Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekly Menu

the usual: Costco, Aldi, & Trader Joe's

sausage & sweet potato hash
scrambled eggs, salsa
banana blueberry egg muffins
coffee, creamer

deli roll-ups (my version of these)
veggie chips
kale chips
apples & sunbutter or cream cheese dip

School snacks:
raisins, corn tortilla chips - no pirate's booty at Costco :(

After school snack:
not gonna call it this...

Monday - pineapple salsa slow cooker chicken - my own experiment :)
Tuesday - leftovers
Wednesday - zucchini spaghetti w/ meat sauce
Thursday - smoked pork loin, scalloped potatoes, & green beans (a freezer meal by someone else from the party I attended, borderline primal - I'll take that!)
Friday - sticky chicken, sweet potatoes, peas (make stock, use for the chili)
Saturday - chocolate chili, guacamole
Sunday - leftovers

All of a sudden, I am really wanting to get to a gym to get some coaching, I want to get stronger, and to have someone to educate and push me.  I know exactly where I want to go... now just need the $$$.  Story of our lives, right? :)

Summer is going to have a routine of its own around here, and won't slow down much.  But it will still be a change, and I am definitely looking forward to that!

If you missed it earlier, check out this new post by Katie on paleo freezer meals as promised! (I added a random, long ago photo at the last minute so that it would be pin-able... it's a little embarrassing that I am letting that photo circulate, but I think it serves its purpose.)

Maybe I'll make some fudge today.

Gluten Free Recipe Roundup via Musings of a Housewife
(visit for more ideas)

Paleo Freezer Meals: Tastefully Simplified

Does your counter look mine right after everyone walks in the door at the end of the day?  It would help to have dinner already made, right?

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special post by Katie Roose upon your request.  Don't worry, I am not about to give my blog over to a bunch of guest writers (I don't like when other people do that) or push direct sales.  Simply put: Katie is my friend and I think this can help us all.
I am definitely intrigued...
(Our weekly menu will be up later today as usual.) --Emily


Did you know that 81% of working moms don't know what's for dinner every night at 4:00pm? Although I don't have an 8-5 job, if I don't plan our weekly menu, I can relate to this statistic! My cue is usually when my husband texts, "What's for dinner tonight?" and I realize that I can't answer him until I scour the kitchen.

Even when I DO meal plan, taking the time to prepare a healthy meal from scratch during the "witching hour" is often tough. I have three small kids who are involved in football, tumbling and cub scouts, and quickie meals like mac 'n' cheese, corn dogs and chicken nuggets aren't an option in our house.

I prefer to plan ahead by having freezer meals assembled and ready to go on busy days or at a moment's notice. In fact, I've started hosting monthly Freezer Meal Workshops in my home to help others fill their freezers with quick, healthy meals. If you are a reader from Phoenix, I'd love to have you join us!  If not, I would love to help you from afar.

I'm not 100% on the Paleo bandwagon just yet, but I DO have a freezer meal plan to help those of you who follow a Paleo lifestyle. Emily mentioned last week that food is my "job" and that's true!  I am a consultant for Tastefully Simple. For those who are unfamiliar with us, we are a home-party business that sells products that can be made with two ingredients or less. And for those of you who are label readers, many of our products are all natural, so they are free of additives, preservatives or fillers and none of our products have added MSG.

Our seasonings and spices are particularly helpful for those who want flavor without adding a bunch of fat or sodium. For instance, one container of Garlic Garlic is the equivalent of 33 cloves of fresh garlic.  Our Onion Onion is the same as 10 small onions. (I always say that they are double named because they're very flavorful - a little goes a LONG way.)

The catch to this freezer meal plan is that you need Tastefully Simple products to make each recipe. But please don't feel tricked - this is honestly the only way I know how to make freezer meals and it's SO much faster to use dehydrated whole foods and less hassle than chopping, slicing and dicing onion after onion.

So if I haven't scared you off just yet, take a look at the Paleo meals I'd like to share with you...

Mediterranean Chicken Breasts
Asian Pork Tenderloin
Tasty Pork Chops and Apple
Simply Salsa Lime Chicken Strips
Mediterranean Fish
Sizzling Fajitas
Melt in Your Mouth Pot Roast
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Slow Cooker Spinach and Herb Meatballs

If you're interested in mixing it up in your kitchen with these new recipes, I would be happy to send you the grocery list and assembly instructions for all of these meals. Making all 10 meals (or 20 if you want to double everything!) will take you under 2 hours. Your freezer will be full of ready-to-cook Paleo meals that will help take the stress out of your busy evenings. 

Feel free to contact me directly to order the seasonings needed for the above recipes. Just for the Practical Paleo readers, when you purchase the six products below, I'm even going to throw in a half-priced Ultimate Steak Seasoning that is an amazing addition to your burgers, meatballs, salmon and steak. It's my favorite product from our new catalog!

Below is a list of the necessary products for this Paleo freezer menu:

Garlic Garlic
Onion Onion
Dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto Mix
Seasoned Salt
Simply Salsa
Spinach & Herb Mix

Once you've made the recipes in this Paleo freezer meal plan, you'll be hooked.  Many of our other freezer meal recipes can be tweaked to fit your Paleo family. When you're ready for more meal ideas, I would love to help!


Thanks, Katie!  Yum!  Will someone make those meals for me? ;)
In full disclosure to the rest of you, if you decide to order something within the next few weeks and mention you heard about it from me, I get the perks of being a "party hostess" which many of you know means I may get some product discounts.  I would have fun trying out those recipes and reviewing the products here!
To get the 1/2 priced steak seasoning, Katie told me you will need be sure to call or email her directly to place your order, so that she can manually add that to your order for you!  You gotta email her for the recipes anyways!
And now, her details and contact info:

Katie Roose is a busy homeschool mom to Ryan (8), Kaylin (6) and Jason (3). She is passionate about being a good "Household Manager" and loves to encourage women and parents in the areas of cooking, organizing, homeschooling and frugal living. She blogs at Intentionally Katie and is a Tastefully Simple consultant in her "free time". You can place orders for the products mentioned above on her website, plus get additional recipe ideas by liking her Facebook fan page.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ramblings + Weekly Menu

First, some tangents.  Several.

Women runners and cardio bunnies: read this.  And to be fair: here's a counter viewpoint.

These articles may make you think twice about how you are working towards your fitness goals.  There was a time when steady running was my therapy.  I would have been seriously worried if you told me I couldn't run distance the rest of my life.  I mean, I would just blow up into a balloon, right?  It is actually kind of a relief to me to read that first article, because my body doesn't hold up to distance running very well anymore (I know that sounds old).  But, I still love to work out, so don't worry, I'm not using that as an excuse to sit on my butt!  However, I have realized that after keeping food, sleep, and stress in check, working out is #4, not #1 on the list for me.  Anyways.  I went for a run on Tuesday.  Mostly just because I was feeling emotional about Monday's events and felt the need to get out and run because runners are a family.  There was a time when I had contemplated running a marathon.  I trained with friends who did, and I got a at least halfway through the training, but that was years ago.  Anyways, I apologize to anyone who may have seen me out trying to run on Tuesday, because I'm sure it wasn't pretty.  I didn't even make it 2 miles before I could feel old injuries cropping up, and I had to walk.  I was definitely disappointed.  I didn't even feel the runner's high.  I will stick to my sprints and weights, I guess.  I will celebrate the spirit of those who are enjoying the cleansing feel of a good run, very thankful for the times when I got to experience that, yet also grateful that I am not a slave to it for the rest of my life (and maybe better off because of that).

This podcast is worth listening to.  Jim is very confident ;) but rightly so.  It actually kind of builds upon the anti-chronic-steady-state-cardio article listed above.  Different guy, though.

Notes from last week's menu:
The tropical chicken burgers were delicious.  I was a little skeptical because they involved a good bit of chopping and prep and were kind of strange looking when cooked (which I recommend doing in a pan because they are gooey at first).  We all really enjoyed them, though, so the recipe is a keeper!  I had bought green onion, red pepper, and mango the week before when those items were on sale, with this recipe in mind.

I forgot to mention earlier, if you want to try the (expensive to me) Seeds of Change jalfrezi sauce, there is a Whole Foods coupon for it!  You may also be able to find the coupon at your Whole Foods store if they have any of the Whole Deal handouts left.  There is also a manufacturers coupon here.  I talked the checkout lady into trying this stuff.  She said she wasn't into Indian-ish cuisine and I said me neither, but this sauce is a good starting point, it is not spicy at all (even though it says it is).  I hope she likes it, too! :)

OK, thanks for listening thus far.  Now the food for this week.

I went to Trader Joe's (not pictured) and Aldi (pictured below) this weekend.  I spent about $70 at each place.  Four bags of drumsticks from Aldi are for a freezer meal party.

I want to go to Hy-Vee before Wednesday for shrimp and fresh brats.

Here's the plan.

breakfast bread (kids' favorite)
coffee w/ coconut milk

tuna & avocado salad stuffed mini peppers
nitrate free hot dogs
burgers w/ sauteed mushrooms
fudge babies (w/ sun butter for preschool)
carrots or sweet potato chips

middle eastern garlic chicken salad x2
super simple shrimp tacos
meatloaf, peas x2
primal chicken no-tortilla soup, avocados
bratwurst, sauerkraut, sweet potatoes

flourless chocolate cake (weekend)

Need more quick ideas for paleo family meals?  I have a plan and some posts in the works...

Have a good day!
(sharing recipes here!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Coming Soon... More Freezer & Slow Cooker Paleo Meals

Selfishly, I want some new, EASY, recipes for summertime.  I don't want to stand over the stove in the heat of the day at 5:00 - I want to be playing with my children!

Some people love to grill.  I am lazy and don't.  I am feeling a little un-American with that confession.  Although, I do like to eat grilled food, of course :)  My lazy method for grilling is using the broiler in the oven.  That works great for spring and fall.  But, even indoors that can feel a little hot in the middle of summer's blazing heat.  And still takes time away from other things.

So, the crock pot is my friend that allows to have a dinner waiting for us when we arrive home hungry and ready to eat after a day of work/camp/swimming.  I am currently collecting some simple slow cooker paleo recipes to have in our rotation this summer (or this spring for that matter!)  All of them you can prep beforehand on the weekend and freeze if you want... but most are so basic that you can throw them together in less than 10 minutes in the morning before you start your day.  No marathon freezer prep sessions required here.

Some old favorite freezer meals & tips (and some great reader suggestions in the comments) are listed in my previous freezer meals post... and many of them can be made or adapted to the slow cooker.  But honestly, I wrote that post as a starting point because I knew I wanted to build upon the (very) few ideas I had.

What I am looking for now are fresh ideas that move beyond the typical soups/chili, meat sauce, and taco filling.  My requirements: they must be simple, not expensive, tasty, and can cook from start to finish in the crock pot.  And P.S., they have to have zero to very minimal added sugar (Sooooo many of the slow cooker meals I have found on Pinterest are literally coated in sugar sauce.  Be aware!  They may be gluten free, but that doesn't mean they are good for you.)  I will be testing some new recipes out in the coming weeks.  It has taken some digging, but I think (hope) I have found some gems.  You may notice some on them on the menu plans in the coming weeks if you are keen.  Then, I will do a wrap up listing all the ones we like for easy reference for you and me! :)

I am also looking forward to a future post from a friend of mine who is a food/cooking expert.  Literally, it is her job :)  She will give us some great ideas for additional make-ahead paleo meals!

Sound good?  It does to me!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekly Menu

zucchini spaghetti

I really like these thoughts on health integrity here and here.  Basically, "own" your choices; accept responsibility.  If you want motivation and encouragement, read both of those articles.

By the way, these chicken nuggets were awesome.  It may be a very long time before I make them again, because I think frying things is a huge pain, but they were so good!

coffee w/ coconut milk

honeyed glazed chicken bites , easy paleo BBQ sauce - I finally posted it!
(no bacon because my kids don't like it wrapped like that)
tuna & avocado
celery & almond butter

School snacks: organic popcorn, unsweetened applesauce

My kids have been loving an after school snack lately of frozen blueberries, raspberries, some plain homemade yogurt from the farm, and a drizzle of honey.

Monday - zucchini spaghetti, meaty tomato sauce, salad, dressing
Tuesday - balsamic roast beef, simple roasted asparagus, salad
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - tropical chicken burgers (new recipe), pineapple, sweet potato fries
Friday - leftovers
Saturday - taco salad
Sunday - leftovers

I like to make a dessert on the weekends... this week's selection is gluten free peanut butter cookies.  It will be either these or these (with reduced sugar).  I would of course prefer the paleo option of almond butter or sun butter, but I only went to Aldi and Price Chopper, so am making do with peanut butter.  I'll be at Costco later in the week and get almond butter then.  Obviously if I eat these I am not being hardcore, but I am doing much better with my choices, and I feel good about it.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spicy Tomato Basil Mussels

Every time I mention to my husband how much I love mussels, he makes some variation of the same comment: "Of course you do. That's why you married me."


Lame jokes aside, I do love these little guys.  I worked at an awesome seafood restaurant in Boston for about a year back in the day and ate them all the time there.  But I am only just beginning to learn how to cook them at home.  See, I grew up in Nebraska.  And my parents both grew up in Iowa.  So we didn't have a lot of mussels growing up.  "Fish" in our house was frozen fish sticks.  

But thankfully we now have YouTube, which has AWESOME tutorials for how to prepare and store your mussels which lets this farmland beef and corn raised gal know what the heck she's doing with bivalves:

My husband and I did this together last night.  The only thing that she didn't explain clearly in the video is what to do if the mussel is already closed.  We just laid them out on our counter and waited very quietly.  Within a few minutes, they will begin to open up again if they are alive.  Some take longer than others; it's almost as if some of them are more skeptical!  

I love doing this kind of dish in the crockpot.  I think it's perfect for a busy day, because you have your mussels prepped in the fridge and the sauce simmering away in your crockpot, and all you need to do is add the mussels 30 minutes before you want to eat.  It's perfect for having company over for that exact reason, too.  Do almost all of the prep work ahead of time... and look like a rock star later.

Serves 4.

The Tools:

6 qt. crockpot

2 1/2 (ish) lbs. mussels
3 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallot cloves, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 T oregano
1/2 T basil
1/2 t black pepper
1 t paprika
dash red chili flakes
3/4 cup water

The Process:

In a large saute pan, heat up olive oil.  Cook garlic, shallots and mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, until garlic is just a bit brown and fragrant.  Scrape entire contents of the pan into your crockpot.

Add all remaining ingredients to your slow cooker except your mussels.  Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours, or on HIGH for 2-3 hours.  You're cooking until your mushrooms are fork tender and until the flavors meld together.

NOW - tackle those mussels just like the video above shows you how.  Not sure if it's alive or not?  If you're on the fence, toss it.  It's not worth getting sick over.  I bought 2 3/4 lbs originally, and ended up tossing 4 mussels total, leaving me with right at 2 1/2 lbs.  You should budget a bit of wiggle room and plan to throw out a few.

Once your mushrooms are cooked and your sauce is done, crank the crockpot up to HIGH.  Add cleaned mussels to the pot and secure lid tightly.  Cook for 30 more minutes.

Ladle your mussels into bowls with plenty of broth.  If any mussels didn't open up during cooking, toss those as well.  You don't want whatever is in there.  

Traditionally, you'd serve a dish like this with crusty bread to sop up the broth... but I just dig out all of the mussels, stir it into the broth and then eat it like a soup.  

Delicious!  Enjoy!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy Paleo BBQ Sauce

With grilling season right around the corner, this is a great little bit of info I found...

Tomato Paste + Balsamic Vinegar = Easiest Paleo BBQ Sauce Ever

Thank you random person who left a comment with this tip over on Mark's Daily Apple.

I made garlic pulled pork in the crock pot last week, and when it turned out a little dry, I knew my children would consume it much easier with some "dip".  I found this gem of advice.

Just mix some tomato paste (straight out of the can) with some balsamic vinegar (I get mine from Trader Joe's, and it is probably my most favorite paleo ingredient ever), and voila!, you have a thick and tangy sauce.  It is not exactly like bottled barbecue sauce, so adjust your expectations a bit, but we all agreed that it is quite tasty and will be relying on this recipe in the future.  What I love best is that it contains NO added sugars, it is super easy to make, it is inexpensive, and my children liked it!  I used approximately equal proportions of paste and vinegar.

I would like to experiment with adding some heat with some spices.  But in a pinch, just 2 ingredients will do the trick!

Traditional Burmese Pork Curry

Is it still called Burmese Food?  Or the Food Formally Known as Burmese Food?  Myanmar Food?
Whatever it's called, it's totally different from the other curries I usually make.  There's no cumin in this one.  From all the Googling I did, it seemed like the crucial elements of a Burmese Curry were tumeric, paprika, soy sauce and fish sauce.  So substitute some good old coconut aminos for soy sauce, and this dish was easy enough to paleo-ify and crockpot-icize.
Will and I both loved this, and Will asked if I can add it to the regular rotation of curries.  There's so much ginger and garlic and good spices in here, this is a perfect meal for the winter time, when the flu and other related yuckies are going around.
Serves 5-6.
The Tools:
6 qt. crockpot
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fish sauce
1 T coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
1 T ground tumeric
2 t ground paprika
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 lbs. boneless pork chops (about 5 large chops)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 lb. winter squash, cut into cubes
The Process:
First you plop your pork chops down in the crockpot.  I used 5 pork chops, or around 2 lbs. of meat.  It's more than okay to use pork that's been cut up, seared, or even just a 2 lb. pork loin or roast.  If I was really following directions, I would have chopped up the pork into bite-sized pieces before placing them in the crockpot.
But in my world, my crockpot means I do less work, not more work, so I didn't bother and just used the whole boneless pork chops.  I'm a rebel.  And sort of lazy at 6 AM when I'm making dinner.
Then you need to make your curry paste.  Combine garlic, fish sauce, coconut aminos, tumeric, paprika and ginger together in a small bowl.  Using a spoon, spread the paste over your pork chops in the crock.
Taking a decent picture of raw meat with a weird yellow paste on it at 6 AM with no natural light is just setting yourself up for epic photography failure.  Sorry.
Chop up your onions and spread them over the top of the paste.
Now you need to tackle your winter squash.  I used an acorn squash, and peeling and chopping it into cubes isn't so straightforward.  It's got those little bumps all over it, so you'd easily shave off a knuckle or two if you tried to do it with a vegetable peeler old-school.  So here's whatcha do...
First, cut it in half and scoop out the guts like normal. Then cut the squash like you would a cantaloupe, cutting exactly on the lines.
Now you can take your vegetable peeler and carefully peel the skin off.
And now you can cut the squash into pieces.
And then spread the squash pieces over the top of the onions.
You don't want to mix this dish together, you want the squash and onions to steam on top so they don't get too mushy.
Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours, or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Always check your meat to be sure it's done before serving.
Enjoy!  Stay well this flu season!

Cambodian Lime Ginger & Honey Ribs

I'm not sure if this picture even looks appetizing.  Don't let my general terrible-ness at photography deter you here.  This was really, really awesome.  I have mad paleo crockpotting skills.  I do not have mad photography skills.
I have sad photography skills.  Very, very sad.
Anyways, keeping mealtime interesting when paleo is all about wandering around the world.  Having an Italian themed dinner one night and the next night wandering over to Indonesia.  BBQ for lunch and Chinese (made with coconut aminos, of course) for dinner.
In keeping with the spirit of trying new things, try this recipe.
You won't be sorry.  If you are, send the leftovers to me.  Then you can be sorry and I can be happy and full.  Happy and full with lousy photographs.
The Tools:(adapted from Bon App├ętit, July 2009)
6 qt crockpot
2-3 lbs pork (or beef) ribs (mine were boneless country style pork ribs - any kind should work)
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, crushed
3 1/2 T honey
3 T coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
3 T fish sauce
1 T freshly grated black pepper
1 T salt
1/4 cup lime juice
for dipping sauce:
2 T lime juice
2 T coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
freshly cracked white pepper (to taste)
The Process:
I think it's always best to sear your ribs on the stove before putting them in your crockpot.  It's not absolutely essential, so if you're pressed for time, don't worry about it.  But if you can, go ahead and heat up some olive oil or butter on the stove and carefully sear your ribs in a saute pan for just a few minutes before placing them in the crockpot.
This was not a morning that I had extra time to sear.  So if you're doing the no-sear method, try to just use a paper towel to pat try the ribs and chuck 'em in the crock.
Mix all remaining ingredients (except ingredients for dipping sauce) together.  Pour marinade mixture over the top of the ribs.
Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
Make a simple dipping sauce by combining ingredients listed above and serve alongside the ribs.
Tip: Make the marinade the night before to save time in the morning!

Game Day Paleo Hot Wings

We don't really watch football.  Well, we don't really watch TV.  One of the ways we are saving money right now is by not having even basic television channels.  We have a TV that can play a few DVDs, and we watch a few of our favorite TV shows online here and there, but overall, we're a no TV house.
But I never pass up an opportunity for wings, which is why I love the Super Bowl.  I can EAT wings.  Lots of them.  And the spicier, the better.  When I was pregnant with my second, I requested that for Mother's Day, my husband take me out to the finest biker bar just west of Boston and buy me the biggest platter of hot wings they had.
(He happily obliged.)
These wings get the job done, and unlike eating wings out at restaurants, I can control every ingredient that goes in them, and so I know I'm getting a quality end product that won't hurt my stomach or make me feel badly.  There's a bit more prep with them, but serving wings from your CrockPot is a no-brainer when you're having a party: you can just leave it on WARM and they'll hold up for an hour or two, easily.
The Tools:
Baking sheet
Wire rack
6 qt crockpot
3 lbs. chicken wings or legs (or combination thereof)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
The Process:
Set oven to BROIL.  Let it heat up for about 10 minutes, then place your chicken on an oven-safe wire rack and broil on each side for about 5 minutes until it's crispy.
While your chicken is broiling away, go ahead and microwave your butter until it's all melted.  Add the hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, paprika and black pepper.  Put aside.
Butter the bottom and the sides of your crockpot.  When the chicken is crispy on both sides, go ahead and plop it in the crock.
Dump your sauce over the top and flip your wings around until they get nice and sauce-y.
Cook on HIGH for 2 hours, making sure chicken is thoroughly cooked before serving.  You can even break the cardinal crockpot rule with this one and carefully stir up the sauce and wings once or twice during cooking time, BUT PLEASE REMEMBER to use a fresh spoon every time.  No re-using utensils with raw or semi-cooked poultry, please!
Serve them out of the crockpot stoneware on WARM.  Enjoy!  And if I knew who was playing tomorrow, I'd insert some comment about it here.  But I don't.  So.... Go Football!  (Thank you for making it socially acceptable for me to eat a pound of wings in one day!!)

Green Chile Chicken & Lime Soup

It's still cold.  It's still rainy.  It's still dark outside.  It's still flu season, and this one is particularly nasty apparently.  Will is in mega-crunch mode right now with publications and school and consulting and I don't want him getting too worn down.
So it's bone broth soup time.
I love soup days.  I toss everything in my crockpot while I make our breakfast, and by 7 AM I'm usually done cooking for the day.
Throw this together in the morning and come back to a lovely, warm-you-up-on-the-inside soup at night.  It's tangy and spicy and oh-so-delicious, and perfect if you're battling any sort of sniffles or if you're just a tad run down.
Serves 6.
The Tools:
6 qt. crockpot
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 big tomato, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
6 cups chicken bone broth
5 oz can diced green chilies
2 lbs. chicken, cooked and shredded
1/3 cup lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
dash sea salt
dash freshly ground black pepper
for garnish:
avocado slices
bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
The Process:
Throw all ingredients (except garnishes) in the crockpot.
Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
Ladle into bowls, and stir in a small handful of cilantro and top with a few fresh avocado slices.
Enjoy, and stay warm and healthy!

Paleo Crockpot Bananas Foster

I can say this is "paleo" only while laughing.  You can take all sort of paleo ingredients and figure out ways to combine them in definitively un-paleo ways to make only marginally "healthy" and super sugary dishes.
This is definitely one of those "paleo" dishes with huge quotation marks around it.  BUT!  If you're looking for something special or want to wow some dinner guests without breaking into grains or dairy or gluten territory, you definitely want to give this recipe a try.
It's absurdly delicious.
The Tools:(recipe adapted from Skinny Ms.)
4 qt. crockpot
4 bananas, medium firmness
1 heaping T coconut oil
1 T lemon juice
3 T honey
large pinch of cinnamon
small pinch of nutmeg
tiny pinch of cloves
dark rum (optional: for drizzling)
The Process:
Place coconut oil, lemon juice, honey and spices in the crockpot.  Turn on HIGH and wait for it to melt and mix it all together.
Turn the crockpot back to LOW.
Slice the bananas into 1/4" thickness pieces and add them to the crockpot.  Using a spoon, carefully slosh the honey mixture all over the bananas.
Cook on LOW for 1.5 hours - 2 hours.  I stopped mine right at 1 hour, 45 minutes and it was perfect.
When you serve it, make sure to scrape the honey mixture from the bottom of the crockpot and pour it over the bananas.  Drizzle a touch of dark rum over the top if you want to indulge a bit more.

Herb & Mustard Slow Cooked Pork Roast

I've been wearing my fleece vest for about seven weeks straight now, and the native Seattle folk assure me that this dreary weather will stick around until sometime in early July.  Apparently June is called "June-uary."  I can see why coffee is so popular here.  All you want to do is curl up with a book and a cup of espresso.
And eat slow cooked roast.
I love roast in my crockpot.  Sure, it's totally the boring and safe thing that EVERYONE does in their crockpot, but there's a reason: it's hard to mess up, you have a lot of wiggle room in cooking time, it tastes great and it makes a lot of food.  Here's a lovely variation on a slow cooking standard for that next rainy, dreary day when you want a hearty dinner.  Will said this was one of my best roasts ever... and that's saying something because I make a LOT of roasts.
The Tools:
6 qt. crockpot
2-3 lb. pork roast (beef would work, too)
4 T mustard
4 T olive oil
1 1/2 T coconut aminos (or wheat free soy sauce)
1 T dried oregano
1 t dried tarragon
1 t dried basil
The Process:
Plop your roast in your crockpot.
Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust accordingly, if you wish.
Pour mixture over the roast.
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours and serve with steamed veggies.  Maybe make a paleo apple crisp for dessert for good measure.  (It's winter comfort food, after all, right?)

Portugese Kale & Sausage Soup

Ah, how I love my Kindle.  Best Christmas present this year, by far!  (Thanks, Mom & Dad!)  Why do I love it so much?  Because I can check out library books remotely and read them.  And then return them.  All from my couch in my pajamas.  And my library has a ton of digital cookbooks available to check out.  Pure awesomeness.
I found a book called Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever and decided to give it a whirl.  Sure, it has a lot of the standard "how to make a stew" and "best pot roast" recipes, but it also has some really easy to paleo-ify gems in it.  Great beginner crockpot book, for sure, but also just great for inspiration.
This recipe was adapted from this cookbook, and it's a perfect spicy stew for a simple weeknight dinner.
The leftovers hold up well, so make extra for lunches, etc.
Serves 5-6.
The Tools:(adapted from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever)
6 qt. crockpot (don't go any smaller - this one really packs the ingredients in!)
12-ish oz. andouille sausage, chorizo or smoked sausage of your choice (I used 5 links of the Trader Joe's smoked andouille sausage)
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, chopped into uniform pieces
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into uniform pieces (mine were red potatoes)
5 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 oz. kale, tough stems removed and torn up into small-ish pieces
The Process:
If your sausage is already cooked, just go ahead and cut it up into bite-sized pieces and toss it in your crockpot.  If not, toss some olive oil in a saute pan and brown it.  Then slice it into pieces and toss it in your crockpot.
Now saute the onion in some olive oil on your stove top before adding it to the crockpot.  (This step isn't totally necessary, but I find that it helps if you're prone to getting indigestion or a bit of heartburn with onion.  If you have no problems with onion, go ahead and just chuck it in your crockpot raw.  If you get heartburn every now and then, saute them.  Up to you!)
Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot, saving the kale for last.  Your crockpot should be pretty packed at this point, so it's perfectly fine if some of the veggies and if the kale on top aren't submerged; they will steam away and cook just fine.
Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, until potatoes and carrots are fork-tender.