Monday, March 25, 2013

Ranch Taco Salad

I love for the most part the delicious choices in my Paleo lifestyle, but there are some days when I miss something. Really miss it. Ranch dressing is one of those. Blame it on my Southern roots and my Aunt Polly, but there just aren't too many things that can't be enhanced by this creamy condiment. I've tried a meriod of different Paleo versions, but as it is with a few tasty "bad" choices, I came to the conclusion there just was no substitute for the real thing and resigned myself to a life of oil and vinegar. That is until I discovered this recipe. After getting over the shock of the first ingredient, I put the rest on my grocery list and made us up a big Ranch taco salad a few days later. It was delish, and the dressing liken to the discovery of rubber (or at the least post-it notes). Now this isn't the exact flavor of Hidden Valley, but I would describe it as Ranch with a touch of butter crackers...and really, what's bad about that?! I wouldn't call it super low carb with the nuts either, but it's chemical and veggie oil free unlike it's grocery store equivalent. Feast your eyes! Then go make some;)

Ranch Taco Salad

Cooked and shredded chicken or browned ground beef
Taco seasoning to taste(recipe below)
Shredded lettuce
Toppings of choice (black olives, tomatoes, red onions, avocados, sweet peppers)
Nonnegotiable topping: crushed sweet potato chips!
Ranch dressing

Ranch Dressing
1 1/2 cups cashews (soaked for 2 hrs)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp honey or agave
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp powdered onion
1 tsp powdered garlic
1 tsp dry dill
1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor then add 1 tsp dry parsley and refrigerate until thickened.

Taco Seasoning
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baby Clifton's Shower

I have been so fortunate to not only have this experience of pregnancy but also to share it with my sweet cousin Candyce.  She and her sister are near and dear to my heart and we have been even closer since the year she lived with us before Rylin was born.  Unfortunately, her road has been a little more rocky than mine as she has struggled with hyperemisis from the begining.  After multiple hospital stays, emergency room scares, and fear no pregnant woman should face, she is celebrating reaching 31 weeks and her baby boy, Clifton still growing strong.  A few weeks ago, we took the chance to shower her with a few essentials and some extras.  Her sister, Crystal and I had fun planning the theme around teddy bears and little boy stuff.

Conquering Spring Break & Carby Cravings

We've been plugging along this last month with our weekly routine which includes two days of Mother's Day Out for Rylin, BSF on Tuesdays, and Mr. D's visits on Thursdays. Then last week, we hit spring break. I didn't think it would mean much to our young little family until I discovered no MDO, BSF, and then D's visit was cancelled. We gladly took the opportunity to head with some friends downtown for a mid-week distraction.

This little guy was excited to finally be riding the train!

Rylin with his buddies (all girls btw!)

First stop was the DMA
 making their own art

 story time at the museum

After leaving the museum we headed over to the new park above Woodall Rogers.  It was packed with other spring breakers, but the weather was amazing.
 Rylin & I waited in line for over an hour for some food truck goodness.  Luckily Mr. D was asleep in the stroller at this point.

This was devoured in about twenty minutes by a hungry pregnant lady and two starving toddlers!  Braised Beef quesadillas, and three sliders: Fried Chicken-Mashed Potatoes-Gravy, Brisket-Mac&Cheese-BBQ sauce, and Nutella-Peanut Butter-Bacon.  Not pictured were lime tator tots.  (got to live a little once in a while!)

We let the kids cool off at the splash park before heading back on the train for some late afternoon naps.

The yummy food on our day off has not been my only indulgence as of recently.  I have found myself with an intense dairy craving (among a few others) that has culminated into a once weekly trip to Sonic for cheese fries.  It's really gotten out of control, and though I don't cheat with my Paleo diet often, pregnancy has made it an easy excuse.  I should preface by saying that dairy is a debated subject in the Paleo world, but as for me, it has not been a problem of digestion so I have continued to eat it in moderation even before I was pregnant.  It's just that at some point I added the fried battered kind, which is a no-no for sure.  So yesterday I had had enough!  Surely there must be a good alternative to this carb laden fried cheese.  I scanned Pinterest with searches of "low carb cheese sticks", "paleo cheese sticks", and "healthy cheese stick alternatives".  I found some interesting recipes and taking what I liked best from a few, think I have discovered the perfect low carb fried cheese stick.  You might want to sit down for this one.

First I made a egg bath of one well mixed of the urban chicken variety and a separate bowl of powdered Parmesan cheese (because what kind of batter really could be better than more cheese!) and some left over ranch seasoning I had on hand.  I read that it is essential to use the powdered cheese (though not as preferable paleo-wise to the shredded) for sticking purposes.

Then I sliced my premade cheese sticks in half lengthwise and dredged them in the egg then parm mixture two times until they were well coated.

I heated up a tablespoon of refined coconut oil in a small saute pan and dropped them in.  Only a couple minutes on each side and these puppies were good to go.

My cheese sticks were pretty cold beforehand (suggested freezing) so they didn't ooze too much in cooking.  They had the texture of a battered and fried stick and were a lot tastier then with a bread coating.
Me and the kids consumed them in approximately 2 minutes and they were asking for more.  I'm sure this will be my new weekly snack and I feel a lot better about sending these down the hatch to the third hungry kiddo than some fast food guilt trip.