Sunday, June 30, 2013

Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Syrup

You've heard of Christmas in July? Well, this is Thanksgiving in July!

I dreamed-up this recipe when we were testing the turkey EPIC Bar. CaveBoy and I agreed that turkey just doesn't taste right unless it is seasoned like Thanksgiving. That means poultry seasoning, garlic, rosemarie, mushrooms, onions, herbes de provence... all the things that go into a great Thanksgiving dressing, or make the turkey shine. Much like the mere mention of pizza sends craving-waves though CaveBoy's stomach, the Thanksgiving discussion had me dreaming of meaty-savory-creamy-and-tart.

Unfortunately, there just isn't enough demand for whole young turkeys to keep them stocked in the summertime. And for good reason. Nobody wants to keep their oven on all day in the middle of the summer. Nobody. Now, CaveBoy and I spatchcock our bird and cut the cooking-time in half, but still. As much as I wanted the taste of Thanksgiving, I didn't want to roast a turkey, either.

I originally intended for this to be a turkey burger recipe (a perfect opportunity to practice my grilling skills), but that didn't work out this morning. I made a slight pivot and converted the recipe into a meatloaf. It tastes great! Truly, I think I hit it out of the park. But I'll let you be the judge of that.

Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Syrup

I went a little crazy with the sauces, and put them on everything!


3 1/2 lbs ground turkey
2 yellow onions, diced
10 oz white mushroom, diced
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups cranberry juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemarie
salt and pepper


In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute until it becomes translucent. Add diced mushroom and cook until all the water has evaporated and the mushroom begins to brown. Season with a pinch of salt, a few shakes of pepper, garlic powder, dried rosemarie, and 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning.

While the veggies are cooking, place ground turkey in a large baking dish. Once the veggies are done cooking add them to the baking dish and let stand until it is cool enough to touch. Return the skillet to the stove and add chicken stock. Gently scrub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any seasoning "solids" that might be stuck on the pan. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning then reduce the sauce until it is about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the veggies are cool enough to touch, use your hands to mix the veggies with the meat. Press the meatloaf into the baking dish. Cook in a 350 degree oven until the juices are clear. About a hour. 

While the meatloaf is cooking, whisk cranberry juice together with honey in a small sauce pan. Place over medium heat. Reduce the sauce until it is about 1/3 cup. It should be the consistency of melted honey. Set aside.

Cut the meatloaf into 4 oz portions and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of reduced chicken stock and 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce. Serve with mashed cauliflower. Makes 15 4 oz portions.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Super-Simple Honey Mustard Dipping-Sauce

Have you found that since you changed your lifestyle and started paying even more attention to nutrition labels, that you basically can't eat anything unless you make it yourself? I feel ya. This is particularly problematic when it comes to dressings and sauces. The ingredients that make them shelf-stable and homogeneous in the bottle also are the ingredients that send my system into a tailspin (and not the good kind).

I do make some exceptions. I'll still buy a sauce if it only contains a small amount of (gasp!) canola oil. But I draw the line at high fructose corn syrup, or any soy-derived ingredient. Which pretty-much eliminates 98.26% of the grocery store sauce aisle (what? you don't bring your calculator to the grocery store? hmmm...).

Luckily, there are some solutions out there.

Tessemae's has a line of Whole30-approved olive oil-based sauces that are pretty tasty. I especially enjoy the Zesty Ranch for a quick cole slaw. But because of the oil base, they don't provide the creaminess that I've come to expect from my favorite dips. And they're not quite available nation-wide, although they do take online orders.

Mark Sisson published a cookbook devoted to sauces, dressings, and toppings and my favorite paleo cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods, has a section on sauces that taste pretty great. Be prepared, tho, because some of these recipes can be pretty involved. The PCF ensalada sauce basically took all day (but it was so worth the effort).

And last-but-not-least, I invented a delicious and creamy super-simple honey mustard dipping sauce.

You're welcome!

Super-Simple Honey Mustard Dipping-Sauce

Quick. Find some paleo chicken fingers!


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons stone ground mustard
1 heaping tablespoon raw honey (this is the important part - it must be the solid, opaque raw honey)
Salt and pepper


In a small bowl (I used a juice glass) combine olive oil and mustard. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper to taste. Mix with a spoon.  Add raw honey and mix thoroughly with a spoon (don't be afraid to use a little gusto!) until it becomes a homogeneous, creamy sauce, and the oil no longer separates from the mustard. TahDah! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tangy Shaved Brussels Sprouts

On Saturday, I learned how to use my apartment community grill. I know what you're thinking, "she's so capable, how is it possible that Silly Little CaveGirl doesn't know how to grill?" And you're right! Sometimes I take silly right to the edge of ridiculous.

In my defense, it is a gas grill with an underground gas line and no spark starter. So I had to learn how to (safely) introduce a flame and get things going. It turns out, it's not as terrifying as I expected. And now I am ready to rock-and-roll.

As proud as I am of myself, you're probably not going to see a ton of grilled-meat recipes on this blog. Let's face it, grilling season is really side-dish season. Nothing can compete with a great piece of grass-fed beef cooked over an open flame. Nothing. Ever. And I refuse to insult your intelligence by posting a recipe for grilled ribeye.

Side-dishes, on the other hand, can be tricky (in that the old-standbys get boring after a while). Sweet potato fries are a natural choice; and who can resist a paleo Steak Frites? But after a few meals, you're going to want to jazz things up. Of course, you could do a salad with homemade dressing (ok, now I'm getting hungry). But what if you're in the mood for something a little darker? Enter Tangy Shaved Brussels Sprouts (aka salad's slightly-bitter older brother).

True-to-form, CaveBoy asked me to double the sauce next time, but I like the hint of vinegar and mustard and worry that too much olive oil would be too much. Agree to disagree.

Tangy Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Cute, right?


1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In an oven safe skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and cook until they just start to brown. Add shaved brussels sprouts. Saute brussels sprouts until they brown. About 10 minutes.  Place skillet in heated oven to continue cooking. After 5 minutes stir. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

While the brussels sprouts are in the oven prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, combine remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ground mustard and garlic. Stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. I prefer a medium pinch of salt and a few shakes of pepper. Set aside until brussels are done cooking

Once the brussels are done cooking, return the skillet to the stovetop. Give the balsamic sauce one final stir to combine and the pour over the brussels. It will sizzle a little. Stir the brussels sprouts until the sauce is evenly distributed. Serve and enjoy. Makes 2 servings (yes, only two! Sometimes CaveBoy and I actually get to cook together).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CaveLife: CaveSnacks for Your Backpack

For Christmas this year I bought CaveBoy an entry into the GORUCK Challenge  It's something he has wanted to do for about three years, ever since he stumbled upon their ruck in his search for the perfect backpack.  And PS, it is the perfect backpack. It has everything you need, nothing you don't, and comes in a few sizes and colors.

My GORUCK Echo. Notice: no external pockets,
pouches, or otherwise-useless-dangling-bits.

But back to CaveBoy. This GORUCK event posed a unique nutritional challenge. How do you CaveFuel during an all-night physical challenge that requires you to carry everything you need (and six bricks) in a single ruck?

The aftermath. You can't really tell, but everything is soaking-wet and mud-caked.
The overnight low was 40 degrees.

Three years ago, he would have  grabbed a couple flavors of Gu, made a quick pass through the protein bar aisle, filled up his camel back bladder, and called it a day.  No longer!  Trust me. Once you prime your body to expect real food, it gets pretty pissed-off when you shove it full of sugar and chemicals. That just wouldn't do.

So, with low expectations we made a stop at the running store's wall-of-Gu. During our periodic trips to buy new Nano 2.0s we had noticed they were diversifying their race-fuel and recovery selection, and thought they might have something that would work.  We were pleasantly surprised (actually pretty-damn exited) when we found these!

Real food in a handy package (on a dark and stormy night, apparently)!

Perfect right? We hoped! Turns out (and spoiler-alert if you're preparing for your own GORUCK) there's really no chance to eat anyway. But CaveBoy was thankful to have a ruck full of snacks for the wet-and-dirty ride home.

Since the GORUCK, we've been gearing-up for Summer and all the hikes, and sporting events, and airplane-rides-to-vacation-hot-spots that come with it. What that really means is we've been sampling new and delicious, portable, CaveFuel to bring along on our adventures outside the Cave (and thankfully also outside the cubicle).

Here are the results.

CaveBoy's Backpack-Snack Review

Pocket Fuel Naturals

Description: 1.8 oz pouches of nut butter and honey, flavored with fruit, coffee, or chocolate. Each pouch is about 150 calories, with 5 g of sugar and 5 g of protein.

Cost: $27.50 for a box of 10 in single flavor or variety packs. They also come in larger sizes.

CaveBoy's Comments: I like 'em. I like the chocolate and espresso ones the best. The honey was really good, too. The texture was like grainy almond butter, but that's what it's for. You hork 'em down and get good energy. You can't really eat 'em in the middle of working hard. You gotta eat 'em before you go (or take them along on more leisurely outings).

CaveBoy also recommends soaking the pouches in warm water as soon as you get them, to help the re-combination process. While on the shelf, the oil separates from the natural nut butter. You have to knead them to recombine the mixture, otherwise you end up with a mouth-full of almond oil on your first swig. You'll still have to knead the packets before eating, but pre-combining them at purchase-time will greatly shorten that process (which is important when you're hungry).

Find Pocket Fuel at your local running store and online.

Epic Bars
Description: Thick, seasoned jerky bars sweetened with fruit.

Cost: $34 for a box of 12 in a single flavor, or $8.50 for a 3 bar variety pack.

CaveBoys Comments: The bison and beef were damn good. I liked the beef one the best. The seasoning for the turkey was off; I liked it but it wasn't my favorite. The texture is good for a bar. I took some sips of water when I was eating them, but they weren't dry. 

Find Epic bars at a handful of locations and online.

Steve's PaleoGoods PaleoKrunch Bars
Description: Tastes like your favorite granola, only grain-free (read: better!) and compressed into a portable bar.

Cost: $14.50 for 5 Bars.

CaveBoy's Comments: The bacon bar had a very tasty bacon-y flavor. It was a little oily, but I enjoyed it. It was a tasty snack.

Find PaleoKrunch Bars online.

That's It Bars
Description: A thick, chunky fruit leather with only two ingredients, pictured right on the front of the wrapper.

Cost: $19.99 for 12 in a single flavor, or $21.18 for a 12 bar variety pack.

CaveBoy's Comments: They were tasty and kind-of tart. Pretty good. But there's not any protein in them, so it's not a good snack by itself. 

CaveBoy recommends pairing That's It bars with beef jerky or another protein source.

Find That's It bars at Whole Foods and online.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Twenty-Minute Tomato Sauce

Okaaaaay. It's really twenty-two minute tomato sauce if you count the time it takes to assemble all the ingredients. But that's still pretty-damn-fast. Italians will probably want to look away, as I'm sure I'm committing a major crime against food and culture. But why take all day about it if you don't have to? Right? Right.

Tomato sauce probably is CaveBoy's favorite food. Well, sauce in general. I make sure to double-sauce my meatloaf and he still adds more sauce when he reheats his portion. He sent me back to the drawing-board the first time I made Sesame Chicken saying, "it tastes great, but needs more sauce." I've even caught him digging in the refrigerator for half-used jars of marinara to put on roasted veggies at the end of the week.

Unfortunately for CaveBoy, we usually don't have jars of marinara hanging around (that was the old Cave). Too often store-bought jars of sauce have sugar, or soybean oil, or preservatives that I prefer to avoid. And the ones that don't have those things cost more than twice as much!

Fortunately, we do have air-tight containers and now this beautiful recipe. Make a batch, divide it into two- or three-cup portions and freeze. You'll have a tangy tomato sauce at your fingertips, and all the convenience of a store-bought jar.

This sauce goes great with everything!


1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
3 15 oz cans tomato sauce
2 cans tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy. Makes about 8 cups. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Coconut Cream CavePie

As you know by now, I work in a cubicle. In a basement. And I work long hours (way more hours than I get paid to work). And I love my job (and I know I am super lucky to be able to say that). But it can be hard on the body-mind-soul. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out they were sending me to Hawaii for work (SO EXCITED!). I jumped through administrative hoops and I scheduled a full agenda of meetings. Hell, I even packed (you can tell where this is going, can't you?).

I was supposed to leave this morning. But then, at 9 PM on Friday night, the trip was canceled.

SadFace doesn't even begin to describe it...

So yes, I'll admit, I threw a little hissy-fit (at least at that late-hour, it happened in the relative-private of my apartment - sorry CaveBoy!). And after that was over, I got down to the business of canceling a long-planned trip. Even though it would seem that each hotel room, or flight, or meeting I canceled would reinforce my sour mood, it didn't. The activity actually generated the forward momentum I needed to get out of my funk.

In my training as a Personal Defense Readiness coach, we spend a lot of time on fear management. One of the key learning tools creates an acronym out of the word FEAR: Failure Expected Action Required. You feel fear because you anticipate failure (in whatever realm) and the consequences that come with that. The only way to overcome fear (and thereby avoid the "inevitable" consequence) is to take action.

Even though I didn't exactly feel fear when my trip was canceled, I absolutely was in the emotional dumps because of the consequences of canceling such an endeavor. Action was required! So naturally, after I finished dealing with United Airlines, my next decision was to make a paleo coconut cream pie.

What? You don't follow my logic? Let me break it down...

1) Cooking is one of my favorite activities. It takes creativity and precision, requires both sides of my brain, and provides a tangible (and delicious) reward for my efforts. If any action will do, I'll choose to take action in my kitchen.
2) CaveBoy loves pie (well, all food, but pie is a food). Knowing how much he is going to enjoy what I cook provides an immediate double-whammy emotional boost. Gift-giving releases endorphins and, as we all know, endorphins make you happy. That's science.
3) I tend to eat my feelings, as I suspect we all do to some degree. Why else would we spend so much time trying to figure out what to eat to feel and look our best? If starvation was satisfying, we would just do that. Right? 
4) Saturated fat is particularly emotionally satisfying. Hello, coconut!

Makes perfect sense now, right?

Even though this pie was dreamed-up out of necessity - to preserve my sanity and emotional health - it tastes as if it were created in celebration! The subtle flavors and creamy texture are a joy to the palate. And the buttery, crispy crust is a delight. I almost regret sharing the true origin of this recipe. Forget you ever read any of this. Pretend I instead told a story about a birthday party. With puppies. And balloons. On the beach.

Deal? Thanks.

Coconut Cream CavePie

You wish you were CaveBoy right now, don't you?

For the Crust:


7 tablespoons salted grassfed butter*
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Coconut oil spray


You'll recognize some of the ratios and steps from my Key Lime CavePie. Consider this version a variation-on-a-theme and more-of-a-good-thing.

Grease a pie plate with coconut oil spray. Melt the butter and honey in a skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and, stirring continuously, toast the coconut until it is a uniform golden brown. Transfer the toasted coconut to the greased pie plate and let cool enough to touch.  Once it is "cool" (the coconut should still be quite warm for this step) press the coconut into the pie plate, creating a crust. Refrigerate crust while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling:


10 eggs
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup canned coconut milk
1/3 cup pineapple juice**
1 tablespoon spiced rum


The filling needs to be made in two separate batches that are then folded together. For the first batch, in an un-heated medium sauce pan whisk together 5 eggs, 1/3 cup coconut oil, 1/3 cup coconut milk, and rum. Once fully combined, place over medium heat and whisk continuously until the filling begins to thicken. Lift from heat and continue to whisk until the filling is thick (about the consistency of home-made pudding). Transfer into a medium bowl. 

Rinse sauce pan with cold water. Then, for the second batch, whisk together 5 eggs, 1/3 cup coconut oil, and 1/3 cup pineapple juice. Once fully combined, place over medium heat and whisk continuously until the filling begins to thicken. Lift from heat and continue to whisk until the filling is thick. Transfer the filling into the same medium bowl and gently stir to combine the two batches. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Pull out the cold pie crust and chilled filling. Spoon the filling into the crust and smooth the surface. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Serves 8 (or 1 depending on how many feelings you need to eat).

*Note1: You can substitute coconut oil and a pinch of salt for the grassfed butter.
**Note2: If you're my sister, substitute 1/3 cup coconut milk and 1 tablespoon raw honey for the pineapple juice.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nutrition and Exercise (By Request)

I received a blog request!! I rarely even receive blog comments (it's OK I track my impact in other ways...) so to receive a comment and a request is a big deal here at Silly Little CaveGirl.

Sharon said: This looks amazing (yay!), will definitely be trying it soon. I have a blog request... Just started Insanity, and am constantly hungry (been there). I need some help getting my daily intake and menu adjusted. I love your first postings (like this one and this one) that broke down your snacks/meals etc... can you do an updated one? Love this blog (thanks!), and love your results (double thanks!) - keep up the good work! 

First Sharon, congratulations on starting Insanity, but be careful! That was my gateway-drug to CrossFit. You're on a slippery slope, my dear. In fact, when your 60 days are over, if you want to try some CrossFit-style workouts that can be done (for the most part) in your living room, check out My little sister also slipped down the slope from Insanity directly into Bodeefit.

But back to you. I know how you feel. Every time I increase my training level, I feel like I'm starving. So I eat more food. After a week-or-so I settle into eating enough food to match my training level, and the hunger pangs go away. It may seem counter-intuitive. We're supposed to diet and exercise, right? I wish they would change that slogan to nutrition and exercise. It would eliminate the (false) presumption that we should be limiting calories.

Pass it on!

Because you'll notice, that's one thing I don't do. I don't limit calories. I don't even count calories anymore (except for right now, because you asked me to). I eat good foods, mostly fats and protein, tons of veggies for vitamins, no sugar and no grains, and let the universe take care of the rest.

One Day of CaveFeeding

The contents of my lunchbox.

On a normal day, I wake up and drink a cup of coffee while I lazily watch Morning Joe. After about a half-hour, I get ready, pack my lunchbox (and CB's lunchbox) and head out the door. I eat my breakfast - two eggs scrambled with about 1/3 strip of bacon, diced onion and jalapeno - at my desk. Sometimes I drink another cup of coffee, but I've been trying to cut back. 

Lunch this week is 4 oz of meatballs with 3/4 cup roasted veggies and 1/2 cup tomato sauce. I try to climb out of my basement cubicle and eat lunch in the cafeteria (or outside!) with CB. About an hour before I head home, I eat my snack - two boiled eggs, half an apple, and a few carrot sticks. I also try to drink as much ice-water as I can throughout the day.

Once I get back home, I'll munch on a few plantain chips or some dried fruit while I check my email and see what the world's been up to on Facebook. Then I re-heat dinner - 4 oz Sesame Chicken and 1/2 cup broccoli with Fried "Rice". Sometimes I multi-task while I eat and catch up on the Kardashians or see what trouble Dinozzo is getting himself into. Then I work on the blog (it's kind-of a nice life, really).

On the days I workout, when I get home from the gym, I make a half-batch of Bulletproof Coffee (well, my poor-girl's version with 1 cup coffee, 1 tablespoon grassfed butter, and 1 tablespoon coconut oil). I sip that while I get ready and bring it with me in the car to work. It often lasts well-past when I arrive at my desk.

I eat 1600-1800 calories every day.

It took me a long time to get used to eating so much volume. After spending a lifetime thinking 1100 calories was too much, when I tried to jump straight to 1800 calories I felt like I was force-feeding myself. Instead, I increased my intake to 1300 calories-a-day for a week, then 1400 calories-a-day for a week, etc.

If you're starving, you're probably not eating enough to support your activity level. I recommend you log on to and see how much you're eating. You might be surprised by how little it is. Often people forget to replace all the calories they lost when they quit eating grains. So that's step number one. 

If you find you're eating a "normal" amount, but you're still hungry now that you've started a new workout routine, try increasing your calories by adding a little good fat (eat an avocado with breakfast, or one extra egg, for example). And stay far-far-away from sugar and grains.

I hope that helps!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

(Almost) Paleo Fried "Rice"

Seriously. How much punctuation can you put in a single title? I'm clearly testing the limits...

First, let me be clear. I like rice. I don't want anybody to say that I'm down on rice, ever. I like sushi rice, and Thai rice noodles, and Pho rice noodles. Rice is awesome. It isn't as bad for you as wheat, corn, oats, etc, and is not even really a "cheat" if you're healthy and active. So why not just make regular fried rice?

Because rice is very starchy. Too much rice makes me feel puffy and upsets my stomach, so that just wouldn't do for a week of meals. White rice also has a high glycemic load, still causes some inflammation, and doesn't provide much by way of vitamins and minerals. It's great for a night out at an Asian restaurant (and let's be honest, rice only really tastes good at an Asian restaurant), but it's nothing to eat every day.

Cauliflower, on the other hand, has a low glycemic load, is anti-inflammatory, and is a great source of vitamins C, K, B6, and the all-important folate. So if you can make cauliflower taste as good as fried rice, wouldn't you?

Now you can!

(Almost) Paleo Fried "Rice"

Trust me. This tastes exactly like fried rice, but without the tummy ache.


2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 yellow onions, diced
2 cups green peas (not paleo but not the worst either- omit if you're keeping it super strict)
3 eggs, beaten with a fork
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange cauliflower florets on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil then season with a few shakes of salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until cauliflower is tender and begins to brown. About 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to touch. 

Shred cauliflower (I put the florets in the bowl of my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and let the paddle attachment do the work for me. You also could run a knife through the florets until they are chopped into rice-sized pieces). Set aside.

In a large skillet heat two tablespoons olive oil. Add diced onion and cook until translucent. Season with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, a large pinch of salt, and a few shakes of pepper. Add shredded cauliflower, peas, and beaten egg. Stir well. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until the peas are warmed through* - this is your indication that the egg also is fully cooked. Re-season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 10 servings.

This recipe is a great side to accompany stir fry, or sesame chicken, or you could toss in some shredded chicken or pork and make it a meal.

*Note: If you're skipping the peas to keep the dish strict paleo, you'll have to use  your best judgment about when the egg is fully cooked. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sesame Chicken

The Whole30 is over! CaveBoy and I had a very successful month. I am now wearing a smaller size than I ever imagined possible (which doesn't make my bank account very happy - but sure makes it easy to decide what to wear in the morning, now that my choices are so limited).

CaveBoy has had consistently great workouts and hit a PR jerk this morning. We celebrated our success with one of the only take-out foods we still eat: gluten-free, cheese-free pizza (what can I say? We went buck-wild). But then again, our choices are pretty-much limited to nada-pizza, Thai food, and lettuce-wrapped burgers. Not that I'm complaining, those foods are amazing!

But we do miss Chinese food. The Chinese restaurant down the hill from our Cave is delicious. That restaurant is single-handedly responsible for CaveBoy continuing to eat wheat for over a year after I cut it out of my life.

A while back, I was sitting in traffic thinking about food (it's what I do during the commercial breaks) and began to wonder if I could make something approximating Chinese food out of the apricot fruit spread and sriracha in my refrigerator. When I found sesame oil at Trader Joe's, the deal was done.

Sesame Chicken

Don't tell the Chinese restaurant down the hill, but I like my version better!


3 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 large heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup sesame oil (don't freak out! it's on the good list)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 heaping cup no-sugar-added apricot fruit spread (like this one or this one)
1/2 cup Sriracha (you can either sharpie over the ingredients list, or make your own paleo sriracha)
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
3 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange chicken in a baking dish. Season with a few healthy shakes of salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, paprika and poultry seasoning. Bake until chicken is fully-cooked. About 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to touch. Once cool, slice into bite-size chunks. Set aside.

While the chicken is cooking, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt (a punch of salt, really). Place a large colander in the sink. Dump half of the broccoli florets into the boiling salt water. Cook for 45 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, take the florets from the boiling water to the colander. Run under cold water until the broccoli stops steaming (you're blanching baby).* Allow the salt water to return to a boil.  Repeat the process with the second half of the florets. 

For the sauce. In a small sauce pan, over low heat, whisk together sesame oil, olive oil, apricot fruit spread, sriracha, 2 teaspoon garlic powder, two big pinches of salt, and a few shakes of pepper. Be careful not to overheat the sauce or it will splatter everywhere (trust me).

In a large bowl, toss together sliced chicken, broccoli, and sauce. Add the toasted sesame seeds and toss again to distribute. Makes 10 servings.

*Note: Well, not technically. But, if you're like me and your ice-maker is broken (but you have too much good stuff in the freezer to contemplate unplugging the refrigerator for a weekend to get it fixed), this is how to get it done. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

CaveLife: Maintaining Strength (Spoiler Alert)

"There is no such thing as 'firming and toning.' There is only stronger and weaker."

My CrossFit gym offers two membership types: unlimited and 3x per week. I started out with an unlimited membership and attended as often as physically possible for over a year. I made significant improvements in strength, weight, speed, and health. I was laser-focused on my fitness goals, and achieved them! But I also was exhausted.

At the beginning of 2013 (with my work-life balance tipped fully toward work, and no reprieve in sight) I took a hard look at my logbook and my average-hours-of-sleep each night, and decided enough was enough. I reduced my membership to 3x per week, but committed myself to making all 3 workouts, thinking that I would be able to maintain the strength gains I had fought so hard to achieve.

Five months later, I'm still stronger than I was when I first found CrossFit, but I'm weaker than I was in December. Coach BJ asked me what I thought I was missing, when he noticed my new-found difficulty during a recent strength workout. The answer was one word: reps. It turns out (and this is the spoiler alert), if you're not building strength, you're losing it. There is no in-between, no maintenance, no coasting. Only growing, or weakening. 

Interestingly (ironically?) I'm leaner than I was in December, and looking at me you would think I should be stronger because my muscle tone is much-improved. I attribute that to solid nutrition and increased sleep. And because my goal always has been to feel and look as healthy as humanly possible, I'm still succeeding! I may not get to use the red "PR" marker very much anymore, but I still PR in life everyday.

It's kind-of my motto.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Strawberry Daiquiri Cake

When I told my little sister about my pineapple cake recipe her response was, "why don't you ever make anything I can eat?" And she makes a valid point. While most of my savory recipes are LittleSister-safe, my treats are decidedly not. LittleSister and I both are intolerant of wheat, corn, dairy, chocolate, and nuts. But the poor girl also is allergic to bananas, pineapple, and citrus fruits. Banana chocolate chip cookies and key lime pie are off the menu.

This summer, LittleSister and I are traveling to our family vacation at the beach. In addition to our plans to eat tons of nutritious food, workout, body-surf, and sun-bathe, we're also taking this opportunity to indulge in primal cocktails and sweet treats. So, we need a few go-to recipes to take with us. This Strawberry Daiquiri Cake recipe fits our three major criteria for a vacation dessert.

Beach House Dessert Criteria

1) LittleSister-safe (should go without saying)
2) Refreshing (after hours in the sun, the last thing you want is something that will weigh you down)
3) Simple (trust me, simple is important. On a previous vacation, after way too much sangria,  
    LittleSister and I forgot the eggs in a batch of brownies. Luckily, the boys ate them anyway)

I'll let you know how the cake tastes without baking powder or salt or whatever key ingredient we leave out in our revery. In the mean time, I recommend you try the recipe as prescribed.

Strawberry Daiquiri Cake

This probably is the pretties picture on Silly Little CaveGirl.
I'm super proud of myself right now!


3 cups strawberries, quartered
4 eggs
1/3 cup solids removed from a can of coconut milk*
4 heaping tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon lime juice**
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
Coconut oil spray

6 strawberries, sliced thin


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add quartered strawberries, water, eggs, coconut solids and rum to a blender, and blend until whipped and creamy. Add coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and blend until fully combined. 

Grease a small baking dish with coconut oil spray. Pour cake batter into dish and smooth into an even layer.  Float sliced strawberries on top of the batter.

Bake at 375. This is a very wet batter, so even tho the cake passes the knife test, it might not be done in the center. Once it does pass the knife test, continue baking until cake is golden brown and pulls away from the sides of the baking dish. Basically, cook it as long as you can without letting it burn. About 65-75 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

*Note1: If your canned coconut milk hasn't separated, place it in the refrigerator overnight. The solids will thicken up and rise to the top. I like to keep a can in my refrigerator just in case I get the urge to bake.  Trader Joe's also has a canned coconut cream that works great for recipes. The thickened coconut solids are readily available when you open the can.

**Note2: If you're my sister, replace lime juice with rum.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Roasted Broccoli Soup

Full disclosure: broccoli is not my favorite vegetable.

I don't really like it raw because the flavor is so strong. I'm not a big fan of it steamed because the little buds on the top absorb too much water and make a weird mushy texture. I've been known to blanch it for a veggie tray, or for CaveBoy's second snack, but I avoid taking it for my own lunch.

One of my favorite, and most often used sayings is, "the thing about being a grown-up is that you get to do what you want." And I stand by that statement! But the other thing about being a grown-up is knowing what's good for you, and doing it even when it's hard, or boring, or annoying, or doesn't taste too good. Enter broccoli.

Interestingly enough, when I was a kid, my favorite soup to order at a restaurant was broccoli cheese. The creamy, savory puree was able to overcome all the negative aspects of cooked broccoli, and somehow turn my least-liked vegetable into my most-desired dish.

When I gave up dairy and wheat, I didn't want to give up broccoli soup (otherwise I'd be left with steamed or raw broccoli--yuck). But how would I make it creamy? One of the paleo-set's favorite substitutions for white potato is mashed cauliflower. One day, while enjoying a creamy helping of cauliflower mash, it clicked. If I can make a cauliflower creamy, I can use that to make anything creamy!

I guess that's a four paragraph ramble to say I love this soup, even though I hate broccoli. So that's saying something.

Roasted Broccoli Soup

Creamy, delicious, and dairy free.


2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 red onions, diced
5 gloves garlic, diced
4 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat one large baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange broccoli florets in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the broccoli. Salt and pepper the broccoli.  Roast at 400 degrees until broccoli becomes caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to touch.

Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add diced red onion and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add diced garlic and cook until it becomes aromatic. Add cauliflower florets and toss in the oil mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the cauliflower just starts to brown.

Add roasted broccoli to pot. Pour in beef stock and enough water to cover the veggies.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until cauliflower becomes very tender. About 30 minutes.  Remove from heat. Let cool a few minutes so you don't scald yourself while blending.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Re-season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a crumbled bacon garnish, if desired. Makes 10 servings. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pool Party Buffalo Chicken Salad

It's officially summer! 

Today I hosted the first Workout-Lunch-Pool Party of the season. And it was amazing! Two of my favorite CrossFit beauties helped me put together the afternoon of festivities. Tiff--the smart-mouthed twin of my favorite Disney princess--programmed our workout. Rachel--who you know from her outrageously popular meatball recipe--contributed to our tequila-based post-workout hydration. I made the food and supplied the pool.

The workout was intense. Too intense, it turns out, for me to pay attention to the movements. In the 4th round, I skipped a whole series of squats and instead moved directly from push-ups to double unders. I made up for it in round 5 by doing extra squats. Not exactly as prescribed, but I got it done. Thankfully Tiff didn't mind. She's a cool coach like that!

We then caravanned over to my Cave for lunch with CaveBoy before he had to leave for work.

Because we were transitioning from the gym to the pool, by way of my kitchen, I designed a menu that could be completely prepared in advance. After a tough workout, the last thing you want to do is wait to eat. Especially when lunch is the only thing between you and the first rays of summer-sunshine. 

I made this recipe this morning and then chilled it in the refrigerator while we worked-out. It also would be an excellent recipe to take on a picnic, or to serve as a dip at a BBQ. 

Pool Party Buffalo Chicken Salad

I also served celery sticks, baby carrots, strawberries, and sweet potato chips.


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Buffalo sauce (I used Frank's but you could also use Tessemae's if you're keeping it super strict)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
salt and peper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange chicken breast in a medium baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then season with garlic powder and poultry seasoning. Bake until chicken is fully cooked, about 20-25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Saute red onion until it becomes translucent and just starts to brown. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Remove chicken from oven and let cool enough to touch. Shred chicken breasts. I like to toss the chicken into my Kitchen-Aid mixer with the paddle attachment and let the machine shred the chicken for me. It takes less than a minute. Remove the bowl from the Kitchen-Aid stand to finish mixing the rest of the ingredients with your hands.

Add onions, buffalo sauce, and coconut milk to the chicken and mix to combine. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to let flavors marry and sauce firm up. Makes 6 servings.