Paleo Bacon Veggie Muffins

OCTI try to get some kind of veggie into my breakfast every day, but it can be a challenge sometimes to cook and still be at work at a reasonable hour. I’ve noticed lately that I’m setting my alarm for later but still pressing the snooze button once or twice, generally creating a frenzy to get out of the house each morning. I know good and well that I feel so much better if I just get up without hitting snooze, but who can resist this animal all snuggly in the morning??cultivatedwellbeing.com (7)

“Be prepared or prepare to fail!”

Weekend Prep: One of my favorite ways to prepare for the week ahead is to make a solidly healthy breakfast over the weekend that will last through the weekdays. That way, I can just grab it from the fridge and either gently heat it or just eat it cold, and I’ll be guaranteed a good start to the day. There are quite a few ways to accomplish a quick morning breakfast, but for me, it really needs to hit a few key points. 

  1. It needs to include a vegetable (I count sweet potatoes as a veggie when I make this delicious bread!)
  2. It needs to have a healthy dose of protein and good fats
  3. It needs to be delicious
  4. It needs to not be cold cereal

Not so hard, right? I’ll often make a veggie-packed frittata or a green smoothie to serve this purpose, but sometimes it’s fun to switch it up. That’s where these muffins come in. Without a doubt, they hit all the points, especially the delicious one.

Why not cold cereal you ask?

Well for one, I don’t like it. But more importantly, with the exception of very high quality organic, gluten-free granola (which I do like but still don’t eat for breakfast because it’s pretty high in carbs), cereal is garbage. It’s either made of wheat, soy, corn or rice so heavily processed that it turns to sugar in your body basically immediately — yes, even the “whole grain” stuff does this.

A little-acknowledged fact in the world of boxed and packaged foods is that whole grain flour is no longer a whole grain. It’s a flour. Whole wheat/oat/rice/WHATEVER flour has almost the same glycemic load as white flour, and when it’s extruded into little “o’s” or flakes or whatever shape you like, the proteins are denatured, and the whole grain ingredient is no longer healthy in any sense of the word. Plus boxed cereals almost always have too much added sugar, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup, and most people eat cereal with milk, which contains even more sugar. Good quality granola and other homemade cereals (one of which I will share with you soon!) are exceptions to this rule because they don’t contain grain flours or excessive added sugar. Instead, they either contain whole oats or (in the case of the one I’ll be sharing with you soon!) a pseudocereal that big agriculture hasn’t had a chance to mess with. 

Ok, now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox that has basically nothing to do with the recipe I’m about to share … 

I mentioned grain flours as no longer being a whole grain, but I didn’t mention anything about alternative/paleo flours. These muffins contain almond meal and coconut flour — neither is a grain, and both have a low glycemic load, so they don’t apply to the “WHATEVER” category in my list above.

Paleo Bacon Veggie Muffins

I love eating these muffins for breakfast not only because they’re grain-free, full of veggies, healthy fats, and protein, but also because they are fabulously delicious. Plus they contain the building blocks of serotonin that I talked about on Tuesday’s post about Gut Health and Mood: tryptophan coupled with just a little bit of healthy carbs

These little cuties got two thumbs up from Loren, and we ate them every morning this week. Just one muffin keeps me full until lunch, although different people have different appetites. (My rail of a husband sometimes has a snack around 11 after eating one of these …)

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Paleo Bacon Veggie Muffins
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 12 strips organic uncured, sugar-free bacon
  2. 1/4 large red onion
  3. 6 ribs purple kale
  4. 3 or 4 scallions
  5. 12 pastured eggs
  6. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  7. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  8. 1/4 cup almond meal
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 375
  2. cut 12 strips of organic bacon in half and place each one criss-crossed into a muffin tin
  3. cook bacon in oven for 10 minute
  4. while the bacon is cooking, dice onion, chop purple kale and scallions
  5. when the bacon is done, carefully remove from the oven
  6. pour about 3/4 of the bacon grease into a jar to use for later and the rest into a warm skillet or fry pan
  7. set bacon aside
  8. saute onions, kale, scallions until the onions are translucent (3 to 5 minutes) and turn off the heat
  9. in a large mixing bowl, crack eggs, and beat with coconut milk, coconut flour, almond flour, salt, and black pepper, making sure to get rid of all of the clumps
  10. once all ingredients are mixed into a smooth batter, add the vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate
  11. pour the veggie batter into each bacon-lined muffin tin until the batter is evenly distributed
  12. bake on 375 for 12-15 minutes or until the center is done
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

Resistant Starch Potato Salad – What’s Resistant Starch?

If you’re up on the latest in the Paleo community, then you’ve probably heard the term resistant starch flying around, and you probably have some idea of what it is. If you’re NOT up on the latest in the Paleo community, then you have no idea what I’m talking about and are reading this post because the weird title piqued your curiosity.

Either way, I’m about to 1) explain briefly what a particular category of resistant starch is and how it works; 2) refer you to an article that fully explains the concept much better than I will; and 3) leave you with an awesome kitchen hack and a recipe that you can thank me for after you sink your teeth into the deliciousness.

resistant starch

What is resistant starch?

Resistant starch, also known as amylose, is one of two types of starch found in green plants. It’s made up of a structure of molecules so tightly wound that it’s difficult for the enzymes in our digestive tract to break them down. They are resistant to digestion and therefore behave differently than digestible starches. There are multiple types of resistant starch, but right now we’re only going to focus on one: Retrograded Starch.

For a comprehensive explanation of ALL types of resistant starch, check out this article in PaleoMagazine.

Retrograded Starch is the type that’s created once starchy vegetables like potatoes, grains, or beans is cooked and then cooled for a 24 hour period before serving. This cooling process, either by refrigeration or freezing, actually changes the structure of the starches already in these foods and creates a more resistant variety. (source)

Why would I want to eat resistant starch?

Resistant starch is actually a lower glycemic food than your regular digestible starch. The glycemic load can be reduced by up to 25% just by cooling your cooked starchy veggie for 24 hours before eating. (source – affiliate link) Great news if you’re struggling with your blood sugar but find yourself starving without a few starchy carbs in your diet! Even better that some studies show an increased sensitivity to insulin with the consumption of resistant starch. (source)

This works beautifully for dishes like potato salad, bean salad, pasta salad, and quinoa salad — just cook your starchy veggies the day before it’s time to make the salad, and you’ll already have cold ingredients ready to go, resistant starch and all!

KITCHEN HACK BONUS: These starches remain resistant upon reheating the food. So if you want warm potatoes or rice (etc), you can still make this work in your favor if you plan ahead.

DIGESTIVE BONUS: When resistant starches make their way to your small intestine, they feed and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut (prebiotics). Some of these healthy bacteria (in addition to doing a host of other beneficial tasks inside your gut like synthesizing vitamins and fighting invaders) release butyrate into your system. Butyrate is a fatty acid that aids in metabolic function, reduces inflammation, and supports immune function. (source)

 

Don’t go too crazy now!

Start slowly with resistant starch, and make sure it agrees with you. That PaleoMagazine article I mentioned earlier recommends that you begin with 20-40 grams per day to test the waters. This post is not meant to give you cart blanche to go on a wild carbo-licious rampage, as tempting as that might be sometimes. That being said, I have a scrumptious recipe to share that follows all the precautionary recommendations when adding resistant starch into your regimen.

resistant starch

Red White and Bleu Resistant Starch Potato Salad

Ingredients (makes 6 to 8 servings):

  • 1 lb of the most colorful small potatoes you can find (red and purple are ideal for greatest nutrient density), cooked the day before and refrigerated
  • 4 pieces organic bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled (never settle for conventional bacon, and get pastured if you can find it)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (amount depends on your affinity for stinky cheese)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup homemade coconut mayo
  • Splash apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Halve or quarter 1/2 the potatoes, depending on the size, and roughly mash the other half with a fork in a large bowl
  2. Add bacon, cheese, scallions, and walnuts to potatoes
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, salt, and pepper
  4. Stir in the mayo mixture until well-incorporated
  5. Serve cold

resistant starch


FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Pomegranate Bacon Sauté

So it’s the new year, and we’re officially deep in the winter months. Though the last few days in the Bay have started to get a bit warmer, we’ve had some of the coldest days I’ve experienced since living here in the last couple of months. Our garden froze over – destroying some of our succulents and tipping over my baby brassicas (don’t worry, they’re mostly fine now), and each morning every blade of grass in the yard sparkled with ice.

mmmmmm! Dexter loves soup!

mmmmmm! Dexter loves soup!

When it’s cold out, I personally can’t get enough soup. I love soup at almost any time of year, and I often joke that I could have soup for every meal. But in the winter sometimes I’m serious, and I do have it at every meal! That being said, soup isn’t limited to just cold weather.

Have you ever noticed that even in parts of the world that remain warm year-round, soups and stews are staple foods? Thailand has coconut curry, tom yum, and tom kha; Vietnam has pho; India has stewed legumes and meats; nearly everything in Ethiopia is stewed with rich sauces; Mexico has menudo, tortilla soup, and pozole, and the list goes on and on.

Why is this?

Soups have greater function than just warming the body — in fact, in warmer parts of the world, not only are they hot in temperature, they’re often extremely spicy, causing the eater to sweat, thereby cooling the body instead of warming it as the sweat evaporates off the skin. Soups also function as an ingredients-stretcher. Maybe there’s a bit of meat, a bit of veggies, some fresh herbs, and that’s it. Soup! Maybe there’s a bit of way too many things, and they all need to be used before they go bad. Soup! (I call that particular model “Kitchen Sink Soup.”) With just the right touch, you can make nearly anything delicious in soup form. Last week’s recipe focused on the health benefits of broth. Well guess what broth’s great for!

I love this recipe, because it’s sweet and salty with a healthy dose of umami.pumpkins2

It’s easy to associate pumpkins with fall, but they’re actually in season for quite a while afterwards. I absolutely love using winter squash in cooking, especially when I’m making a lot of food at once. Whether its kabocha squash in a thai curry, spaghetti squash quiche, butternut squash soup, roasted acorn squash, or stuffed delicata, cooking with winter squash is a good way to ensure that you’re getting a nutrient-dense source of carbohydrates in a delicious package.

Fun facts about pumpkin:

  • Rich in both vitamin A and beta carotene, (which can convert to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is great for cardiovascular health, skin health, and eye health)
  • Full of healthy antioxidants and phytochemicals to help ward off harmful free radicals
  • Full of fiber, which keeps you full longer and helps you go #2 as long as you’re well-hydrated
  • Easy to cook and freeze for later
  • Absolutely delicious in a post-workout smoothie, and great for replenishing the body for muscle recovery
  • Find out more about pumpkin and other winter squash in this awesome post at Health Perch

Looking for even more pumpkin-y goodness? Guess what, I have a whole eBook filled with recipes dedicated exclusively to pumpkin! DOWNLOAD IT NOW.

Here’s the recipe!

serves 4 as a main 6 as an app

pumpkinsoup2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium pumpkin – roasted and peeled – or 2 cans/boxes (roasting a pumpkin is simple: cut half, remove the seeds, place in a pan face down with about 1/2 and inch of water and a table spoon of olive oil or butter, and roast on 375 for 30 to 40 minutes)
  • 2 cans broth or water
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbs ghee
  • 1 tbs rendered bacon fat
  • 2 large sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 large sprigs fresh sage, chopped
  • large pinch ground clove (a few shakes into the pot)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp REAL or sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • 4 to 6 slices cooked pasture bacon, chopped into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Heat ghee and bacon fat in a large pot until gently melted
  2. Add in pumpkin, stirring in and breaking apart the large chunks into smaller ones
  3. add in the stock or water and let simmer for a few minutes until it looks like the pumpkin is quite soft (~5 minutes)
  4. add in clove, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and vinegar and let simmer a bit longer
  5. Using an immersion blender, begin to puree the mixture, slowly adding in the can of coconut milk and maple syrup
  6. Continue to pulse with immersion blender and add in fresh oregano and sage, incorporating them completely without cooking all the flavor out.
  7. Serve hot with bacon pomegranate sauté and/or a dollop of full fat organic greek yogurt

For the Sauté

  1. Reheat cooked bacon pieces, pomegranate seeds, and a pinch of salt
  2. Cook until fully incorporated, but don’t let the seeds get mushy (feel free to add in a little extra bacon fat or ghee if you want it to be more cohesive)
  3. Portion it out with the soup and serve warmpumpkinsoup1

Looking for even more pumpkin-y goodness? Guess what, I have a whole eBook filled with recipes dedicated exclusively to pumpkin! DOWNLOAD IT NOW

Spaghetti Squash Bacon Quiche

spaghetti squash recipe

This is Dexter! She is the most cuddly friend on the planet. Chances are you’ll see a lot of her in this blog. Any excuse I can find to include her, I surely will.

Every Tuesday this fall, my husband goes to a continuing education class and gets home too late to hit the gym. Our usual daily routine is to meet at the climbing gym after work and come straight home to make/eat dinner, but this semester, Tuesdays are different. He usually takes this ridiculously needy yet adorable creature with him to work every day. So now, on Tuesdays, I come straight home to let her out and take her to run around. As a result of this schedule change, Tuesdays have become my running and baking days. This Tuesday, I decided, was pie crust day. I made two crusts, one with bacon fat and one with palm shortening.  This post will feature the one made with bacon fat, but don’t worry, the other will be a quick follow-up.

Simple Baking

You’d be surprised how it easy it is to make a delicious gluten- and grain-free pie crust. I have been an on-again, off-again baker for a couple of years, and only recently have I done it on any consistent basis, so the thought of making a pie crust always feels like a big hassle. Well this one takes 2 minutes.

spaghetti squash recipe

Savory Paleo Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs rendered bacon fat (cold, right from the fridge)
  • pinch of REAL salt or sea salt

Directions:

  1. Mix almond flour and salt first in a food processor, then add egg and bacon fat
  2. Process until it forms a dough
  3. Place the ball of dough in the center of an ungreased 9 inch pie dish and push the dough out into a crust with your fingers. Don’t worry if you tear the dough, just push it back together. Use a little extra almond flour if you need it to stick better

For the filling

spaghetti squash

after roasting it sliced in half long-ways and face down in butter or ghee, you can easily take a fork and scrape out the insides. one giant spaghetti squash is enough to last in our house for over a week.

It’s officially fall, and that means squash time. If you haven’t already seen it on my facebook feed, check out this Greatist article about all the different fall squashes and the fun ways to prepare them. This list could keep me busy for months! Today’s recipe features spaghetti squash. I love spaghetti squash because it’s so versatile. I’ve used it in place of potatoes for hash browns in the morning, (obviously) as a pasta replacement with a tomato sauce or pesto sauce, I’ve made them into little latke-type patties, and the other night for dinner, I used them as a base for a veggie and shrimp stir fry. The options are endless, so if you don’t have a big family to feed, you can just roast the whole thing and then use it for different recipes throughout the week. (I’ve also tried freezing it for later, and it’s perfectly fine to do that too.)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roasted spaghetti squash (I roast mine by melting a couple of tablespoons of ghee on a cookie sheet and placing the squash halves face-down. I roast for about 40 minutes at 350)
  • 4 pasture eggs
  • 2 big fistsful raw baby spinach
  • 1 tbs olive tapenade (You can use other flavor if you don’t have this. Fresh parsley, oregano, sage, season salt, and lemon pepper would all be great.)
  • 3 tbs-1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk — eyeball this, you might need a little more or a little less

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and add in the spaghetti squash and spinach until everything is coated and equally mixed
  3. Start adding in the almond milk, continuing to whisk until you achieve the right texture (not too liquidy, not too sticky).
  4. Fry 4 pieces thick cut bacon, just underdone — they’re going in the oven to cook the rest of the way, cut in half
  5. Pour filling into raw pie crust and place the bacon halves like spokes on top of the filling
  6. Cover exposed crust with foil or this pie shield (affiliate link)
  7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven — it should be firm in the center when it’s done
spaghetti squash recipe

you can cut the bacon smaller and arrange it however you want. I just thought this was pretty!

 

 

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