*******************************THIS IS A MUST READ POST!***************************
Not only am I sharing in this post my go-to yummy and easy breakfast casserole that is such a life saver during those busy weekday mornings, but I am also sharing what I learned last week at the amazing PaleoFx Conference here in Austin, TX! I will start with the recipe because it is THAT good and so convenient! I usually make this on Sundays and then my hubby and I have breakfast made for the week. All we need to do is reheat! Feel free to add or substitute any veggies you have lying around in your kitchen. Depending on the week this casserole changes but this is my fave combination that you will see below. As always I love feedback, so be sure to leave comments if you make any changes so we can all share from your wonderful tips! Enjoy!
So last week I had the awesome pleasure to attend PaleoFx held here in Austin, TX. OMG! Where do I begin? I was in Paleo Super Star Heaven. It was like the Oscars for the “who’s who” in the Paleo industry. I got to meet so many amazing people who are doing such awesome things. Not only where there big names like Robb Wolf, author of the Paleo Solution and who people were referring to him as Paleo Jesus, but also in attendance were well renowned scientists, medical professionals, bloggers, chefs, professional athletes, certified nutritionists and life coaches all there to all share their stories. I was in awe not only by all the good work that has been done by these professionals but also by the hundreds of attendees who were there also sharing their success stories how converting to Paleo lifestyle has not only improved their health but their children and loved ones as well.
Some of the “Big Name” Chef and Bloggers that were there (of course I was there too but I won’t include myself on this short list. Maybe one day, right? A girl can dream?):
Julie Bauer from PaleOMG, George Bryant from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations, Stacy and Matt Toth from Paleo Parents, Sarah Fragroso from Everyday Paleo, Diane Sanfilippo from Balanced Bites and 21 Day Sugar Detox Phenomenon, Hayley Mason & Bill Staley from Primal Palate, just to name a few…
The lists go on and on. The two people that stood out for me were Stacy Toth and Sarah Fragoso.
The BEST experience from the weekend by far was meeting Sarah Fragroso. I “clicked” with her in a stalkerish, follower kind of way I guess. No just kidding, it wasn’t that bad but we did “hang” a lot and talked several times over the course of the weekend. She is cute, genuine, easy going and so down to earth. What I loved most about Sarah was her message from her formal talk. Her presentation was titled, “Putting on your oxygen mask first.” Sarah started her presentation explaining there is a reason why the airlines tell adults to place their oxygen mask on first in case of an emergency before they help their kids. Basically, her whole 30 minute presentation was about how as parents (mostly Mothers) we go on our day doing EVERYTHING for EVERYONE: our kids, work, family, friends, etc and the LAST person we take care of is OURSELVES. She says that is a recipe for failure. If we don’t choose us first then we will get fat, bitchy and unhealthy and who wants to hang with a person like that?!?!? No one! And if you can’t love yourself, we make it harder for others to love to us back. Sounds simple, right?! What I took away from her talk was we need to stop thinking it is selfish to take “me” time. We need to take the time to eat healthy, work out, and take that afternoon away from cleaning the house and taking care of the kids and do something that will reenergize us. I know it is easier said than done but I promise you, you will be a better Mom, friend, wife, etc for it. What I also loved about Sarah was she was very easy going and made me realize it is ok if you have a cheat day or if your kids walk outside the house with different socks on. Those things do not mean much in the greater scheme of things. We are not bad mothers, only on the contrary, it shows we are normal. Don’t fret the little stuff and enjoy the journey. All kids need is love and consistency and if you can give those to them as much as you can, they will grow up to be good, abiding citizens! And in my book that will mean I will have done my “job!”
My favorite quote from Sarah said was, “Healthy by choice, HOT by accident.” I need to frame that or put it on a bumper sticker and remember that everyday because I choose to live by those words. Heck we should all place those words on the refrigerator so next time I reach for that chocolate cake (I never have chocolate cake in the fridge but you get my point) we will be reminded of the sacrifices we are making daily.
The second person I enjoyed speaking to was Stacy Toth from Paleo Parents. I enjoyed listening to her perspective because we both have young children. Stacy is a walking poster girl for Paleo. She and her husband have both lost over 200lbs together by just switching to a Paleo and active lifestyle. Her children are also Paleo, and although she gets flack from it by some readers, she doesn’t care. Stacy knows what she is doing for her children is making them healthier and she says that is how she sleeps at night. She is outgoing, ever so funny and so real. Her oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD and after she changed his diet to be gluten and dairy free, he has not needed any medications. Stacy’s son is not the only case. There are lots of research coming out now that says kids following a gluten-free life have drastically improved their behavior and quality of life for the better. ADHD, autism and other autoimmune disorders are disappearing when gluten and dairy products are being removed. It may be shocking to some, but to me it affirms the concept “garbage in, garbage out.” Anyway, I cornered Stacy and asked her what she REALLY did when her kids where in social situations, did they REALLY eat Paleo? Personally, I know I can monitor and control what my kids eat in my house and I am ok with that, but my biggest issues are when they leave the house and the foods they encounter. Believe me, I don’t want to be THAT Mom of a kid who can’t eat the cakes at a party or the highly processed snacks at a play group because they aren’t Paleo or healthy. Over the last 4 years I realized moderation is key; but I must admit I learned that the hard way. I was THAT mother that never let her kids drink juice until one day when my then 2 year old went to a play date had a juice box for the first time and he loved it so much he went around the table to the other kids juice boxes and starting chugging theirs. Boy did I have visions of him in college binge drinking at my expense. I knew from that moment on that I had to teach my children the meaning of moderation. And I am ok with that.
Now getting back to my question, Stacy said the key to success and she told me flat-out is STOP BUYING CRAP. I am with her 95% of the time but for me breakfast is the meal I have the most trouble. For us, breakfast is when I am the weakest when my kids beg for cereal at 6:30 in the morning and I still have not had my first cup of coffee. What’s a girl to do?!?!? When in situations like that what I need to do is I must remember who the boss is; my kids don’t have a say. Instead of lying to him and telling them I “forgot” to buy cereal during my last grocery trip (which I must admit the thought has crossed my mind), I decided to just talk to my boys like adults (mind you they are 3 and 2) and tell them the truth, I figured they would retain maybe half of the information, right? I tried explaining to my boys that all grain cereals do not fill them up like protein can and sugar is not good because excess sugar in our bodies turns into fat. I also talked about how sugar puts holes in their teeth (i.e. cavities) and cavities hurt! After that one conversation, my 3 year old son, Jackson, on his own accord came up with the idea that maybe he can alternate between one morning having eggs and the other morning cereal and just like that we half-ed our cereal consumption, tantrum free. It is about baby steps guys. Hopefully in a while we will have eliminated grains altogether but if not, it is a journey. Our school just changed over to a nut free school so lunch now for our boys are hard-boiled eggs or cold cuts with cheese “roll ups” (I still give my kids dairy but sans bread). What we all have to remember, at the end of the day, we don’t want our kids to grow up with a neurosis for healthy food. I just want them to understand what healthy food is and when they are older I want them to have all the tools and information so THEY can make good choices. I will not be there with them 24 hours of the day and I am ok with that. So if you are reading this and you do not agree with me, sue me because I want my kids to eat healthy and live an active lifestyle like my husband and I do. We lead by example but we are not perfect. I want them to have fun and I don’t care if they eat the occasional piece of cake at a birthday party or the handful of goldfish crackers at school once in a while because I do the same. The point is I can sleep at night knowing the majority of the time I am giving them the best food they can eat and if they don’t eat what I give them, then they don’t eat. It is as simple as that. Kids won’t starve, at least my boys don’t. They will eventually eat when they are hungry, I can promise you that, and when they are ready to eat they have lot so healthy food options to pick from.
I don’t want to go on too much more about PaleoFx but I wanted to share my experiences with you all because I think it was important and certainly worthwhile. Before I sign off, I do want to mention that Pal ateoFx I also got to meet several local Austin Paleo friendly businesses which were so cool that I must give them all shout out; we local business must stick together!
First I met/ fell in love with, owners Taylor and Katie of Thunderbird Energetica and Epic Bar. Both products are so delicious and oh so very Paleo. I just recently went on the Thunderbird Energetica bandwagon (right before meeting them at PaleoFx) and I love it. I am obsessed. These bars are 100% soy free, dairy free, gluten-free, no added sugar energy bars and are 100% TASTY! I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I learned they expanded their business and now make 100% grass-fed animal based protein bars that are Paleo friendly, gluten-free, and low in sugar. After 1 sample, I ordered an entire box of the bison bacon cranberry. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, then I don’t know what will. Anyway, go check them out. They are awesome people and since meeting them I have been telling their story.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Dustin and Lauren Gersch from Paleo Powder. They too have lost over 100lbs together after converting to a healthy Paleo lifestyle. Their Paleo Powder is Gluten Free and MSG Free and is made of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and a pepper blend. It is so tasty. I have already blogged about one of their recipes, Paleo Broccoli Vegetable Soup. They have lots of other yummy recipes so be sure to not only check out their recipes but look to see where you can buy or order a jar for yourself.
Lastly, I must tell you all about the awesome Kat Grosshaupt who I also fell in love with. She is Mom, Crossfit Coach, Doula, Childbirth Educator and more….She is helping women in Austin one labor at a time. She is so cool and offers Crossfit bootcamps, Hynobirthing, and more. Be sure to check out my new BFF and what she has to offer.
Ok and that’s it folks…here is the ever yummy recipe and pictures!
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to ½ in cubes
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- 1lb of natural pork sausage
- 3 cups of frozen or fresh spinach
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil (or fat of your choice)
- 12 eggs
- 1 cup of coconut milk from a can (use the full fat kind)
- ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- While you are waiting for oven to get warm, peel and cut your sweet potatoes into ½ inch cubes. The smaller you cut them the faster they will cook. I placed the cubed sweet potato on a lined cookie sheet and added about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. When they are seasoned plop them in the oven for about 30 minutes until cooked all the way through and lightly roasted. Cook for longer if you think it needs more time and you will certainly have the time since you will be caramelizing the onions and browning the pork at the same time. Once you are done roasting the sweet potatoes, please lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- While your sweet potatoes are roasting, peel and cut your large onion and in a sauté/ frying pan warm about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (or your fat of choice) and slowly caramelize your onions. It should take about 20-25 minutes, don’t rush this step. Cook on medium to low heat and constantly stir the onions to avoid burning. This step is optional but I find when you caramelize the onions first instead of placing them raw in the casserole it gives the casserole an overall sweet and smoother consistency.
- Once your onions are complete, take them off the heat and place them in a bowl off to the side. In the same pan, add a little more olive oil (or fat of your choice), probably no more than 1 tablespoon, and brown your 1lb of pork sausage. Cook on medium heat until most of the pink is gone. When you are complete put the pork in another bowl and put to the side until you are ready to assemble the casserole.
- The last step before the assembly process is whisking all 12 eggs, 1 cup of coconut milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl.
- Now you are ready to assemble. Take your 13×9 in Pyrex pan and lightly grease it. First you will place your browned sausage on the bottom of the pan.
- Next, you will place the caramelized onions.
- After the onions, place your roasted sweet potatoes. It is important to note you can add any vegetable in this casserole. One time I made it with cubed butternut squash. You can also add other starchy veggie like acorn squash or sub for roasted zucchini and summer squash. The sky is the limit with this casserole.
- Next, add the 3 cups of frozen or fresh spinach.
- The last step in the assembly process is to add your egg and coconut milk mixture. For all the steps you want to make sure you spread the ingredients evenly so each bite has every ingredient but this is the most important rule where it applies because you want to make sure the egg mixture covers all the ingredients.
- Roast the entire pan uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
So how many people are coming to PaleoFx next year? How many of you are rushing off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make this casserole?!?! I hope all of you are!
See your Recipe Book.