Grain-Free Snickerdoodles

snickerdoodle-2

I can’t believe it’s the holiday season! This year has been such a whirlwind and full of change, but it’s hard to believe that it’s already almost over. Regardless, I love the holiday season and am happily embracing it. I’m even going home to Michigan for Christmas this year…the first time in five years!

Anyway, since it is the time of year for goodies, I thought I’d try my hand at grain-free snickerdoodles. These did not disappoint and could not be any easier to make. The texture is soft and pillowy with a light crust on the edges. The flavor is slightly sweet, tangy and of course, cinnamon-y. The cream of tartar is actually what gives the cookie its signature tang and reacts with the baking soda to create the crackled appearance. The cream of tartar also accounts for the perfect chewiness.

When first researching snickerdoodle recipes, I was actually kinda thrown off by the cream of tartar. I had to do a little more digging, but soon understood that from a snickerdoodle purist standpoint, it’s a must. Traditionally, it was always used to make snickerdoodles and without it, it’d just be a crunchy cinnamon sugar cookie (it keeps sugar from crystalizing!). It truly is the age-old snickerdoodle secret and enough for me to want to include it in the recipe.

Another thing about a classic snickerdoodle recipe — there is no vanilla extract. This is actually quite rare for a cookie recipe, but from what I learned, vanilla mellows out the tangy flavor from the cream of tartar. Who knew? So, in an effort to keep the cookie more classic, I also opted for no vanilla. And, truthfully, I didn’t miss it.

On another note, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live in November and made my herbed turkey potato stew. Watch the segment HERE. Stay tuned because I’ll also be going back on December 16 to make my no-bake rum balls!

snickerdoodle-bite

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (I used this brand)
  • 1 tsp non-irradiated cream of tartar (I used this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted softened butter, preferably grass-fed
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar, plus another 3 Tbsp for rolling
  • 1 large egg, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or use a non-slip baking mat like this one. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, cream together the softened butter and 3 Tbsp of coconut sugar. Once light and fluffy, beat in the egg. Then, slowly add the dry mixture until combined.
  4. In a shallow dish, mix together the cinnamon and remaining 3 Tbsp of coconut sugar.
  5. Scoop out 1 Tbsp of dough and roll between hands to form a ball. Then, roll the ball in coconut sugar and cinnamon to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet. Gently flatten dough with palm of your hand.
  6. Bake in the prepared oven for 8-9 minutes or just until edges are barely brown.
  7. Cool on baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Yields: 20 small cookies

Herbed Turkey Potato Stew

herbed-turkey-potato-stew

It’s been chilly, damp and drizzly in Portland lately. With weather like this, I want nothing more than a warm and hearty one-dish meal. To me, this one kind of tastes like a mixture of Thanksgiving and shepherd’s pie, and it’s straight up healthy comfort food. It’s an especially great meal to have after a hard training session since it’s full of good starchy carbohydrates. If you’re not a regular potato eater, add more sweet potato or use butternut squash instead. Make it what you need it to be for you and most importantly, enjoy!

Meanwhile, I recently got my personal training site up and running, which you can check out HERE. If you live in the Portland area and are looking to do personal training in NE (MLK and Alberta) or NW (near Pearl District/Nob Hill), be sure to hit me up. I am currently taking new clients!

And, on another note, I was on live TV last week! I had the opportunity to go on KATU Afternoon Live here in Portland and make my pumpkin caramel bars. It proved to be a lot of fun and looks as if I’ll be a guest again in the near future. Watch the replay HERE.

herbed-turkey-potato-stew-2

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb ground turkey white or dark meat, or a combination of both
  • 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped (*or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup good-quality chicken or turkey broth
  • 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces (peel if desired)
  • 1 medium white sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 12 oz bag frozen peas

Directions:

  1. Heat large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil or butter. Once heated, add the onion and garlic, and sauté 1-2 minutes. Next, add the ground turkey and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Continue cooking until the meat is mostly browned (about 5 minutes), breaking up the large pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula as needed.
  2. Next, mix in the yellow potatoes, sweet potato, broth and thyme. *Note: if using dried tarragon, add now. Add more sea salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot with a lid and allow mixture to cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 10-12 minutes, add the fresh green beans and frozen peas. If needed, add a bit more broth. Cover again and cook 5-6 more minutes or until potatoes and beans are tender.
  4. Stir in the fresh tarragon. Taste and add more sea salt and/or black pepper, if desired. Serve.

Yields: ~6 servings

 

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

beef-stew-2016-2

October is officially here and it’s truly starting to feel more like fall. With a more noticeable shift in weather this past weekend, it felt like an appropriate time to make a slow cooker stew and eat my first winter squash of the season. I was inspired by this recipe and tweaked it a bit to make it what I wanted. It turned out just right. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • ~2 lb grass-fed beef stew meat
  • ~1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
  • 1-2 Tbsp grass-fed ghee or butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~1.5 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium white sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 8-10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 2-3 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tsp raw honey or coconut sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4-5 kale leaves, de-stemmed and torn into pieces

beef-stew-2016

Directions:

  1. Place tapioca starch in a large, shallow bowl. Add the stew meat and toss to coat.
  2. Melt ghee or butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté a couple minutes, until soft. Next, add the garlic and stew meat. Continue cooking until beef has browned. Then, add the beef and onion mixture to the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Pour a little bit of the broth into the sauté pan to deglaze it and loosen the brown bits. Once deglazed, add to the slow cooker with the meat mixture.
  4. Add the squash, sweet potato, carrots and mushrooms to the slow cooker. Then, add the sea salt, pepper, paprika, bay leaf, coconut sugar, coconut aminos, broth and red wine. Stir well.
  5. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for about 7 hours. During the last 30-45 minutes of cooking, add the kale and stir well.
  6. Taste and add more sea salt and pepper, if desired. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Yields: ~6 servings

Pizza Burgers

pizza-burgers

Holy cow, I’ve been meaning to share this recipe all summer…oops! Summer somehow slipped by me, though we’ve technically got a couple more weeks. As much as I like fall, I enjoy summer more and I’m not ready to move into the next season yet. We kinda had a weird summer here anyway, so it doesn’t feel like it should be over yet. Since we’re down to our last couple weeks of official summer though, it’s not too late to share a burger recipe, right? Really, I’ll eat a burger any time of year, so I think it’s okay.

Anyway, as you may recall, this year has been a huge transition for me, and it continues to be. That’s definitely been the priority, so my poor little blog has been on the back-burner, but it still lives on and so do I!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb grass-fed ground beef (I used 15%)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 15 oz can no-sugar added pizza sauce (I used this one)
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese, preferably grass-fed
  • 4 slices Applegate pepperoni (large size)
  • Sprinkle of fresh-grated high-quality Parmesan cheese, if desired
  • Mixed greens and veggies of choice, for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill for burgers. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together ground beef, Italian seasoning, sea salt and pepper. Form into two even sized patties.
  2. Once grill is hot, throw on the burgers. Cook to your preference. We usually do about 3.5 minutes each side for medium-rare. Once done, remove from grill.
  3. Warm up a little bit of the pizza sauce on the stove or in the microwave and spread a layer of sauce on top of each patty. Add the cheese and pepperoni to each. Dollop a little more sauce on top and garnish with Parmesan cheese, if using.
  4. Place burgers on top of a bed of mixed greens or veggies of choice for serving.

Yields: 2 servings

 

Ark Elements Review

slide_1

I was recently contacted by Ark Elements to try out their meal service and am excited to share my experience with all of you. Please know, the thoughts expressed in this post are my own and even though I received a week of complimentary meals, I was not compensated in any way to write this review.

What is Ark Elements?

Ark Elements is a Portland-based company that creates locally-sourced, well-crafted paleo foods in small batches. Their foods make evolutionary sense and are minimally processed for maximum progress.

They seek true health and sustainability, and created the Ark Elements as a guide. They believe these Elements are the foundation for optimal health:

  • we feel better when we move, so we practice functional fitness.
  • we feel better when we eat well, so we nourish ourselves through whole eating.
  • we feel better when we’re outside, so we play in our world.
  • we feel better when we’re with people, so we build a like-minded community.

To read more about Ark Elements, visit HERE.

IMG_4353

How does Ark Elements work?

Each week, a new menu is posted on the Ark Elements website and you can go in and place an order between Sunday and Friday. You do not need a subscription to order and there are no strings attached. The only requirement is that you order a minimum of $55 worth of food, which is easy to do on your own, but you could also split it with a friend, roommate, family member, etc. After your initial order, you do not need to place reoccurring orders. You can truly order as little or often as you want.

During the checkout process, you select a pick-up location where you’ll retrieve your food the following Tuesday. But, guess what? Starting sometime this month, Ark Elements will do home deliveries, so the process will be even more convenient!

My Experience

I tried the grilled chicken Waldorf kale salad, grass-fed beef meatballs with figs and bacon over yam and zucchini noodles, yam hash with sage apple sausage and a baked egg, red curry chicken over almond and green onion cauliflower rice, and fennel and herb crusted pork tenderloin with roasted seasonal vegetables. I also ordered a batch of almond flour biscuits and grain-free pumpkin seed granola. The online ordering and checkout process was so easy and took me a matter of minutes. Also, all the ingredients were listed online for each menu item and macros too.

Ark Elements hash

When I got my order, all my meals were clearly labeled and in their own individual containers. As I started tackling away at them each day, I was surprised how much food each container actually contained. It looked like a decent amount in the container, but it always amounted to much more when I emptied it into a dish to reheat. It was actually a real serving size and enough food! Often, it seems like these sorts of things can skimp on serving sizes, but Ark Elements does it right. Each meal was satisfying and I didn’t feel like I needed to eat more with it, other than maybe an almond flour biscuit to use as a vehicle to scoop up bites with (those biscuits pair well with everything too).

Ark Elements pork tenderloin

Also, all the food (that needed reheating) reheated very well with no weird taste or texture afterward. I enjoyed all the meals a lot and felt very spoiled with this service! If I had to pick a favorite out of everything I tried though, it’d be the meatballs (pictured below). Those were unbelievable. The pork tenderloin (see photo above) was a close second, but like I said, I liked it all. In case you’re wondering, the granola was nice as a treat and not something I ate as a meal. That stuff is dangerously delicious and pretty darn dense too. I liked sprinkling a couple tablespoons into a small dish of plain whole milk yogurt as a little post-dinner treat.

Ark Elements meatballs

All in all, I would definitely use this service again because the food was incredible. And, really, you can’t beat the convenience. With that said, if you live in Portland, I highly recommend giving Ark Elements a try sometime. You can even buy some of their items directly at New Seasons — the grain-free granola (cereal aisle) and a selection of meals too (in the grab n’ go refrigerated section). So, if you don’t want to commit to placing an order just yet, head to New Seasons and check out the selection.

Ark Elements Curry

The Times They Are A-Changin’

f88296ec0eb9c913a97cbc6e9cfc25f0
Photo credit: cityfarmhouse.com

It’s been a year of big change, and it’s only April. As I said the last time I posted, things have been crazy. Finally, there’s a bit of relief and the waters are calming down, but I continue to move forward and open the door to new opportunities. Lots of good is flooding in and more lies ahead.

So, what exactly is new with me? Here are the biggies:

  • Recreate Fitness, the gym I’ve worked at for nearly the last 4 years, closed its doors on March 31. It was emotional, stressful and hard. I am grateful for all the time I had there and the relationships, community and opportunities presented to me.

FullSizeRender 4

  • Since closing, I started renting space as an independent contractor at a private training studio not far from where Recreate was located. I am grateful that all my existing clients came with me. This is an opportunity for me to really build my business, which is scary and exciting at the same time.
  • Through a client of mine, I got acquainted with the strength & conditioning coach of the Portland Thorns FC (our professional women’s soccer team) and started helping him with a local gym he’s taking over in Lake Oswego. So, I’m going out there 3x/week and coaching semi-privates, and have been doing so since the end of January. No, I’m not training the soccer players. There is room to grow out here too, if I choose.
  • I’m going to NYC at the end of this month for the Yoga Tune Up® Breath & Bliss immersion. I loved NYC when I was there in the fall and need to keep moving forward with my Yoga Tune Up® studies, so it seemed like a win-win. I need continuing ed credits now that I’m a licensed teacher and wanted to do it regardless. After all the chaos that’s ensued since January, I am greatly looking forward to this getaway + learning experience!

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in my life. One door closed and another one opened, but in-between, it was quite hectic. Extra work, networking, planning, looking for a space to go, emotions, etc. As hard as it was, I’m relieved to have the gym stuff behind me. Change is hard, but also good and I am not worried. Everything will be great.

Meanwhile, if any of you live in the Portland area (specifically NW Portland since that’s where I train clients) and are looking for a personal trainer, feel free to give me a shoutout. Now that I’m not teaching 11 strength & conditioning classes/week at Recreate, I have more room in my schedule and am taking new clients. Visit my contact page to get in touch with me.

Cheers and happy weekend!

Cottage Pie

cottage pie 2

Wow, it’s been over a month since I posted, though it feels like it’s been even longer than that. Life has been a bit crazy for me so far this year — changes, growth, opportunity and lots of things to think about. Seriously, the month of January alone felt like it was a year long. In reality, it’s all good — it’s just been a bit exhausting and slightly chaotic. Anyway, onward and upward!

Meanwhile, I never really knew what the difference was between cottage and shepherd’s pie, but apparently, cottage pie is typically made with beef and shepherd’s pie made with lamb (not sure why the whole shepherd and lamb thing never occurred to me). So, I guess I’m naming this one appropriately. I do have other variations of shepherd’s pie/cottage pie/whatever you want to call it in the archives as well. Check those out HERE and HERE. One is made with ground turkey and has a winter squash topping, and the other is made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and has a cauliflower mash topping. All three versions are a little different, but all delicious!

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place sweet potato and russet potato pieces in a steam basket and bring to a simmer on the stove. After 5 minutes, add the cauliflower florets and steam for another 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.
  2. Add the cooked vegetables, butter, sea salt and black pepper to a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Set aside.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1.25 cups chicken bone broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tube tomato paste (~5 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 12 oz bag frozen green peas
  • Paprika for topping, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 385 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If you’re using leaner ground beef, add a little bit of fat to the pan (i.e. butter, coconut oil, etc.). If you’re using fattier meat (like 85/15 or 80/20), you won’t need any additional fat in the pan, but may want to drain off a little bit of the fat after browning the meat, otherwise the filling can be too runny/greasy. Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the chunks of meat.
  3. Next, add the carrots, dried thyme, cayenne, sea salt and black pepper. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the broth, vinegar and tomato paste, and stir well again. Once mixed together, add the arrowroot starch and stir until dissolved. Finally, add the green peas and let cook for another minute.
  4. Pour filling evenly into a 9×13 pan. Top evenly with the cauliflower-potato mixture and sprinkle with paprika, if using. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
  5. After baking, cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and then serve.

Yields: 6 servings