paleo carnitas tacos (whole30, too)

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The hubby told me this morning that October is going to be another Whole30 month for us (a month of following a strict diet that eliminates grains, refined sugar, dairy, legumes and joy). I cried into my homemade Vietnamese coffee, laden with sweetened condensed milk and real cream, solidified my resolve with a slice of pumpernickel toast spread thick with raspberry jam, and said okay. I said okay only because the last time we endured a Whole30, so many good things happened to my body. My skin cleared up. I lost 12 pounds. I slept better at night. I had more energy throughout the day.

I guess there really is something to eating healthier. SIGH.

Anyway, as a harbinger of things to come, today I’m showing you a recipe for paleo carnitas tacos that should dull the pain of avoiding carbs. Taco night is a regular part of our dinner rotation at home, so during our last Whole30, I had to think of a way to continue to have our fiesta without breaking any of Whole30’s sacred rules.

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no-churn ice cream giveaway!

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I love nothing more than homemade ice cream, but I’ll be honest — the idea of churning out batches kind of gives me a headache. It’s not that it’s that difficult, but it’s added effort, and sometimes I just don’t have it in me to go through the additional steps of freezing our ice cream maker insert (we have this one), making a custard, and churning it out. Plus, I have this irrational fear that if I get my kids accustomed to homemade ice cream, they might come to expect it, which then means that I’ll be adding “make weekly ice cream batch” to my growing list of chores. Ain’t no fool got time for that nonsense.

That’s why I was especially curious when a new cookbook by Leslie Bilderback, No-Churn Ice Cream: Over 100 Simply Delicious No-Machine Frozen Treats landed on my doorstep. Could ice cream truly be made without the laborious churning required? I was skeptical, mainly because I thought that the churning was, you know, kind of an essential part of the ice cream. Without it, all you’re left with is a popsicle.

I’m happy to report that, after a couple of months of trying and re-trying (and maybe standing over a batch obsessively spooning said no-churn ice cream), no-churn ice cream is the real deal. It’s not just a close substitute for real no-churn ice cream (like sherbet — pbbbth). The recipes I tried in this cookbook produced creamy, rich ice creams bursting with summer flavor. My favorite combinations were blueberry and blue brie ice cream and chocolate cardamom, and today I’m sharing both recipes with you in addition to giving you a chance to win your own free copy of No-Churn Ice Cream!

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sponsored: castello bluesday tuesday

castello-bluesday-tuesday-5Note: Castello USA, through Honest Cooking, provided me with samples and compensation for writing this post. Many thanks to both Castello and Honest Cooking for your support!

Today I’m writing you from balmy Seattle, where the hubby and I brought the kids for a week to soak up some humidity-free sunshine and spend time with extended family to close out our summer. And what a summer it’s been. This summer I fell in love — hard — with our grill, thanks to David Guas. We spent a sweaty few days in Charleston only to grieve with our friends and former neighbors over a terrible tragedy. I went to Wooster, Ohio and learned about the glory that is Certified Angus Beef. And yes, I have many, many plans to eat my way through Seattle. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, for the last few months, I’ve been messing around in my kitchen with Castello’s Saga blue brie. It’s a decadent creamy brie, spiked with all the bite and earthiness of a really great blue cheese. Basically, Castello Saga blue brie is the genius creation of someone out there in the Castello universe who thought, “How can I make two really amazing cheeses taste even better? By MASHING THEM TOGETHER.” I’m not a fan of genetically modified superfruits, but when it comes to hybrid cheeses, I’m all in. In celebration of all things blue cheese, Castello is sponsoring a “summer of blue” with the Castello Bluesday Tuesday campaign this summer that I’m proud to be a part of. My post today will be one in a series of bloggers’ posts featuring Castello blue cheese products on Honest Cooking.

Today’s recipe is an easy grilled romaine salad garnished with summer ripe nectarines, crispy bacon and slightly-melted dabs of Castello Saga blue brie. The blue brie melts very easily, creating a rich “dressing” for the grilled romaine that needs nothing but a little heat from the grill.

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thai ground chicken salad (larb gai)

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Thai salads are Asia’s way of telling us Americans that we’re doing salads all wrong. Totally, completely and universally wrong. Forget your blue cheese crumbles and your oil-soaked, flavor-killing ranch dressings, guys. Put away the bacon bits, hide your cubed deli turkey, and please, for the love of all that is good and merciful, throw away those dried cranberries. In the salad world, Thais are making our big salads look like amateur hour.

It’s not that Thai salads, like the Thai ground chicken salad (called larb gai) I’m going to show you today, are mysteriously complex. They’re actually very simple, with defined, powerful flavors that make you forget that you’re supposed to be eating healthy. We have Thai salad night every few weeks or so to remind ourselves that zesty, filling food can also be decidedly healthier than the other foods we normally eat. During our Whole30 fiasco, we ate Thai salads nearly every other day (in case you’re just tuning in, Whole30 is the month-long restrictive elimination diet that prohibits dairy, soy, grains, refined sugar and joy. Sadly, it’s also really effective. Read more about it here).

But anyway, back to the Thai ground chicken salad (larb gai) — this salad is so easy to make that you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been doing it already.

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