loaded baked potato soup

potatoes, broccoli, ham, bacon… thank you, fall. i never crave soup during the warm seasons. does anyone? i love to feel the heat coming from the kitchen when the stove is piping in the afternoon, warm smells billowing their way through all rooms of the house. everyone knows soup is warming, comforting, and a handshake into the cold weather. we must give in. it is fall and it is cold. the wind is blustering around the corners of our house, whisteling in the morning and howling in the evening. our toes are cold on the hardwood floors, and my hands have burns on them from stirring the pot.

soup.

soup for the soul.

i didn’t need to buy many things to make this belly-warming meal. i could add things like cream cheese if i wanted, or take out things like ham if i needed to. i could omit the broccoli if i wanted, and use cooked leeks instead. i have made variations on this soup, and as long as you taste, taste, taste as you go, you can’t go wrong with the recipe i am giving you.

i like to make a big pot on sunday to have leftovers during our busy, cold week.

this recipe makes 6 large bowls of soup.

loaded baked potato soup

ingredients:

8 medium red-skinned potatoes

8 strips of bacon, plus more for garnish if you wish

1 small yellow onion

10 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

1 cup broccoli florets

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup stock

8 oz uncured, cooked ham steak, diced

fresh herbs- rosemary, thyme or sage work really well here

1 tbsp salt + more to taste

1/2 cup greek yogurt- 0%, 2%, or full fat is fine

cheddar cheese, shredded

method: in a very large pot, boil potatoes whole until tender. they do not have to be completely cooked.

meanwhile, chop onion into smallish bits and mince garlic.

once potatoes are cooked, drain them.

use the same pot to fry bacon until crispy. remove cooked bacon and transfer to paper towels. reserve fat from bacon. sautee onions until clear. add half of the salt to the onions.

add garlic the cooked onions. cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.

add broccoli, salt, and cooked potatoes to onions and garlic. use a potato masher or other blunt object to smash up potatoes. add broth and stock. stir and cook for 15 minutes or so. smash up big bits of potato and broccoli as you go along.

once soup is heated through and broccoli is cooked until very tender, add ham. allow to cook for 5 minutes, then add herbs, salt, crumbled bacon, cream cheese and yogurt. stir well, allow to heat through.

taste the soup, add salt as you see fit. i like this soup pretty salty, but be careful. the magic is in tasting as you go, gradually.

serve soup with shredded cheddar and bacon on top. i also like to stir a small cube of cream cheese into my bowl!

save leftovers for warm lunches throughout the week.

banana waffles, nut free

i have been trying to rely less on nuts these days. don’t get me wrong, i think that almond cakes and walnut muffins are just about where it’s at, but it turns out that heating them up can make them inflammatory to the body when we consume them. i will still use them in many of my recipes, but it is time to venture out a little past the nut.

these banana waffles use tapioca and coconut flour as the base, which soak up lots of liquid and provide a light, crispy result. i have used both coconut flour or whey protein powder in this recipe, so feel free to swap them 1:1. the tapioca flour, however, can not be subbed out unless with another compatible starch, like arrowroot flour, or maybe even potato flour. flax meal provides a little more structure to these waffles, and gives them a wonderful texture without letting them feel wet.

if the finished batter seems a little thin, you can add an extra tsp or so of either flour. if it seems very thick, it can be thinned out with a little milk or yogurt. it should be similar to a slightly thin cake batter.

these have the perfect banana flavor, aroma, and sweetness. fluffy and light banana waffles like these deserve lots and lots of butter. i also piled on peanut butter and buckwheat honey. i know i have before professed my love for honey, but this is special honey. my dad gave me what might be a quarter gallon of buckwheat honey he bought on a vacation in michigan at a road side stand. i believe he may have purchased several gallons of it, because since said vacation, he has had a peanut butter and honey sandwich 5 days a week. really and truly, i’m not sure that this is exaggeration at all. when my sis and i were kiddos, if my dad didn’t have enough time to fry us a dippy egg in the morning, he would make us peanut butter and honey sandwiches for the road. we would climb into the car with our runny sandwiches and slop up the car upholstery with our clumsy, sticky fingers. really, pb & h is a flavor combination that will always remind me of dad. anyhow, thanks dad, for the honey. it was AMAZING with these waffles. let my days of pb & h sandwiches live on in memory through this grain free weekend treat!
banana waffles

serves 2

ingredients:

1 super ripe banana, worked over in the food processor or otherwise pureed

2 eggs, beaten

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp coconut flour or whey protein powder

4 tbsp tapioca starch

2 tbsp flax meal

method: plug  your waffle iron in and allow it to heat properly. generally, 5 minutes or so does the trick. it must be piping hot before you pour the batter in. brush it with oil.

combine all dry ingredients together.

separately, combine all wet ingredients together.

now combine wet with dry. whisk well. allow batter to rest for 5 minutes before using. this allows the flours to soak up the liquid, and the flax to expand and get spongy.

pour batter into hot waffle maker. cook for 2-3 minutes. no peeking. opening the waffle maker while the magic is happening makes for a sloppy mess. you can wait.

remove cooked waffles from waffle maker, serve while hot and crispy with melty butter, peanut butter, and buckwheat honey.. or whatever your pleasure!

these waffles are an awesome blank canvas to be topped with nuts, chocolate chips, almond butter, coconut butter.. whatever tickles your fancy!

savory zucchini fritters

these grain-free fritters were an awesome way to start a really long day at our local amusement park. we knew we would be gone all day with nothing but junk food to rely on for filling our bellies, so i wanted to kick it off the right way. we had a zucchini lying around in the refrigerator from the farmer’s market, and didn’t want it to go to waste… viola! big, healthy, hearty breakfast for 4! we had a little sausage on the side and were fulled up all morning.

these fritters don’t need butter or gravy, they are quite moist and flavorful on their own. i really wanted a sweet zucchini bread type fritter with walnuts and maple syrup, but boy, am i glad brian talked me into savory. the cheese crisped up so nicely in the skillet, and the onions made great friends with the zucchini. trust me on this one, don’t differ from the recipe. just stick with it and modify it after you try it just once! i’d be willing, though, to say that these would probably be pretty great with mushrooms and sausage in the batter… oh yum!

garbanzo bean flour, chickpea flour, or besan is quite easy to find in most any grocery store. i use bob’s red mill brand. letting the batter sit for the initial 30 minutes or so is essential for keeping the beany flavor from overpowering the recipe and turning it into more of a savory, cheesy flavor. with a little preparation, you’ll find this to be a quick prep, easy breakfast to make. i really can’t wait to have it again next weekend! and no, these are not primal  due to the use of a bean flour, but they are very healthy, nonetheless, so i don’t feel guilty about gobbling them up every once in a while.

savory zucchini fritters

ingredients:

1 medium zucchini, shredded

1/2 small yellow or white onion, shredded

3 eggs

1/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved

2 tsp tapioca starch

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

fresh cracked pepper

method: combine milk and garbanzo bean flour and let sit for 30 minutes, up to 3 hours at room temperature and covered.

combine all ingredients together with batter.

allow batter to sit for a few minutes to thicken slightly. batter is a little thin, so don’t be alarmed, but it should not be watery. if it is watery, add a tbsp or more garbanzo bean flour until you are satisfied.

get a skillet good and hot over medium heat. pour in a glug of olive oil and allow it to get hot. you want quite a bit of oil here so the fritters crisp up.

use a 1/3 measure cup to pour batter into prepared skillet. cook until bubbles come through the top and bottom is set and golden brown. edges should be crisp, but not burnt.

flip the fritter and cook for another few minutes. keep cooked fritters in warm oven until it is time to serve.

this was the perfect amount for 4 people to have 2 fritters each, with a side of sausage.

Whole 30, day 18

we’ll be skipping a few days again as we go into the weekend. sorry, but things are getting super busy for us!

i find that, since mindless snacking is no longer an option, i have lost a few pounds. i’m still unable to really whittle-the-middle due to most of my issue being a little postpartum stretchy skin. but wherever it is coming from, i’m keeping an eye on things out of caution that my milk supply could go down.

cutting out the crazy amount of fruit that i was eating has all at once:

a) helped with my bathroom visits

b) trimmed back a little midsection bloating that i usually have that i though was inherent with being a female above the age of 20. like i said, still a little fluff around the flagpole, but what a nice surprise! cutting down on fruit is just like cutting down on any sugar!

c) gotten rid of more sugar cravings. one piece of fruit would ALWAYS lead directly to another, until finally i would give in and eat a small handful of cashews to “protein crush” all that sugar. feels good to have that under control.

tonight i had a “dinner oops”. i made a roast pork from marks daily apple. when i initially planned dinner, i thought since our butt was a pound short of his, it would require less cooking time. well it’s 9:40p, and dinner is still in the oven. we will be having it on sunday night since we will be getting in from out-of-town so late.

i had breakfast for dinner, instead!

breakfast: 2 eggs sunny side up, sweet potato hashies, 2 strips bacon. coffee and coconut cream.

lunch: turkey, tomato, avocado, baby greens, 2 soft boiled eggs. a few cashews.

snack: pepitas, a peach.

dinner: 2 egg mushroom omlette. sausages.

results: YAY! i ate half a dozen eggs today!
YUMZ!

2 egg omlette

2 eggs

slices shrooms

basil

S & P

ghee

method: beat the living sin out of the eggs. stir in pepper.

saute sliced mushrooms dry. this makes it so they don’t get rubbery!

get a big skillet nice and hot on medium heat. add ghee. turn heat down and promptly add egg, covering whole surface of skillet. quickly sprinkle salt over egg. it will not take long for this to overlook. while the egg is still mostly wet, add cooked mushrooms and basil. roll egg into omelette and slide onto a plate to serve.

no, we don’t flip an omelette.

this whole dance must happen fast, or the egg will harden and you will have a rubbery, stiff egg on your hands. instead, you want a soft, cheesy texture. believe me.

Whole 30, day 17

i totally forgot to celebrate a few days back that i was halfway through this challenge! hooray! i am so impressed with myself for sticking with it.

i’m already planning the foods i will be returning to my normal life with. first off, my last day at work is my first day OFF of whole 30. i will be baking a batch of coconut almond brownies to celebrate. second, i will be having pancake breakfast that following sunday. just cuz. i will likely have some really fancy cheese ready to devour. probably some brie i will bake up with some nuts, cinnamon, and maple syrup. i’ll serve it with tapioca flatbread. WHAT?! where did that all come from?

here are some serious goals and plans:

*i plan on retaining so many of these paleo foods i have fallen deeply for.

*i plan to continue with the restriction of fruits, nuts, and seeds. knowing that my body feels so great without dairy, i will strongly decrease my consumption of it. even though i love cheese. i mean so, so much i love cheese.

*i will continue to use ghee to fry my eggs in. i really love this flavor, and i’m so glad i’ve found it.

breakfast: sweet potato hashies, 2 strips bacon, 2 fried eggs. coffee with coconut cream.

lunch: turkey, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 tomato. mixed nuts and a peach.

snack: handful of pepitas.

dinner: burger with egg, avocado, bacon, mushrooms. roasted carrot fries.

results: omg it was so good. i can’t even stand it. not to brag, but brian and i make burgers that are better than any burger i have eaten in any restaurant. honestly. i know that there are a few tricks to great burgers. first is fat content. we always chose NIMAN RANCH chuck, with an 15% content. when you buy chuck, you’ll see “85/15″, which means 85% lean and 15% fat are what make up the beef. never grill lean beef, unless you are looking for more of a jerky taste…seasoning the beef is essential, in my opinion. i use the same spices most times we have burgers. i’ll share my secret below.

and the carrot fries were a sweet and fun change-up from our sweet potato fries. really, this came out of necessity, as we had carrots in the refrigerator that i had NO clue what we would do with. ta-da!

this recipe makes 2 large servings.

awesome burger

2/3 lb ground chuck, free range & organic is always best

1/2 tsp powdered garlic

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp salt

method: sprinkle spices over meat. break meat into small pieces with your hands to combine spice into the meat. once it is well combined, form into 2 patties. DO NOT MAKE THEM TOO FIRM. you want them slightly loose so they stay tender. press the center of the patty much flatter than the outside edges. the center of a burger will puff up quite a bit as it cooks. this is why so many times you end up with a meatball burger.

grill until desired doneness. i recommend medium rare.

carrot fries

4 large carrots cut into fry shapes

good sprinkle of garlic powder

S&P

oil

method: preheat oven to 425f.

combine all ingredients in large bowl. spread over cookie sheet.

bake for 20 minutes or so, tossing at 10 minutes.

they are done when edges and ends are brown.

Whole 30, day 16

things are simplifying now that i’ve come up with a few self-imposed limitations.

-only 1 serving of fruit, fresh or dried, per day. this should keep my apricot/dates/cherry addiction under control. really, i could eat about 2 servings of each daily. so when i journal that i had “dates” or “raisins” during the day, know that it was A LOT of those things. that’s a lot of fruit, and a lot of fermenting in my belly. not to mention possible weight gain issues.

-tomatoes don’t count as a fruit.

-only one serving of nuts per day.

-only one serving of seeds per day.

what do you think? i think it should keep me under control. i have lots of soft-boiled eggs in the fridge for snacking if i reach my limits on fruit, nuts, and seeds.

breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, tapioca flatbread. coconut cream coffee.

lunch: big ass salad-chicken, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 tomato, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds on baby greens with oil and vinegar. also had applesauce (unsweetened) with cinnamon. -today was the last day of my massive antibiotic treatment, so i needed the pectin.

dinner: sausage stuffed peppers. OMG.

results: i felt great all day. maybe it’s because i woke up around 8 since it was my day off, so juniper and i took a long walk after a lazy breakfast. or maybe it was because my eating was perfectly on track. i dunno. just a good day!

sausage stuffed peppers

2 bell peppers (red, green, whatever), halved and seeded

1 lb ground pork sausage, i like spicy italian

1 can (14 oz or so) roasted, diced tomatoes -check the ingredients!

3 tbsp tomato paste

small handful of basil, chopped

sprinkle of crushed red peppers, and any other seasonings you may want
*ask your meat guy if he has any without nitrates and other non-approved ingredients in it. if there is none prepackaged, they love to be accommodating and make fresh for you. i promise.

method: preheat oven to 450f. place peppers in a baking dish and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them. bake them for 20 minutes or so, until they’re a little soft. prepare the rest of the ingredients while they bake.

brown pork over medium heat. throw crushed peppers in there to heat things up while you’re at it!

while pork browns, stir the remaining ingredients into a large bowl.

when pork is cooked, remove it from the heat. stir it into the bowl with the tomato sauce.

spoon into peppers, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. i can imagine this would be delicious with some superb stanky italian cheese browned on top, but guess what….. it’s whole 30, and we don’t do that.

NOM!

i know, that’s not stuffed peppers!

shrimp antipasto

an easy meal for the work week, or just if you don’t feel like spending lots of time in the kitchen with a complicated meal. this is a filling meal that really satisfied my salt-tooth. i felt perfectly filled up afterward. add lots of fun things that you may feel will taste amazing here!

shrimp antipasto

15 or so large shrimp, peeled and rinsed

2 roasted red peppers, chopped, or 1/2 cup prepared roasted red peppers

1/4 cup oil packed olives of your choice (stuffed, brined, etc.)

1 small head of broccoli

1 cup or more oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut

S&P

some bacon grease to fry, or some olive oil

chopped fresh basil

method: steam broccoli. when it is done, remove from heat but keep lid on.

sprinkle salt and pepper, then saute shrimp until completely cooked. place shrimp into pot with broccoli.

saute the mushrooms, sprinkle with S&P. put with shrimp and broccoli.

saute the peppers and olives very briefly, just to warm. stir all ingredients together, adding a little oil to dress. serve with fresh basil on top.

enjoy!

WHOLE 30, day 6

still hanging in there really tight! my only weakness is dried fruits, so i have decided to eliminate them completely. i can eat a cup of raisins in under 1 minute. that’s a lot of sugar.

breakfast: sweet potato hash, 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon. coffee with coconut cream.

lunch: chicken thigh, roasted peppers, hand full off nuts, an apricot.

lunch dessert: a billion raisins.

dinner: steak with board dressing and fried smashed plantains with apricot cilantro chutney.

results? omg what an amazing dinner. i have eaten fried plantains a billion times, but never made them. it was so easy. i found it really fun to flavor them as i pleased. the chutney was perfect to summer-up the steak and for dipping the plantains. this was really a delightful meal that made me thankful that i was stepping outside of the box for W30.

here is my recipe!

steak with board dressing

1lb ribeye steak, room temp

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chile powder

1 big bunch cilantro

1 clove garlic, smashed and minced

juice of 1/2 lime

method: sprinkle salt and chile powder over steak. while grill is being prepared, make board dressing.

cook steak.

on a large cutting board, combine cilantro, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. chop cilantro and garlic until it is very fine. place in a bowl and stir in lime juice.

place dressing into glass dish. place hot-off-the-grill steak in dish on top of dressing.

fried smashed plantains with apricot cilantro chutney

2 plantains, peeled, sliced into 1″ chunks

2 tbsp chile powder

2 tbsp salt

2 apricots, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, chopped super fine

juice 1/2 lime

method: combine cilantro, apricots, lime juice in a bowl. set aside.

get a deep skillet nice and hot over medium heat with high heat oil.

place plantains in hot skillet, flat side down. allow them to brow, 1 minute or so, then flip. cook ither side until brown. transfer to paper towels to drain. use something flat (we used the bottom of a pyrex) to flatten each chunk. return, to hot skillet and cook for a minute or so, until brown and crispy.

drain on towels. sprinkle with salt ad chile powder. serve immediately.

WHOLE 30: day 5

today i started craving alcohol. i’ve never battled a craving for such a silly thing in my life, even when i was pregnant. it isn’t a glass of wine or a beer i want. it is booze. liquor. i want a G&T, please. or a mojito. it is probably due to a few stresses i am going through right now, but it isn’t the drunkenness i crave, it is the flavors. -the crisp flavors of gin have great association with summertime for me. i love gin.. heck, i named my daughter juniper!

other than alcohol, i’ve only craved salty foods. no cravings for sweeties yet. this blows my mind, as i have always had a tremendous sweet tooth. right now i’ve been craving salty, fatty foods. i’m satiating it with salty nuts. it is, however, really difficult to find nuts that aren’t roasted in peanut oils or some other NO NO fats.

here is what my friday in food was like!

breakfast: 2 egg omelette with mushrooms and 2 strips of bacon.

snack: mixed nuts and an apricot.

lunch: turkey, sprouts, peppers, avocado on a tiny slice of tapioca flat bread. OH SO GOOD. also a side of pineapple.

snack: raw carrots with oil, salt, and pepper… i snacked on this while i prepared dinner.

dinner: pan-crisped chicken thighs with thyme & garlic pan gravy, roasted carrots. it was awesome.

results? this was a great food day! dinner was so tasty and excellent. carrots satisfy my sweet tooth and are fun to crunch on raw. i forgot how much i always loved eating raw carrots! other than the alcohol cravings, today was an easy day.

one note on something i’ve noticed since starting this challenge is that i wake up very hungry. there used to be mornings, heck, most mornings, where i would wake up feeling a sluggish tummy. it was almost the feeling that there was too much fluff for my body to digest at night, so i wasn’t hungry for breakfast (though i ate anyway because i love breakfast food). now, i wake up with an empty stomach, with strong signals telling me “ok, i’m ready to eat now!”. it is a sensation i much welcome, knowing that i am now digesting food more efficiently.

has anyone ever noticed such strong changes like this when doing whole 30?

i wanted to share my recipe for the dinner that filled me up and hit the spot! it is a forgotten regular in my home, and we are bringing it back, now that my diet calls for it and it is far too hot to grill (106f!?).

pan crisped chicken thighs with thyme & garlic pan gravy and carrots

5 or 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

bacon fat or other frying fat

a bunch of thyme

3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

s & p to taste

1 1/2 cup good quality chicken stock

5 whole organic carrots, peeled

olive oil

s & p to taste

method: preheat oven to 350f. also, heat bacon fat in cast iron skillet on medium.

cut carrot into desired sizes. coat in olive oil, salt, and pepper. bake at 350f for 20-25 minutes while chicken cooks. be sure to give the sheet a good shake every 5-10 minutes for even browning.

place chicken “pretty side” down in hot skillet. sprinkle with salt and pepper. saute for 5-8 minutes, until browned on one side.

once brown, flip chicken. cook until brown. once both sides of chicken are brown, pour 1 cup of stock in. turn heat down just a click and place lid on pan and allow to cook through the chicken. stock will begin to reduce.

once stock is reduced to 1/4 inch or so at the bottom of your pan, place thyme and garlic in. allow to cook for a 2 minutes.

remove chicken from pan, but leave the liquids. pour remaining 1/2 stock into skillet and crank the heat back up. cook uncovered for 5 minutes or so, until liquids thicken into a gravy.

pour gravy over chicken and carrots. sprinkle a little more fresh thyme over and gobble it up!

good gravy!

tapioca pizza

well, i did it. i finally purchased a box of chebe. i never do this. NEVER. i never buy a box of something, or a premix of whatnot. but listen, this pregnant lady is hungry, and she is hungry for pizza. i have been craving a crispy, stretchy dough for sometime now. i have a hack-recipe for this crust, but i wanted to use the “real” thing first. i didn’t feel guilty, the ingredients are pretty safe: tapioca flour, tapioca starch, sea salt, and dried herbs. pretty innocent! -and it is too easy to put together. just add eggs, oil, and water (or milk). knead everything together, press onto pizza sheet.

while baking, it smelled starchy and amazing, just like pizza should. the crust poofed up huge. after cooling for a few minutes, i sliced through the crispy crust. it sliced just like a real pizza. the crust was crispy, stretchy, and doughy. there were even air pockets hidden in the crust, perfect for dipping into more sauce. each slice was for sure sturdy enough to hold the weight of our toppings and cheese, which is quite remarkable because i have a heavy hand with cheese. the flavor was also excellent. just slightly salty, and slightly herby with oregano.

so far as toppings go, i couldn’t find a pepperoni that i really approved of, so we went meatless. -i know. this isn’t like me, but whatevz. i was feeling like a lunatic. sauce, mushrooms, basil, red onion, black olives, and mozzarella cheese. that’s all i needed.

please do yourself a favor and try yourself some-a-this crust. i will be using my hack-recipe very soon and posting it, but until then you can buy chebe in most any store where the gluten-free stuff is located. top it with whatever the heck you wanna. my next affair will be hawaiian.

here is a small warning: the nutrition label says that this recipe serves ten. wrong. it served two. i can see it serving four if there were salads involved with the meal.

chebe pizza crust

1 package chebe pizza crust mix

2 big eggs

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup milk or water

toppings of your choice

method: preheat oven to 450f. grab a pizza sheet.

whisk eggs, milk, and oil until blended. use a spoon to stir in chebe mix. once it gets gooey, use your hands to knead dough. knead until smooth.

place dough ball onto pizza sheet, and press with the heel of your hands to form the crust, flipping over a few times.

spread sauce, veggies, meats, cheese, herbs over pizza crust.

bake for 15-18 minutes or so on the center rack, rotating halfway at 7 minutes so it bakes evenly.

once crust and cheese appear done, pull pizza from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes or so. you don’t want to burn the roof of your mouth.

slice and fall deeply in love.