Jeans for curvy girls, bracelets for skinny wrists, and paleo pasta (to maintain the skinny wrists)


Today’s post is going to be a lot like my brain – all over the place but full of little interesting tidbits of information.  I’m assuming you are OK with this because you keep reading my blog. :)

I’ve been wanting a pair of skinny black jeans for awhile now.  I actually ordered these from Madewell, but they were insanely tight. I know jeans are too tight when Tim’s eyes almost pop out of his head when he sees them on me. I sent them back and kept my eyes out for another suitable pair.  Well, Old Navy’s harassing, non-stop emails finally paid off for them. I was threatened with losing my bonus cash or cash bucks or whatever the heck they are, so I ordered a pair of their Rock Star Skinny Jeans in the Curvy fit.  Holy Cow. These could very well be the best pair of jeans I’ve ever bought – even better than my James Jeans, which were my previous favorite.  They are snug, but not too snug.  They don’t hit me in an awkward part of my belly. They are flattering.  They are the right length.  The black is a nice, true black.  At 1/5 the cost of the James Jeans, the Old Navy jeans are a steal.  I’m considering buying like 5 pairs just in case Old Navy decides to discontinue them.  I LOVE them.

Man, this is going to be a pretty materialistic post. The next thing I’m going to talk about is another recently discovered love – Pura Vida bracelets.  I first ran across them at the yoga studio I go to.  They had this bracelet made of salmon colored thread with silver balls woven through it.  Here it is.  It caught my eye immediately because I thought it was soo beautiful.  It was $15 though, which seemed like a lot for what it was. So I checked out the website – you can get a ton of bracelets very cheaply on the website! I signed up for their emails and immediately got a 50% off coupon.  I ordered one of the multi-packs, and I couldn’t be happier.  They were way to large for me, so I had to trim down the ends (and then re-melt them), but now they fit great.  I’m hooked.  If you want to try them out, let me know. I can send you an email, and you’ll get 50% off your first order too.

I was hoping that devoting more time to yoga, meditation, and reflection would make me less want-y. However, so  far all I have noticed is an obsession with yoga pants and hippie bracelets.  Maybe I should just give it more time?

AND….. I tried one new recipe this week (between all of my online shopping).  I made paleo spaghetti, and it was so good that I’m making it again this week.  I roasted a spaghetti squash (cut it in half, took out the seeds, rubbed the inside with olive oil and salt, and cooked it cut-side down for 30-45 minutes in a 375 degree oven).  Then for the sauce, I followed this recipe.  I was short on butter, so I used 3 T of butter and 2 T of olive oil.  For the meat, I turned some of our ground pork into sausage using this recipe.  When we mixed it all together – wow!  It was super delicious and very easy.

And there’s my update for the week.  Hope you are having a productive Sunday!

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Doing what everyone else does (aka working on our laptops at a coffee shop)


Today is Veteran’s Day.  That means, among other things of course, that Tim and I both have this Tuesday off.  It feels like a free day – no weekend chores to run, no places to be, no obligations.  So what are we doing?  Sitting at Panera, working on our laptops, drinking coffee, and eating cinnamon scones.

I know it may sound silly, but “taking our laptops to the coffee shop to work” has always sounded like fun to me.  I mean, when I was getting my MBA and had tons of annoying group work, occasionally we would meet in coffee shops to work on projects.  It was so frustrating – trying to find room for books, notes, coffee, and laptops.  I thought it would be fun to go to a coffee shop and just work on my own personal stuff.  Yet, for some reason I’ve never done it!  But today is the day.

I have to say, like most things in life, it sounds much more romantic than it really is.  First of all, we drove to 2 Starbucks and one Dunn Brothers looking for a place that actually had room for Tim and me to sit down.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s Veteran’s Day and a lot of people are off of work, but every place was packed!!  I mean Starbucks has pretty good coffee, but it’s not THAT good.  It was super frustrating.  Thus, we ended up at Panera which has just OK coffee but amazing scones and more places to put cheeks in the seats.

And that brings me to this moment.  We finally made it.  What do I think?  Well, while it’s nice to get out of the house, I think I prefer my homemade aeropress coffee, our beautiful, homemade stand up kitchen table, and my cozy slippers.  Plus I don’t have to overhear annoying conversations about pivot tables and junk.  Bleh.

But maybe I am just testy today because I used a new hair gel, and my hair is annoyingly flat and gross today.  It’s my day off!  It should be gorgeous and full.  Damn hair.

So there you go.  This was a post about writing a post.  I do have interesting things to say, I swear!  Just not today. :)

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Adventures with Harrissa and Reiki


This has been an exciting week! I tried 2 new recipes AND a new alternative health therapy.  Recipes first.

1.  I made Wild Salmon with Avocado Salsa.  I found this recipe in a free magazine, Simply Recipes. I can’t find the recipe online anywhere, which is unfortunate because it’s delicious.  Basically you put a spice rub consisting of olive oil, salt, coriander, cumin, paprika, onion powder and pepper on the salmon, grill the salmon, and then serve it with avocado salsa made of avocado (of course), onion, tomato, hot peppers, cilantro, lime, and olive oil.  I never would have thought that cumin would taste good on salmon, but it was DELICIOUS!!

2. I also made Slow Cooker Harissa Stew.  This was my first time using harissa, and I was hoping I would like it because a little jar of it is $4.99.  But, I was in luck because like it I did!  I was expecting the meat to be balls-out spicy, but it just had a pretty mild, spicy, exotic flavor.  We had it over rice one night and over butternut squash the next day.  The recipe was very easy to make. If I can get my hands on some lamb chops without spending a fortune, I want to try this recipe next.

Besides that I made some old favorites this week – Primal Ham Bone Soup with a smoked ham hock (amazing!) and Instant Banana Bread.

On to the other big news this week, after months of saying, “Reiki sounds really interesting. I’m really curious about it. I should really try it.”  I finally tried it this morning.  For those you are unfamiliar with Reiki, check out this link.

Despite the fact that I’ve talked to a few other people who have had a Reiki treatment, I was still very unsure of what to expect.  Well, here is a brief run-down of my experience.  I chatted with the practitioner for a few minutes, explaining how I heard about Reiki and how I heard about the facility at which she works.  Then we got started.  I laid down on a massage table with a blanket over me.  The practitioner started at the my head, very lightly laying her hands on my head.  She worked her way down the front of my body, very lightly touching me.  At certain points I felt a very strong heat come from her hands. It was super bizarre!  At one point when she was working around my stomach, I saw a dark purple light behind my eyes that faded quickly.  She said purple represents the crown chakra.

When she finished with my front side, she mentioned that my knees absorbed a lot of energy, as did my right ankle and foot.  She said she could tell that I’m a runner and have evidently battered my joints a bit.  Then I rolled over, and she touched a few spots on my back, legs, and feet, and then it was over.

Do I feel any different?  I don’t think so. My hips and quads feel really tired, but I went to a pretty intense vinyasa class last night, and I’m thinkings that’s probably the cause of that.  It was a very interesting experience. I went into the experience with cautious open-mindedness. I’m not sure if I’m a believer in the efficacy of the treatment YET, but she did make several comments that belied a knowledge of things I’ve been thinking about and contemplating – things I did not talk to her about at all.  So, that is definitely mysterious!

My take-away from the experience is that there is a lot more to this world and our existence than we are generally led to believe.

So that’s my update for the week! As always, thank you for reading!

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Sitting


I was just looking at my computer at my stand up desk.  I was full of ideas about things to write about, but then I turned around, spied the futon and thought to myself, “Why don’t I sit down on that futon there and do some writing?”  So sit down I did, and bam!  all inspiration was gone.  I opened a new tab, opened WordPress, and just sat there for like 3 minutes.  Couldn’t think of a thing to say.  So I thought I would start writing about not having anything to say.  This is going to be one interesting blog post, can’t you tell??  Anyway, my point is that sitting shuts down your brain.  Once I sit down for the night, it’s all over. All I can bring myself to do is watch Mindy Project.

I did want to write about our weekend. I took 2 yoga classes.  The teacher on Saturday did not have the physique one would normally associate with a yoga teacher.  However, I really enjoyed the class because, while she couldn’t do some of the poses she guided us into, she set up a good, challenging sequence of moves and was very encouraging and helpful.  She generated really good vibes, if that sounds yoga-y enough for you. I find it really encouraging that you do not have to be able to contort your body in all sorts of crazy ways to be a good yoga teacher.

I went to another class on Sunday. This was a class sponsored by Tippi Yogis. They hold a class at a local bar. For a $10 donation you get a free yoga class and a free drink after the class is done. This class was very different than Saturday’s class.  The teacher was tiny and limber and really funny.  And the drink afterward was pretty fun too.  Tim and I actually biked to the class and back, which was really invigorating. The weather was slightly chilly, but we dressed in layers, and after  couple of hills, we ditched those.

Lesson learned from the week and weekend – all sorts of yoga teachers can be successful!  I think different teachers resonate with different students. Maybe I’ll find my clan if/when I decide to actually teach (aka work up the courage to teach).

There’s my yoga update.  I don’t have any good recipe updates.  I think I cooked at home a few nights, but I must not have tried anything new.  My memory fails me! Last week was oh so long ago! This week I have 2-3 new recipes, one of which I’m making tonight (salmon with avocado salsa). I’ll let you know how they turned out.

Hope you had a chance to get outside today. It was an absolutely perfect October day.

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The Perfect Fall


Like most Sundays, today rather got away from me.  We intended to go for a long bike ride, but we were both whooped. Yesterday we got a couples massage at Indigo Wellness, which was super awesome, but also kind of exhausting somehow.  We also ran yesterday.  And this is our first weekend sans guests in a month, so we felt like taking it easy today.

So we made breakfast at home, talked to both my brothers, bought some grasses and plants for the front beds, ate lunch and froze to death outside at Governors (the mischievous sun disappeared about 3 minutes after we sat down), hit Menards for some more gardening supplies, and then headed home.

Once we got home we planted the grasses in the front bed.  They were 75% off at Home Depot, so we got 4 grasses, 4 sage plants, and 2 perennial flowers for $36!  We figure if they don’t come back next year, we aren’t out much.  If they do come back, I think it’s going to look great out there.  We also pulled out all our plants from our square foot gardens and tilled in a bunch of compost from our bin.  Tim’s going to plant some kale and see how it does over the winter.

It’s been such a pleasant afternoon working the yard, being outside, and spending time with Tim.  It was exactly what I needed.  I’ve been feeling a little high strung lately – I’m sure it’s due to eating too much bad food, drinking too often, and getting out of my exercise routine.  I’m constantly amazed by how big of an impact diet and exercise have on my mental wellbeing.

Speaking of exercise, I also did this yoga video. I love Rebecca Pachecho.  Her pacing and instruction is great, and she’s just really, well, pretty. :)  I enjoyed the video, but what I did not enjoy was pulling up my new Beyond Yoga capris constantly.  I ordered them online, and they seemed to fit well initially, but when I do yoga in them they seem to have difficulties containing my arse.  I’m afraid now I have $50 pajama bottoms. :( I need to learn to suck it up and go shopping in real physical stores instead of just shopping online.  Now my only option is to strategically lose 3 lbs off my butt.  On a happy note, I really love the fabric of the pants. It’s super soft.

Tim and I didn’t make it to the grocery store today, but since we hit up the farmers market yesterday, we should be OK. Last night I made Heavenly Paleo Meatloaf (the blog where this recipe was initially posted seems to be out of commission now, but if you want the recipe, let me know) with acorn squash.  The recipe makes 2 huge loafs, so we have leftovers for tonight. I’m going to cook up some brussel sprouts with onions in bacon grease for a side dish.  The brussel sprouts are from our garden. They took allllll summer to grow, and I can’t wait to see how they taste.  We found a random carrot while planting the grasses today, and it was the sweetest, earthiest thing you’ve ever eaten.  Sometimes living in Iowa is allllllright.

So that’s my update, as I’m sitting here in our backyard, mostly super content except for the screaming hellion next door.  Yin and yang, man.

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October Breeze


Whole-leeeee Cow. It’s October 25th, and I haven’t made a post since 9/30.  I’ve really been slacking off lately.  In my defense, it’s been a month of visiting with family, biking, hiking, traveling, and figuring things out.  All that stuff takes time!  And then you add the jay oh bee on top of it, and October is gone, baby, gone.

As usual, when life gets wonky, I fall out of my routine of eating for health instead of tastiness and then start to feel the results.  I’m going to get back in my rhythm of cooking and eating at home more, and I’m going to start making it to yoga class at least twice a week. Maybe I’ll even work up the courage to try hot yoga.  If I pass out, hit my head, and die, please know that I really appreciate you reading my blog.

So, all that is said to say that I should be posting more regularly going forward!

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Writer’s Block


Why is it that whenever you actually have a bit of time to write, you can’t think of anything to write about?  All day long I get these random thoughts and ideas for things I want to get on paper, but then, I stand at my computer, and…blankness. I stare at my nails, contemplating removing the polish.  I think about doing homework.  I think about sleeping. I think about doing dishes. I think about doing anything but staring at a blank computer screen.  So I just start typing and see what comes out.

I haven’t written for TWO weeks!  It’s not because I’ve been lazy, I swears!  I went to Florida for 6 days for work.  While on the trip I got to go to the Magic Kingdom.  It was an interesting experience, and I’m glad did it once, but once is enough!  The older I get and the better I get to know myself, the more I realize that waiting in line for a train to take you to a park where you can wait in line to get in, where you can wait in line to sit in a car and look at electronic creations move and sing and dance is not really my cup of tea.  For the time and money, I would much rather be walking, hiking, biking, or lazing in some natural space with trees or oceans or mountains.  But, again, I’m glad I’ve done it once so I won’t always wonder, “how much better would my life be right now if I had gone to The Magic Kingdom?”  Now I know.

I’ve also started the edX Science of Happiness class.  It’s a very interesting class and very well done. I’ve already learned tons of good stuff :

  1. Happiness is found in freedom from desire (Stoicism, anyone?).
  2. The pursuit of happiness can entail struggle, sacrifice and pain. In fact those experiences are necessary to be happy.  Yin and yang.
  3. The more positive experiences you have, the more open you are – you physically SEE more things.  You see the bigger picture and are more creative.  Happiness biologically changes you.
  4. If you think happy thoughts before a test you do better on the test.
  5. People replace 1% of their cells each day.  Every 3 months we replace 100% of our cells.  It takes about 3 months to form a new habit.  ????
  6. We get used to things that make us happy (hedonistic adaptation). My MacBook will not keep me happy forever.  :(
  7. Sources of happiness:  exercise, sleep, sense of achievement, social connection & kindness (aka I need more good friends).
  8. Touch is super important to happiness and health.  Our culture deprives us of this.  I need to move to Puerto Rico.
  9. Behaviors that indicate divorce: contempt, criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness.
  10. Behaviors that help relationships:  humor, gratitude, forgiveness, disclosure (accept the emotions of others instead of pushing back).

And that’s just from the 1st two weeks.  I’m already a week behind and not likely to catch up anytime soon.  I’m not going to sweat it, though. I will learn what I will learn.  It’s a fantastic, very interesting class though.  It should be required learning for every human being.  :)

Yoga is going well too.  I signed up for a 30 day yoga challenge at http://www.DoYouYoga.com.  It helps me do a little bit of yoga every day (10-15 minutes).  Plus, the instructor, Erin, is super fun and pretty.  Pretty people keep you coming back!  I’ve also been to several classes at Indigo Wellness with several different teachers. It’s very interesting to see all the different teaching styles.  I read somewhere (probably on http://www.mindbodygreen.com or http://www.doyouyoga.com) that you should write after every yoga class to help you get more out of it.  I’ve yet to do that – always in a rush to get home, I guess. But I see the value in it.  At each class I learn something, whether it be a new pose, or a style/method I liked or didn’t like.  Writing these impressions would help me remember them.

And on to the final topic I usually cover in my posts – food.  I ate a bunch and drank a bunch in Florida that I should not have eaten or drunken.  I’m trying to get back on track this week.  I tried this new recipe:  Sweet Potato & Leek Omelet.  I have bad, bad luck with omelets, so I made this into a scramble and served it with bacon and kale chips for supper. It was deeeeeelicious.  I’ll definitely make this again.

And that’s my update for now.  Sorry it’s a little incoherent and scattered, but that’s life right now!  Hope you are having a fabulous day!!

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Mourning Summer


We had an absolutely beautiful summer here in Iowa this year.  Some would say we didn’t have hot enough weather, but those some are retarded. It was gorgeous most of the time.  While we didn’t take a normal, long summer vacation, we did get to spend tons of time outside biking, running, and relaxing.

But now it’s over.  It’s Fall. I love Fall, but it means winter is coming. It means I’ll lose my tan. It means I’ll become vitamin D deficient. It means that I’ll be coooooold.  It means summer is over.  But, to be philosophical about it, there is no sense in resisting the inevitable. I’m just going to embrace it. I may end up actually going to a tanning bed, but winter will not beat me this year.

ANYWAY, it’s been an eventful week or so cooking-wise here.  I tried lots of new recipes – some good, some bad, and I will tell you all about them forthwith post haste.

Broiled Zucchini:  An excellent friend of mine at work, Lisa,  gave me loads of zucchini and acorn squash. I attempted to use some in this recipe.  I don’t know if I sliced the zucchini too thinly or what, but I burned most of these by over-baking them for like a minute or two.  In my opinion there are easier and more fool-proof ways to eat zucchini!

Fermented Gingered Carrots: Ever since my foray into water kefir, I’ve been getting more interested in fermenting.  I ran across this recipe in my RSS feed, and for some reason it sounded really good to me. I tried it, and it did turn out tasty! It’s mighty salty, but we think it would be good mixed in with other stuff – like in a coleslaw or potato salad.  It was super easy to make, too.

Beet Kvass: Since the carrots turned out so good, I thought I would try another fermented veggie – beets!  This looked absolutely beautiful in the jar. It was the most perfect shade of red I have ever seen.  However, when I took off the coffee filter covering, there was a layer of grey scum over the top.  It didn’t look too dangerous, but to be on the safe side we pitched it and decided to make it again, this time using an airlock cover.  After pitching it, we did some research and found out that the mold is harmless and can be skimmed off.  :(  Bummer!  At least we will know for next time. I have another  batch brewing (this time with the airlock to be safe).  We’ll see how it turns out.

And here are two recipes that I’ve made before but that are sooooo good, they deserve another mention.

Lemon Basil Cookies: We had our annual “Wellness Week” at work this week, and that means we have a “healthy” potluck. Since most people are confounded by that restriction, they end up bringing fruit. :)  I made these cookies and Chunky Monkey muffins to help people see that gluten-free treats can be super tasty.  They were a HUGE hit. I had 5 requests for the recipe, and several more people commented on how good they were.  Tim said they taste like gourmet cookies.  My green basil is flowering (much to the delight of our local bumble bees), so I used purple basil that my mom gave me that was planted later in the season. These turned out sooo good. Tim and I also broke down and bought a real zester.  I cannot believe how much easier it makes zesting.  It makes me wonder how much better my life would be if I caved and spent $30 for an immersion blender…

Meat Sauce: I can’t link to this recipe because it’s not listed for free online. I got it from the 21 Day Sugar Detox.  It’s a combination of ground meat, celtic sea salt, garlic, tomato, and basil.  I made it and put it over butternut squash. It was soooooo tasty, and it made the kitchen smell delicious.  We reheated the leftovers and ate them with two over-easy eggs on top.  Super delicious.

And there you go. I didn’t do much meal planning this week because we still had a bunch of groceries in the house come Sunday.  And thanks to Lisa, I have a tons of safe starches on hand, and thanks to my free spending at the Farmer’s Market last Saturday, we have tons of ground meat on hand.  And with those two things, you can make tons of quick and easy meals.  Which is a very good thing because Tim has been crazy busy at work (working 12 hour days), and I’ve been busy trying to ramp up my yoga practice so that I don’t look like an inexperienced fool when I start yoga teacher training in January!  I’m trying to get in 5 days of yoga (2 classes at Indigo and the rest at home using YouTube videos like this one), 2 days of weights, and 2 days of running.  I’m running out of time though!!  I also signed up for 2 edX classes (Science of Happiness and Behavioral Medicine: The Key to Better Health), both of which I am super interested in, but have yet to find the time to actually DO!

Tim and I discussed this predicament and decided we need to quit our jobs so we have the appropriate amount of time to pursue our hobbies and interests.  If any of my readers are wealthy and want to become patrons, let me know!!!

I hope you have a great Saturday night, and thanks for reading!

 

 

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Liver Bomb


As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, by using http://www.paleotrack.com to track my food intake, I’ve realized that it’s really hard to get the RDA of minerals.  In an attempt to rectify this (without having to take 10 different pills each morning), I’m trying to incorporate more liver in our diet.  I ground up a pound of chicken liver in the food processor, and every time I made a ground-meat dish this week, I added in 1-3 tablespoons of liquefied liver.  It looked pretty gross, but you can’t really taste it.  I didn’t use up all the ground liver this way, so I spooned the remainder into ice cube trays and froze it.  This way I can add a cube or two to meat as I cook it.

The vendor at the Farmer’s Market sells the liver in 2 lb batches, so I used the other pound to make Deli Chopped Liver.  First of all, handling liver is pretty disgusting. It’s red, bloody, and looks like huge leeches.  Secondly, it took about 4 days for the liver and onion smell to get out of the house.  Thirdly, the resulting product was just OK.  I only ate an appreciable amount the evening I came home from having a couple of drinks with some friends.  Deli Chopped Liver is the kind of thing that just doesn’t really sound good until you’ve lowered your natural defenses with some alcohol.  Fourthly, I took some up to my parents’ so that my Dad, who likes and will try everything, could try it.  He did not like the looks of it AT ALL.  It is a pretty unappetizing shade of tan, admittedly.  But, trooper that he is, he tried it.  He did not like the taste of it AT ALL either.  He made some weird, “hewwww hoooooo” coughing noise when he ate it.  Consequently, due to the aforementioned reasons, I will never make this recipe ever again. I will just continue to grind up the liver and sneak it into meat dishes. You are forewarned now, if you ever come to my house for hamburgers or meatloaf.

I tried another recipe this week that turned out disappointing: Cauliflower Muffin Bites.  This recipe sounded really good, and I almost always like recipes from http://www.marksdailyapple.com, but neither Tim nor I were fans of this one.  First of all, it created a ton of dirty dishes – food processor bowl and blade, glass mixing bowl, muffin pan, towel for wringing out the excess water, etc.  And the resulting product did not have a ton of flavor; it was pretty bland.  It wasn’t worth the effort, IMHO.  This morning, however, I broke up 4 of the muffins and sauteed them in some bacon grease with more salt & pepper, and some cinnamon.  We ate it with scrambled eggs doused with hot sauce.  That was pretty tasty.

I tried another new recipe that was a roaring success:  Southwestern Frittata.  I printed this recipe out ages ago but just never got around to trying it.  The recipe seemed so simple and basic – how could it be THAT great?  Well, I finally tried it this week, and Tim and I absolutely LOVED it!!  It is super easy to make, uses ingredients I almost always have on hand, and it makes A LOT.  We got at least 3 meals out of this.  This will definitely go into our regular rotation.

And there’s my recipe update for the week.  We did good eating at home this week, but for some reason we still have a lot of food in the fridge!  I think I might be able to get by without a major grocery store trip until mid next week.  Oh!  At the Farmer’s Market I picked up some really nice-looking beets.  I’m going to try my hand at Beet Kvass.  I’m excited to see how it turns out.  My water kefir is doing amazing (I’ll write another post on that later), so I think my fermenting luck has turned.

Hope you have a great Sunday.  It’s 75 and sunny here in Iowa.  Tim and I have tons of plans for relaxing today (biking and sitting outside by a fire).  I can’t wait. :)

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Scones!


Scones.  Yum.  My friend, Marta, and I LOVE Panera scones, especially the ones with that powdered sugar glaze.  They are all sorts of delicious.  Unfortunately they are not at all paleo.  Consequently, I was forced to make paleo scones for work today.

I tried this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Scones.  My workmates thought it turned out tasty, and I agree in general.  I think I overbaked them, however.  Since they are made with almond flour, they are dark to start with, so it’s very difficult to tell when they are “golden brown.”  Usually when I make paleo desserts I end up under baking them, so I erred the other way and cooked these too long.  BUT they turned out good enough that I’ve eaten 4 of them since last night.  Granted, they are pretty small if you make 16 slices, but still. :)  I would definitely make these again, but next time I might add some raisins. I would also like to experiment with making homemade whipped cream.  I think that would be fabulous on top of these scones.

But, as with all paleo desserts, I can’t make them often. I end up eating too much of them.  And today was a day for overeating – lots of scones, Himalayan dark chocolate salted almonds, and Reese’s Pumpkins.  Oh boy.

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