Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix is pretty awesome. Why? It has that warm, yummy smell that evokes the holiday season (isn’t it so interesting how smells can conjure up such memories?!). Luckily, Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix is super simple to make so you can have a taste of the holidays any time of the year.
Want a simple DIY gift idea for the foodie in your life? How about getting crafty and creating miniature decorative jars of Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix and Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice with nice handmade labels? A thoughtful, useful gift that won’t get stuffed in a drawer like that reindeer Christmas sweater (oh c’mon, I know it just isn’t me with one of those)!
Ingredients for Homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix (makes ~1/2 cup):
This one’s dedicated to my friend Ricky, a fellow CrossFit Invictus athlete and friend who’s basically like a little brother to me. Being from the south, he’s been rattling on about Chick-fil-A for SO long that I finally decided to make a Paleo version for him. It came out so tasty that I’m going to bring some to party this weekend for him to officially try. The secret’s in the pickle juice! It basically brines the chicken which makes it super moist and tender. The recipe easily doubles.
Cut the chicken breast into large chunks, and put it in a ziptop plastic bag. Pour the pickle juice into the bag. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. (I kept it in overnight).
After it’s done marinating, pour the pickle juice out of the bag.
In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and coconut milk. Pour that into the bag and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you prepare the spice mix.
In another small bowl, mix the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, onion power and garlic powder.
Open the bag and drain out as much egg/coconut milk as you can. It doesn’t have to be 100% dry because you want something for the spice mix to stick to.
Pour the spice mix into the bag, close the top, and really massage it into the chicken. This may take a minute or two but you want all the pieces to be evenly coated.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil until the oil is very hot. Add a single layer of chicken (being careful not to crowd it) to the pan and fry on each side for about 3 minutes or until it’s completely cooked through. It took me two batches to cook one pound of chicken.
Serve with honey mustard or any other dipping sauce you’d like.
Blueberries and eggs were meant to be together! This is a riff on a Spanish tortilla – a cooked egg dish with potatoes and onion. Instead of those traditional ingredients, I used the technique of making a tortilla and simply added blueberries, coconut aminos and a few spices, and the result was a little bit sweet, a little bit savory.
If you’re going to make a tortilla, be sure to keep the heat low enough to keep the eggs from burning, and you need some cojones when it comes to flipping the eggs! Confidence is key! The pan will be hot, so don’t burn yourself, silly…but don’t hesitate either. You want the tortilla to come out in one beautiful round piece of eggy heaven.
The coconut aminos really add that savory, umami flavor but if you don’t have them, you could just use a dash (1/8 tsp) of salt though it won’t be the same.
Prep time: 5 min Cook time: 15 min Makes: 1 serving
Crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble with the coconut aminos, cinnamon and pepper.
In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the ghee or coconut oil.
Pour the eggs into the pan and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes undisturbed. Sprinkle the blueberries onto the eggs.
Cook for about 6-8 more minutes on low. Throughout that time, using the edge of a spatula, lift up the tortilla (eggs) and allow some of the liquid eggs to flow underneath. When most of the egg is cooked through, you’re ready to flip the tortilla.
You need confidence here!! Remove the skillet from the heat, and put a small plate upside down on top of the skillet. Quickly flip the skillet over and the tortilla should fall out onto the plate. Be careful not to burn yourself!
Now, slide the tortilla back into the skillet and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
I absolutely love shrimp. There. Confession. What I don’t love is cleaning all the icky shells off and taking the vein out, but it’s a small price to pay for these delicious little morsels. I usually look for wild-caught shrimp when it’s on sale and try to avoid farmed when I can, but that’s just personal preference. This would be pretty tasty served with roasted spaghetti squash!
Prep time: 10 min Cook time: 5 min Makes: 1 pound
1 pound (500 g) shrimp, any size, shelled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped
1-2 Tbsp capers
Black pepper to taste
Coconut oil or fat of choice
Shell and devein the shrimp. Set aside.
Mince the garlic and chop up the artichoke hearts.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a spoonful of coconut oil or your fat of choice. Saute the shrimp until it begins to turn opaque.
Add the garlic, artichokes and capers and continue cooking until the shrimp is cooked through.
Sweet potatoes and avocado don’t normally sound like a perfect match, do they? Well, guess again!
It’s not a rarity these days for folks to throw recipe ideas my way and ask me to bring them to life. This one’s no different! The concept for this super simple dish came from a CrossFit buddy, Justin. I’d never thought of combining these ingredients together so I was pretty pleased / surprised with how it came out. If you use sweet potato as a post-workout source of carbohydrate, you may want to save this tasty mash for a different meal since the fat from the avocado will slow digestion / absorption of the carbs.
Let it rip! You may need to scrape down the bowl at least once so that there are no chunks remaining (I mean, unless you like that sort of thing).
I dipped crispy bacon into mine almost like it was dip (mmmm!) but consumption with a spoon is just as practical.
*If the sweet potatoes are roasted ahead of time.
**Bonus tip: Roasted sweet potatoes are easy to make in advance and keep throughout the week for quick additions to meals. To roast the perfect sweet potato, set the oven to 425°F (~220°C). Line a baking sheet with foil. Place washed sweet potatoes on the tray. Roast for ~45 minutes (depends on how big they are…size, uh, matters), flipping upside down once during cooking. If you let them COOL completely, the skin should easily peel off. If you’re in a hurry and have asbestos fingers, you can go for the hot-peel method but it’s not pleasant!
Pork shoulder, citrus and spices come together in this super-easy crock pot dish that I guarantee will be a huge punch of flavor. I adapted the recipe from one I found on a pressure cooker website and had to modify the achiote paste portion using dry ingredients from scratch because I couldn’t find it at my local market. Puerco pibil (roast pork shoulder with achiote and spices) comes from the Yucutan region of Mexico. It’s traditionally cooked in banana leaves but since I didn’t have those (nor did I have a pit to bury it in – the traditional way of cooking puerco pibil) I just threw everything in the crock pot and let it go for about 8 hours on low. The next morning I was greeted with a savory broth and fork tender pork.
2 Tbsp annato powder (sub paprika if you can’t find annato)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg
5 lb (~2.5 kg) pork shoulder roast (I bought two smaller roasts)
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
In a small bowl, mix the annato, cumin, black pepper, 1 tsp salt and pinch of nutmeg. Stir in a bit of water until the spices have a thick, paste-like consistency.
Slice the onion and add to a skillet with a spoonful of fat (coconut oil, etc) over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until translucent, then add the can of tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes until softened.
Prepare the pork by trimming off any large pieces of external fat (if there is fat on the inside of the meat, most of it will cook out). Slice each roast into long pieces about 1.5″ wide. Season with salt.
In the crockpot, mix the juice of one orange with the cider vinegar. Add the annato / spice paste and stir until dissolved. Lay the pork into the liquid. Top with the tomato / onion mixture.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours (longer is okay, too). Skim the excess fat off the top while it’s still warm or refrigerate and the fat will solidify on top and can be scooped off.
This was delicious with a couple of eggs for breakfast!
Every once in a while, I miss crackers and it’s most evident when it comes time for parties or get-togethers. It always seems cheese and crackers and different variations of it are more than plentiful on plates and platters, circulating around and tempting me. These tasty bites use cucumber as the crunchy (cracker-like?) component upon which to pile the rest of the ingredients. In any case, I’m not the brain child behind these (that would be Z), but they’ve gone through a bit of an evolution in the past few weeks and have ended up as a virtual salad in one bite. Z really likes his with goat’s cheese, but if that’s not your thing, I used avocado instead. For a variation, try a toothpick through the top to hold it all together with an olive stuck on top. Makes about 16.
1 English (seedless) cucumber
8 cherry tomatoes
1/4 of a white or purple onion
1/4 of a ripe avocado
1/2 of a lemon
2 oz (~60 g) soft or hard goat’s cheese, optional
Salt and pepper
1. Slice the cucumber into rounds, about 1/8″ thick. You can use a piece as a top and a bottom or just as a base. If using a slice for a top, cut out the middle from those pieces so it will sit on top of the tomato without falling off. Season the cucumber slices with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Squeeze the lemon juice onto the slices.
2. Next, spread the goat’s cheese on the bottom cucumber slice. If you aren’t using the cheese, add sliced avocado instead.
3. Then, slice thin pieces of onion and add a couple on top of the avocado (or cheese). Raw onion is usually overpowering for me, so I added just a little to give a bit more flavor.
4. Next, slice the tomatoes in half and add it to the stack.
5. Top with another piece of cucumber (or not…after all, it’s your show!). Alternatively, stick a toothpick into the stack and top with an olive.
These spheres of meaty joy are super easy to make and baking them in the oven frees you up to do the rest of your food prep or other tasks. Try varying the type of ground meat or go with what’s available – I made them with lean ground pork because it was on sale. You could serve these with tomato sauce and spaghetti squash, homemade Paleo ketchup or just as a post-workout protein source (if the % of fat is pretty low). I made a double batch (recipe below) which yielded 24 meatballs, and these freeze well after being cooked.
2 lb (1 kg) ground meat of choice (I used lean pork)
One thing that continues to fascinate me is how it’s virtually impossible to get American-style bacon here in Glasgow. Sure, there are rashers and even streaky bacon (which looks like American bacon) but nothing tastes quite the same. It doesn’t have any of the sugar normally added to the bacon in the States, but even the no sugar added sizzle strips I’ve tried back home weren’t like what’s available here. No matter, I wanted to make baked chicken thighs and decided to make them a bit more special. Smoked paprika – one of my favorite spices – adds another layer of savory flavor.
2 lbs. (1 kg) boneless chicken thighs
8 oz (300 g) bacon, or one slice per thigh
1 tbsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Trim the skin and excess fat from the chicken thighs.
3. Season the chicken with smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
4 .Wrap one piece of bacon around each chicken thigh and place on the baking sheet.
5. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Until recently, my kale preparation methods was limited to steaming or roasting in the oven (aka kale chips). While making dinner the other night, I realized there was no room in the oven for a pan of kale chips, so I raided the pantry and made this super-fast creamed kale. The coconut milk gives it a hint of sweetness while the spices / nutmeg adds a bit of warmth.
1 bag of pre-washed and cut kale (or 1 bunch of kale)
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Coconut oil or fat of choice (I mixed coconut oil and butter)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. If the kale isn’t pre-washed and cut, do that first. If you bought pre-washed / cut kale, pick through the leaves and discard and hard stems.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a spoonful of your fat of choice.
3. Saute the kale until softened, stirring often…about 5 minutes.
4. Add the coconut milk and nutmeg. Cook until the coconut milk thickens a bit, about 5 more minutes.
White potatoes have been making their way onto my menu more recently as a post-workout (PWO) carb replacement. I know…Paleo purists are probably somewhat horrified right now, but the fact remains that potatoes of all kinds contain glucose which is preferable to fructose (the sugar found in fruit) for muscle glycogen replenishment. While white potatoes have a higher glycemic index than yams, they also have more micronutrients like magnesium and potassium. These are super tasty and very simple to make. Pop in a huge batch when you do your big food prep for the week and take them with you for PWO.
2 lbs (1 kg) miniature new potatoes
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Steam the potatoes whole until tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 400F (about 200C). Line a sheet pan with foil.
3. Chop the rosemary and garlic finely.
4. Slice the potatoes in half-lengthwise.
5. Mix all the ingredients together on the baking sheet and toss. Roast for 20 minutes (stir once about halfway through) until golden brown.
The first time I ever had pork belly was at the Ad Lib, a restaurant in Glasgow back in September. To say that I was dumbfounded by how good it tasted would be an understatement. It seems to be relatively tricky to find in the States – at least in non-specialty stores in my area, and I’d been unable to shake it from the back of my mind since I came home. As good fortune would have it on a recent trip to Marks & Spencer (a somewhat posh department / food store here), two lovely pork bellies sat on the 1/2 price meat shelf just waiting for me to scoop them up. After some quick research on how to best prepare them, I set out on my pork belly adventure. I made homemade applesauce while the pork was cooking. Store-bought applesauce will probably be too watery for this application unless you try to reduce it a bit on the stove. The homemade sauce is quite simple to prepare and just takes a bit of time. This is a great recipe for making on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
For the pork belly…
1.5 lb (0.7 kg) pork belly
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp honey
For the applesauce…
4 apples (I used Pink Lady but any will do)
1 tsp cinnamon
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp butter
Score the fat on the top of the pork belly lengthwise. Sprinkle liberally with salt, rub into the score marks and place back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 275F (140C). Line a baking baking dish or tray with foil.
Smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife. Place the pork belly onto the baking dish with the fat facing down. Spread the smashed garlic cloves onto the meat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and the dried sage. Turn the pork belly over so the fat is facing up. Add about 1/2″ of water to the pan.
Bake for 2.5 hours at this temperature. Meanwhile, prepare the applesauce by peeling and dicing the apples. Put the apples and cinnamon in a medium sized pot. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover with a lid (but crack it so that steam can escape) and cook on low for about 45 minutes or until the apples are very soft – exactly how long depends on the type of apples used. At the end, add the lemon juice and butter and mash the apples to the desired consistency. I like mine a bit chunky.
After the pork has been in the oven for 2.5 hours, remove it from the oven and increase the temperature to 425F (220C). Mix about 1/3 cup of the applesauce with 1 tbsp honey and spread over the top of the pork. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.
I served mine with extra applesauce and kale chips. So good!
Sometimes I have no plan when it comes to recipes, and I spend time wandering around the market until inspiration hits like “wha-bam”! This one came to me while standing in Tesco on New Year’s Eve trying to think of something clever to bring to a friend’s house later that night. You could use any other ground meat–beef, lamb, turkey or game meat–and it would be just as tasty. I added a small amount of hard goat’s cheese to the top but that could easily be left off.
I’m not sure if you’ve read the back of a package of sausages lately but man, there can be some really weird ingredients in them (including gluten and all sorts of preservatives). The best solution is to make your own sausage patties: I mean really…who wants to stuff sausage casings? This recipe brings you all the flavor with a fraction of the work. I usually make savory Italian sausage patties by using something like Penzeys seasoning or Melissa Joulwan’s mix from “Well Fed”, but I had a hankering for something more breakfasty with a touch of sweetness. These would also be tasty if made with ground chicken or turkey.
1 pound (500 g) lean ground pork
1 small onion, minced
1 apple, peeled and minced (I used a Pink Lady apple)
1. Chop the onion and apple into a small dice. You want the pieces to be small enough that they’ll soften down and blend well into the patty.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt a spoonful of your fat of choice. Sautee the onions until translucent, a few minutes. Add the apple and sautee both until softened, about 5-6 minutes total. Let cool for a few minutes.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine pork, sage, fennel, salt and pepper. When the onion / apple mixture is cool, add and mix well. I use my hands. Man up.
4. Form the sausage mixture into patties. I made mine about 2″ (5 cm) in diameter but you can make them as big or small as you’d like…it’s your show after all!
5. Heat the same skillet to medium-high. Add another spoonful of fat and fry the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through completely.
Every once in a while, I like to show you all a recipe that is a bit fancy but has several options for making it faster and easier…this Mushroom and Fig Stuffed Pork Tenderloin is no exception. If you’ve been stuck in a protein rut lately (I’m guilty of eating grass-fed ground beef or eggs for several days in a row), try pork tenderloin. It’s lean and with the right preparation can remain juicy and flavorful. I used a brine (adapted from a recipe in “Well Fed”) to infuse more tasty goodness and moisture, but if you don’t have time you can skip it. I brined the meat for about an hour, but up to 3 or 4 would be great. No time to butterfly and stuff the meat? While it’s baking you can prepare the mushroom and fig mixture and serve on the side! See…no excuses. In order of prep time, here are some options:
Most = brine and stuff
Less = stuff the meat but skip the brine
Least = skip the brine and make the stuffing on the side
For the brine:
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1-2 bay leaves
For the pork and stuffing:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1.5 lb. or 0.7 kg)
6 dried figs, black or brown, hard stem ends removed
2. Prepare the brine solution by combining the garlic cloves, sea salt, peppercorns, cumin seed, coriander seed and bay leaves in a plastic zip top baggie. Add the pork tenderloin to the bag and fill with water so the meat is covered. Seal the bag and place in a dish or large bowl. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours. [Note: you can certainly skip the brining process but the meat may not be as tender.]
3. Rehydrate the dried figs by placing them in a bowl or measuring cup and covering with boiling water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes or until softened.
4. While the figs rehydrate, chop the mushrooms and mince the garlic and rosemary.
5. Heat a large skillet on high, add a spoonful of your fat of choice, and sauté the mushrooms with a pinch of salt until browned and cooked through [hint: use a large enough pan to avoid overcrowding the mushrooms which will make them soggy.]
6. When the mushrooms are nearly done, add the garlic and rosemary and cook for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat. Drain the water off the rehydrated figs, chop them, and add to the mushroom mixture.
7. If you brined the meat, remove from the bag and pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel (it’s okay if some spices stick to the meat). Lay the butterflied tenderloin flat and place the stuffing mixture on top. You may have extra depending on the size of the meat. Fold the edges of the meat over and secure with several toothpicks (see pictures).
8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190C).
9. Heat a large skillet on high (I used cast iron because it can go right into the oven but you can brown the tenderloin in a skillet and transfer to an oven-safe dish to finish the cooking). Add a spoonful of fat and sear the outside of the meat for about 4-5 minutes on one side. Flip and sear the other side to create a nice crust. Transfer the meat to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads about 145 degrees F (63C).
10. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. You can also add a bit of water to the iron skillet, place it on the stove and loosen the caramelized bits of meaty goodness with a spatula or whisk for a quick pan sauce.
The idea for this recipe came from the back of a Trader Joe’s bag of mixed cooking greens…I modified it by cutting back on the amount of olives called for as well as the addition of the shrimp and sun dried tomatoes. This meal has everything I like: it’s fast, can be made in one pot, and has tons of flavor. You could easily double the recipe and have leftovers for a couple of days. If you don’t like shrimp, you could add in your meat of choice after the greens have cooked down.
3 cloves of garlic
1 lb of chopped greens (kale, mustard greens, collards…mix and match or use what’s on hand)
1/2 can of olives, chopped
1 cup sundried tomatoes (I like them dried instead of packed in oil)
1/2 cup chicken broth
8 oz raw shrimp
Black pepper and salt to taste
1. Chop garlic and olives.
2. Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add a spoonful of coconut oil and sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the chopped olives, sun dried tomatoes and black pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the chopped greens and chicken broth. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low, allowing the greens to soften and cook down, about 15 minutes. Add more broth if the pan starts to dry out.
5. After the greens are cooked, add raw shrimp on top, replace the cover and cook for about 5 more minutes until the shrimp is pink.
6. Serve with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.