Making the Paleo Diet Easier with Paleo People Gluten-Free Granola

Making the Paleo Diet Easier with Paleo People Gluten-Free Granola

As part of the Build a Better Me Healthy Blogging Challenge, I have been trying my best to cut down on carbs in my diet (including baked goods and chocolate– though I have to admit, I haven’t been doing so well on the chocolate front!)

Carbs and Gluten

Besides cutting down on carbs, I’m also exploring the world of gluten-free food. While I do not have Celiac Disease (as many who go gluten-free do) I do feel like I might have a mild intolerance to wheat flour. This is an important distinction because those who are dealing Celiac have an autoimmune disease, not a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance.

Fresh Veggies and. . .Chocolate?

We already eat plenty of fresh organic veggies in our household and pretty strictly use whole foods ingredients, but when it comes to sweets — I have a serious problem.  That’s why this new low carb, gluten-free lifestyle has been hard for me.

I have absolutely no problem tucking into a big salad — some homemade soup like curried carrot apple ginger, broccoli mint or butternut squash or eating broiled salmon topped with sautéed zucchini, tomato and mushroom and served with quinoa couscous and a large helping of wilted kale salad or roasted broccoli. This IS food I love.

But afterward, I crave something sweet and preferably chocolatey. Let me be clear here– I know chocolate is chock full of great stuff for you and packed with amazing health benefits but NOT when it comes loaded with sugar. So, I’d been making do with homemade hot chocolate, using Dutch cocoa, unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk and a drizzle of honey.

But I was dying for snack– one besides a handful of almonds and a clementine. Something with a bite or chew or a crunch but something that felt distinctly naughty but most especially– chocolate-y.

Then Paleo People Granola showed up at my door — four bags of it, to be precise.

The Wait is Over

First, I should say, I’m NOT a granola person (no matter how many veggies I eat.) I like bacon and butter and chocolate– real chocolate — not those lame carob chips they stick into granola. Most granolas annoy me– they’re either too sugary sweet or they taste like cardboard. I enjoy a handful of trail mix from time to time– but it has to be the good stuff (no peanuts or raisins.) I prefer trail mixes with cashews, almonds, cranberries, cherries and of course, chocolate. But granola — Ugh! No way!

But then, the Paleo People offered to sponsor the VP bloggers in our efforts by sending us some granola. At first, I begged off, saying “Sorry, I’m going gluten-free,” but then Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide said, “Perfect– it’s gluten-free.”

“Hmph” — no more excuse– I was in.

When I opened the box from Paleo People I was greeted with four 5 oz bags of granola. It arrived at 3pm — right between lunch and dinner. I was dying for a snack.

What flavors did they send? The requisite apple something, something with bananas (I hate those crusty banana chips!)– cappuccino (hmmm, interesting) What? Wait? What?! Cacao Nut — Cacao means chocolate. I tore into the bag — something was better than nothing. I popped a piece in my mouth, waiting for the cringe factor but then . . . bliss.

It was crunchy but not too crunchy, chewy but not raisin-y sweet and there was plenty of sweet and chocolate but not in a heavy corn syrupy way. This was awesome. This was the most awesome granola I’d ever tasted.

About this time the hubby barged in wanting to know what I gotten.

“Granola,” I answered between bites.

“Oh,” he said and turned to walk back out of the kitchen.

“No wait, it’s good. Come here, try the apple or the banana one.”

No way was he getting my chocolate.

I tore open the Cappuccino Crunch, while he eased open the Apple Crisp. The cappuccino was okay but it was no chocolate — maybe I’d gotten the only yummy bag in the bunch — but then, he smiled.

“Man, this stuff is good.”

“It is?!”

“Yeah, try some,” he held the bag out for me.

“Ok, but that will be your bag because you’re not getting any of my chocolate . . . Well, you can have a taste.”

The Apple Crisp was great for apple — I mean, the only apple I usually like is one from a tree– not in pies or cobblers and especially not in granola– but I liked this and he LOVED it.

We both adored the Banana Nut Crunch — just yummy banana flavor — none of the crusty enamel breaking, hard chips of banana.

Neither of us liked the Cappuccino but that’s probably because it tasted like Folgers to us and NOT cappuccino. But if you’re the kind of person who likes Americanos, I bet you’ll love this one.

The hubs was in love with the apple and I could not bear to part with my chocolate (though we both did attempt sharing with our son — who favored the banana.) All was right with the world.

Anyway, Paleo People saved me — just when I needed a fix, they swooped in with their delish granola treats and made it all better. I could do this low carb, gluten-free thing (at least until the granola gave out!)

(Psst! Paleo People, if you’re listening: Send MORE granola!!)

Paleo People Giveaway

If you’re going gluten-free or are one of the many people taking part in a Paleo Diet — you’ll LOVE Paleo People but even if you’re completely unfettered by issues with carbs or gluten, I think you’ll find Paleo People Granola to be a nutritious and healthful way to snack.

Paleo People Granola is filled with “the good stuff” like:

Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts

Fruit: raisins, apples, bananas

Seeds: flax, sunflower and pumpkin

Other good tasting, good-for-you goodies: coconut oil, cacao nibs, honey, coconut and spices.

*Wanna WIN a four pack of Paleo People for yourself? Just comment below for your chance to win.*

Winner will be chosen at random.

*Wanna increase your chances of winning? Visit the Paleo People Host Page at Food Hunters Guide to Cuisine and find out how to enter to win on all participating Virtual Potluck Blogs.*

This product was sent free for review but as always, the opinions are my own.

WINNER: Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the winner of the Paleo People giveaway entering for her best friend, who is pregnant! Congratulations Marnely and ultimately, Joella!

Beer-y Good Hot Wings: Virtual Potluck Tailgate Party with Victory IPA

Beer-y Good Hot Wings: Virtual Potluck Tailgate Party with Victory IPA

We love Buffalo wings at my house. When my hubby and I were dating we enjoyed noshing on these spicy wings often. Since then I have learned to make them at home, including some deliciously insane variations like my take on Portland restaurant Pok Pok’s Thai wings (I’ll post this soon!) and the boneless Buffalo hot wing, as well as experimented with other bloggers yummy hot wing dishes like Can You Stay for Dinner’s Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls(these are insanely good!)

BJs makes a great hot wing plate

So when Lewis Bear Distributing approached us to share three of the beers on their roster for a SuperBowl tailgate recipe party my first thought was– Hot Wings!

Now, I’ve seen loads of recipes for beer battered and beer marinated chicken around here on the “internets,” but none seem to pair the beer marinated chicken with Buffalo sauce. I wondered why– seems like such a natural fit to me. Which is why I decided to do it. And the results were not disappointing!

Photo courtesy of Donna Currie of Cookistry

Some of you may be thinking– where did your Build a Better Me ideals go? How can you go from A Tasty and Healthy New Year to deep fried butter n’ beer basted hot wings?

Two words: Myth and Moderation

THE FRYING MYTH

Yes, frying in oil can be bad for your health but the type of frying we’re talking about here is either shallow frying or frying at the wrong temperature– both of which cause the food to soak up that excess oil, and help to clog your arteries. The kind of frying we’re going to do, done at higher temperatures in a deep fat fryer, happens so quickly that the oil creates a crust, locking in the moisture and creating a seal that keeps the oil from soaking into your food.

You can also use healthful oils like coconut (though in this recipe I’d don’t recommend it because of its unique flavor and the fact that you want the Beer-y goodness to come through.)

From Wikipedia:

If performed properly, deep-frying does not make food excessively greasy, because the moisture in the food repels the oil. The hot oil heats the water within the food, steaming it from the inside out; oil cannot go against the direction of this powerful flow because (due to its high temperature) the water vapor pushes the bubbles toward the surface. As long as the oil is hot enough and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long, oil penetration will be confined to the outer surface. However, if the food is cooked in the oil for too long, much of the water will be lost and the oil will begin to penetrate the food. The correct frying temperature depends on the thickness and type of food, but in most cases it lies between 175 and 190 °C (345–375 °F).”

MODERATION

Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation– even moderation.” This woman really knew how to suck the marrow out of life– quite literally. 😉

I like to follow that advice and occasionally throw caution to the wind and have a good hot wing, a gooey hot fudge sundae or a few cocktails.

Though, we’ve already established that deep fat frying is not necessarily bad for you and its generally accepted these days that butter is preferred to trans fats, a whole stick of butter is a little excessive, but NOT if you’re looking for flavor and heat that stays through to the bone. So don’t make these all the time. But make them.

THE OUTCOME

These came out amazing and using the Headwaters Pale Ale by VictoryBrewing, gave them a juicy hoppy goodness that did not overpower the Frank’s Red Hot but rather complimented its heat and flavor. They were Beer-y good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Lbs of Fresh Chicken Wings
  • 1  24 oz bottle of Peanut Oil
  • 1/2 cup or 1  stick butter
  • 1 1/2 Cup of Franks Original Red Hot (nothing else is as good and nothing artificial!)
  • 1 bottle of Victory IPA
  • 1 plastic or paper bag of unseasoned flour

Directions:

Using poultry scissors, separate the wings at the joints, discarding the wing end nub.

Marinate the wings in the beer for 2 hours to overnight depending on the depth of beer-y flavor you want.

Preheat oil (use a deep fat fryer and making sure your temperature is right before submerging your wings.

Put the some of the wings in the bag of flour (if using paper, double bag to avoid breakage)

Shake the bag to coat all the wings evenly with flour. Do this in small batches so as to not overload your pan and decrease the temp of your oil.

Once the is hot, place that small amount of wings in the fryer (your fryer should be comfortably full with no wings piled on top of each other — be careful not to overload.)

Fry until they are golden brown

Remove the wings from the fryer and lay them on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch any excess oil that drips off.

Melt the stick butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add the Frank’s Red Hot, whisking to ensure it’s properly mixed and not separating.

Serve the wings tossed or drizzled in the sauce or for those who want a little less heat, serve sauce on the side .

Accompany with ranch or bleu cheese dressing, celery, cucumber and carrots to cool the mouth and an ice-cold beer.

Makes 32 wings

If you like hot wings as much as I do– you might want to check out this Tumblr site called Fuck yeah, hot wings!

For a chance to win some Beer-y tasty swag from Lewis Bear visit the host page at 30AEATS.

The beer was provided for the express purpose of this recipe by Lewis Beer Distributors.The photos are not of my actual hot wings (they looked amazing!) due to a camera malfunction — I hope to get my baby back from the shop today.
Virtual Potluck’s Official Launch

Virtual Potluck’s Official Launch

Today is the day — it’s the first day, of the first event, for Virtual Potluck.

Don’t know what a Virtual Potluck is?

It’s good times, good friends and plenty of good food (or at least recipes), shared — potluck stylie (to borrow from Jamie Oliver‘s lexicon. Luv Jamie!)

The quick and dirty on us and our events is this — 100 became 20 then narrowed to 13 and finally settled at a dozen — how appropos!

A dozen passionate food bloggers linking up a network of posts, tastes and Tweets just for YOU! (Want the long version — check out the link up top for the complete Virtual Potluck story.)

Today’s event features a variety of recipes, recommendations and chit chat about Abrams Books cookbooks. To get in on all the fun visit the host page  (Donna Currie of Cookistry for today’s VP event. It will link you to each and every participating blog and give you sneak peak at what they’ll sharing with you today.

Join us at the Virtual Potluck!

But wait! That’s not all. Like every good party — it’s not just about the food, it’s about the mingling. So join us on Twitter hashtag #virtualpotluck throughout the day to whet your appetite, get your recipe card filled and your drink refreshed!

Head on over and meet my friends ~ I’ll be happy to make the introductions.

See you at the potluck!

Top Food Books and Movies: Recommendations for the Hungry

Top Food Books and Movies: Recommendations for the Hungry

There are so many great books and movies that tell stories of relationships through food. So many, in fact, that it is truly hard to know where to begin. This is why I have decided to just begin by making a listing of all those that I have read or seen and then I will slowly work my way down the list, one at a time, to describe them in snapshot. If they are on these lists, I assure you, I have seen or read and enjoyed them.

Cover of "Fatso"

Cover of Fatso

Of course there are some movies and books that others may feel belong on these lists, but to me, food does not just have to make appearance it must be used as a character, a plot device or central theme. Therefore, for example a movie like Fatso, starring Dom Deluise, which is funny and charming and sweet and does have food in it, would still not appear on my lists. The food is a minor element (it’s not even yummy to look at nor is it intended to evoke anything other than disgust at its heaviness and in the overall gluttony of it all) it is instead a story about acceptance, which I love but it does not qualify as foodie territory for me.

Then there are movies at which others cringe like, The Cook, Thief, His Wife and Her Lover for being on my list. I can understand the trepidation some others may have at inclusion of this movie because the  unappetizing, yet well-deserved finale, leaves some stomachs turning. But this for me is one of the finest movies there is, not only for it’s beautiful presentations of food as well as the phenomenal lighting and artistic direction that make this film truly a visual feast but because food is integral to the story —  not just as setting but as device and quite literally, in the end as character. This one knocks it out of the park, especially for someone like me, who both enjoys reading and cooking. The idea of falling in love through one’s love for food (and books ) is utterly sumptuous. Plus, it stars the incomparable (and sumptuous in her own right), Helen Mirren. This one is a MUST SEE on my foodie list.

FOOD PORN

A good food story makes you hungry, inspires you to make new dishes or even order in a certain type of food. It is, in effect, food porn. It ignites your fire for the epicurean delights that await you in this wide world, with it’s presentation, focus, writing or dialogue about the food. Really good foodie movies and books do this through the eyes of one or more culinarily impassioned characters and imbue you with the fever of their love, inspiring you to greater heights.

When I did my cleanse a few weeks back and certain glorious foods were off limits to me, movies and books like these helped me to feel a bit less deprived, satiating my desires through the sights, sounds and tastes described therein.

So, if you’re looking for some foodie approved recommendations for your reading and viewing pleasure, check out my newly posted list of books and movies in the Groo-V Books and Groo-V Movies sections of the site.

Feel free to post your own favorites for me to explore and add to the list.

Like good food this site is meant to be shared.

Katy Perry: A Visual Feast for your Foodie Eyes

Katy Perry: A Visual Feast for your Foodie Eyes

I have to admit I wasn’t much of a Katy Perry fan. At first, I judged her as just another teen queen coming down the pike. Her first hit, “I Kissed a Girl,” I felt was not shocking in the least, with it’s revelations about the taste of cherry lip balm and anyway, quirky 90’s balladeer, Jill Sobule, already covered that territory. “Been there done that, ” I thought.

Even Rosie the Riveter would approve

But then Katy started showing up at awards shows dressed so retro-gurly cute (I know it sounds vapid — I swear I’m a feminist!) that I just couldn’t look away. I loved her sense of style and her tongue-in-cheek behavior. Her videos had that same feel, a return to glamor with a touch of Lucille Ball and a heap of ball-breaker Bust gal mentality. Still, living in a ultra-feminist city (Portland, OR) home of the last non-profit feminist bookstore in the country, surrounded by Rosie the Riveter wannabes, I couldn’t help but feel like I would be shunned. I kept my curiosity about Ms. Perry on the DL, as they say. Then came “California Gurls.”

Katy Perry baking up treats in California Gurls

I first heard it on the radio and honestly, at first blush, I didn’t think much of it but then I saw the video. I was both kind of horrified (at the cherry topped cupcake bras and whip cream canisters bazzooms) and thrilled by it. But as I found myself sneaking off to YouTube to watch the video again, like a late night raid of the fridge, I realized I wasn’t really horrified at all — I was sort of counter-culturally programmed to detest anything that objectified the female form. But this was different — I finally relented to my inner girlie pop goddess and “got it.” And while I’m sure someone like Camille Paglia is off writing a book about why and how Katy Perry is corrupting the girls of today — I have this to say, Bravo Katy Perry.

Those things are loaded weapons

Katy’s videos, persona and outfits are a sort of a Shangri-la for foodies, a feast for the eyes and in a culture obsessed with dieting yet trapped in a cycle of fast and fake foods, just looking at this stuff can, well, frankly, turn you on.

Katy Perry's Candy Wonderland

Herein lies Katy Perry’s genius — she is a cultural lightening rod. Her songs are catchy pop perfection laced with saccharin sweet vocals, urging you further with ripe innuendo, stunningly luscious visuals and bubbly beats. She “gets it,” and she lets you in on the joke with sly grin and wink. Sure, we gals are still objectified, even in this day and age, but Katy’s pulling the strings here with something for everyone. The whip cream canistered bazzooms may be a thrill for the men at home but the farce of it all cannot be missed either. By owning and taking it to over-the-top heights, she somehow manages to rescue female sexuality from the everyday drab of jeans and t-shirts.

Old World Glamor a la Katy Perry

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love jeans and a t-shirt (I practically live in them) but I also love to dress up in my knee-length, A-line cherry-print dress with matching cardigan, roll my hair, glue on the false eyelashes and punctuate it all with bright red lipstick and my vintage candy-apple-red purse. I also like to be taken seriously, even if I’m showing some cleavage.

Serious Sucker - Katy Perry

I guess that’s what speaks to me about Perry’s style and music, the ability to have choice. Isn’t that what our foremothers fought for? For women to be able to choose what they wanted whether it’s to stay home with the kids or work in the world (or both), to be taken seriously in the boardroom and objectified in the bedroom, to map your own destiny based on your own unique tastes for life?

The whole world's a candy store

To top it all off, Perry is unabashed about flaunting her love of food, especially the sweet stuff. She wears it, eats it, dives into it — not always considered ladylike behavior folks. But there are close ties between sensuality, food and sexuality and Katy doesn’t miss that.

Cake DIVE!

Visuals aside, I still would not laud her, if I thought her music was garbage. Her latest album Teenage Dream, in which Perry lies beautifully nude, atop a bed of fluffy pink cotton candy, looking every bit the 1950’s pin-up, is a stellar pop work.

Cotton Candy Cloud Goddess, Katy Perry

On the title track, she sings of going, “all the way tonight, no regrets, just love,” shedding both the old puritanical baggage of “good girls don’t do it” and the overly sexed-up, “girls can do this casual sex thang too,” leaving her younger listeners with a pendulum that is clearly wavering in the middle. Because casual sex may seem exciting but as anyone who’s ever been in love can tell you, it’s so much better when you’re in love.

Katy and Russell in love.

Though some have criticized Perry’s work as just a rehash of others that came before her, overall the album does something that few other albums of late have done for me, it brings me back to my youth. A youth spent in John Hughes painted, bubble gum belly of the 80’s, wearing neon-colored t-shirts, a slew of rubber bracelets up my arms and candy-colored jelly shoes on my feet, bouncing to the jitterbug of Wham and collecting sugary scented Hello Kitty erasers and pencils. Teenage Dream has obvious influences from the likes of Madonna and even evokes thoughts of Pat Benatar on grittier ball-buster songs like, Circle the Drain.

Peacock dress, cupcake purse -- so Katy

The cheeky, “you show me yours,” anthem of Peacock flips the roles in the pressure-for-sex dynamic and Perry’s staccato chant of, “Peacock-cock-cock,” sounds reminiscently of Tony Basil’s Mickey.

Perry’s album is chock-o-block with delectable treats that will leave even the most ardent foodie satiated. Perry, in the centerfold of the album’s sleeve, is adorned as Princess Cupcake and looking a bit like a naughty Glinda the Good Witch, surrounded by teetering stacks of brightly buttercream frosted cakes and YES! just like Kitty, My Melody and the Little Twin Stars, the jacket is scented like cotton candy.

It's Katy's world, you're just a kid trying to get a cone

Feeling under the weather? Soup is a cure-all

Feeling under the weather? Soup is a cure-all

The end of our short-lived summer here in Portland came with a whiplash-tastic weather change, that brought with it the bug from hell. Headaches, sinus congestion, body aches  and a lingering cough were the maladies that struck our humble abode, a little over a week ago now.

Because I view food as medicine, as well as comfort in my home, I cleared out all sugary treats, alcohol and congesting dairy from our food stuffs. In our weakened state,  we embarked on a journey filled with the immune-shoring properties of garlic, ginger, orange juice, watercress and other mind-blowingly powerful and delicious veggies and herbs.

Drinking tons of water (close to 200 ounces a day) and herbal teas (Echinacea/elderberry, dandelion and peppermint), we kept the diet light. Eating whole wheat toast, fresh fruit like apples, oranges and red grapes (great for strengthening your lung tissue) plenty of hot homemade soups and meals of brown rice, veg and grilled fish, tofu or chicken. I also used jalapeno peppers liberally to open sinus passages.

Here are a couple tried and true soup recipes for when you’re illin’.

Easy Curried Carrot Ginger Soup

Easy Curried Carrot Ginger Soup

1 bag of carrots (full size not minis) peeled and chopped into chunks

1 whole apple (cored, peeled and chopped)

1 cup orange juice

1   32 oz aseptic container of free range organic chicken broth

3 inch knob of ginger (peeled and smashed)

2 to 3 tbsp of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry sauce

Put all ingredients (except curry sauce) in a deep sauce pan or in a Dutch oven letting it boil until carrots are soft enough to mush with a fork. Once carrots are soft, pour soup into a food processor or blender (about half at a time) and puree until smooth. If broth has evaporated and puree is too thick, add additional broth, water or orange juice (depending on your tastes) until you achieve desired thickness and consistency. Pour back into pan and add curry sauce to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with yogurt or soy sour cream (if you’re avoiding dairy during a cold, like I was.) Delish! Makes four HUGE bowls of soup.

Garlic, Chicken and Watercress Soup

Garlic, Chicken and Watercress Soup

1 whole organic chicken (2 to 3 pounds)

1 4 inch knob of ginger (peeled and smashed)

1 medium yellow onion (peeled and chopped)

2 shallots (peeled and chopped)

4 garlic cloves (peeled and finely minced)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 32 oz aseptic of free range organic chicken broth

2 heads of watercress (washed and leaves de-stemmed)

(Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste)

Fill a dutch oven or deep stew pot with water (enough to cover the chicken.) Place the chicken, breast side down, in the pan along with the smashed ginger and let boil until meat falls off the bone and water turns into a flavorful broth. While the chicken cooks prep onions, garlic, shallots and watercress. Once chicken is ready remove chicken from the broth, taking care to remove all fat, bones and debris from the broth (strain, if necessary.) Replace broth in pan and skim any liquefied fat from the top of the broth and return to a boil.

While the chicken is cooling a bit, heat a skillet with a tbsp of olive oil and cook shallots and onions until transparent, throw garlic in last, letting it release its flavor and fragrance (about one minute.) Once the onion/garlic mixture is soft and translucent ladle out  about a cup of the boiling broth to the skillet to deglaze the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any caramelized onions and flavor that may be on the bottom of the skillet. Pour all into the boiling broth, turning the heat down to the -of medium. If your overall broth level has reduced through evaporation, add free range organic chicken broth to desired amount.

Turn your attention to the chicken, removing the skin and discarding and picking all the chicken meat from the bone. Tear or chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the broth.  Then add the watercress, letting the soup cook until the leaves turn vibrant green. Remove from heat and allow soup to cool for a few minutes before serving. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder. For extra zip, add sliced jalapeno peppers before serving. (Makes 8 to 10 servings)