Jerky (paleo, gluten-free)

I am not a hunter, but my family members are; so, deer season usually means venison.  Recently, a processed deer came creeping into my freezer at home and I thought “this is it; I’m going to make jerky and if it doesn’t work, then I’m never using the dehydrator again!”  I took a frozen steak and sliced it into jerky strips after letting it thaw slightly through.  I put a marinade on it that I got from Primal Cravings cookbook (Jamaican jerk).  I let it sit overnight.  The next morning I turned on my dehydrator to 160 degrees and put the strips down on parchment paper for easy clean up.  I let it go from around 7:30 in the morning until around 2pm. Mine may have been a little hard for some people’s taste, so next time I may go for an hour or 2 less.  Check it periodically to find the texture you like.  Since it doesn’t have preservatives, I am storing it in the fridge; however, supposedly you can store it for 2 days at room temp.  It was really good!  Venison is an awesome option, too, because it is really lean.  You don’t want fat on your jerky strips because the fat will go rancid. ;(

This was the spice mix I used, but there are tons out there to choose from!  You can also do this in the oven. My dad used to make his in the oven when we were kids, but I have never tried it personally.  You can also use regular steak or turkey, as well!

Jerky Seasoning (variation on Primal Carvings Jamaican Jerk)

1tsp molasses

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp salt

Meyer Lemon Gummies (2 ingredients)

There can never be enough opportunity to get more gelatin in your diet!  It’s an amazing soft tissue healer and sometimes bone broth can be inconvenient.  I still think bone broth is essential but this is a great addition to the repitoire. If you make these for kids, you may want to add a couple Tbsp of honey to make them a little sweeter.  I happen to like lemon!
Meyer Lemon Gummies
1/3 cup fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice
2 1/2 Tbsp gelatin
Place the lemon juice in a sauce pan on low and add the gelatin.  Stir until completely dissolved and pour into containers or molds and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove and enjoy!  I keep mine in the fridge.

Homemade Larabars and Protein Balls

Clean eating can often be difficult for people because of the convenience factor.  It is much easier when you have prepared yourself for lunches, snacks, etc.  Being on the run with kids, busy schedules, and work all leave some gaps in the schedule where it would be nice to have a packaged go-to in the car or in your purse.  Larabars are a perfect portable snack because there are only a few ingredients: dried fruit, nuts and spices!  However, Larabars run for $1.79 per bar at Martin’s.  So, there has to be an easy, affordable homemade version.  I often make my own version of larabars in the form of little bite-size balls because they are easier to form than bars.  However, you can mold them into whatever you want!  I am all about using resources; there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.  So, I came up with a couple recipes that I haven’t found elsewhere; however, there are tons of recipes you can find on the web.  I ran across this blog post that goes through flavor recipes for all the store bought versions.  She also does a good job of walking you through the ratios to use to create your own flavor profiles!

For my “Homemade Month,” I decided to make 2 varieties: Espresso Protein Balls and Gingersnap Bars

Espresso Protein Balls were my creation to balance some of the carbohydrate ratios that are normally present in dried fruit.  Therefore, I used protein powder in them, and this makes them a great snack for a Crossfitter or active athlete that has protein needs for their lifting.

Espresso Protein Balls

10 Medjool dates, pitted

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Down to Earth brand that has 19g of protein per scoop)

2 handfuls of raw cashews

3 tsp coffee grounds

2 tsp water (if your mixture isn’t sticking together well enough)

Put all the ingredients in the food processor until well crumbled.  It is ready to form when you can grab and squeeze the mixture and have it stick together!  That’s it.  This recipe made 10 protein balls and cost me about $5.50.  If I formed bars, it would’ve made about 4 bars, meaning about $1.38 per bar.  Obviously this is less than the store price of $1.79, although not much.  The reason for this is because I used protein powder….the total cost would be almost $1.50 less if that portion was left out.  Not bad.

Gingersnap Bars

8 Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 a little bag of crystallized ginger, finely diced (I used Melissa’s brand…no sulfur dioxide in there!)

1/4tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

2 handfuls of pecans

Put all the ingredients except the crystallized ginger in the food processor and process until it sticks together.  Form into bars by pressing into the bottom of a covered pan.  Press the mixture into the pan and press the finely diced ginger into the top of the larabars. This recipe was inspired by my favorite gluten-free cookie by Liz Lovely…ginger molasses.  However, they are made from rice flour and have some sugar added, as well.  Therefore these make the perfect substitution!

The gingersnap bars made 4 bars, and they cost me about $1.75 per bar.  This is still 4 cents less than the store bought version.  However, once again, I chose a flavor profile that had a unique, expensive ingredient: crystallized ginger.  Just like the protein balls, that increased the overall cost by about $1.50.  I also happened to have most of the spices on hand from fall pumpkin creations.  By all means, use whatever you have sitting around as opposed to spending a fortune on spices that you won’t use otherwise!

If I were to make simpler flavor profiles like “Cinnamon Buns” which have nothing more than dates, pecans, and cinnamon, the cost effectiveness goes way up!  On average, you are probably looking at about $1 a bar with the simpler flavors that you can find at the above link.  Depending on the nuts you use, you can manipulate the cost; buy the nuts that are on sale!

Now for the whole rating system: 5 stars being the best

Taste: 5 stars (you are driving this train, so make your favorites!)

Cost effectiveness: 5 stars (you can save quite a bit or make exotic flavors for about the same as store bought prices)

Worth the effort: 2 stars (I don’t eat many larabars…they may be something I grab when going on a road trip, so I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to make them at home since it’s not something I consume regularly.  If you have kids though, this could absolutely be a way to have them make their own creations that they can have as treats in their lunch box!)

Ease: 5 stars (doesn’t get easier than throwing everything in a food processor and forming it into balls)

Roasted Squash Seeds

It’s fall. It’s Halloween.  It’s squash season.  That means many of you may decide to throw away the seeds inside your beautiful squash.  I’m here to tell you not to!  This roasted seed recipe reminded me of popcorn!  Feel free to use whatever spices you think you would love!  It’s a blank slate for a delicious snack.
Roasted Squash Seeds
Squash seeds, cleaned
Herbs to Provence
Preheat oven to 275F.  Once seeds are cleaned and dried, put on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and spices and roast for 15 minutes or so.  You’ll be able to smell them get toasty!  Eat up!  Put them in your salad, eat as a snack, or top your squash soup with some for a little crunch!

French Onion Dip (primal, gluten-free)

With football on the horizon, party food for snacking is a must. I like to find a balance between real food ingredients and catering to the tastes that everyone likes to enjoy.  That may mean I include some non-glutinous grains like organic corn chips with guacamole. That may also mean I include real, grassfed cheese or other dairy to a dish.  I’m fine eating those things on occasion, and I know it will help open the options for guests to eat all the things they love (even if I made a healthier, homemade version!).  This dip tugs at a special place in my heart because if I could pinpoint one junk food I remember being obsessed with when I was younger, it was ruffles with french onion dip.  Since I avoid rancid oils and don’t eat dairy or preservatives, it has been years since this flavor hit my tongue.  I attempted my first homemade version for a party, and I got the thumbs up from healthy and non-healthy eaters alike.  It’s a keeper and is easy to whip up if you are having a party.  I served it with a bunch of veggies, but you could easily grab a few bags of Jackon’s honest potato chips from Whole Foods for the classic chip and dip combo!

Don’t be afraid by caramelizing onions.  It sounds complicated and time consuming, but it’s really just about low and slow.  You can have them working while you are getting other dishes together.

French Onion Dip
2 Tbsp butter or bacon grease
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup full fat or 2% Greek Yogurt, plain
1/2 cup paleo mayo (Whole Foods as Primal Kitchen version)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp celery salt
handful fresh dill, chopped
1 green onion, green part chopped
Heat butter over medium heat and add the sweet onion and salt.  Put on low/medium and allow the onions to cook slowly over low heat until browned and caramelized.  This should take about 30 minutes.  Stir regularly to prevent burning.  While those are cooking, Mix the other ingredients together and put aside. Once the onions are cooked to a nice brown, puree in the food processor and add to the remaining dip mixture.  Serve with some chopped green onion on top for garnish.

Bell Pepper Boats

Are you getting tired of recipes that aren’t recipes?  I hope not, because I post this stuff for you guys!  I’ve shared this idea tons of times, but I figured it’s helpful to have it on the list of snacks (or quick meal ideas).  Nature has created perfect portable options for us that are free of plastic, free of lids, free of hassle.  Sometimes people don’t have time to cook, and throwing fresh ingredients together can be a great option to get clean food in your belly without much hassle.  Feel free to stuff your boats with whatever you have on hand: tuna salad, leftovers, ceviche, store-bought guac, scrambled eggs, etc.
Bell Pepper Boats
1 bell pepper, halved lengthwise and core removed
1 avocado
salt and pepper
optional: lime, tomato
One the bell pepper has been halved, fill it with half the avocado and mash it up a bit in each boat.  Top with salt and pepper.  Enjoy like this or add cilantro, fresh lime juice, tomato, tuna….whatever floats your boat!

Blueberry Pancakes (gluten free, dairy free)

This is an easy recipe that is EXACTLY like my other pancake recipes, but they are blueberry.  I am trying to get through consuming some of my frozen blueberries from last year at the ranch in order to make room for this year’s crop!  I used frozen making these, but you could easily use fresh.  When choosing blueberries, it’s important to consider buying organic because they have a very thin skin, which means pesticides can soak in fairly easily.  If you buy a bunch of organic blueberries when they are in season and freeze them, you will never have to pay crazy prices….and they taste better.
Consider making a double batch because these can be eaten throughout the week as a snack or grab-and-go breakfast.  They can also serve as the “bread” for a nut butter and jelly sandwich in a kid’s lunch!
Blueberry Pancakes
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup cashew milk (any liquid will do)
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
Mix all the ingredients together except the blueberries until slightly runny but smooth.  Warm skillet over medium high and place some coconut oil on the surface.  The skillet is ready when you flick water on it and it sizzles.  Place batter onto skillet in whatever size you prefer and drop blueberries onto the batter.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the underside is golden brown.  Flip the pancakes over and cook for another couple minutes COVERED.  Serve warm, with grassfed butter, and pure maple syrup!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Once again, this is barely a recipe because there is really nothing to it.  However, I’m trying to share simple recipes with everyone, so people do not get stuck in the idea that every meal needs to be elaborate and take forever.  These bacon wrapped scallops can be thrown over a salad, like I have in the picture, eaten alongside veggies, act as an appetizer, etc.  They are quick and easy on top of being super tasty!  Adding more seafood to your diet will also increase your intake of vital minerals you may not receive otherwise. You could easily sub shrimp for scallops, but I would cut down the cook time by about half during the first step.
Bacon-wrapped Scallops
Bacon, uncured
Preheat oven to 425F. Cut bacon in half.  Wrap the bacon around the scallop and secure with a toothpick. Bake the wrapped scallops for 15 minutes, then flip.  Once flipped, turn the broiler on high and cook for another 5-10 minutes until bacon crisps up!

Thanksgiving Granola

Everyone loves a good granola, and ESPECIALLY when you are traveling.  I always make sure I have granola with me when I travel, so I don’t get hangry!  When you’re traveling over Thanksgiving, you don’t want to miss out on all those holiday flavors either!  So, I took my original granola recipe and turned it into “Thanksgiving granola.”  What makes it Thanksgiving?  It is your pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and cranberry sauce all mashed up!  This is great for traveling, but it would also be great as a travel “send off” for anyone that will traveling back to their home after spending the holidays with you.  This is also a great idea for a snack that sits around the house when everyone comes over to watch the game on Thanksgiving!  I made a double batch, and if you like granola, you should too!
Thanksgiving Granola
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded or flaked coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 300F.  Cover baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  Mix all of the ingredients together and spread on baking sheets.  Bake for 20-25 minutes. Mix the nuts up about halfway through. After removing from the oven, add as many dried cranberries as you like!  Enjoy!


I feel ashamed that I am even posting this as a recipe because there really isn’t anything to it!  However, I try and make some every year around apple season.  I don’t get complicated with it, so I thought it was worth telling you guys just how easy it can be!  I use whatever variety of apples are available when picking occurs.  I always use organic apples because I leave the skin on, and apples are one of the most heavily sprayed crops.  I like chunky applesauce when I eat because I like more texture.  If you want smooth applesauce, you will have to peel them.  I also don’t add any sugar…just some cinnamon!
As many apples cored and chopped as will fit in my dutch oven (10 maybe)
spoonful of cinnamon
splash of water
After taking the cores out of your apples and roughly chopping them, place them in a dutch oven or stockpot on the stove.  Sprinkle in some cinnamon and add a splash of water to the pot.  Place on medium high until the apples start cooking and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer until they are mashable.  I use a wooden spoon to mash them up and then add it to jars for storage!