Monday, February 17, 2014

memories and maple syrup: a paleo barbecue sauce recipe

I've never been a fan of barbecue sauce. Living in Reno for so long, I always loved the summer activities. The Balloon Races, Hot August Nights, the Air Races...and the Rib Cook-off. With 500,000 visitors and dozens of barbecue-rs each year, I was bound to eventually find a sauce that tasted right to me.

Ribs + friends = a good day

I remember the year I finally found a sauce that I liked! After getting married and moving, my mom would get me a bottle nearly every summer to put in my Christmas stocking.

The only barbecue sauce I've ever liked!

After going gluten and corn free, most sauces were suddenly not safe for me to consume. Most of them contain soy sauce (which has wheat) or corn syrup or maltodextrin, which are all red flags in our household.

My hubby does enjoy a good barbecue sandwich occasionally, though, so finding a safe version was something I always knew I would eventually need to find. In doing so, I realized that I could make a version that I might actually enjoy too!

I've always liked my barbecue sauce more sweet than tangy, so I tried experimenting with maple syrup. You could probably use honey in lieu of the maple if you prefer a more honey mustard-y vibe. (I'll probably try it next time I make this.) Hope you enjoy, and let me know if you try it with a different combination!

Paleo pork sandwiches with the maple barbecue sauce!

  • 1 cup ketchup (I use Organicville, which is gluten and corn free!)
  • 4 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup 100% maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion or onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)

  1. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Use immediately or refrigerate in a glass jar for later use.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

my fajitas! (a grain free tortilla recipe)

One of my favorite scenes from Friends - I always
think of it when I make fajitas! 

Last month, we decided to try and gradually cut grains out of our diet. While going gluten and corn free was 100% necessary for me, I tend to feel better when I also limit my grain intake.

We started with one grain-free day a week for a month, and now we are at two. We're working our way to the point where most of what we eat is grain free. (At this point, I don't see the need to go 100% Paleo, but we're in an experimentation phase so I suppose that could change.)

Since going gluten free I've been trying to find a tasty and (at least somewhat) easy recipe for tortillas. We used to live off of Mexican food, but it's nearly impossible to find decent wheat AND corn free tortillas. That means no enchiladas, no nachos, no burritos, no tacos... (Are you drooling  yet? Yeah, I kind of miss Mexican cuisine!)

The experiments have gone...well, so-so. The rice or sorghum based recipes we have tried tasted dry and felt as stiff as cardboard. After many trials, we were able to create something pliable and tasty, but it had more of a chalupa-esque consistency. It works well as a flat-bread, but not for tacos or enchiladas.

We have made cauliflower tortillas several times, and while they are delicious, they are labor-intensive and don't really work if you're short on time. They also haven't held up well for leftovers.

So I've been experimenting and putting together different recipes to find an easy and delicious tortilla. This recipe will work to make tortillas OR flat-breads - the only difference is how much batter you pour into the pan!

Today I was craving fajitas, so I doubled the recipe (for leftover purposes) and whipped these up! They held perfectly and tasted delicious. 

(For the pineapple chicken recipe to stuff inside your tortillas,
click here!)

*Note: It's been nearly two years since I have had a wheat tortilla. I think these grain free tortillas taste fabulous, especially compared to the other recipes I have tried. Ben still eats at Taco Bell occasionally and he says that these taste good and have the right consistency and pliability, but taste a bit different than regular tortillas. I played around with the recipe and he liked them better the second time. Just want to give you a disclaimer that you will probably notice a difference between these and regular tortillas!*

Grain-Free Tortillas - Recipe makes 4 tortillas or 3 flat-breads (using a 6-inch skillet)


  • 1/2 cup almond flour (you can buy almond flour or use a coffee grinder and grind your own!)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 2.5 tablespoons water
  • 4 egg whites
  • scant 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • coconut oil for the pan (I use a tiny bit of coconut oil for each tortilla because it adds a nice flavor. You can use whichever oil you prefer...)


Mix all of your ingredients (except the oil). I use a small six inch skillet - you will want to use something small, as your batter will be thin and will fill the space you pour it into. Heat your skillet on medium-low and place a dab of coconut oil. Once it melts pour 1/4 (about one small ladle-full) of batter into the skillet and make sure it spreads evenly. 

The tortillas are thin and will cook quickly, so don't leave them on the pan for too long! When first removed from heat, the tortillas will seem stiff (don't worry - after cooling for a few minutes they will be nice and pliable!)

Hope you enjoy! Leave a comment if you try them and let me know how they worked!

Friday, February 7, 2014

a little bit of hawaii: a paleo chicken recipe

I have a secret.

Okay, well it's not really a secret...but I LOVE pineapple.

I think it's the perfect chilled summer fruit on a hot day. It's great in the winter to remind me of summer. It's amazing in smoothies. On top of ice cream. On pizza. Basically, it's one of the most diverse fruits I know of and I love to cook with it.

I have another secret.

Until a year ago, I had never cut a pineapple.

I feel silly saying this now, but it was so easy to buy pre-cut pineapple or even canned chunks of the delicious fruit. With all of my food sensitivities now, I find that the more self-preparation I can do, the more secure I feel that I won't get sick.

Plus, pineapples aren't as difficult to chop up as I always thought they would be! My dream for next summer is to find a pineapple corer to make the process even easier (and to help keep down the amount of pineapple wasted by cutting it up with a knife.)

We picked up a pineapple a few weeks ago, so I decided to do a bit of experimenting. It was more of an "add a bit of this and a dash of that" situation, but it was delicious! It's similar to a Hawaiian-shoyu chicken casserole. I made it again today and wrote it all down so I could share it with you! You can alter any of the ingredient amounts to taste.

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 pineapple
  • 2-3 bell peppers (I like to get three different colors to make it more festive!)
  • The juice of 1 large orange (or approx. 1/3 cup of fresh orange juice)
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you're not worried about being Paleo)
  • 2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed (or two tsp. minced garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat the oven to 375. Cube the chicken and pineapple; put in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Slice bell peppers and add them to the dish. 

In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients. Spoon the mixture over the chicken, pineapple, and pepper mix. Stir well to coat chicken. Cover and bake for approximately 40 minutes.  (Note, our oven cooks a bit differently than others, so your timing may be slightly different.)

I've put this over rice (of course, that would negate the Paleo-ness of the recipe) and over cauliflower rice. Today, I used it as the stuffing for grain free fajitas (click here for the tortilla recipe) and it was delicious!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

gonpachi and allons-y!

It's been dreary and wintry over the last few weeks, so I've been looking back at vacation pictures, wistfully dreaming of warmer (and snow-less) days. I realized today that I never blogged about our Tokyo Thanksgiving here we go!

Ben and I have some friends who also teach in Japan - we met them while living in California and we always see each other when we all go home to visit family and friends. Last summer, we agreed that the next time we saw each other needed to be in Japan. We decided to meet in near the middle, in Tokyo, for Thanksgiving.

As per the usual, we took the overnight bus and arrived in Tokyo around 6 am. Now that we are seasoned Tokyo veterans (three times brings us to expert status, right?) we had no problem traveling through Shinjuku Station with our luggage and making our way through the various metro lines to get to Nogizaka, the closest station to our hotel. It felt like decades ago that we had made our first trip to Tokyo, marveling at the sheer size of Shinjuku and the tens of thousands of people making their ways through the busiest train station in the world. This time, it was just the first station of many to go through on our first day.

Out of the 50 busiest train stations in the world, 44 of them
are in Japan, with Shinjuku being the busiest.

Once we made our way across the city and settled into our hotel, we visited Roppongi to see all the Christmas decorations. We had heard Roppongi was home to some amazing decorations and the famed Illuminations.

You might remember the spider from previous photos...

After taking in the sights, we headed to Arisugawa Park to meet our friends. We enjoyed a nice stroll through the park, photographing the autumn leaves and catching up. Then we made our way to Gonpachi, my favorite Izakaya restaurant. The food was amazing, as always, and we were happy to see that our friend Teresa still worked there.

The more times we visit this park, the more I think it's
become my favorite spot in Tokyo...

I'm always captivated by the architecture of this
building. It was especially beautiful with the sunlight
streaming in through the windows!

After our meal, we proceeded to Harajuku to visit Meiji-jingu, a Shinto shrine named after Emperor Meiji. It was quite lovely, though the wall of sake barrels was my favorite part of the experience. Well, that and the Allons-y shop we spotted on our way back to the train station! (Finding a Doctor Who reference in Japan is no easy task...but more on that later.)

Torii Gate entrance to the shrine complex

Kazaridaru, or decorational sake barrels, outside Meiji Shrine

Gateway to the courtyard

Meiji Shrine with the Docomo Building in the background

"There's an old Earth saying, Captain. A phrase of great power and wisdom and
consolation to the soul in times of need. Allons-y!" 

Exhausted, we all headed back to our hotels to try and get some shut-eye before our early morning trek to Disneyland!