Keep Portland Weird… and Tasty

Conference food is a wasteland as far as the eye can see of bagels, muffins, croissants, oatmeal, pasta, soup in a can, a few leaves of lettuce, and no protein to speak of. It’s a sugar and carb crash waiting to happen. I learned the hard way last year when I attended the same 3 day conference for work in Portland, Oregon to not trust the food served during the conference. Thankfully I was smarter this year and planned ahead. I packed Epic bars, jerky, cut veggies, packets of coconut oil, and apples from a co-workers girlfriends parents orchard to eat instead of the food provided. At the end of the day, I was one of the only ones awake and functional because I had protein, veggies, and healthy fats to eat during the day. Although I would never say no to a good nap.

The timing of the conference coincided with the Portland stop of The Paleo View book tour with Stacy Toth from Paleo Parents and Sarah Ballantyne from The Paleo Mom. The Q&A session was the best I’ve ever witnessed. Most of the time, at other book signings, I’ve heard people ask where to buy coconut aminos and then have nothing else to say. Perhaps having Heather Hunter, from Cultured Caveman (which I sadly missed eating at this trip, I’ve been to the food cart but not the restaurant yet, and highly recommend it), toss Exo Bars to those who asked questions helped! But it may also have been the energy and humor Stacy and Sarah brought. I have a tendency to clam up around new people, introvert problems, but I thought about what I would say before I met Stacy and Sarah. I had a nice brief talk with Stacy about lifting and my 10 year old loving Paleo to Go and it getting her interested in food and I told Sarah about how her books have helped my family get off medications.

Stacy Toth, Me, and Sarah Ballantyne

When I wasn’t at the conference or at the book signing, I bundled up and braved the miserable wind and cold and was either on my own or with co-workers for dinner. This enabled me to hit up some of the amazing places to eat in Portland. While I’m a Seattle girl through and through, I do enjoy eating my way through Portland. My choices were not always Paleo perfect, but I was able to stick to gluten free options.

Here’s where I ate.

Dick’s Kitchen

Dicks Kitchen Paleo Plate

Protein patties including beef and a weekly rotation of either elk, venison, wild boar, lamb, bison, and dork (duck and pork) plus veggies, coconut bliss shakes, and kombucha on tap! Yes please! I like Dicks Kitchen so much I ate here two nights in a row and visit every time I’m in Portland. The first time I had the Thai Burger bowl. Essentially it’s a salad with a tasty spicy lime chili dressing with a grass fed beef patty cooked to perfection on top. I ate this with a cup of gluten free smoky tomato soup and a glass of raspberry kombucha. The second night I had The Paleo Plate with a grass fed beef patty, salad, and the rotating greens (that night it was kale and chard if I recall correctly). I’ve never had a bad meal here and the service has always been good, sometimes the servers forget to bring an item ordered but they always correct it quickly.

RingSide Fish House

RingSide Fish House

Thursday evening 2 of the 4 co-workers who attended the conference with me, and I decided to take the max downtown. We did some window shopping and wandered around a bit before deciding we needed to get out of the ice and cold and into a sit down restaurant for dinner. A security guard recommended Buffalo Wild Wings, which we unanimously rejected. We walked a few blocks in the miserable cold and nixed a $36-a-plate tavern before we went into Nordstrom to get out of the cold. The sales woman behind the counter recommended RingSide Fish House, but gave the worst directions ever taking us in the wrong direction. Eventually we ended up at the right place and could warm up and eat. I ordered Salmon with potato gnocchi, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, bacon, brown butter, and pickled red onion. The salmon was cooked nicely and the pickled red onion really brought the whole dish together. My co-workers enjoyed their meals, as well as a Nor’wester and Army Navy cocktail.

Teote

The best way to get to experience what Teote has to offer is ordering the La Cena Carne, a family style platter served with black beans, rice, cabbage salad, teote salad, fried plantains, buttered arepas, and any 3 meat choices. While this meal included non Paleo beans, corn, and cheese it was all gluten free. I knew I wanted mole (Painted Hills brisket cooked slow in homemade mole) and smoky pollo (chicken slow cooked in a smoky green chili), but I wasn’t sure which to chose for the 3rd option. At the recommendation of the staff I went with el diablo, pork belly and roasted poblano chileʼs glazed in a red chili maple sauce. I’ve never had an arepa, a flatbread made of ground maize dough, and now I want more. The arepas were delicious buttery goodness. The el diablo ended up being my favorite of all the meat choices, I’m usually a mole girl. El diablo was porky spicy rich meaty heaven.

Urban Farmer

Oh brunch, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One: sleep in. Two: eat. The husband rode the Amtrak train south to meet me for some tax free holiday shopping and Saturday brunch. Urban Farmer, located in The Nines Hotel downtown, is where we decided to eat. The hotel and restaurant is in the Meier & Frank building, which holds the distinction of being the location of Clark Gables place of employment before he found fame as an actor and is also the location of Departure Restaurant  (which is on the top of my list for the next visit). This building is truly gorgeous and decorated with a modern decor that contrasts beautifully with the traditional architecture of the building. The husband ordered buttermilk pancakes with blackberry compote and Meyer lemon marmalade, and a side of shaved tails and trotters ham. I had the most delicious Oregon Beef Tenderloin Hash with fingerling potato hash, poached egg, chunky tomato jam, and the best gravy like sauce ever to grace my brunch plate. That amazing gravy was even better when I dipped the side of applewood smoked bacon in it. The poached egg was done perfectly and the whole dish was filling but not heavy.

Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle WA, Spicy Chicken WingsNot to leave Seattle out of the culinary adventure, we stopped at Brave Horse Tavern in South Lake Union on the way home. Nothing better to end a long day of shopping, eating, and driving than with a cider and spicy hot wings. If you do the whole gluten thing, or if you want to or can make an exception to gluten free, Brave Horse Tavern has the most amazing house made brick oven pretzels. It’s worth it if you can indulge and make an exception.

Before leaving Portland, I visited Salt and Straw as well for cinnamon snickerdoodle ice cream. Photos didn’t happen there because I was so excited to have ice cream. The gas, bloating, and stomach ache from the dairy wasn’t pleasant but the ice cream tasted great. I swung by New Seasons Market on the way out of Portland to grab some of my favorite kraut from Farmhouse Culture, I discovered Farmhouse Culture in San Diego but cannot buy it locally in Seattle, and Cappellos gluten free pasta and cookies for treats later. Cappellos is another brand I can only get by mail order in the Seattle area.

All said it was a great trip, but nothing beats being at home with my family.

 

 

 

Let’s Do Lunch

Lets Do LunchWe all know packing and bringing your food to work (or school, or even to eat at home) saves money, time, and keeps you on track with healthy food choices. It’s especially helpful for those of us with allergies as well because we know the food we bring is safe to consume. Most of the time I make extra food for dinner so I have leftovers to pack for lunch. Sometimes I throw a protein in the bottom of a mason jar topped by veggies and a small container of dressing to top it with at lunch too. But sometimes leftovers and mason jar salads just do not sound appealing anymore and I want something else. That is when I start looking for inspiration for lunch specific ideas.

Need some inspiration for packing lunch? I’ve rounded up a few of the best lunch time recipes and ideas below to get you packing.

Now that you are armed with some awesome lunch ideas let’s get packing and do lunch.

Bacon Crumble Pumpkin Muffins

Bacon Topped Pumpkin MuffinsI commute over 20 miles each way to and from work Monday through Friday. Depending on the time of year, weather, and if drivers are playing bumper cars instead of driving within their lane, this takes me anywhere from 45 minutes one way on an excellent day to 3 hours one way on a particularly bad day. If I wake up late, breakfast is rushed because I HAVE to get out the door so I don’t miss my less traffic window before traffic backs up. Twice a month on Sundays, we get up early to go to the box for a Sunday Heavy Day or skill work. You’ve got to eat before or you can’t lift heavy. But getting everyone out of bed, dressed, fed, and in the car at 9AM on a Sunday isn’t easy.

What if I could have breakfast protein and bacon to-go for the weekday commute or the drive to the box? It’s not easy to eat bacon in the car, unless you don’t mind a greasy steering wheel. So that idea was out, although I’ve done it. I’ve also eaten grain free porridge on the way to work with a giant spoon. I needed another option for ease of to-go eating. What about a make ahead muffin? With bacon and pumpkin? What about bacon cumbled on top of a pumpkin muffin made with eggs and ground cashews with no sugar or grain? Boom. Food to-go problem solved.

While I make no illusion that muffins are totally healthy, these muffins pack a good nutritional punch because of the chosen recipe ingredients. Cashews have a lower fat content than other nuts, containing mostly monounsaturated fats (known to lower blood cholesterol). Cashews also contain protein for fuel, copper for antioxidants, and magnesium to reduce muscle spasms. Thankfully cashews are the only nut I can eat, I’m allergic to walnuts so I avoid all other tree nuts. Pumpkin has a high level of vitamin A which helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses more easily. Immune system help is great for cold and flu season, which also happens to be pumpkin season. Eggs contain protein, selenium which works with the vitamin E in eggs to help prevent the breakdown of body tissues, and other nutrients such as iron, choline, and omega-3. Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) which breaks down for easy digestion giving you quick energy and because there is no sugar in the muffins you won’t have a sugar crash at work in the morning or during a workout. Bacon is there just because well, bacon.

The recipe below is sugar free, but if you like a sweeter muffin an optional 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup can be added to the batter to make it sweeter. Although the dates do sweeten the batter on their own, the taste obviously isn’t as sweet if you’re not used to no or low sugar items.

Bacon Crumble Pumpkin Muffins

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 9 muffins

Ingredients
  • 5 slices Bacon, chopped and fried (cook for 10-12 minutes until almost crispy)
  • 1 cup Cashews, whole or pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
  • 6 Medjool Dates, room temperature and pitted
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ cup Pumpkin Puree
  • ⅓ cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In food processor or blender grind cashews until they are in small pieces. They will be much bigger than grains of flour. If you over grind the cashews they will turn into cashew butter.
  3. Combine ground cashews with dry ingredients (coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  4. Add pitted medjool dates, eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and vanilla extract (and optional maple syrup if using) to food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until dates have blended with other ingredients.
  5. Pour wet mixture into bowl of dry ingredients. Combine with a spatula.
  6. Fill batter into cupcake lined muffin tins ¾ full.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from center of muffin.

 

FATface Skincare

eBook Review: Paleo to Go

Paleo to GoEating well at home is relatively easy. I stock the kitchen and pantry with fresh vegetables, grass fed meat, healthy fats, and some fruits so we’ve got plenty of options for nutrient dense real food meals. If I don’t plan ahead and pack food to go, I get stuck trying to figure out the best possible options for myself or the family from whatever is nearby. If I’m lucky that happens to be a Whole Foods salad bar, but more often than not it’s the mermaid coffee shop. Add the complications of one of us having severe food allergies, another who won’t eat the protein packed in their lunch, one who has a nasty killer sweet tooth that comes out to play with a vengeance if they don’t have their own food, and another who is suddenly picky. Making sure we have a variety of options for school, work, and travel foods is constant work.

Lunch ideas was something I was asked for multiple times when I did a recent survey asking what you wanted more of. It was unanimous that to-go lunch ideas for work and school would be helpful. Right on time, Paleo to Go, the new eBook by the Paleo Parents, was released. Our family went through the new eBook and each picked a recipe we wanted to try and the girls filled out the ‘My Favorite Things’ worksheet to give their seal of approval on certain items they will always accept packed into their lunches. Which is really helpful for both the picky one and the one who won’t eat their protein. Getting them involved with what’s packed results in it getting eaten.

Paleo to Go addresses the what to pack issue with more than 50 recipes and favorite Paleo friendly convenience foods in an easy to navigate format. The eBook outlines packing a protein, fat, veggies, and fruit including meal and snack ideas to cover each of the categories. It also includes a great section on storage containers for lunches and can easily be printed if you prefer a printed page over an electronic one.

But wait…there’s more.

An avoiding allergens guide is included with multiple options for substitutions including a new option to replace almond flour for those allergic to tree nuts. Every recipe has a photo symbol below the recipe title indicating which allergens the recipe avoids making it really easy to chose a recipe if you have someone in the house with a food allergy.

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We chose to make the Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits, Beef Bacon Sliders, Banana Bread Balls, and the Not Sugar Cookies recipes from the eBook, as photographed from our house above in the slideshow. Every single recipe was well received, and eaten, by each member of our house. The Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits were flavorful and moist but held together really well, and the leftovers were used for fried egg sandwiches for breakfast the next morning. The Beef Bacon Sliders were amazingly tasty with the addition of bacon. The Banana Bread Balls were sweet and had a great soft and slightly crunchy texture while the Not Sugar Cookies didn’t last through the day because they were eaten all up. The 7 year old realized the No Sugar Cookies would make a great faux crust to go with the pumpkin spice dairy free ice cream I was recipe development testing. We thoroughly enjoyed every recipe we tried and everything came out just like it should and was easy to make.

Paleo to Go Contents

While Paleo to Go is great for families, people who follow a Paleo diet, and those with allergies, it’s a great resource for anyone. Basically, if you eat lunch you will find something helpful in this book.

Paleo to Go includes:

  • Over 50 recipes
  • SAMPLE LUNCHES section with over 40 complete and healthy snack and meal ideas, perfect for on-the-go
  • Avoiding Allergens guide
  • Recipe and Allergen Index
  • A Healthy Meal in 3 Steps Guide
  • IN THE BOX list: Ideas for Packing the Perfect Lunch guide
  • Guide to storage containers
  • Guide to GRAB-AND-GO paleo-friendly convenience foods
  • Printable MY FAVORITES THINGS, an I approve list to use when packing lunches
  • EXCLUSIVE COUPONS and DISCOUNTS
  • Viewable on your computer, laptop, tablet, or printable
Click to buy Paleo to Go now!
Click to buy Paleo to Go now!

We really enjoyed Paleo to Go and have been having fun all week packing lunches from suggestions in the book. If you don’t have Paleo Parents first eBook, 3 Phase Paleo, you’re in luck because you can get both eBooks for a special bundled price by clicking the link below. 3 Phase Paleo demonstrates how easy it is to transition to Paleo in 3 easy steps.

Paleo Parents Bundle