Saturday, April 20, 2013

Going Paleo: Entertaining and Potlucks (With Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe!)

Lately, I have been talking with a friend and colleague who is interested in "Going Paleo." The Paleo eating lifestyle has been such a great thing for my husband and myself and I'm excited that someone I know is giving it a go.

To put it simply, the Paleo diet is based upon "wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era" (from It's focused on fresh meats (from grass-fed, free ranging animals), fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils.

What the Paleo diet doesn't include is refined sugar, dairy, cereal grains, potatoes, or processed junk.

One of the challenges in adopting a new, healthy diet is that friends and family members might not do the same, which can make cooking for groups tricky! But it is not only possible to share great Paleo dishes with friends who aren't Paleo, but to impress their socks off while you're at it.

Recently, I compiled an email to my friend with Paleo food suggestions on what to do in regards to entertaining and potlucks. I'd like to share some of these with you. I can't take credit for the recipes and don't know at this point where they came from--  I will try to be better at that in the future!

For entertaining, a roast of some kind is always good-- and pretty easy, too. I always have good luck with pork roasts. I make at least two veggie side dishes and a salad. (Have you tried mashed cauliflower?-- it's wonderful!)

A soup makes a wonderful first or main course. You can create lots of lovely soups with a coconut milk base. Bisques come out great-- I did a Paleo lobster bisque for Christmas eve. Squash soup and curries are both superb! 

We recently enjoyed a great appetizer at a Paleo friend's house-- roasted califlower! Our hosts simply broke the flowers apart, tossed in olive oil and sea salt and roasted on a pan. Very, very good!

There are plenty of great Paleo desserts online, but I have to say that chocolate zucchini cake is one of our faves (the recipe is below, in case you'd like to try your hand at this delicious dessert!) You can even please your guests with delicious whipped "cream" on top. Did you know that you can whip canned coconut milk? Just refrigerate, pour off the liquid and beat. It makes a lovely whipped “cream."

Also, a nice arrangement of fruits and dark chocolate is always very nice, so easy, and very pretty!

Gathering Ingredients

Polymer miniature vegetables on cutting board by Shay Aaron
These mini veggies are polymer, not Paleo (by Shay Aaron)
I use the internet for most of my recipe hunting. Paleo Comfort Foods is my go-to cookbook with great recipes. Its easy recipes make it an ideal guide for someone just starting out with Paleo eating.

I have found that even though I do a lot of cooking (my husband does too-- and he’s very good, aren't I a lucky gal!) most of the recipes that we use are easy and don’t require a lot of ingredients.

At first it my seem like you are buying a lot of expensive stuff--and it is at times expensive, but you adapt and find that these basic ingredients last quite a long time.

Stock up on these items:

Coconut oil  -- my number my one ingredient to have on hand
Canned coconut milk (I have it on automatic delivery from Amazon!)
Almond Flour (I buy from
Coconut flour (again,
Kerry Gold pastured butter (can be found in some local supermarkets)
Organic grass-fed meats (local and from US Wellness Meats)
Nuts, dates, figs


Two Great Recipes for Paleo Potlucks and Entertaining 

Here's my suggestion for a great potluck salad. Try it and let me know how you like it!

Chicken or Turkey Salad w/ Pecans and Grapes

4 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup red grapes, halved
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise
4 handfuls of mixed lettuce greens

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Serve on lettuce.
Serves four (but easily doubled or tripled as needed!)

Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1 medium zucchini, shredded (equal to 1.5 cups shredded zucchini)
2 eggs, whisked
3/4 cup sunbutter or almond butter
1/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Optional: For extra chocolate intensity, add Enjoy Life chocolate chips (soy, gluten, dairy, free), 1/4 cup.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Shred your zucchini. Use the shredding attachment on a food processor or grate by hand.
  3. Once your zucchini is shredded, you need to remove the excess liquid. Zucchinis have a lot of it! Place between paper towels and squeeze! Use more paper towels as needed, but be sure to squeeze until the zucchini feels waterless.
  4. Place zucchini in a bowl with the rest of your ingredients. Use a large spoon to mix well until all the ingredients are combined and you have a deep chocolate color.
  5. Pour your ingredients into 9x9 pan
  6. Place in oven to bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when you poke it.
  7. Let cool, cut and serve!
Make up a batch of coconut cream to top it off, if desired.

Experiment and have fun with recipes and new ways of cooking!

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