Friday, April 11, 2014

Laura's Carolina Baked Chicken

I'm always looking for new ways to cook chicken. Why? Well frankly, chicken is cheap, and when feeding a family of four, cheap is good!

A little while ago, I ate lunch at the Whole Foods café. This is something I rarely do because so much from their deli uses canola oil, and it's expensive, but when I'm out shopping & need a quick lunch it's a great option for me. Last time I went they had some "Carolina Grilled Chicken." It was really delicious, but I thought it needed a few changes, so I set to work.

Mine is baked-- hence the name-- because I can't grill at my apartment. Sad face. However, you could totally grill this if you wanted. Also, I used chicken breasts, but you can use this sauce and method for any cut of chicken-- think rich meaty thighs. Mmmmm...The mix of flavors for this chicken are fantastic. My children scarfed it down! I had to stop myself at one breast or I would've just kept eating.

I hope you enjoy this chicken as much as my family did!

Laura's Carolina Baked Chicken


4-6 chicken breasts (or whatever cut of chicken you prefer)
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)
2 Tbs fresh thyme + more for sprinkling
1 head garlic peeled
Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375*F. Place olive oil, dijon, tomatoes, thyme, & garlic into a food processor or blender. Blend until puréed into a sauce. Add salt & pepper to desired taste. Place chicken onto a baking pan or cookie sheet. Coat both sides with sauce. Sprinkle the tops with a little more thyme. Bake for approximately 30 min, give or take, until the internal temperature reaches 160*F (always check the thickest part of the chicken breast). The sauce will brown a bit, but don't worry-- it's not burning. Remove and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite veggie side and ENJOY!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Liebster Awards!

This picture says it all. Haha! But, seriously...A Liebster?? I'm so honored!!

A huge thanks to both Meg at The Recipe For Healing and Linz of @healthyhues on Instagram for nominating me! Both of these ladies are extraordinary clean eating, food making powerhouses. I highly recommend you follow them both.

It's really humbling to be nominated, especially since I just do this little blog for kicks and giggles. I don't have time to commit to it much more than I am already, so I'm thankful for the recognition. Every time someone says they've enjoyed a recipe, or have found inspiration in my story I'm grateful. That's the best way to say it! So, THANK YOU to all of you my readers & followers!

I'll answer Meg & Linz's questions below, but first....MY NOMINEES!

1. Candace at BeYOUtifully Delicious. She was one of the first gals I connected with on Instagram when I started following fellow clean eaters, and I am so glad our paths crossed! She has a phenomenal story. She is real. And to top it all off, her food is DIVINE and she lifts like a boss. Bold, and not afraid to take risks, her recipes will add all sorts of spice to your life! And, if it's inspiration you're after, look no further! She is truly beYOUtiful, inside and out! And, how can I not love a girl who loves OMghee?!

2. Laura at Mangia Paleo (Eat Paleo). Not only is she awesome because she's named Laura (sorry, but it's true), but she's fighting her Ulcerative Colitis through Paleo. Her story is so inspiring. Also, being Italian, you know that girl can cook! Her recipes are phenomenal, and her blog also includes lots of informational posts as well, which the food nerd in me LOVES!

3. Jody at Paleo'ish On A Dime. This mom of a million kids (ok, I'm exaggerating, but she has a lot of kids), knocks Paleo'ish cooking out of the park. She is fighting Mitochondrial Disease with food, and she feeds her 7 kids gluten free, dairy free, and a bunch of other allergy culprit free, meals! Talk about Super Mom! She honestly inspires me EVERY SINGLE DAY. She's real, balanced, and funny-- winning combination. 

4. Jess at Paleo Jess. This Aussie mom of 4 is one of my favorites to follow. We share a common faith (christianity), and a love for Whole9/Whole 30 eating. Not only is she rocking the fitmom life, but she uses her blog to bring exposure to a topic that is dear to my own heart-- human trafficking, modern day slavery. To top it all off, SHE RUNS A BUSINESS. Hello Wonder Woman! Her business-- Primal Life Marketplace-- provides healthy foods in bulk at affordable prices. WOW!!

All of these women inspire me everyday, and make me want to be a healthier stronger woman in every area of my life.

Now, ladies, should you choose to accept this Liebster award, your questions are the following:

1. What is your favorite Paleo meal?

2. What is your favorite NON Paleo meal?

3. Who inspires you to live healthier?

4. What is your goal in having a blog?

5. What is your favorite pastime/hobby besides cooking?

My Answers to Meg's Questions:

1. How did you eat before you decided to change your diet?
    I was a rollercoaster dieter! I tried everything under the sun. It usually involved severe calorie restriction which resulted in binge eating 1-2x a week. I have a past of eating disorders, so I was always fighting the temptation to slip into that bondage (that's exactly what it is) again.

2. What are your favorite foods too eat, cook, and bake? Have you always enjoyed being in the kitchen?

     My favorite Paleo foods to cook & eat are lamb, duck, and steak. Unfortunately, I gain the most pleasure from standard baking-- YIKES!! I still get to do it weekly for church events, so I get my urges out without temptation. I have always loved baking-- it's in my blood, but I grew to love cooking as I had a family and started cooking more often to save money. Now, I can spend all day in my kitchen with my favorite apron on, the windows open, and my favorite tunes!

3. What made you want to start a blog? What do you wish to accomplish with it?

    I started the blog because I constantly had people telling me I should start a blog. Peer pressure!! I realized that it would be a good way to get all my favorite recipes in one place. It just made sense. I hope to inspire people to cook real food that nourishes them body and soul! I want people to realize that they don't have to be afraid of the kitchen. Paleo can be intimidating for people who aren't used to cooking 3 meals a day, and I hope that my recipes can help them realize there's no reason to be afraid!

4. If you could do/be anything what would it be? There are no limits.

   Honestly, I would run an eat in/carry out bakery, focusing mostly pies. Yes, a standard american bakery (GASP), with a few Paleo goodies in there as well, of course. There is nothing I love more than seeing the look on someone's face when they bite into a dessert I've lovingly made. Pie making is my strongest skill that has taken a while to perfect. I'm pretty passionate about pie.

5. Who are some of the people that inspire you to eat clean?

    My children and husband. Eating clean helps me have the energy and focus to take the best care of them possible. As a homeschool mom, I can't do my job without the proper fuel. They are my whole life-- and I hope to have a healthy life with them!

My Answers to Linz's Questions:

1. What is the best consequence for you by eating a healthy diet?

    Emotional freedom from yo-yo dieting & eating disorders. Yeah, I've lost a bunch of weight. Yeah, I have loads of energy. Yeah, I sleep better. Yeah, I did away with sinus issues. But, the best was FREEDOM from the idea that I had to starve myself to be healthy.

2. What healthy food do you find yourself craving?

    Veggies. Veggies, veggies, veggies. It sounds weird, but sometimes I will just make myself a big bowl or plate of them.

3. What do you do with your time when you aren't in the kitchen?

    Well, most of my day is spent homeschooling our boys. But, I love to hike, read, and go to museums. Right now it's softball season, so that keeps me busy also. This is technically the kitchen, but I do help with our weekly church dinner as well-- usually dessert duty-- which means baking dessert for 40-50 people once a week.

4. What is one thing you love about yourself?

    I'm pretty fearless. I love a good challenge. I'll face anything, head on.

5. What has been your biggest accomplishment?

    My children. Yeah, it sounds so cliché, but it's true. I look at them and nothing I've ever done or will ever do compares to the responsibility I take on each day in raising & teaching them. I just hope I don't screw them up ;)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Laura's Paleo Hotcakes

Put on your prettiest apron and whip up something incredible!

I know it seems a little silly to reinvent the wheel. There are a million Paleo pancake recipes out there, and I won't pretend that these are going to be your favorite, but they are mine!

These are basic, low carb, unsweetened (as pancakes should be in my not-so-humble opinion), sturdy and thick! Use them for a savory breakfast sandwich or top with your favorite fruit, raw honey or pure maple syrup for a treat!

The hotcakes are 21 Day Sugar Detox friendly, also!

I hope you enjoy these hotcakes as much as my family does!

Laura's Paleo Hotcakes (makes 12 cakes)


5 eggs
1/4 c + 1 Tbs (or 5 Tbs) coconut flour
1/4 c + 1 Tbs (or 5 Tbs) almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1 liquid cup almond milk
Ghee or coconut oil for cooking (I love OMghee)


In large bowl, whisk eggs. Add dry ingredients mixing well. Slowly add milk, mixing well. I like to add the milk slowly so that I can add a little less or a little more depending on the consistency of the batter. It may vary depending on the brand of flours you use.

In a pan over medium-low heat (I set mine just below medium), melt some fat-- a little goes a long way. You can also use an electric skillet (I set mine at 375*F). Pour three Tbs of batter per cake into the pan. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes until sturdy and ready to flip. Flip carefully! I like to re-grease the pan after each batch of cakes to make flipping easier.

Top with your favorite things & ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dip (dairy free)

Zesty & creamy, this is the perfect dip for the warmer months ahead!

Things are starting to feel a little bit more like Spring each day here in South Carolina, and after this year's Polar Vortex winter, I couldn't be more relieved! With warmer weather comes colder, lighter food. Don't get me wrong, I will still be smashing down some ribeye & cauli mash, but when you've been out in the heat working out or gardening, sometimes it's nice to sit on the porch with a tall glass of kombucha and a cold snack.

This dip will be PERFECT for the warmer days & nights ahead. Creamy & zesty, it pairs perfectly with fresh raw veggies. It would even be delicious over a taco salad! My naughty husband, of course, went straight for the chips after eating 2 or 3 obligatory sticks of carrot-- so, if you're feeling naughty, grab some clean gluten free non-GMO chips, or some Paleo almond flour chips & dip away!

Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dip


1 avocado
4 Tbs full fat coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes
3  heaping Tbs fresh coarsely chopped cilantro (1 Tbs dried)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste


In a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender, blend all ingredients together until creamy. Start slowly with the salt-- you can always add, but you can't take away!

It's that simple!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Creamy Chicken & Kale Soup (dairy free)

Dairy free creamy soup...Yes, please!!

I'm not much for soup, unless it's creamy soup. Cream of broccoli, cream of mushroom, creamy potato, clam chowder, shrimp bisque. Creamy soup = Laura's undying love and devotion.

Enter problems with dairy. I actually ate cheese & heavy cream in moderation for a long time after going Paleo. I started having pains in my stomach to the point that I was getting tested for gall bladder problems. When multiple tests came up normal, I decided to see if cutting dairy would help. Fortunately (and unfortunately) the problem was solved. Dangit. Milk I can take or leave, but heavy cream & cheese-- that was hard.

Thankfully, there's an easy way to get creamy soups while being dairy free. The base is simple-- purée cauliflower with broth and full fat coconut milk. You can make it as thick or thin as you want-- simply add more or less broth. I do this all the time, and it completely satisfies my craving for cream based soup, and I get more veggies in the mix. Score!!

For this soup I boiled a whole chicken to get both meat & broth. You could say that I KILLED TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE. Ahahaha! Punny! It's easy, and the soup is still a one pot meal. I give instructions below, but you could also just use some broth you already have & any chicken meat-- baked or roasted.

This is an easy, rich and delicious soup that I'm sure your family will love!

Creamy Chicken and Kale Soup


1 whole uncooked chicken
Water (amount depends on size of chicken & pot)
2 heads cauliflower chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
8 cloves garlic
1 can full fat coconut milk
3 cups chopped kale
2 tsp ground thyme
Salt & pepper to taste


For Broth & Meat...

Place whole chicken into a large deep pot. Add water to cover. Sprinkle in a little salt. Bring water to a boil. Cover and let boil for anywhere from 1.5 hours to 4 hours. The chicken will be cooked after about 45 minutes, but the longer it boils, the more flavorful the broth. When done, remove chicken from broth and set aside. It will fall apart as you remove it, so have a strainer handy to remove any bones or cartilage from the broth. If you want a thicker soup, set aside some of the broth. The less broth, the thicker the soup.

For the Soup...

To the broth, add cauliflower, onion, & garlic. Allow to boil until cauliflower is soft & falls apart easily. While the vegetables are cooking in the broth, use two forks to remove the chicken meat from the bone and shred.

Once the cauliflower has cooked, remove from heat. Add the can of coconut milk. Using either a submersion blender (easiest option) or a regular blender, purée the vegetables, broth & coconut milk until smooth and creamy. Add the shredded chicken, thyme, and more salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the kale. Return to heat and simmer until the kale is wilted.

Pour yourself a hearty bowl and garnish however you wish-- hello crispy bacon!! ENJOY!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Venison Back Strap

These tender flavorful venison back straps are sure to please!

When my husband's uncle brought us some venison back strap, I was thrilled! What's so special about back strap? It. Is. So. Tender. Especially when prepared properly! Back straps are best cooked at high & fast, and served rare to medium rare. Grilling them is one of the best ways to prepare them, but unfortunately we live in an apartment and cannot grill, and I do not own an indoor grill or grill pan. The next best option is to broil, which was my chosen method.

"Properly prepared"also includes prep. So, let's get right down to the nitty gritty of venison prep.

Prepping Your Venison Back Straps

As with any cut of venison, you will want to trim off any white portions-- including fat. Venison fat doesn't taste good at all. Some deer that have lived in agricultural areas feeding on corn and soy crops can have good fat, but it's hit or or miss and you do not want to risk it! After you've trimmed the meat, soak it in salt water overnight. This draws out the blood from the meat. Place the meat in a large bowl. Fill with water to cover the meat and add 2 tablespoons of salt. After you've soaked the meat overnight, remove it from the salt water, rinse and pat it dry.

Marinading is a great way to tenderize your venison. This will make the back straps even more flavorful and tender. For these back straps I used a red wine based marinade. I always use wine when cooking venison. Not only does it add to the flavor, but the wine also acts as a tenderizer. You will want your meat to marinade for a minimum of 3 hours, but closer to 6 hours is better.

Back Strap Marinade (for 8 pieces)


1 liquid cup red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon are best)
1 liquid cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp sea salt


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Place your back straps in a large bowl or casserole dish. Pour marinade over the meat. Cover the dish well and place in the refrigerator. Allow to marinade for 3-6 hours. The longer the better.

Once your back straps have marinaded you're ready to get cooking!

Cooking Your Venison Back Strap


8 pieces of marinaded venison back strap
8 pieces of high quality bacon
Parsley (dried or fresh) for sprinkling


Turn oven broiler on high, make sure oven rack is in the middle. Wrap each piece of venison back strap in a piece of bacon. Sprinkle both sides with some parsley. Place in a pan and put into the hot oven. Broil on high for 5-7 minutes on each side until the internal temp reaches 125-135*F. Once finished, remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. The meat will continue to cook up another 5*F as it sits.

Serve with your favorite Paleo sides and ENJOY!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hot Beet Noodle Salad

Looking for a way to add a variety of vegetables to your plate? Look no further!

As most of you know, I'm currently obsessed with my spiralizer. My newest obsession are beet noodles. I mean, seriously. I loved beets before, but in noodle form they are so much better. I know it's all psychological, but still-- so much fun.

Fun, delicious and so so so good for you, beets really are a super vegetable to have as part of your regular diet. In this dish I paired them with everything but the kitchen sink-- beet greens (waste not want not), brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms, & garlic. That's why I'm calling it a salad! This dish is a fantastic way to get a variety of vegetables (and a fungus, too) on one plate-- and it's a one pan dish, not including the reduction, which is optional. You can simply serve this as a side, or you can top it with some grilled or sautéed chicken to make it a meal!

Don't have a spiralizer? Sad face, but never fear! Simply slice your beets thinly & then quarter the slices. This will help them cook up quickly in the pan.

In the directions, I have cooked up the other vegetables first & then removed them from the pan to cook the noodles. You can just throw the noodles into the pan with everything else to cooke them, but keep in mind they will turn everything pink! So if you are going for something aesthetically pleasing, I recommend cooking the beet noodles on their own.  If you wish to just throw it all in the pan, go ahead and add the beet noodles at the same time you add the greens & garlic for an al dente noodle. Add them earlier if you want your noodles softer.

Hope you enjoy!

Hot Beet Noodle Salad (serves 2 heartily)


3 medium beets with greens
4 slices of raw bacon chopped
1.5 cups brussels sprouts quartered
1.5 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 small yellow onion sliced (1/2 if large)
6 cloves garlic crushed
Salt & pepper to taste
1 liquid cup balsamic vinegar (for reduction, optional)


First, remove the greens from the beets. Break off the thick portion of the red stem. Rinse the greens and tear or chop into smaller pieces. Cut the ends off the beet root, and peel the beet root. At this point you can either spiralizer your beet roots as I have, or you can slice them thinly & then cut the slices into quarters. Set aside.

If making the balsamic reduction, pour balsamic vinegar into a pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a bubble and allow to cook until the liquid is reduced by half. You can let the liquid reduce while you are cooking the veggies.

In a pan over medium heat, combine chopped bacon, brussels, onion and mushrooms. Cook until almost done. When almost completely cooked, add the greens and crushed garlic. Add some salt and pepper to taste, and cook down the greens. Remove the vegetable mix from the pan.

To the same pan, if necessary, add a little more fat (I used additional bacon grease, but any Paleo friendly oil or fat will work). Toss in the beet noodles and season with a little salt and pepper. I like to use tongs to toss them while cooking. Cook to desired softness.

To Plate:

Place some noodles onto the plate. Top with the vegetable mixture. Drizzle it all with some balsamic reduction and ENJOY!