Paleo Spinach Orange Smoothie

It’s Hump Day, y’all! That means we’ve reached the halfway point of the week and we’re ALIVE. Praise the good Lord almighty ;) I’ve been busy this week, between work, getting ready for a friend’s baby shower this weekend, cleaning the house, trying to catch up on laundry & maintaining some semblance of a hairstyle. On that note – can I get a holla for the topknot?! Seriously, whoever made that an acceptable style is my hero!

Since I’m about to run to work, let’s get down to business: the smoothie. This was a random creation I threw together one night last week since we had almost nothing to eat at the house (wife fail!) and we were starving. My husband doubted my smoothie powers (“I really think this is going to be gross”), but little did he know I’m a wizard when it comes to smoothies. Okay, wizard might be pushing it but it WAS delicious! SO delicious, in fact, that he even requested it the next day. Booyah! That’s what I call #winning. Here ya go!

PALEO SPINACH ORANGE SMOOTHIE (makes 2 servings)

Yum!

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 small oranges, peeled
  • 1 banana, ripe
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple
  • 1-2 TBSP raw honey
  • Handful of spinach
  • 8-10 ice cubes

Put all the ingredients into a high-powered blender (we use our Vitamix & LOVE it!) and blend until smooth. Cuz it’s a smoothie.. see what I did there? ;)

ENJOY!!

P.S. I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (search “theculturedcavewoman”).

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Paleo Zucchini Lasagna

Y’all, I am so super excited to share this recipe with you! Because it’s delicious. And nutritious. But mostly because it’s delicious. Ya know, Paleo can be really overwhelming, especially in the beginning.. but the more you play with your food (yes, mom, I’m allowed to do that now), the easier it gets! I promise! This recipe was created from a deep craving for some good ol’ comfort food… and there wasn’t any around. Aren’t the best things usually born out of desperation??

Anywhoo, the recipe. It’s fairly easy & makes a huge quantity of lasagna. We ended up eating off of the pan for the entire week – it was so nice to have a quick, ready-made something in the fridge that we could heat at a moment’s notice. I love meals like that, where there’s enough to last for days – especially when you’re too tired to make dinner on a Wednesday night or lunch on a Sunday. Can I get an amen??

PALEO ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 5 medium/large zucchinis
  • 1 pkg mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (this one in the picture is sugar/preservative/additive free)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cashews, raw and unsalted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

In a small saucepan, combine the cup of cashews and 1.5 cups of water and let soak for 20 minutes.

Rinse the zucchini under cold water & use a mandolin slicer to thinly slice the zucchini.

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Sprinkle salt on each of the slices of zucchini and layer them in a colander over the sink. The salt helps the zucchini “sweat” and removes all excess moisture so your recipe doesn’t end up soggy. Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes.

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After the zucchini has “sweated”, lay them flat on some paper towels & dab until dry.

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After the cashews have soaked, use a food processor to grind the nuts into small pieces.

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Add the spinach to the cashews, along with garlic powder, salt & almond milk and blend until you reach a ricotta cheese consistency.

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In a nonstick pan, brown your ground turkey with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the chopped onions and cook until meat is cooked through and onions are tender. Add the marinara sauce and mushrooms and stir until combined. Let cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and then remove from heat and set aside.

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Layer the zucchini on the bottom of your pan.

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Top with a layer of meat sauce, then add a few spoonfuls of the nut “cheese” and spread with a spatula (this took a gentle hand!)

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I finished with a layer of meat sauce & then baked at 350 for 25 minutes (or until heated through). Enjoy!!

The finished product!

The finished product!

I didn’t get a great “after” photo, but you get the idea!! This turned out delicious – the hubs took some to work & texted me after he ate saying, “It tastes just like REAL lasagna!!!” Which is quite possibly the best compliment in the entire WORLD! That’s what I want Paleo to be for you guys – super incredible tasting AND good for you!! I can’t wait for y’all to try this one! :)

PS: I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: __theculturedcavewoman__ or just search “itsbrenae” and it will pull up!)

Salmon with Roasted Butternut & Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Ahh yes, another Monday has arrived! And just in order to brighten yours up, here is my first recipe post of 2013!! Yaaaay! I’m hoping it brightens mine up too, to be honest ;) This weekend was particularly sad, since it was the last few days before the hubs & I head back to work. Womp womp. We’ve had SUCH a good Christmas break & it’s so hard to think about only seeing each other for a couple of hours in the evening after spending 14+ straight days together. The only bright point is that we are both people who function well under structure, so getting back into a routine will be rather enjoyable. Call us nerds. But my house may actually stand a chance at getting cleaned & laundry might actually make it into drawers and closets! I mean, there’s not need to get crazy now, but still. Hopefully there will be some benefit to gettin’ back to the grind. ;)

Soo, one of our (many) New Year resolutions is to stay away from any meat that has been treated with hormones, antibiotics and the like. I know this can get pricey (believe me, we’re feelin’ it!), so while we definitely can’t always go that route, we’re trying to do it as much as possible. That being said, I decided to go with Sockeye salmon for this dish! It’s a little pricier than Atlantic salmon, but it’s not farmed or treated with anything. And the taste… OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, I don’t think I could ever go back. Plus, the peace of mind in knowing we’re putting GOOD stuff into our bodies makes it completely worthwhile :)

SALMON WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT & BACON-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 2 fillets sockeye salmon
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 5-6 slices of bacon
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 and begin cutting up your butternut squash. Slice the ends off first, then cut into 4 equal pieces. Carefully run your knife down the sides, peeling the skin off. Quarter the remaining pieces into cubes, like this:

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Toss the squash pieces with 1 TBSP olive oil & sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Line a cookie sheet with foil (we ran out, which is why I don’t have any in the pictures HA), lay the squash evenly on the sheet & roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender.

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Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus off under cold water and dry. Cut about 1-2 inches off the bottom stems (that part isn’t very tasty!) and place into groups of 2-3.

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Cut your pieces of bacon in half and wrap tightly around the asparagus. Line another cookie sheet with foil and place asparagus on the sheet. Add a dash of salt & pepper to each group of asparagus & drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. The bacon will provide some grease, so don’t go overboard here! Just enough to give it some good flavor. Turn your oven to 400 & cook for 10 minutes, flip & cook an additonal 5 minutes or until bacon is crispy and asparagus is tender. I ended up broiling them on high for a minute or 2 at the end to really crisp up the bacon!

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Spread a little olive oil on a cookie sheet, and drizzle a little on top of the salmon. Divide the 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt. 1/8 tsp parsley flakes and dash of pepper between the 2 fillets.

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Cook at 425 for 12-14 min or until done. If you want to cook the asparagus and salmon at the same time, just cook the salmon for 15-18 minutes instead or until done (it will flake off with a fork).

The finished product!

The finished product!

The finished product!

The finished product!

The salmon was tender but moist. The flavor combination between the asparagus and bacon was incredible. And roasted butternut squash – always a winner!! This was such a great meal – not a crazy amount of prep time, great medley of flavors & full of good nutrition! A new fave in our house, for sure!

Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you on here OR you can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: @itsbrenae) :)

Paleo Quiche (with a zucchini crust!)

Monday, Monday… dah dah daaah dah dah (<– Sing that. It sounds better, I promise). Soo I’ve decided to make a change – and yes, I do realize it’s not even New Years yet. But I already have a resolution! That’s just how ahead of the game I am. Or… how behind I am. I mean.. really, REALLY behind. So umm.. let’s just go with the former, shall we? Gah, I am SUCH an overachiever ;)

Ok, where were we? Oh yes, the change! So, I was browsing through Pinterest (find me and join the addiction here) & saw this quote that I fell in LOVE with. It goes a little something like this:

“We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for comfort is the biggest thief of life.” -Joshua Glenn Clark.

Wow. That sucker hit me square between the eyes. I am sooo guilty of this. Of always wanting the NEXT thing. I waste so much time wishing away the days or struggles or hardships that I don’t feel like facing. Instead, I’ve decided to start embracing the struggles. Confronting them head on. Waking up each morning and CHOOSING joy. CHOOSING life. Consciously taking a step forward, saying a kind word, smiling at the unexpected, enjoying TODAY for what it is. And you know what I’m most grateful for, guys? I will absolutely fail at this. Daily, most likely. BUT His grace is sufficient. HIS grace. Not mine. Cue deep sigh of relief. Aaaaand all that to say, here’s to happier Mondays! ;)

Alright, onto the recipe! Y’all. This quiche is so delicious that it will literally change your world. Blow your mind. Knock your socks off. Starting to get the picture? Just want me to stop? Either way.. it’s amazing, folks!

It has no dairy. No grain of any kind. 100% paleo and gluten-free. And it is over the top, slap yo mama, dance in the streets FREAKING delicious. Just ask my husband. Who ate the entire 9×13 pan in 3 days. I mean, seriously?! Uhh I WANTED some of that! Welp, guess that means I’ll just have to make another batch this week. Oh darn ;)

PALEO QUICHE (serves 8-10)

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The ingredients

CRUST:

  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (about 4 medium zucchinis)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 TBSP almond flour
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried rosemary

FILLING:

  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pkg zesty Italian turkey sausage (I used Jennio’s)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 8oz container mushrooms, sliced
  • 7 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • Dash of salt

Directions for the crust:

First, spray a 3qt casserole dish with coconut oil or olive oil & preheat your oven to 400. Shred the zucchini & blot with paper towels to remove all excess moisture.

Get out as much moisture as you can! It'll make the texture taste much better.

Get out as much moisture as you can! It’ll make the texture soo much better.

Mix the zucchini with the remaining ingredients (eggs, almond meal and spices).

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Spread the mixture in the bottom of the pan and up the sides, making sure it’s even, so it cooks proportionately!

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Bake at 400 for 22 min or until crispy & firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, start cooking the filling. Brown the sausage in a pan with the onion and bell pepper, until the meat is cooked through and veggies are somewhat tender.

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Add the mushrooms and broccoli and cook another 3-5 min. Drain the pan and set it aside to cool.

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Once it’s cooled, mix with the eggs and milk. Pour mixture into zucchini crust.

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Lower the oven temp to 375 and bake for 25 min or until firm. Let cool for 10 minutes and then ENJOY!

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The finished product!

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Yum!!

Like I said, sooooo delicious!! I seriously can’t wait for y’all to try this one – let me know how it turns out for you! You can also find me on Facebook , Pinterest or Instagram (username: @itsbrenae) – I’d love to hear from you! :)

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Yesterday was a LONG day. We ended up ordering take out after work (General Tso’s for him and Thai Chicken Curry for me!) and snuggling on the couch watching Macgyver until it was time for bed. It was just one of those days! Thankful for a good night’s sleep and a hot cup of coffee right now. It’s a beautiful day where I am – crisp, breezy and the sun is juuust starting to peek through the morning clouds. Choosing to focus on the blessings each day has to offer – God is just too good!

Now, onto the recipe! All I can say is: YUM! I kinda played around in the kitchen with this one – adding a little of this and a little of that, until I got the flavors right. Lucky for you, I actually remembered to write down all of the changes I made this time! So yay for that! Y’all, this soup is delicious. I have to admit, my husband was a little skeptical at first (“Cauliflower soup? Like an entire thing of soup made from just cauliflower??”), but even he had seconds! It’s perfect for the cold weather that’s coming (and already has come for some of you!) – warm, creamy, filling. Sigh. There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening! Am I right? Or am I right?

CAULIFLOWER LEEK(serves 4)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 leeks (they have a mild onion-y flavor)
  • 1 can organic chicken broth
  • 1 medium-sized shallot (another onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 TBSP salt (+ or – depending on your tastes)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • BACON (it deserves to be capitalized, don’t you think?)

Alright – I’m about to share something that will change your LIFE! Okay, maybe not your life, but definitely the way you cook Paleo. Ever wonder how the heck you’re supposed to substitute the cream in various recipes? Such as soup, Indian dishes, etc? Well, look no further! And watch real close – cuz it’s like magic.

Fill a medium-sized sauce pan with water and add your cashews. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off, cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Cashews!

Cashews!

Pour the water from the pan into a bowl or measuring cup and SET ASIDE. DO NOT GET RID OF THE LIQUID! Then, add the cashews and about 1/2-1 cup of the liquid to your Vitamix (or some other high powered blender) and puree until it becomes a creamy sauce (about 30 seconds). TA DA!! You have your cream base. And you can literally use it for anything since cashews are essentially flavorless. You. Are. Welcome.

Amazeballs.

Amazeballs.

See? Creamy goodness.

See? Creamy goodness.

You can leave the cashew cream in the blender since you’ll be adding to it later!

Since you’ll have 30 minutes while the cashews are soaking, preheat your oven to 400 and cut up your cauliflower into pieces like this:

Drizzle with olive oil!

Drizzle with olive oil!

Add the 4 cloves of garlic (in their skin) to the pan and bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until your cauliflower is tender and looks like THIS:

Crispy!

Crispy!

Meanwhile, rinse the leeks (they tend to have a bit of dirt in the folds) then slice ’em up and dice the shallot.

Use the white and light green end!

Use the white and light green end (the bottom half of the leek!)

Cook in a non-stick pan with a little bit of olive oil until tender and set aside.

Love the colors!

Love the colors!

Lay out your bacon (I did 3 strips each because.. well… we love bacon) on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until your bacon is the desired level of doneness.

Baaaacon

Baaaacon

Glorious, glorious bacon.

Come to mama.

Add the cooked leeks and shallots to the cashew cream (still in the blender) and puree. We pureed in spurts, mainly because we wanted to keep some of the texture (runny soup just doesn’t sound appetizing, ya know?!). Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized pot. Next, add your roasted cauliflower and garlic (remove the outer shell after roasting) to the blender, along with the chicken broth and puree it on high until completely blended.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Once blended, transfer the entire mixture to the pot with the leeks and cashew cream and stir together. Add all of the spices (rosemary, paprika, thyme, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes) along with 1/2 cup-1 cup of water. The water will help smooth out the soup – I found it was WAY too thick before the water, but to each his own. I would start out with about 1/2 of a cup and then add more until it’s the texture you’re looking for.

Perfect soup - flavorful, creamy, thick!

Perfect soup – flavorful, creamy, thick!

I crumbled two of the pieces of bacon and stirred them into our bowls (it was like hitting the jackpot every time we got some in a bite!) and then topped it with the 3rd piece of bacon and a tiny sprinkle of rosemary.

YUM!!!

The finished product!

So what are you waiting for!? Go grab the ingredients, make yourself a nice big pot ‘o soup and cuddle up with a cozy blanket and full bowl of goodness- fall is upon us! So why not take advantage of it? :)

Let me know what you think!