and cascading beach cliffs. We then passed by the rolling hills and Hearst Castle (which we have to go back and see); later, Morro Bay. We even had a surprise before Morro Bay in San Simeon, when we were treated to the sight of hundreds of elephant seals!

In short, this was truly the drive of a lifetime; never had I seen so much beauty in one day. If I can offer one thing with this entry, it is my resounding suggestion to take this drive if you ever get the opportunity. Especially if you’re living in California at the moment! Without further ado, see my mini-photo stream here.

Coming up tomorrow: a recipe for Paleo Honey Almond Cookies! I know, I know – not everyone does honey on paleo. But hey, we like to push the boundaries here at IC, 🙂 Stay tuned…

Thought of the Day: If something’s bothering you, talk about it – you should always have at least one person you can talk to.

-H

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