Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Paleo Spinach & Meatball Casserole


I love this dinner because it's a slam dunk with my kids, who don't even bat an eyelash at the amount of spinach they consume while eating it. It's got all of the flavors a classic baked pasta dish with one exception: NO pasta.

You can make this with any meatball recipe, but I can't recommend my pesto recipe enough. The meatballs are loaded with flavor and have the perfect texture. I usually make them with grass-fed beef (as I did tonight) but you can make them with spinach as well.

This dish does work without cheese, but my kids love the way it bubbles and crisps up on top under the broiler.

Paleo Spinach & Meatball Casserole

meatballs:
1 lb. ground protein of choice
1 medium chopped shallot
1 egg
1/2 cup homemade paleo pesto (this is my favorite recipe)
3 tbs. ground flaxseed
3. tbs almond meal
salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Mix all ingredients until well-combined. Form into 12 meatballs and place on cooling rack. Bake for 30 minutes or until no longer pink.

spinach:
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium chopped onion
3 minced garlic cloves
salt & pepper
12 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted
1/4 cup organic chicken broth
1/4-1/2 cup canned coconut milk
generous grating of fresh nutmeg

Wring out defrosted spinach in paper towels until most of the liquid is removed. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a skillet on medium-high. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for one minute.

Add spinach, broth and coconut milk to skillet. Season with nutmeg and stir, cooking for another 2 minutes until thick.

remaining ingredients:
1 24-28 oz. jar of organic marinara
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Preheat broiler. Spread spinach out on the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Top with the meatballs. Spoon marinara over the top and sprinkle with cheese, if using.

Broil for a couple of minutes until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Paleo "Elvis" Green Smoothie


I created this recipe as an experiment of sorts. My son's favorite smoothie is what we've dubbed "The Elvis" due to its combination of banana, honey and nut butter. I made him the exact same concoction with spinach and avocado thrown into the mix, and in a blind taste test he couldn't tell the difference.

Yes, we conducted a blind taste test. That's how my kids and I roll, especially since we started watching Hungry Games together on Food Network (the show is all about the science behind eating and food, and features its own experiments and trivia).

Anyway, my point is that while some paleo purists aren't fans of smoothies, I personally love them. I also think they can be a great snack for kids, particularly when you sneak some good green stuff into the equation.

So with that said, here's my son's favorite smoothie gone green.

Paleo "Elvis" Green Smoothie 

1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
2 tbs. raw nut butter (or sunflower seed butter for nut-free)
1/2 ripe avocado
handful of baby spinach
2/3 cup coconut or unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp. raw honey
few drops of vanilla or almond extract (optional)
1 tbs. ground flax

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paleo Pork "Tamale" Pie


Tamales are made from corn, hence the quotations in today's post. I adapted a Rachael Ray casserole recipe that calls for boxed cornbread mix topping, replacing it with my own grain-free topping. While this had a little too much zip for my 8-year old son, the rest of us loved it.

While I did stick to the pork that warranted the "pork lover's" name of the original dish, you could easily make this with ground beef and any other kind of sausage to mix up the flavor of the dish a bit. I think that organic jarred salsa would also taste good instead of canned tomatoes with chiles. And while the original dish uses beer to deglaze the pan, I thought chicken broth worked just fine.

I did finish the dish off with some raw cheddar cheese, but you could easily skip it to keep the dish 100% paleo.


Paleo Pork "Tamale" Pie
adapted from Rachael Ray

almond flour "corn" bread layer:
1 1/2 cups refined almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. raw honey
4 eggs

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer until smooth.

tamale pie:
1 tbs. olive oil
4 slices nitrite-free bacon, chopped
1/3 cup minced chorizo
1 lb. ground pork
2 tbs. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt & pepper
1 small chopped onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1 cup organic chicken broth
14.5 oz can organic diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 1/2 cups raw shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
minced cilantro, green onion & sliced avocado (for garnish)

Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet. Add bacon and chorizo, cooking for 3 minutes. Add ground pork, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook for 8 minutes or until browned. Season with thyme, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper.

Mix in onion and garlic, stirring to combine. Cook for another few minutes until soft. Add chicken broth and cook for one minute, then add tomatoes.

Preheat broiler. Spoon the "corn" bread mixture over the top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, if using. Place under broiler for 2 minutes. Garnish as desired with cilantro, green onion and avocado.