Bacon and Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash {21DSD} {WIAW}

Happy Wednesday: one week and one day left til Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to eat food. Everyone is already flipping out about Christmas and I’m not against that or anything, I just feel bad for Thanksgiving. I think “the holidays” just get wrapped up into one “event” and Thanksgiving just gets lost…..but I think it’s awesome. Because you get to cook and eat food and be with family without spending ALL the money and worrying if someone is going to like your gift.

This week for What I ate Wednesday, I have a recipe that would make a GREAT Thanksgiving side dish…or any fall dinner side dish. I love all kinds of squash and while butternut it up at the top of my favorites, acorn squash is up there too.

I have been sticking with the The 21-Day Sugar Detox for the last couple of weeks and it feels great! I can’t believe how much it drastically reduces my will to snack and eat all day. It’s crazy. Yes it’s hard abstaining from sweet and sugary things but it makes SUCH a difference. I should probably eat like this all the time…..it’s like one sweet thing and I fall down the rabbit hole. There’s not a lot of “moderation” when it comes to sugar because it makes you crave more! It’s also hard giving up plantains. SunButter and coconut butter
are essential tools to get through a sugar detox! I make my own to make it cheaper. BUT one more week! Here’s some meals:

21 Day sugar detox burgers

Burger Night! Finally picked up some beef from our farmer and I made Nom Nom Paleo’s bacon burgers with homemade relish and spicy carrot fries. And yes that is sun butter to go with my carrot fries. Because, why not?

dry rub pork butt

I made a pork shoulder in the pressure cooker the other night and created this dry rub for it. I forgot to take a picture when it was on my plate but this was a thing of beauty. The pressure cooker is magic. A 6 lb pork shoulder done and falling apart in 1 hour.

And of course these:

bacon and pecan stufffed acorn squash

You can basically add bacon to almost everything, I’m discovering. Especially squash. I made these for a quick lunch the other day but I think they’d make a great Thanksgiving side dish. You could easily add maple syrup if you’re not on the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I didn’t add syrup and they were just as delicious! Enjoy!

bacon pecan acorn squash

Bacon and Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2
A 21 Day Sugar Detox compliant Thanksgiving side dish.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 acorn squash, split and seeded*
  2. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  3. 2 strips of bacon
  4. 1/4 cup of pecans
  5. 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (**if not on 21 DSD**)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Melt coconut oil in the microwave. Spread the oil on the inside of the acorn squash.
  3. Place acorn squash face down on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 min or until you can press your finger into the back of the squash (be careful not to burn yourself, as I regularly do)
  5. While squash is baking, fry the bacon in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet until crispy and brown.
  6. Set the bacon aside, leaving the grease in the pan.
  7. Place pecans in the bacon grease and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside with bacon.
  8. Give the bacon and pecans a rough chop. **If using maple syrup, add the bacon and pecans to a bowl with the syrup and mix.
  9. When the squash is done, let it cool, then flip over and divide the bacon and pecan mixture into the "bowls".
  10. Mix to eat!
Notes
  1. *You could easily double (or triple!) this recipe to feed more people!
Pencils and Pancakes http://pencilsandpancakes.com/

*FYI: This post contains affiliate links. As always thanks for supporting Pencils and Pancakes.

What are you favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

Have you ever tried the 21DSD?

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Common Core Expository Essay Writing Tools

Whaaaat?  A school post. I don’t even remember the last time I did one…..

tools for an  informational essay

But alas, I have some tools to share with my fellow teachers. This year I have been making videos to accompany my lessons for students who are absent or struggling with concepts. Have you heard of flipped classroom? It’s when the students watch instructional videos and come to class with the material already “learned” so you don’t have to waste class time taking notes/doing direct instruction. Instead, class time is used to do “homework” or “practice” the skills you “taught” in the video. This isn’t so cut and dry with English. I don’t think it works very well with an ELA class, but a colleague is doing it with her math class and I think the flipped model is a great idea for math. I feel like in math the teacher has to give the notes on how to do the problem, and half the kids probably aren’t listening….then they go to do the homework and they don’t know how.

So with flipped classroom in a math setting the kids would watch the instructional video at home, then come to class and practice the problems. Now the kids who didn’t watch the video and or are struggling can get face to face time with the teacher while the advanced kids move on with the problems and videos. My friend has had great success with this method. I just don’t think it works for ELA per say. BUT…

I still like the idea of having instructional videos for lessons available for kids who were not here or are still struggling with a concept. With my short, 68 minute, every other day blocks it’s hard to differentiate or pick up students who don’t understand after the fact. I make videos for every lesson outlining what we did and the key concepts and students who are absent or struggling can just watch the video! We have a lot of attendance issues this year and it makes giving students back work a breeze. It becomes THEIR responsibility to learn what they missed.

Yes, making the videos is time consuming but I think about the fact that next year they will all be done. So I think it’s worth it. I know there are tons of resources like Learnzillion to get videos from but I really just like making my own stuff.

I made a set of videos that explains how to write an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion of a common core expository essay. This essay would work for any simple, explanatory essay especially to prepare for state exams. Our essay was based off of the short story “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros (excerpt from the novel- first chapter). So for your students you can just tell them to plug in the applicable story. Here is the example of the essay question I give my students. This is for the first chapter of the novel “The House on Mango Street.”

Introduction

Body Paragraphs

Conclusions

Also, I have a great graphic organizer that students can use, available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site! This organizer corresponds to the items in the videos. It is also completely aligned to common core standards! This is for 8th grade but anything in the middle grades is pretty much the same.

Informative Essay Graphic Organizer

What do you think about the “flipped classroom” idea?

 

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How to roast my favorite vegetables

Whenever someone says that they don’t like vegetables, my first thought is that they are probably cooking them in an unappetizing manner. Growing up the only vegetables I can remember eating were vegetables from a can (gross) or vegetables that were steamed (boring). Sorry but steamed veggies just don’t do it for me. The only thing I really enjoy eating steamed is fresh green beans from the garden. I don’t mind those raw, however, either.

how to roast vegetables

It wasn’t until I started cooking and eating real food that I discovered roasting vegetables. Add some fat and spice to virtually any veggie, roast in the oven and it’s magic! Vegetables are now delicious! Who woulda thought?!?!

Some of my favorites:

Roast Carrot Fries
Carrot Fries2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries

Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries 2

Plantain Fries (duh)

plantain fries

Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Squash

I could go on and on- the possibilities are endless! Instead, I’ve created a handy guide for you to roasting vegetables with tons of combos. It includes two spice combos for each vegetable, recommended roasting fats and temperature and time. I’ve provided this guide for you FREE! All you have to do is enter your email and you’ll be able to download the PDF. I promise to not spam you! I hardly even remember to do newsletters with my mailing list. Once a week is the VERY MOST I will send out emails and often times it’s less frequent than that! Thanks for reading :)


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

 

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Thinking Out Loud Thursday

I have a lot of random stuff to share today so I decided to linkup with one of my fav bloggers, Amanda, for her thinking out loud thurs series!!!

1. I’m so excited that Hallmark is already playing its Christmas movies. I was obsessed with them last year and although it’s a little early I was happy to spend last Saturday on the couch binging on them. So corny but so good at the same time.

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Love this one

2. I know Halloween is long gone and everyone is ready for the holidays but I was so happy to finally find this beer a couple weeks ago at Wegmans. Considering I looked for it for a straight two months before hand after seeing it on the Southern Tier Brewing Instagram hashtag. It’s like a slight pumpkin flavor but a thicker, stout type beer.

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3. Haven’t really mentioned much about her since we got her in July but I think you could say Anna is part of the family. We got her a dog bed a couple weekends ago because she preferred the couch to the floor….. Problem solved.

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4. Please tell me you are aware of the extremely entertaining time wasting site The Berry!!!!! If you aren’t I don’t know what you are doing with your life. Actually you’re probably doing pretty productive things because this site is awesome for distracting me from doing actual work. But it’s always great for a laugh when I’m stressed or bored.

5. The 21 Day Sugar Detox is going decent. I’ll be honest and say that I did have a couple of cookie dough bites) that I made for a ‘book release’ party last week because I was starving and unprepared. They had dates in them so that’s a no go. I’m not starting over though. I consider it win that I stayed away from the wine I served. I think there’s a lot worse things besides dates to eat anyway. I’ve stayed away from all processed stuff and fruit. Here’s a Breakfast I made the other morning: soft boiled eggs, peppers and onions with bacon and a sweet potato with coconut butter.

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Although I had to endure this mental torture at BJs the other day….. OMG.

photo(5)I am getting my hands on one of those in the future. Except it might be seriously dangerous knowing that the tub is that big!!! One day…..

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Have you been to The Berry Website??

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WIAW- Trader Joe’s Haul!

Happy Wednesday! The week is flying by. We have a busy weekend at home seeing every possible person we could see. We hadn’t been home together since February because of all of our animals (of course now they’re in the freezer).

I decided this week to start a 21-Day Sugar Detox (affiliate link) before the madness of the holidays start. I am declaring on this blog that I am doing the detox so you all can hold me accountable. I also did it last year at this time. First treat made- 21 DSD almond butter cups. I think I can do this!!

 

I didn’t manage to get many pictures of anything but I did happen to have my first Trader Joe’s experience on Saturday and I wanted to share the goodness for What I ate Wednedsay. I had never been to Trader Joe’s and one opened in Syracuse earlier in the month……. I knew it was going to be busy but I wasn’t prepared for the craziness. My friend’s husband basically summed up the atmosphere with this sentence “People will ram their carts into your baby. All they care about is getting their nut butter.” LOL. So true. Alas the one product I really wanted to try which was the cookie butter was NOT IN STOCK. Arghh. Oh well, maybe it’s for the better. I would definitely shop there if I lived near one, but it didn’t compare to Wegmans. There was still a lot of name brand stuff that I wouldn’t be able to get there. I thought it was really small, but I probably just felt that way because it was so busy. Here’s what I did end up with after throwing a  bunch of random stuff into my cart in order to get out of the craziness in as little time possible:

dark choc

So happy to find these 3 ingredient dark chocolate mints. They are the perfect treat and have clean ingredients! Won’t be having these for another 21 days!

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Looking forward to having this in my coffee!

 

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Good deal on sardines! Make sure you look for wild caught.

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This was a great deal for 3.99 considering the gluten free oats I buy at Tops are 6.99. I use these to make the gluten free chocolate chip granola bars in my cookbook! Did you miss my cookbook release last week?? It’s still available! Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, whole food recipes!

 

granola bars2

Check it out!

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What are your favorite Trader Joe’s products?

What grocery store do you prefer?

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Pampered Chef- Best tools for Paleo cooking and baking!

I generally tend to loathe the “sell stuff” parties that seem to be all the rage- candles, Tupperware, make up, purses, nail art, etc etc. It can get annoying to deal with……so that’s why when I decide to actually do one it has to be a product that is WORTH annoying people with. I absolutely LOVE pampered chef products and use them all the time- every day in my kitchen. Instead of having an actual pampered chef party I’m having a book party online- that way anyone can shop any time without the hassle of actually going to a party. I wanted to share the link with you as well as my favorite products in case you’ve never heard of Pampered Chef and are interested. Every product I’ve gotten from there has been worth the price because they are quality and last.

My favorite that I use every day-

Flexible cutting mats

I hate getting out a gargantuan cutting board every time I want to chop up an onion or tomato for a salad or something. That’s why I love these flexible cutting boards. They’re light weight, easy to clean and easy to store. I’ve had my same set for over 2 years.

baker

Rectangular Baker

scrapers

Pan scrapers

I think any of the stone wear is great. This baker is particularly useful for casseroles that contain egg or coconut flour (for Paleo baking) because nothing sticks to it. It’s way easier to clean than a class casserole dish that half of my casserole would be stuck to. I am also thinking about buying the scrapers this time to make clean up even easier!

I don’t have this yet but I am also thinking about getting this stoneware muffin set. Every.single.time. I make Paleo muffins or cupcakes with coconut flour they stick. Doesn’t matter if I grease the pan, use papers, etc. So maybe this is the answer!

Okay this next thing I actually have 4 of….they are amazing. These silicone baking sheet liners can literally be put under ANYTHING and you have NO stickage. Clearly food sticking to pans is a huge issue for me, haha. But with coconut flour and eggs it’s always tricky. I lay these silicon liners down under any granola bars or brownies or paleo breads and nothing ever sticks! They are basically the Pampered Chef equivalent of Silpats.

baking

I know it can seem crazy with people trying to sell you stuff left and right these days but these products are awesome! Especially for Paleo baking where everything has a tendency to stick and you need to be organized and efficient in the kitchen. This post could easily turn  super long so I will leave you the link so you can check out the awesome products yourself! Great for Christmas presents too!!!

What pampered chef products do you love?

What tools for Paleo baking do you find most useful?

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5 Natural Solutions for Sleep

I’ve always had a hard time sleeping. I remember when I was a teenager having insomnia and trying to stomach warm milk at 3 in the morning. I also remember putting lavender under my pillow.

It definitely becomes a mental battle for me when I’ve had one or two nights in a row that I can’t fall asleep. Thankfully lately I’ve gotten in a great routine when it comes to sleep and I haven’t had bouts of insomnia for awhile (knock on wood…)

I used to take anxiety medication when I couldn’t sleep, and my doctor even prescribed me Ambien which I have also taken. But taking these medications scares me because I feel like I could get dependent or even addicted to them and then not be able to sleep without them, which perpetuates the cycle. I even feel this way about Benedryl or Nyquil, which some people use with no problem. Those medications didn’t really make a dent in my insomnia and I feel like using them is just going to perpetuate the problem.

Luckily I’ve found some solutions and routines that work for me and are completely natural and drug free. **Includes affiliate links

1) Having a routine. This sounds pretty boring and standard but the routine of “getting ready for bed” has to be pretty repetitive in order to tell your body it’s time to settle down. This means at the same time every night I get ready for bed and put away my computer or Ipad. I usually try to not go on the Ipad or my phone (need to get better at this) after 8 pm. I also go to bed at the same time every night. Obviously during the workweek I get up at the same time every day, but as painful as it may seem I also try to get up early on the weekends too so as not to throw my internal clock off.

I know, I know, you want  to sleep in on the weekends! But I feel like if you get enough sleep during the week there’s really no reason why you can’t get up normally on Saturday. I usually try not to sleep more than an hour and a half past my normal wake up time.

 

2) Blue light blocking glasses. They look really nerdy, and your spouse will make fun of you, but I’ve seen benefits of using the blue light blocking glasses as soon as I sit down to relax at night. The idea behind wearing them is that our body is not naturally adjusted to being accosted by artificial light after it gets dark, so it doesn’t want to shut down and go to bed. Do your own research about them, but I mean I spent $7 for these and I feel like when I wear them I can feel myself getting more tired. (Maybe it’s all in my head, but whatever works!)

 

3) Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement I know it seems like this is another thing to depend on, but it’s really not. This powdered magnesium supplement
helps me relax at the end of the night. Some nights I have it and some I don’t….and I don’t see any effect either way. I just drink it with hot water sometimes with lemon and honey. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation and many people do not get enough magnesium. It not only can relax your mood but I also find it helps my constantly stiff muscles.

 

4) Magnesium Epsom Salt Bath If you have a little extra time at night and are feeling extra stressed or agitated a bath with an epsom salt soak like this
will do the trick. This is also a great alternative if you don’t feel comfortable taking the Natural Calm. You can usually get the salt at the drug store or grocery store in the bath isle.

 

5) Lavender pouch in pillow case This is an old trick the the scent of lavender is supposed to relax you. I just bought a little pouch of it at a farmer’s market this summer and put it in my pillowcase. It makes my whole pillow smell. Alternatively, you could look into an essential oil diffuser but I have no experience with that so I can’t speak for it.

 

So using all these things in combination I’ve finally settled on a routine that my body accepts as an “it’s bedtime” signal. Also obviously your diet is a main factor. I find when I’m eating very clean I have little problem with sleep. When I eat a lot of sugary things it becomes more challenging. Also alcohol might seem like a good idea to get to sleep initially but I usually wake up a couple hours later and can’t fall back to sleep if I have a couple of drinks that night. It goes to show that most things in your body will regulate if you treat it and feed it right.

All these products, and more are available on the new Pencils and Pancakes Favorite Products Store! Just click on the “shop” tab at the top of my website. I have included all of my favorite cooking product, books and items for better sleep. As always thanks for supporting Pencils and Pancakes.

What things help you sleep the best naturally?

 

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WIAW- Halloween Week

Happy Halloween week! Hope you’re enjoying your pre halloween week! We went to a Halloween party this weekend. It unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of us. Our costumes were pretty lame, considering we bought them for a group costume for a party we’re going to THIS weekend. I promise I’ll get some pictures.

I did get a pic if the dish I made for the party (typical) so I’m linking up again for What I ate Wednesday!

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Ghostly pear guacamole with plantain chips from Primal Palate’s Gather cookbook. So good! There was lots of non-paleo food there but I mostly stuck to the veggies and guac. And….. Beer. Always regret it the next day. We’ll see how I do this weekend. Juli of PaleOMG pretty much summed up my exact thoughts on alcohol in her post yesterday. Always seems like a good idea at the time, and I’m fine with one or two drinks. But anything past that is always not a good time the next day.

Last week we saw the return of chicken, and paleo chicken fajitas with plantain chips. Who needs tortillas when you have plantains???

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Also, I got the chance to make my paleo cereal last week one morning for breakfast. Check out the recipe, it’s delish!

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Speaking of recipes, in case you missed it I finally released my new eCookbook, The Pencils and Pancakes Real Food Cookbook! I worked long and hard in this so your support in any way is extremely appreciated. All the recipes are gluten free, refined sugar free and use real, whole food! Click here to buy or on the cookbook section at the top of my page!

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Cookie dough truffles in the book!!

What are you being for Halloween??


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The Pencils and Pancakes Real Food Cookbook

It’s ready! It’s ready! Finally….after almost a year of working on an eCookbook I am proud and super excited to say that it’s FINALLY ready to sell and on the market!

cookbook.jpgI know I did blog about this previously, but if you didn’t catch my last post, here’s a little about the recipes in this book:

  • gluten free
  • processed sugar free
  • whole food
  • paleo-friendly
  • grain free (all but one)
  • healthy
  • DELICIOUS!

Some of the recipes included are:

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

buffalo chicken pasta

Paleo Cookie Dough Truffles

cookie dough

Homemade Spicy Jalepeno Salsa

Spicy Jalepeno Salsa

Also a never-before shared recipe for my original homemade spaghetti sauce…paleo friendly!

tomato sauce

The book also includes some whole food cooking tips if you’re new to Paleo and whole food cooking.

When you click on the Buy Now graphic, it will take you straight to GumRoad, the service I’m using to sell the eBook. It allows for easy, no hassle credit card payments- no PayPal necessary!

I’m super excited that I finally finished. Although I’m not trying to make a fortune and retire, I think just the fact that I set out to do something and accomplished it is reward enough. At the beginning of the year I had this crazy idea to do this. I asked myself what I enjoyed most about the blog and I think that creating and sharing recipes was it. Why not create and share recipes all together in a collection? I started researching self-publishing and decided to just do it.

I had moments of doubt and pretty much went through a phase this summer where I had no interest in working on the cookbook OR blogging, but a little inspiration was all it took to get it going again.

Just know if you decide to purchase that you’re supporting me being able to keep doing what I love- and that makes me extremely grateful.

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