Monday, July 31, 2017

June and July 2017 favorites

A couple months, I started a new series where at the end of each month I share some of my favorite things. Some may be things I’m reading or watching. Some may be body or beauty products. Some may be kitchen and food related. Some may be travel or adventure related. Today I’m sharing my June and July favorites (in no particular order).

Note: some of these items contain affiliate links, but nothing in this post is directly sponsored by any company... I'm just sharing what I like! 

June and July 2017 favorites | Airbnb

Travel: Airbnb 
After not traveling for almost the first 6 months of 2017, I’ve made up for lost time! We traveled to NYC the end of June/beginning of July, to North Dakota/Minnesota the middle two weeks of July, unexpectedly to South Carolina (while in the middle of our ND/MN trip) for a funeral, and now I’m currently in Minneapolis on a quick trip. Whew!

For the NYC trip and the SC trip, we used Airbnb for our lodging. Both were great experiences and we especially loved having a full kitchen at our disposal. I don’t love to do a lot of cooking while on trips—I’d much rather bring a bunch of batch-cooked foods with me & reheat as necessary, but it was nice to have a full fridge and freezer for storing foods and to be able to make easy breakfasts for family. Also, for both of these trips, it was much more economical to book with Airbnb than to stay in hotels.

Make sure to vet your Airbnb listings well before booking them. If you’re especially keen on having a good kitchen, make sure to read whether it’s fully equipped or not, and pay attention to what’s in the photos. Even in a fully equipped kitchen (and even if i’m not planning on doing much actual cooking), I usually bring along some of my own kitchen tools, such as dish soap & a sponge, a dish towel (which also doubles as a hot pad), a mini cutting board, paring knife, spatula, kitchen shears, and ziplock bags.

For more information on how I travel while following AIP, check out these two posts here AND here. I myself was so out of practice with traveling that I referenced my own posts before recent trips ;)

June and July 2017 favorites | German Sweet Potato Salad from "Nourish"

Recipe: The German (White Sweet) Potato Salad from “Nourish: the Paleo Healing Cookbook”
I am ever so thankful to my friend Rachael from “Meatified” for developing this potato salad recipe. I’ve made it many many times (including two double batches in July alone), & it’s always a crowd pleaser, even for non-AIP/Paleo people. It’s also a salad that gets better with age, so don’t be afraid to make it a little in advance (or to make a double batch). A couple minor changes I make: I usually sub finely chopped scallions for the chives—I never have chives on hand, but I always have scallions. I also really like celery & will add a little more than the recipe calls for. And when in doubt, double the recipe. You’ll never regret the leftovers.

“Nourish” is full of delicious, all-AIP, restaurant-quality recipes. While this potato salad recipe can only be found in “Nourish,” I’d say the purchase price of the book is worth it even if you only make this potato salad!

June and July 2017 favorites | Kitchen Shears

Tool: Kitchen Shears
I have the Mercer Culinary Kitchen Shears (
One kitchen tool I never like to be without is my kitchen shears. I only began using specific kitchen shears in earnest since culinary school, but they’re a tool I use so often that I have multiple pairs. They’re not only useful for opening packaging, but I also use them to cut bacon into pieces, snipping herbs, cutting scallions, butterflying poultry, and much more. I never realized how much I rely on my shears until traveling to other kitchens and NOT having them along!

I have the Mercer Culinary Kitchen Shears, but there are other good quality options out there. One feature I especially look for is that they come apart, which makes cleaning them (and drying them) much easier.

June and July 2017 favorites | Trader Joe's Organic Grass fed Hot Dogs (nightshade-free!!)

(Almost) AIP Product: Trader Joe’s Organic Grassfed Hot Dogs NIGHTSHADE FREE! 
It’s really ironic, given my former vegetarian ways, how much I really love hot dogs. But, I hadn’t eaten hot dogs in over 3 years since nearly all hot dogs contain “spices,” which generally means NIGHTSHADE ALERT. However, hot dogs are back in my diet, thanks to these organic grass fed hot dogs from Trader Joe’s. They do require AIP reintroductions of white pepper and nutmeg, but they are completely nightshade free (and delicious). I’ve also reintroduced mustard, so I enjoy dipping my hot dogs in Sir Kensington’s Dijon Mustard.

One tip: should you need to cook your hot dogs on a shared grill, such as at a friend’s house for a BBQ, wrap the hot dogs in foil & then grill. They won’t get grill marks, but there also won’t be cross-contamination.

June and July 2017 favorites | Paleo On The Go
My first POTG order from August 2016. Note: some of their packaging has changed since then! 

Convenience Food: Paleo On The Go
I’ve placed 4 large orders from Paleo On The Go’s AIP menu over the past year & have found it to be a great option, especially when traveling. For those not familiar with POTG, they’re a paleo (with AIP options) frozen meal company that delivers throughout the US. I’ve primarily used their meals as a replacement for eating out while traveling. Yes, they can be more expensive than traditional frozen meals, but POTG makes delicious products and they use high quality ingredients. It’s such a treat to eat good food that I’m confident won’t cause me to get sick (like eating out sometimes can) and that I didn’t have to make myself! My personal favorite has been the beef pot pies.

POTG also came in really handy earlier this month while we were in ND visiting my parents—I’d had a big order of POTG products shipped to their house ahead of our arrival—but suddenly found out we needed to go to SC for a funeral. I didn’t have enough time to do as much batch cooking as I normally would for a trip like that, but thankfully I could take some POTG things (like beef breakfast empanadas and bacon apple chicken burgers with maple cranberry sauce and chicken breakfast sausage) frozen in my checked luggage. I then used our Airbnb oven to re-heat some of them, & some items (like the breakfast sausage) I just ate cold!

June and July 2017 favorites | Beautycounter Sun Screen

Beauty: Beautycounter Sun Screen
As I’ve cleaned up my body products, finding good quality sunscreen that works and isn’t full of bad ingredients (and doesn’t leave me looking ghostly white) has been a challenge! Last summer, I won a tube of Beautycounter Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 from a Beautycounter party and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love that it works well, it has good ratings from EWG, AND it doesn’t leave my skin all white.

I’ve also become a fan of their sunscreen sticks. Especially while we were traipsing around NYC, it was so handy to have the face-sized sunscreen stick in my purse for easy reapplication. I've also recently ordered a body-sized sunscreen stick, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

While I’m not a consultant with Beautycounter, you can order products through your favorite consultant (I’m sure you probably know *someone* who sells it, if you’re in the AIP/Paleo-sphere) or through the Beautycounter website.

So those are a few of my favorites from June and July. What are you loving lately?

Some of these items include affiliate links, meaning Sweet Treats makes a small commission off items purchased 
after a link is clicked with no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Berry Coconut Pie (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free)

Berry Coconut Pie (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free)

Continuing my pie-making-spree and just in time for the 4th of July holiday is this berry pomegranate pie. It’s a rift off my Patriotic Panna Cotta Pie from 2015, but this one can be made coconut-free, in case of coconut allergies or dislike of coconut.

Berry Coconut Pie (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free)

Making the crust is probably the most challenging part of the dessert, but after that, it’s super easy! I tested this filling recipe last 4th of July, and brought a couple pies to a pool party with friends. There were ZERO leftovers —kids and non-AIP/Paleo people alike all gobbled it up :)

Berry Coconut Pie (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free)

In these photos, I used leftover Lard Cassava Pie Crust (Paleo), but if you need an AIP pie crust that is also coconut-free, I’ve got an AIP Pâte Brisée recipe in my e-book Holiday Sweet Treats (though does use palm shortening)--I would recommend doubling that recipe to ensure enough dough for a 9" pie. You may be able to find other coconut-free AIP pie crust recipes online, but I haven't tried any of them.

Berry Coconut Pie (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free)

 **As with most of my recipes, I’ve only tested this recipe using the grams measurements included. I’ve figured out volume measurements with math, but have not personally tested them. I HIGHLY recommend using a kitchen scale + grams measurements to ensure the most successful end product.**

Berry Pomegranate Pie (AIP, Paleo, Coconut-free) 
yield’s one 9-inch pie (approximately 8 servings) 

9-inch AIP/Paleo crust, baked (see instructions below)—I used my Lard Cassava Pie Crust (Paleo), but in the past I’ve also used Martine from Eat Heal Thrive’s Sweet and Savory Pie Crust (AIP, but not coconut free) 
383 grams (1 1/2 cup) organic pomegranate juice
24 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
11 g (1 tablespoon) gelatin
1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder (optional)
2 cups (250 to 275 grams) berries—I used a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries & I cut most everything in half

Blind Baking Instructions for the Lard Cassava Pie Crust (Paleo):

  1. Roll the dough between parchment paper until it is a circle approximately 12 to 13 inches in diameter. Use the parchment paper to help transfer the dough to a 9-inch glass pie pan. Gently press the dough into the pan. Crimp the edges as desired. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. 
  3. Line the chilled shell with parchment paper & place beans or rice on the parchment to act as weights (NOTE: the beans/rice are NOT eaten). Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. 
  4. Then, carefully remove the parchment with the beans/rice & place the pie shell back in the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. 
  5. Cool completely before using.  

Blind Baking Instructions for the Sweet and Savory Crust (AIP) from Eat Heal Thrive:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Make the crust as directed in the recipe. 
  2. Press the dough into a 9-inch glass pan. Do NOT pierce the bottom with a fork. 
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges. 

To make the filling: 

  1. Pour the pomegranate juice into a medium sauce pan. Drizzle in the honey. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the juice. Allow the gelatin to bloom for 10 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the berries by cutting them in half (or quarters for strawberries) & placing them in the baked & cooled pie shell. For ease of transport in and out of the refrigerator, place the pie pan onto a quarter sheet pan
  3. After the gelatin has bloomed, add the vanilla powder. Heat the sauce pan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the gelatin melts.  
  4. Carefully pour the pomegranate mixture in the berry-filled pie shell. Transfer to the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight. 
  5. Cover any leftovers and store them in the refrigerator. The pie is best consumed within 24 to 36 hours, or else the crust begins to get soggy. 

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