Day 30 ~ Wrapping Up With Routine

Despite the time change, we managed to make it to church.  Thankfully we still had a few of those baked pumpkin pancakes leftover, which we now know reheat nicely (and super quickly) in the toaster, so we could have a little sustenance on the way out the door.  Once little kids came into my life, it didn’t take long for me to discover that that the switch to daylight savings time means losing more than just that one hour of “spring forward” sleep.   Not only do you lose that morning hour for several days in a row, but you also lose a few hours over the subsequent evenings attempting to convince the kids that although it’s not quite dark yet, their bedtime is still the same time as it always has been.

Maintaining routine when some changes are occurring is not only a comfort but a proven strategy for coping with that change.  Now that we’ve gotten to 30 days on the Paleo Challenge, I have come to realize there are certain things we do on Sundays that have become routine and quite helpful for perpetuating our Paleo lifestyle.  For today, other than making adjustments for the time change, we stuck to those Sunday routines.  We got our weekly menu planned.  For the menu, we just decided to continue with what’s been familiar and working well, so that meant a week’s worth of Paleo meals.  We acquired the groceries for those meals, had a (late) brunch, did some batch cooking for weekday lunches (grilled chicken and steak fajitas, bell pepper, onions), did a lot of clean up (dishes!!!), and took advantage of the afternoon at home to prepare a dinner that required a longer cooking time (pulled pork with Paleo BBQ sauce and an apple cabbage slaw, see below.)  We were all set to launch a smooth-running week.

That evening, my husband and I never got into specifics about doing a big celebratory splurge the next day.  Our fantasies about grilled cheese, pizza, and ice cream sandwiches that we had started developing weeks ago while dining at Stacked never came up.  We were too close to the final obstacle of the challenge to talk derailment.  I think we were convinced that even thinking about bad-for-you-foods could add stress weight to tomorrow’s weigh-in/measurements.  We were already nervous enough over going in tomorrow to perform the benchmark workout that we did at the start of the challenge.  Every second dropped off the original time is a point earned in the challenge, but nobody likes the Fran WOD!  Thankfully we were well fueled by some good eats!

Brunch- Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, Green Onion, and Bell Pepper

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Dinner- Pulled Pork with Paleo BBQ Sauce and Apple Cabbage Slaw

For the pork:

4-5 lbs. bone-in pork shoulder picnic roast

2 Tablespoons of bacon grease, coconut oil, or ghee

1-2 teaspoons of each: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 bottle of sorghum beer (12 oz)

Trim off any twine and unnecessary fat off the roast.  Heat the 2 tablespoons of grease in a large pot on the stove over medium high heat.  Rub the dry spices all over the roast to coat all sides.  Set the roast in the pan and sear each side for about 3 minutes.  You may need to turn the heat down to medium to avoid charring.  Once all sides of the roast have nice coloring, turn the heat back up to medium high.  Pour in the vinegar to deglaze the pan and scrape the brown bits off the bottom.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Pour in the beer.  Add water until just an inch of the top of the roast sticks out of the liquid.  Cover.  Simmer for about 3 to 4 hours.  Transfer meat onto a cutting board and let stand for about 15 minutes until cool enough to handle.  Pull meat off the bone and discard bone and large bits of fat, placing shredded meat into a separate bowl.  Serve meat on its own or tossed in BBQ sauce.

For the sauce:

The sauce was inspired by this recipe here.  However, my husband made some additions/improvements.

1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)

1 cup onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced/pressed

1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)

1/2  cup beef broth

1 Tbsp. dry ground mustard

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. hot sauce

1 Tbsp. chili paste

2 Tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. salt

2 capfuls of liquid smoke

1 can crushed pineapple with juice (20 oz.)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Puree with an immersion blender.  Serve with pulled pork.

Apple Cabbage Slaw:

1 lb. bag shredded cabbage with carrots (or 7 cups chopped fresh cabbage, 1/2  cup julienne carrots)

1 apple, peeled and grated

1/4  cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. dry ground mustard

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/4  tsp. salt

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, and apple.  In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, and ground mustard to make a vinaigrette dressing.  Sprinkle the cabbage mixture with onion powder, ginger, and salt.  Toss to season.  Pour vinaigrette over the cabbage mixture and toss until coated.  Cover the mixture and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.  We both loved this, and my husband was impressed that this was a completely original recipe that I created on a whim.

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Day 29 ~ Baked Shoes

As I write, it is the end of Day 30, but I was so exhausted yesterday that I couldn’t stay awake to compose a blog entry for Day 29, so I am just catching up now.  On the night of Day 28, I had my husband sign me up for a time slot for a re-attempt of the CrossFit Open Workout 13.1.  I was thrilled to have initially completed 126 reps when I first completed Workout 13.1 on Thursday (Day 27), but once I had mentally replayed my performance, I knew that I could complete those second level snatch lifts.

Day 29 began with an early shot of anxiety and adrenaline.  It is interesting to me how much my body craves protein now.  Eggs settle that churning, gurgling hunger that I often wake up to.  Very soon after I got out of bed, I had a fried egg sautéed with green onion (anti-inflammatory plus it tastes good!) and got working on my liter of water.  I put a yam in the oven and tried some practice snatches in my kitchen with a broom handle.

My husband got busy lacing up the new OLY shoes he got for me.  On my first attempt at the 13.1 workout, my husband noticed that I was not getting under the bar as much as I could be.  The slight raised heel in of the weightlifting shoes is supposed to help with balance as the body descends.  So, with the shoes, I would supposedly feel more stable, and thus inclined to descend more quickly and deeply, making it easier to catch the bar.  You customize the fit of the Reebok CrossFit OLY shoes by baking them in the oven.  Once the shoes were baked (it’s just three minutes at 200 degrees), I put the shoes on my feet and I drizzled a teaspoon of maple syrup and sprinkled some cinnamon on my yam.  I sat down to eat while the just baked shoes were forming to my heels.

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I paced around the house trying to busy myself so I wouldn’t go crazy in anticipation.  I got the kids dressed, unloaded the dishwasher, and played a Wii game with the kids.  Then it was GO time.

I felt fueled, rested, and focused.  After my husband helped me roll out and go through the Burgener warm up, I was ready.  With the encouragement of my husband and fellow athletes, I determinedly pushed myself as hard as I could go until I was completely spent when that 17 minute timer rang.  The result was a 144!  I cleared all of the second level snatches and had 49 seconds to spare to burn through some burpees (14 of them to be exact), and boy did they burn!  But, wow!  What an accomplishing feeling to know I gave everything I had in that workout.

Although the light, clean, unprocessed breakfast had fueled my workout, I was quite hungry for lunch after completing the workout.  We went to The Habit for a garden salad and a lettuce-wrapped double burger with bacon, avocado, and grilled onions.  Yum!

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The burger and salad were delicious, but being full didn’t last long.  I was more drained than I thought.  I tried to re-hydrate as much as possible, but I had to get a little pick-me-up from a few dried apricots and a spoonful of almond butter before we headed to dinner at Stacked!  Those lettuce-wrapped chicken sandwiches we had a couple weeks ago were so good, we had a repeat order of those (with grilled onions, roasted red pepper, Paleo-questionable garlic aioli), a big salad, and split a sorghum beer.  Cheers!

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Day 28 ~ Migraine

The day started out just fine.  I was pleased to have pulled off whipping up a double batch of baked pancake puffs for the whole family, and everyone made it out the door on time.  The recipe I made this morning was from Detoxinista, and the finished products are quite tasty and very convenient.  I still think the Running in the Kitchen recipe is the most delicious and pancake-like:

http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/2012/10/pumpkin-paleo-pancakes-that-actually-taste-good/ 

However, not having to flip the baked ones by Detoxinista and having them all ready at once was certainly worth it for a weekday breakfast! 

Pumpkin Pancakes by Detoxinista

http://detoxinista.com/2012/09/grain-free-pumpkin-pancakes/

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Lunch was a turkey burger with bacon, avocado, tomato and wrapped in romaine.  Then, I overdid it on the avocado tootsie roll crud.  Sabotage!  About an hour after I repeatedly cut and ate slivers and ate them right off of the spatula until half the pan was gone, I started to get a headache.  Another hour later, and I had a full-blown, nauseating, eyeball aching migraine.  I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time.  I even went to bed in the middle of the afternoon, but once I closed my eyes for five minutes, my phone rang.  I had a 12 minute conversation with my supervisor (while lying in bed!) and then sprang into productive scrambling for 45 minutes before leaving to pick up my son. 

Thankfully we had enough leftover goulash to have for dinner tonight.  I moped around the house, realizing that I brought this on myself by carelessly over-sugaring myself.  Yes, that can easily be done with dates!  Plus, I am thinking that I overlooked that the cacao has caffeine, and I just can’t handle caffeine.  I was up late last night kind of wired, and then got another fix with the lunch binge.  Yuck!  I will remember this awful feeling for a long time.  I popped an Advil and have been chugging water.  Here I am, two hours later, finally starting to feel a little better, but I’m going to have to forgive myself and sleep this off. 

Day 27 ~ Open Workout 13.1 Menu

I awoke with a perfect cocktail of anxiety and excitement.  Today was the day I would be doing my very first CrossFit Open workout.  The first workout of the 2013 CrossFit Open was released yesterday, and I was hoping to try it out and get as far as I could today.  A calming, fueling breakfast was in order—one that had been tried and true to be settling to the stomach.  I decided on 2 fried eggs with sautéed bell pepper and onion and an apple.  Then, I got to work teaching my web-classes, which was a nice way to be distracted.  I made sure that I had consumed a liter of water before noon, and then I had a coconut Larabar since my stomach was gurgling with hunger.  The drive to CrossFit was a total blur while I went through my vision of meeting my goal of completing 105 reps of the workout.

Open Workout 13.1

17 minute AMRAP of:
40 Burpees
30 Snatch, @45 lbs
30 Burpees
30 Snatch, @ 75 lbs
20 Burpees
30 Snatch, @100 lbs
10 burpees
Max rep Snatch, @120 lbs

After those grueling 17 minutes were up, I completed 126 reps, which means I completed 40 burpees, the 30 snatches at 45 pounds, 30 burpees, and 26 snatches at 75 pounds.  I am still in shock that I did those 75 pounders. I’ve never snatched 75 pounds before, and I somehow did 26 of them today.

I refueled by splitting an AMRAP bar with my husband.  (We had a CrossFit Open “date.”)  Then, I had a Chicken BLTA at home for a very late lunch, and I had to get back to work.

Dinner was already prepared since I had started it yesterday and just had not eaten it since I let it simmer until 8:30pm!  This afternoon, I put the pot of goulash on the stove to heat up, quickly chopped up a bunch of carrots and half a red onion, tossed them in olive oil, garlic powder, thyme, S&P, and threw them in the oven to roast at 400 for 35 minutes.  YUM!  YUM! YUM!  The goulash was terrific.  The meat was tender, the sauce fragrant, comforting, and rich.  I had always thought that goulash contained tomato paste or something, but that deep brick red comes solely from paprika!  It is such a simple, pure dish.  Here is the recipe I used.

http://www.leannabodybyvi.com/2013/02/czech-goulash/

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My big reward for celebrating the successful day was spending time in the kitchen to make this:

http://deliciouslyella.com/2012/10/01/double-chocolate-cheesecake-brownies-gluten-free-dairy-free-sugar-free/

Don’t the pictures look incredible?  I mean, anything called Double Chocolate Cheesecake Brownie has to be insanely delicious, right?  And I know the recipe is Paleo-friendly, so I was fully aware it wouldn’t actually contain any cheese or flour, but it does call for a lot of dates.  That’s a huge score in my book! The gorgeous and endearing British doll hooked me in with her references to dessert spoons as units of measurement and calling the date pits “stones.” I was wishing I was one of her aforementioned “flat mates” as I anticipated devouring the finished product.  I felt so cultured carrying out the recipe and imagined myself wearing a crisp, white apron while fluidly, whisking myself around the kitchen.

While the act of carefully putting ingredients together was a rewarding reprieve, the fantasy ended there.  You know what they say about British food, right?  What I had made here was basically bland guacamole on a dusty, sugarless tootsie roll.  I had even doubled the honey/maple syrup combo that I subbed for the agave after tasting the stuff in the “batter” stage, and the end result was still not sweet.  Don’t get me wrong, the bottom layer was chock full of fresh dates and beautiful raw organic hazelnuts (I used a cup of hazelnuts, ½ cup pecans instead of all pecans), but c’mon, it was not a brownie!  The top layer turned out to be a lovely custard-like texture, but it tasted overwhelmingly avocadoey.  And why wouldn’t it?  There were FIVE avocadoes in it!!!  Pure and wholesome?  Ok.  Brownie?  Absolutely not.  Cheesecake?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  If I make Paleo brownies again, I will stick with the recipe by Preparing Paleo.  I can attest that it is scrumptious.  Paleo or not, it looks like a brownie, tastes like a brownie, and has the texture of a brownie.  http://preparingitpaleo.com/2012/10/03/paleo-plantain-brownies/

Now what became of the absolutely-not-cheesecake-not-remotely-close-to-a-brownie thing I made?  No surprise, I still ate it.  I even had seconds.  What?  You know I like dates, and Avocado Larabars could catch on.

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Day 26 ~ My New Downfall

I’m just tracking the eats today here on the blog, and then I’ve got to get to bed.  The first workout of the 2013 CrossFit Open Competition was posted tonight.  I’m going to give it a shot tomorrow.  We’ll see how far I can get and where I stack up.

Breakfast- Fried egg and an apple

Lunch- Chicken BLTA and a cup of No Pasta No Fagioli Soup

Snack- A banana, but I didn’t stop there.  I kept popping dates—about 8 of them.  Boo.  Note to self: do not buy dates at Costco.  The container is endless.  They are becoming my new chocolate chips.  Once I was thoroughly sugared, I had to wash that away with some salt, so then I popped a handful of pistachios and pecans.  I didn’t overdo the snacking that badly and there could have been worse choices to snack on, but I did not need to dig in like that, especially since I really wasn’t that hungry! 

Dinner- I started cubing a 4 pound chuck roast and chopping 4 pounds of onions to make a goulash recipe.  By the time 5:30pm rolled around, my husband was on his third time asking me at what time dinner would be served, and I realized the stew could need another 2-3 hours to simmer down and thicken into a sumptuous sauce, I surrendered.  Goulash would be served tomorrow night.  You know what they say about stew… it is always better on the second day that it’s served.  As far as dinner tonight, we would be having turkey burgers.  It was nothing fancy or novel, just fast and filling. Yes, that’s two patties!

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A large cup of ginger tea was “dessert” tonight.  After all, I had dessert at 3:30 today.  I am heading off to dream of lightning fast burpees and perfectly executed snatches. 

Day 25 ~ The Skillet WOD

I wish I had some complaint or issue to make for a snarky or dramatic essay today, but the fact is this whole Paleo lifestyle seems to be working for me.  I can honestly say I am feeling great this week.  I am nourished.  I am full.  My mind is clear. (So is my skin!)  I have patience with my kids.  I have stamina for my workouts, my job, my family time, and even the dishes. 

Here is the fuel of the day:

Breakfast- Every last drop of the remaining Paleo Breakfast Porridge  

http://paleospirit.com/2013/paleo-breakfast-porridge/

Lunch- Rubio’s Balsamic and Roasted Veggie Salad

This took just a little forethought and research of the online menu to finagle a Paleo-friendly option for myself when I walked up to the counter to order.  I hate making a scene or holding up the line for a laundry list of questions.  I kept the dietary restrictions to myself and also spared the gal at the cash register from having to go on some wild goose chase to find out if the dressing contained sugar.  I already knew from menu research that the chicken at Rubio’s is not gluten free, and I knew this salad defaults to being served with corn and topped with a little sprinkling of cheese.  So, I just said I’d like the balsamic and roasted veggie salad with grilled mahi instead of the chicken, no corn, no cheese, dressing on the side (which I didn’t use, I tossed on salsa instead.)  Easy.  No fuss. A nice option in a pinch.  I forgot to take a picture (maybe I subconsciously didn’t want to take a picture and embarrass my company?) but you can get the idea from the picture in the link.

 

http://www.rubios.com/menu/salads-and-bowls/balsamic-roasted-veggie-salad/

 

Post-WOD: I went from work to CrossFit and then to pick up my son and then run an errand.  I actually missed my hemp smoothie.  I had stashed an apple in the car in the morning, and I ate it in the car shortly after leaving CrossFit, but I wished I had some protein to go with it.  Bummer.  Now I will remember to stick an AMRAP bar and a packet of almond butter in my gym bag. 

 

Dinner- Sticky Thai Chicken Wings

How Wings Came to Be Dinner Tonight:

Wings are not something I normally cook.  What the How Sweet Eats blogger said about wings is true.  Wings seem to cost a lot of time and effort for little payout.  However, I still had a stash of wings in the freezer leftover from when my husband made hot wings over Daytona weekend.  I noticed a friend had pinned this recipe for the Sticky Thai Chicken Wings and it caught my eye and my taste buds.  I do love Thai flavors, and although I noticed the recipe called for quite a few non-Paleo items, I was confident I could easily swap them for Paleo items and still have those Thai flavors come through.  I re-pinned the recipe to my dinner idea board thinking that I’d try it at some point down the road.  Over the weekend when I was menu planning, my initial plan for today had been to make a Chinese-inspired orange chicken recipe.  This plan was thwarted when I was shocked and dismayed to discover my grocery store was completely void of chicken thighs.  There were no bone-in thighs, no thigh fillets, neither organic nor conventional.  There were just no chicken thighs.  It was weird.  That’s when this Thai wing recipe idea came into play for dinner this week. 

 

Original Version that contains soy, peanuts, rice vinegar, and sugar:

http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/05/sticky-thai-chicken-wings/

 

Paleo-ized substitutions:

1/3 cup sambal oelek plus 2 tablespoons honey for the sweet chili sauce

1/4 cup cider vinegar for the rice vinegar

3 Tbsp coconut sugar for the brown sugar

1 Tbsp almond butter for the peanut butter

1 Tbsp coconut aminos for the soy sauce

1/4 cup sesame seeds for the chopped peanuts

 

Improvements in execution:

Sear wings in coconut oil instead of olive oil for cooking effectively over higher heat.

Broil the wings for 3 minutes after the stated baking time. 

 

Complaints for complaint’s sake:

This was not a one-dish meal!  What chaos I made in the kitchen!  There was the bowl for the sauce, the various measuring cups, measuring spoons and whisk for the sauce ingredients.  There was a spoon to dish out the chili sauce, the grater for the ginger, the juicer for the lime, the storage container for the unused coconut milk.  Then, there was a spoon to dish out the coconut oil to heat up in the big cast iron skillet.  (I also had a small cast iron skillet going with some wings in a soy sauce/honey/vinegar sauce for the kids, but I won’t hold that extra dish against anyone.)  I used my splatter screen over the top of the skillet.  There was one set of tongs to turn the wings that got icky with raw-ish wing skin slime.  There was a plate to hold the partially-seared wings that got goobered with pink chicken juice.  There was a knife and cutting board for the onions and cilantro.  There was a strainer to rinse the cilantro.  There was a dish for heating the broccoli.  There was the platter and a second set of tongs to transfer the broccoli and the cooked wings to a platter, which I wanted to use so I could pour the sauce over the broccoli without getting broccoli floret confetti all over the chicken.  This dish list is exhausting to simply write about, let alone to wash!  And washing that darn skillet was like a mini strength WOD in itself! 

 

Deep Reflections:

Ironically, today’s CrossFit WOD required us to use a heavy dumbbell in a farmer carry to tone and prepare the core for functional movement.  By performing full body, naturally occurring movements in a training setting, we are more prepared for everyday life.  Boom!  A key pillar of CrossFit, functional movement, is revealed through a clean skillet right in my kitchen.  Who knew that sweating it out and feeling the burn in my CrossFit training would prime me to be a more efficient and capable skillet washer?!?! 

 

Final Verdict:

Don’t let my rant on dishes or the long list of ingredients discourage you from making this recipe.  It was quite tasty!  Nutty, spicy, and fragrant, with a punch from the lime and cilantro the sauce was perfectly balanced with a hint of sweetness.  It was great on the wings, but really, you could bake or grill plain thighs (if you had them!) or any cut of chicken.  Then, measure the sauce ingredients directly into a pan on the stove, reduce it, and just pour it on whatever chicken and veggies you cook.  I think it might be simpler that way, although you might miss toning up your shoulders and core on that bulky skillet! 

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Day 24 ~ When Dinner Fails, Make Dessert

Breakfast was the leftover Paleo Spirit porridge.  It was still delicious, but the chalet fantasy was lost somewhere between standing over the sink to eat it and my son putting his shoes on the wrong feet.

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Today I focused on curing my dehydration.  I made myself drink a half liter of water during the morning commute.  I made a goal of finishing another one before lunch.  Speaking of lunch, lunch was soup and a sandwich!  A sandwich doesn’t sound very Paleo, I know, but I assure you it was Paleo, and it was a masterpiece.  I call it Chicken BLTA.

On Sunday, we batched-cooked a bunch of boneless skinless chicken breasts so we could have these awesome delights for lunch all week.

Chicken BLTA

Preparing the Chicken:

To prepare them, first pour some olive oil in a small bowl.  Add salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried rosemary to the oil.  Arrange the chicken breasts on a sheet pan.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Dip a basting brush in the seasoned oil and paint the chicken breasts until they are generously covered with the oil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool and store the chicken breasts.

Assembling the Chicken BLTA:

Using a serrated knife, slice the chicken breast to make a top and bottom “bun.”  Put a leaf of romaine lettuce on the bottom “bun.”  Add 2 slices of bacon.  Top with tomato slices.  Arrange some avocado slices on top.  Season with salt if desired.  Add Dijon mustard to the top piece of chicken if desired.  Place the top piece of chicken on the top of the “sandwich.”  DE-LISH!!!

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We had a lot of the No Pasta No Fagioli soup leftover from yesterday, so the intention was to have soup and a sandwich for lunch all week!  Conventional with a twist!

I kept chugging the water, and it not only helped keep me level-headed during the afternoon WOD, but it helped curb the afternoon snacks to just a small bowl of plantain chips and a small serving of dried apples.

Thankfully, I had eaten well throughout the day because when dinner rolled around and we dove into the Indian curry, it was a disappointment.  I hadn’t made it to Fresh and Easy to restock our stash of  Sukhi’s brand of curry paste we like.  http://sukhis.com/products/home-chef/classic-indian-curry-paste.php

I figured a similar brand available at our Ralph’s would do for simmering a pound of chicken thighs, an onion, a couple carrots, a bell pepper, and some butternut squash cubes.  I was wrong.

http://www.kitchensofindia.com/DE/Products-Main/Curry%20Pastes/Chicken%20Curry%20Paste

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This paste from Kitchens of India was bland, too watery, and just kind of icky.  I choked some of it down, but my poor husband basically abandoned his bowl after a few bites and came back to the table with a Larabar.  Rather than rummaging around to piece together another dinner, I just opted to expend my energy on producing a dessert.  Urban Poser’s Mexican Chocolate Coconut Macaroons saved the day.

http://www.againstallgrain.com/2012/11/03/guest-post-chocolate-macaroons/

I always seem to have the simple ingredients for this recipe in my freezer (coconut) and pantry (everything else!)  The recipe can be whipped together in a flash—seriously, within 10 minutes these will be in the oven.  The only dishes needed are two bowls, a measuring cup, a measuring spoon, and a stirring spoon, so very little mess.  Most importantly, they are friggin awesome, Paleo or not!  We ate them right off the pan.

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