paleo chili stuffed sweet potatoes

 Four sweet potatoes, stuffed with chili on tray
 sweet potato halves stuffed with chili and chopped parsley
 avocado slices and cilantro

I love chili but haven't gotten around to making a purely paleo and whole30 version. Well the time is now! For those who are strict and omit legumes on a regular basis - this one is for you! 

Sunday night was the night to perfect this chili.  I had previously made different versions but wanted to try a little spin on it. I've had a pretty serious obsession with chipotle peppers lately and decided that along with some cocoa powder and cinnamon, this would elevate the chili. Glass of wine in hand, music playing, I got to work. It was a relaxing Sunday night, dinner would be finished early and I felt an overall sense of calm. Ahhhh such rare moments. 

That was until I took a bite to check for the seasoning. Clearly I overestimated the level of heat just one tsp of chipotle would add. Sure it tasted great but was in no way suitable for little mouths. Panic crept in, and the words "when will dinner be ready" resounded from the other room..over and over. Scrambling, I realized I bought an extra pack of ground beef. Perhaps for another recipe? Didn't matter. I couldn't think about that. 

Since this chili is full of veggies, I used the help of my trusty food processor to do the work for me. And there, on this lovely Sunday evening, I was making two chilis. Quite proud of myself for the swift rescue, I managed to have dinner done in a reasonable time. 

If you want to tone down the heat, you can play around with the level of heat. For the kids, I decided to omit the chipotle powder entirely and stuck to only chili powder. For a little more heat, feel free to use one teaspoon of chipotle or if you like it really hot, go for 2 or more. The choice is yours. 

 sweet potatoes, avocado and cilantro
 sweet potatoes with cilantro and stuffed with chili

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paleo chili stuffed sweet potatoes

  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 40-45 minutes

  • yields: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 onion roughly chopped

  • 1 red pepper roughly cut

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tbsp olive oil + more for potatoes

  • 1 lb grass fed beef

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder (optional)

  • 3 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 tsp salt divided

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce

  • 1 15 oz can diced or petite diced tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (omit if whole30)

  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped plus more for garnish

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes

  • avocado for topping

  • optional: purple cabbage

Equipment

  • food processor (optional)

  • dutch oven or large soup pan

  • aluminum foil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse and dry sweet potatoes. With a fork, poke holes in each potato all around. Lay each potato on a piece of foil and brush with a few drops of olive oil. Wrap in foil tightly and bake for an hour or until potatoes are soft. This depends on size. 

Add pepper, carrot and onion to food processor and pulse until the vegetables are fairly small. If you don't want to use a food processor, just chop these small.

Preheat dutch oven and add olive oil or ghee. Add vegetables and 1/4 tsp of salt and cook stirring frequently until veggies are soft - about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Next, add beef to pan and break up with wooden spoon. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring regularly, until meat is fully cooked. Add all the spices, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and cocoa powder and cook for 1 minute. 

Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and maple syrup (optional) and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Once chili is finished, add cilantro. 

To assemble, cut sweet potatoes in half and place a generous amount of chili on top. You can garnish with additional cilantro and avocado. 


 If you're looking for a meal that's sure to please everyone, try this paleo and whole 30 chili stuffed sweet potato recipe. Cocoa powder and cinnamon give this chili a sweet and sultry flavor. #chili, #sweetpotatoes, #chiclistuffedsweetpotatoes, #calmeats, #paleodinner, #whole30, #paleo, #paleochili, #whole30chili, #dinner, #glutenfree, #dairyfree

 

 

 

simple fermented vegetables

 fermented pickles, carrots, and radishes
 carrots
fermented vegetables (4 of 16).jpg

When I lived in Romania, my family shopped at the local farmers market and ate seasonally. There was really no choice as it was that or starve. We didn't have well stocked grocery stores so we had to be prepared. In anticipation of cold, long winters, my grandparents would ferment large quantities of vegetables that were not available in the winter. Little did I know just how beneficial fermented vegetables were. 

fermented vegetables (10 of 16).jpg
fermented vegetables (9 of 16).jpg

Our western diet has done a number on gut flora and our digestive system as many of us are eating foods our body simply does not know how to assimilate and has a difficult time digesting. But I'm a firm believer that by eating fermented foods daily we can rebuild our healthy guts. This is in turn helps with food absorption, improved digestion and overall health.

I personally love having fermented vegetables on hand year round and the added bonus is that my kids love them too. 

In order to demystify fermenting, I wanted to share some very basic recipes and ones I frequently make. The easiest way to start is by using brine and cut up vegetables. Feel free to add the seasoning of your choice. I prefer dill and garlic. Here are 3 basic fermented vegetable recipes to get you started. 

fermented vegetables (3 of 16).jpg

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simple fermented vegetables

  • prep time: 15 minutes

  • makes: 6-8 (12 oz) jars

  • fermenting time: 8 days-2 weeks

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs organic carrots cut into sticks

  • 1 bag organic radishes, sliced

  • 6-8 organic pickling cucumbers

  • 1 quart filtered water

  • 2-3 tablespoons fine sea salt

  • 2-3 sliced cloves garlic (or more)

  • a few sprigs fresh dill

Equipment

  • medium sauce pan

  • jars with lids (i use these)

Directions

To prepare brine, combine warm water and salt and set aside to cool.

Slice garlic cloves and add to jars along with as much fresh dill as you want.

Slice radishes and cut carrots and pickles to be slightly shorter than the jar. Tightly pack each into jars, as many as can fit. Pour the cooled brine and fill all the way to the top ensuring that vegetables are covered completely. 

Twist on the lid and let ferment at room temperature for 7-14 days. Keep away from an area with temperature fluctuations such as a stove. If you have leftover brine, store it in the refrigerator and used at a later point. 


 If you're on a gut healing journey, the best thing you can do is consume fermented vegetables on a regular basis. Not only are they easy to prepare but they're far better for you than bottled probiotics. Check out this simple recipe you can keep on hand to ensure your gut functions the way it's intended to. #icanpicklethat, #fermentation, #fermentedvegetables, #traditionalcooking, #ferments, #pickling, #calmeats, #vegan, #paleo, #gaps, #whole30, #vegetarian

If you're on a gut healing journey, the best thing you can do is consume fermented vegetables on a regular basis. Not only are they easy to prepare but they're far better for you than bottled probiotics. Check out this simple recipe you can keep on hand to ensure your gut functions the way it's intended to. #icanpicklethat, #fermentation, #fermentedvegetables, #traditionalcooking, #ferments, #pickling, #calmeats, #vegan, #paleo, #gaps, #whole30, #vegetarian

 

 

taco seasoning mix

 taco seasoning mix, spoons and bowl
 spoon and chili powder

I walk through the door. It's a peaceful Tuesday evening. I had a remarkably easy day at the office. No stress, no emails or timelines - a smooth day all around. The smell of food makes my mouth water. The gentle sound of Bach becomes more audible with every step I take. I notice my children are quietly reading books. They're too enveloped in them to notice I'd stepped in. The house is in order, no toys in sight and my husband declares that dinner is nearly finished.

No, this never happened. I hallucinated from exhaustion as I've been awake since roughly 2:45am. Sleep deprivation is something I've come to accept as a fact of life right now.

Life is messy and chaotic and while we try to keep things in some sort of order, it's nearly impossible to do so for more than 10 minutes..okay 5...more like 2. Things are unpredictable. My 19 month old biting her brother's marker and staining her mouth and fingers blue earns a parenting award. My son flushing house keys down the toilet is another gem. 

 spices in bowl

So yes, things are anything but orderly with a 4.5 year old and a 19 month old. It's usually an incessant chorus of whining over not being allowed to have snacks before dinner or fighting over the same toy. But it's my life and I wouldn't change a thing. I lovingly gaze at my glass of wine and thank it for its magical powers. I do say, one glass of wine a day, keeps the insanity at bay. Plus all the polyphenols, am I right? 

But back to dinner. Yes, dinner has to be made and quickly. Tonight it's tacos. I make them often. Whether pulled pork, chicken or just good old ground beef tacos, I need to have taco seasoning on hand. The store bought version contains too many unpronounceable words for my liking and the 2 billion grams of sodium, generally leave me feeling like a blow up doll in the morning. So I make my own.

It's a good one to keep on hand whenever you need a quick taco mix and it also holds up well.

 spices and bow with spoon
 cumin on spoon
  • prep time: 5 minutes
  • cooking time: none
  • serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Equipment

  • small bowl

Directions

Combine spices and use right away or store in an air tight container. 

print recipe
taco seasoning mix
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Instructions
1. Combine spices and use right away or store in an air tight container.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6

pea and walnut pesto

 pea pesto, basi and walnuts
 pea pesto basil and walnuts

I cook with peas often. My children like them and while not technically paleo, I do eat them as well. Legumes tend to be bothersome for certain people, they don't bother me much as long as they're not an every day food. For a quick side, I will toss them in a pan with olive oil, fresh dill, garlic, salt and pepper.

Perched on a chair in the tiny kitchen of her 7th floor Bucharest apartment, my grandmother Lina showed me how to carefully remove peas out of their pods. It was a tiny kitchen, barely big enough to fit a table and still have walking room between it and the counter. But there we were, my apron wearing grandmother and me having an average day peeling peas and making stew. 

My grandmother was a beautiful woman. High cheekbones, dark hair and intense brown eyes, which she most often hid behind big sunglasses. She was stylish and put together even when at home. A woman of few words, she held a certain mystery that as a young girl, I wouldn't know to appreciate. 

When spending days with her, most of the time I would be roaming around snooping through her cosmetics, smothering my face in various creams and getting myself into the usual kid trouble. But on this day she felt it was better if I just assisted her in the kitchen and stayed put. So there I was, dropping one pea after another into a large yellow bowl, contemplating making my escape so I could go back to playing.  But she insisted I help her make stew. She taught me how to properly hold a knife, how to chop fresh herbs and carrots. A seemingly insignificant day is one that's stayed with me. 

Though I have many pea recipes under my belt, several years ago I made pea pesto for the first time. It was delicious and surprising as I never thought of making pesto out of peas. But it was also loaded with parmesan cheese so I wanted to find an alternative. My version uses walnuts instead, providing the creaminess you'd expect from pesto but with none of the dairy. It's versatile and quick to make and can easily transform any dish. 

pea pesto (7 of 12).jpg
pea pesto (8 of 12).jpg
pea pesto (11 of 12).jpg
  • prep time: 5 minutes
  • cooking time: 5 minutes
  • yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp raw walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Equipment

  • mood processor
  • medium pot

Directions

Combine peas with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Strain the peas and add to food processor along with other ingredients and puree until all ingredients are combined. 

Serve right away or store in refrigerator in air tight container for up to a week. 

print recipe
pea and walnut pesto
Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp raw walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions
1. Combine peas with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Strain the peas and add to food processor along with other ingredients and puree until all ingredients are combined. 2. Serve right away or store in refrigerator in air tight container for up to a week.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6

guacamole

guacamole

The first time I had an avocado was memorable and it would be roughly 7 years before I would eat another one. 

I turned 9 shortly after we arrived in Germany. All the immigrants were moved around from town to town 3 times in a matter of months before temporarily settling into a small village named Burgsalach. 

The idea of moving from Romania to Germany was exciting but also very scary and it took some time to acclimate. Once we'd arrived to Burgsalach, where I would spend the next 4 years of my life, we were housed in a large hostel like place. There was one kitchen and one bathroom that roughly 7 families had to share. Not an ideal situation but it was fine.

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