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Paleo Vegan Peppermint Fudge

I see a lot of fudge recipes around this time of year, but they’re always overly sugared, unstable out of the freezer, and rarely vegan. As someone with lots of food restrictions of my own, I definitely know what it feels like to be at a party or work event and not be able to eat anything. It feels terrible, and embarrassing as hell too. I really like my job and the people I work with, so I wanted to create a fun and festive fudge that everybody could eat! (Admittedly nobody I work with has any nut allergies, but you can definitely make some easy substitutions that I’ll include).

Equipment:
Large glass bowl
Medium pot
Silicone spatula
Meat tenderizer, rolling pin, or other candy cane smashing tool
Ziploc bag or cutting board + parchment paper
Silicone baking pan (8×8 or 9×9) or loaf pan
Parchment paper (optional)
Several small bowls
Food scale and/or measuring cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
8oz plain, unsweetened cashew butter (sub sunflower butter for nut allergies)
6oz coconut oil
4oz date syrup
2oz cocoa butter
2.5 tsp peppermint flavor (this is preferable to peppermint extract, as it’s free of alcohol and generally tastes better because of that, but extract is fine if that’s all you’ve got!)
4 organic candy canes, crushed up

Fill your pot with about 2″ of water and set your glass bowl on top. The bowl should fit comfortably about halfway into the pot – it should not touch the bottom OR the water. This is called a double boiler or bain-marie and will help get an even melt while minimizing the risk of burning your chocolate.

Using your food scale or measuring cup, weight out all of your ingredients except for the candy canes. Add all ingredients, except for candy canes, to the double boiler. Melt over low heat, stirring occasionally.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled recipe for some notes on ingredient decision making: I used cocoa butter here to give the fudge some added stability once it’s out of the freezer, so it doesn’t melt as quickly and can be kept in the fridge instead. If you don’t have or don’t want to use cocoa butter, an additional ounces of coconut oil is just fine. You can also use ghee if you don’t care about the fudge being vegan or to suit a nut allergy, but either way you should use a fat that is solid at room temperature.

While your fudge is melting away, line your baking pan with some parchment paper to make it even easier to remove the fudge.

Unwrap your candy canes and place them into a Ziploc bag or onto a cutting board (if using a cutting board, cover with a piece of parchment paper or other nonstick baking paper). Using a meat tenderizer or other tool of choice, gently smash the candy canes until they are broken up into small chunks and crumbs. Set this aside as it’s the last step.

I ended up making a second batch in a loaf pan. The bottom of it has a cute design so I wanted this to be the top of the fudge. I put the candy canes on the “bottom” here to be the top once I turned out the fudge.

Once your double boiler concoction has melted completely into a uniform mixture, carefully pour the contents into your lined baking pan. Sprinkle the candy cane chunks over top and gently transfer to the freezer to set.

When the fudge has fully set (about three hours), remove it from the pan and cut into pieces. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Note: If you’ve skipped out on the cocoa butter, the fudge will need to be kept in the freezer and removed just a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not asked to write it by any brand used and all products were purchased by me. Some links are affiliate links in which I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.

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Workout Recovery Drink (Whole30)

I’ve had the idea to create my own not-full-of-junk not-full-of-carbs workout beverage for quite a while, but couldn’t really figure out the right direction to go in. Collagen has been growing in popularity for quite some time, I myself have been using it for well over a year at this point, but I mostly just have it in my morning coffee and that’s about it. I’m actually drinking some as I type this

So why can’t collagen be in more of the things!? It’s a protein supplement packed with all of the essential amino acids, but unlike most other proteins on the market – like whey – it’s just the one ingredient: grass-fed bovine collagen peptides. No dairy, no sugar, nothing! To me, that makes it a perfect candidate for this beverage experiment.

If you’ve been following along for any length of time, you may already know that I have a chronic illness called Glycogen Storage Disease Type VII, or Tarui Disease, which can really only be managed by limiting carbohydrate intake. While a paleo lifestyle has made this relatively attainable for me (most of the time), it rules out most of the drinks on the market geared towards “workout recovery”. Further, it’s often recommended to consume some kind of carbohydrate intra- (during) your workout which, for me, is a struggle due to that whole chronic illness thing I just mentioned. Enter: my homemade low-carb no-added-sugar intra- and post-workout recovery drink!

 

I’ve been making the base a few days ahead of time and taking it along for Peloton rides and I think it has helped tremendously with my stamina and energy levels. So let’s get to it, shall we?

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Pumpkin Curry Soup (Whole30)

Oooh it feels so good to be writing again! Especially about food, and makeup! I know I sort of disappeared without a trace after posting very regularly for half the year, but now I’m back. Long story short: I unexpectedly got a job offer and have been working full time since the end of June! I’m incredibly happy with the work I’ve been doing in my professional life and am finally ready to resume the blog life. Nobody cares about all the things people write before the food anyway, so let’s get to it.

It’s getting cold in Oregon and we still don’t have a working furnace, so last week I whipped up this curried pumpkin soup and it was freaking delicious so now I’m sharing it with you.

You will need:
Large stock pot
Immersion blender (I’ve had this one for five years and use it at least once/week)
Large cooking spoon
Medium bowl
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Ladle for serving

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Tandoori Chicken Tacos

In the freezer aisle of my local New Seasons, there is a Tandoori Chicken Burrito that I crave like nobody’s business. Not too long ago, after a particularly rough week, I actually cried because I wanted one so badly. Side note: if that’s not food addiction, I don’t know what is. The problem with this burrito is that it’s packed with rice, it’s rolled in a wheat tortilla, and it’s frozen too so it’s got tons of salt and who knows what else. Nick was right, it was definitely time to make my own version.

Even though rice is an occasional part of my personal paleo, I didn’t want to use it here and I wasn’t really interested in subbing it for cauliflower rice either so I decided to go for tacos instead of burritos. I decided to top these off with my favorite coconut milk yogurt and caramelized onions, but my onion jam or pickled onions would have been great too! Have fun and make them your own. Also, if you’re doing Whole30, don’t be bummed about skipping the tortillas, this easy Tandoori-style chicken is great on its own or in a salad.


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Healthy Homemade Popcorn

Let’s clear the air real quick: corn is a grain, not a vegetable, which means it’s not paleo. I am aware of this, but with so many food restrictions for health reasons, I’m gonna take what I can get. Corn does not seem to have any negative impact on me so, when not on Whole30, it makes an occasional appearance in my personal paleo lifestyle. I did just start a new round of Whole30, so this glorious creation is out of reach for me for a hot minute, but if you’re doing your own thing then fire up the pan and get popping.

What goes together better than movies and popcorn? Pretty much nothing, that’s what. Unfortunately the stuff you get in theaters, or at the store, is usually loaded with artificial colors, artificial flavors, and even soybean oil. We talk a lot about not eating those things for our physical health, but mental health is an important part of our dietary choices too. To bring some light to the topic, this post is in collaboration with my friend Simon, the brains behind The Depressed Moviegoer blog. I whipped up this healthier version of a film buff must-have to keep us feeling good no matter what we’re watching, so fire up your streaming device of choice and grab a big bowl of your own homemade popcorn.


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Homemade Whole30 Mayo

Russians consume more mayonnaise than any other population in the world, so I guess it’s not that much of a surprise that it is probably my favorite condiment of all time. Unfortunately, the store-bought mayonnaise options are pretty lacking in quality, taste, price or any combination of the three. You can go the super processed route which is affordable, but usually features gems like soybean oil and corn syrup. You could also hit the “middle of the road” guys that are a little healthier, but typically still contain sugar and are made with low-quality fats like sunflower oil. Alternatively, you can go the all-natural direction which starts to smell bad before you’re halfway through the jar you spent $10 on. So, I make my own mayo now.

At first, the thought of homemade mayonnaise sounded pretty crazy, but then again… so did making my own mustard and I’ve been doing that for years. Mayonnaise is actually impressively easy to make and comes together very quickly – even if it might take you a few tries to get it right the first time. Once you finally get it right, it’s pretty hard to argue against making it yourself when this homemade two-minute version is always going to be Whole30 and 21 Day Sugar Detox compliant.

Bacon, guacamole, and tomato tacos with homemade mayo!

Still, I was not expecting this to be one of, if not the very best, mayos I have ever tried, but I am quite sure I will never purchase prepared mayonnaise again. I can’t wait to make my Easiest Chicken Ever and Deviled Eggs with this! And yep, it’s incredible in tuna salad too.

kasandrinos organic extra virgin greek olive oil

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Heritage: Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff (Paleo)

Despite our shared Russian roots, beef stroganoff is not a dish I ate often growing up – I don’t really remember eating it ever to be honest. That all changed a few years ago when Portland was graced with Kachka, the Russian/Ukrainian restaurant brain child of James Beard-nominee Bonnie Morales. I say this with no exaggeration: that beef stroganoff is one of my favorite dishes ever. The noodles are perfectly cooked, it’s creamy and unctuous, loaded with mushrooms, and topped with crispy but unbelievably tender beef tongue. Unfortunately, it’s also loaded with cream (and pasta obviously), which makes it a very delicious way to make myself feel very terrible. It was time to make my own version.

While I didn’t use beef tongue for my homemade version, I did whip out the instant pot to get us some seriously tender meat while drastically cutting down on cooking time (and cutting out all the time needed to peel a boiled cow tongue). I opted for Banza chickpea rotini as my pasta of choice – chickpeas don’t really seem to bother me and so are an occasional part of my personal paleo. If chickpeas don’t sit well with you, this will work just as well with Tolerant red lentil rotini or any other gluten-free pasta that works for your body. Both brands are available on Thrive Market as well as some grocery stores.

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Thai-ish Spicy Pineapple Chicken (Paleo)

It’s been years since I last ate the real thing at a college favorite spot back in Philadelphia, but recently I’ve been having crazy cravings for this Thai-style spicy pineapple chicken!

The main ingredients are pretty straightforward and I finally knuckled down to create my own version of this amazing sauce. I know the real stuff has tons of sugar and is also usually packed with soy; my version just uses a touch of honey and a splash of coconut aminos, but it still hit the spot to satisfy a five year craving.

Now that the weather is finally drying out and warming up, I’m making skewers, but this also works great as a stir-fry so feel free to switch gears if you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like cleaning it while your partner is away for four weeks.
Note: we’ve got a natural gas grill so my recipe will make mention of high and medium heat. You can absolutely make this on a charcoal grill as well.

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Curry for One (Whole30)

As you may already know, I live with my boyfriend Nick, and while he is an absolutely wonderful human, there are few who can stand to eat curry as often as I crave it. This has led to a lot of “protein two ways” dinners, but this dish in particular, featuring my Thai red curry for one, is definitely a household favorite (this is my other favorite).

The meatballs in this dish are so low maintenance that we can easily put together a quick dinner for two even when we want completely different meals.

If you’re tracking macros or have dietary restrictions for religious reasons, turkey or dark meat chicken make a fantastic alternative for the pork we usually use.

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The Perfect Steamed Egg

You guys know I love eggs. I mean, it’s literally in my name. I’ve got a lot of egg recipes here, but my Perfect Boiled Eggs are probably what I refer back to most – I use them in so many recipes (like my Top Secret Deviled Eggs)! I’m pleased to report, I now have a new and even better Perfect Egg than the OG. Let me introduce you to Perfect Steamed Eggs.

Sometimes, even when I want to eat my boiled eggs, I just do not feel like making them. I don’t feel like dealing with the boiling or the baking soda and I don’t feel like dealing with the immersion circulator either. So what’s an egg-needing person to do? Steam ’em! Yes, you read that correctly. You can steam “boil” your eggs, and not only are they a good substitute, they might be the best boiled eggs I’ve ever had. Plus, they are incredibly easy to peel, no baking soda necessary.

You can use these wherever you would normally use boiled eggs – as a quick snack, for deviled eggs, egg salad, or anywhere else that a medium-boiled egg might taste good.

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Heritage: Salted Caramel Halva Bites (Paleo)

I didn’t get too much of a reaction from my dad when I first told him about my Heritage: Upgraded series that I was going to start writing. My parents mean well, but I talk about food basically non-stop and I think sometimes they just smile and nod so I shut up.

Turns out, dad was just deep in thought because I got a call from him a few days later with a very specific request: halva, but healthier. A paleo halva. Halva, if you didn’t know, is a very popular Israeli/Middle Eastern dessert usually made from tahini or sesame paste.

I started researching halva and how to make it and when I realized that even Molly Yeh struggled to get it right, I figured it was time to adapt it to something more in my wheelhouse.

definitely in my wheelhouse

Halva aside, my dad has a serious sweet tooth and one thing I know he absolutely loves is caramel. More specifically, сгущёнка (“sgushyenka,” if you will). It’s made from boiling sweetened condensed milk in the can for several hours and is about as far from “clean eating” as you could possibly get. Note: Sgushyenka might sound alien to you, but you probably know it as its Latin American equivalent – dulce de leche.

Luckily, doing what I do, I recently received a very lovely package from The Date Lady crew including their coconut caramel sauce. This was shortly followed by some of the best tahini I’ve ever had in my life from Soom Foods, based in my hometown. Light bulbs, alarm bells, you name it, everything just clicked in my head and I had The Idea.

How do I combine my dad’s favorite things in a way that I actually want to eat it, and is also in a set size so we can’t just eat the whole jar with a spoon in one sitting? Not that that has ever happened…

Fudge. Freaking fudge, that’s how.

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No-Grill Roasted Peppers

love roasted peppers. I particularly love spicy roasted peppers like Anaheim or jalapeño and when it gets warm, I want them on everything. A great quickie accompaniment to just about any meal, these no-grill no-gas oven-roasted peppers are so easy and you can make them no matter what your grilling setup or pepper preference may be! This probably could have been a Five Minute Friday post, but I was excited and wanted to share in time for an extra day off and the sunny weather.

If you live somewhere that prohibits grill use, just don’t have one, don’t have a gas range, or any combination of the above: I got you. With an electric stove top and Oregon rain, classic roasted peppers are not always an option. Thankfully, these only take a few minutes and will last in the fridge for at least a few days, that is, if you manage to have any leftovers.

Equipment:
Oven
Large bowl (metal or glass)
Plastic wrap or ziplock bag
Tongs

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