Paleo Crockpot Venison Stew

A lot of people have a “love it” or “won’t touch it” attitude when it comes to venison. However I don’t really have a choice due to the fact it comprises about 50% of what I have in my freezer right now!

I definitely don’t mind! Venison isn’t my favorite meat, but it was more or less free and that’s what makes it so good! My husband got a deer in the fall and we processed it here and saved it all with our vacuum saver. Voila- non-supermarket unadulterated

meat in the freezer and I basically didn’t have to do a thing!

Venison is also higher in protein, lower in calories and higher in some vitamins than beef! I prefer the taste of beef, when I cook venison with a variety of different flavors that compliment it, I can hardly tell the difference!


The main benefit for me is obtaining meat that hasn’t been raised by our industrial meat system. Sometimes I don’t get why people don’t want to eat venison because they think of a “cute deer” or something. I mean that deer probably had a better life and death than the cow from the burger you ate from your supermarket meat so there’s little to that argument. And if you’ve been reading my blog for a bit you know I have experience with eating animals that I’ve raised!

Anyway, I bet you were hoping for the recipe sometime soon. This venison stew is super fast to prepare and easy! I made it in about 10 minutes on Sunday before I went to the gym in the morning and it was done by dinner time. Feel free to add potatoes or other root vegetables of your liking. We ate the stew with side salads and still had enough leftovers for the next night! Enjoy!


Paleo Crockpot Venison Stew
Serves 5
A hearty, warm dish perfect for a cold night!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. 1-2 lbs venison stew meat (cubed chunks)
  2. 9-10 carrots, peeled and diced
  3. 2 white onions, sliced
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 4 cups beef or chicken broth
  6. 3/4 can of tomato paste
  7. 1/2 cup red wine
  8. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  9. 1 tsp salt
  10. 1 tsp pepper
  11. 2 tsp dried oregano
  12. 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  13. 2 bay leaves
  1. Place everything in the crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  2. Salt, pepper and season to taste.
Pencils and Pancakes

 This is a great recipe for a weeknight- virtually no dishes and leftovers for the second night (depending on how big your family is). If venison isn’t your thing you can easily sub beef!

Are you a fan of venison?

What are your favorite easy weeknight meals?



What I’ve been eating lately Wednesday + Thoughts on Whole 30

I really haven’t been putting much time into the blog lately, and I definitely have not done a WIAW in a bit, but I had the urge to share what I’ve been eating lately in relation to doing the Whole 30. I decided that with the blog, I am not going to force myself to blog. When I feel like it, I’ll do it! That’s what I’ve been doing. I don’t know why but the past year it’s been up and down with feeling the urge to blog and honestly I don’t want to force out stupid blog posts just to get something up. I hope you’ll stick with me! Here’s some tidbits about what I ate and my thoughts about the Whole 30 I’m participating in this month:

What I Ate Wednesday Button












{typical breakfast: kale, tomato and bacon quiche with parsnip fries and sauerkraut on the side}

Sooo…Whole 30…it’s not going as great as it was last year. I am hungry ALL THE TIME. This is normally not me. Over the past year I really have settled into routine and developed really NORMAl eating patterns as opposed to how I used to be in restricting food and calories and obsessively worrying about it. So yes, the Whole 30 last year was like a jump start for me and over the year of 2014 I really did develop much more natural, healthy eating patterns. Like, I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Very novel idea.


{Lunch- tuna sushi rolls and salad}

However the Whole 30 (although it is very very similar to how I regularly eat) has extra rules I don’t normally follow- like not being able to eat dessert or paleo baked goods. To tell you the truth, these rules are stressing me out. Like normally I would just eat dinner to when I’m full knowing that I am going to have a little snack later. Now during the Whole 30 I’ve been like “better eat as much as possible for dinner because there’s no snack” mentality, which isn’t really healthy. I thought I had abandoned this mentality.


{Excellent Dinner- Venison steak taco salad with jalepenos, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, onions and plantains}

So to tell you the truth, I really wanted one of my husbands gluten free granola bars this weekend, so I ate one. Oh well. I am still following Whole 30 for the remainder of the month, but I’m not going to let these rules stress me out, especially when I’ve worked so hard to not have them. So if I want to eat something of plan, I am consciously making that a decision and not punishing myself for it. I highly suggest everyone do the Whole 30 strictly at least once in their lives. However, this just isn’t where I am on my journey of eating, so I’m not that strict about it. Mostly the lesson learned is- do what works for you!


{Another yummy lunch- Liver/Pork Meatballs and Sage noodles from The Paleo Kitchen<<Sooooooo Good! + a salad}

 Another thing I’ve noticed is that if I’m really going to eat enough at each meal to not snack in the afternoon, I have to eat a LOT. It’s possible but I really don’t have a ton of time to eat in the morning and shoving down that huge breakfast you saw above is difficult! Oh well, there’s no laws against snacks in my world!
















{typical snack- figs with coconut butter YUM!}

 That will be it for what I’ve been eating. Kind of random, but many delicious things. Hope your Whole 30 is going well!

How do you feel about breaking the Whole 3o rules??


Whole 30 Week 2 Meal Plan

Like many other whole food and Paleo bloggers I decided to do the Whole 30 in January. I got a late start because I was too >ahem< sick to start on New Years Day. Then I wasn’t prepared to start on the Friday after New Years because I didn’t have the right food in the house. SO I started last Saturday.

Today is Day 8! Here’s what I have planned for week 2 of my Whole 30. 


Pork Soup
*I made soup with butternut squash, Swiss chard, pork stock and bits of leftover pork. I usually make soup for lunch but it’s been annoying carrying it into school so I decided to just eat it here for breakfast.



Venison Stew (Mon-Wed)
Tuna Sushi (Thu-Fri)

I got these awesome Nori rolls at a natural food co-op I was at Saturday. Can’t wait to put them to the test!


Monday- Leftover Spaghetti Bolognese (over zucchini noodles)
A recipe from Practical Paleo

Tuesday- White pork chili from Meals Made Simple (Against All Grain)
Got this book for Christmas and haven’t made much from it, I was really looking forward to trying this recipe.

Wednesday- Leftovers!

Thursday- Country ribs with mashed parnsips/potatoes and green beans

Fri- Wing it?

Saturday- Pork Arrabiata over zucchini noodles (Also from Meals Made Simple).


A week into Whole 30 and I am feeling better, trying to get in some grass fed beef liver. It tastes gross but I am really trying to force myself to like it. I hide it in some meatballs and it’s pretty good. I picked up a large haul from my farmer the other day. #nutrientseeker


I’ve been feeling very blah and just unmotivated and I’m pretty sure the winter is getting to me. At the natural grocery store I visited this weekend I picked up some Whole 30 compliant vitamins to help with this at the advice of my naturopath. I never even thought of the vitamin D issue. I’m probably getting next to zero vitamin D right now…. Ugh, winter.



Have a great week!
Are you doing Whole 30? How are you feeling?


Getting Started with Real Food

Yep, it’s the start of the new year and everyone is going to get HEALTHY! Right? I know, it’s so cliché but I know I definitely need a detox after the holidays and I have had several people asking me where to start when it comes to getting healthier or getting started with Paleo or whole foods. I’ve found some amazing resources people have been putting out there this week because of new years and I decided to compile them all here in case you’re brand new to Paleo and looking to get started. First, some tips from me!

get started


1. Plan out your meals! I make a detailed food and meal list every week and go shopping for the foods I need. Not only does this save me money but you’ll never be wondering “what do I  make for dinner” on a random weekday and succumb to ordering out.


2. Food prep. I also take 2-4 hours every Sunday to make the lunches, breakfasts and some snacks for the week. I make the same thing for breakfast (like a casserole or quiche) and eat it for the five days. I usually make soup for lunch. I know it seems like a lot but there’s really no other way in my opinion. This is the ONLY way I am able to eat real food all week. It’s hard when you have kids or other obligations on Sundays but think it about it: it’s your health! It’s worth it! (Pick another day if Sunday doesn’t work for you.)

food prepp

3. Use the crock pot/leftovers during the week for dinner. The Crockpot is a magical tool. I put things into it at 6 am and it comes out delicious at 6 pm. This way I don’t have to spend too much time prepping dinner. I actually do enjoy cooking but it does become stressful sometimes during the week. Another trick I’ve used is to make extra of a meal then eat leftovers the next night. So that way if I’m using the crock pot for two nights then making another meal that has leftovers I’m really cutting down my hardcore “weeknight cooking time” to 1-2 nights.

yankee pot roast from Nom Nom Paleo

4. Don’t be hard on yourself if you “slip up”. The biggest problem I think with New Years resolutions is that people act like it’s an “all or nothing” deal. Like once you have one cookie you might as well give up and eat whatever (I used to be like this!!). Health is about what you do 80-90% of the time. One cookie is not going to ruin your life more than one salad is going to make you have perfect health. Just move on and make a better decision next time, no big deal!

5. Get ready to deal with naysayers. Don’t let people give you crap or make you feel like what you are doing is weird. Just be proud and always think of the reason you’re doing this to begin with. Your health. Your life and your family. People around you may make fun of what you’re doing or think it’s weird because they don’t understand it or for some reason are jealous of it. Where I live virtually no one is familiar with the type of diet I eat. I’m teased for bringing in things like sardines and chicken liver to lunch. But in my opinion it’s nobody’s business what I eat just like it’s not my business what they eat.


My favorite Paleo books help me learn about real food, get out of a food rut when I’m bored, and inspire my own recipes!

It Starts with Food: The first book I read before I even knew what Paleo was.  I am doing a Whole 30 in January and I highly recommend you get the book before you decide to do it!

Practical Paleo: Duh. You can’t do Paleo without this book. I recommend it to everyone that asks me about Paleo.

Eat the Yolks: This is more informational but if you’re really interested in the WHY of real food, it’s a must read.


My all time favorite Paleo blog is PaleOMG. Her latest post is also how to start with Paleo- go figure!

The Lil Honey Bee has a lot of great tips for prepping food on the weekends and keeping it super- simple. If you’re not a fancy recipes, tons of ingredients kind of person I highly recommend following Amy’s blog.

Mark’s Daily Apple will give you information about fitness and health, with a more scientific feel.

NomNom Paleo is another great recipe blog!

There’s also been some great slow cooker recipe round-ups floating around out there to help with your food prep!

Primal Palate just published a blog post about how to go Paleo for a month.

I listen to the Balanced Bites Podcast on ITunes. I am absolutely hooked on podcasts now. It’s like we’re going back to the radio. Anyways, this is with the same author’s of Practical Paleo and Eat the Yolks. I love those ladies!

I also listen to Jason Sieb and Sarah Fragoso’s pod cast Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness. They are gym owners and trainers that talk about not only food and fitness but more the lifestyle factors of Paleo.

 (Some of these links were affiliate links- which means I earn a small amount if you click and buy. I only recommend products I myself use and love!)

Well I think that’s a pretty comprehensive list of resources right there! It’s pretty much everything I’ve read/seen/listened to on my journey. I wish you luck if you’re just starting and remember just stick to it and don’t worry if you don’t get it right at first. You’re doing this for the right reasons!


2014 Highlights

So cliché, but so necessary in order to track important life events. How did we ever keep track of what happened before social media?!??! Anyways, without further ado, here’s my favorite moments from 2014.


Valentine’s Day Flowers <3


World of Beer, February Break


We didn’t beat Duke 🙁


But it was a memorable game


NCAA Tournament in Buffalo



Our new piggies!


Birthday wine tour




Memorial Day 2014






Four wheeling




We got Anna


Our anniversary at the Tamarack Club


My pup




More friends





ASP #3

Camping Trip- Allegany State Park 2014




Thanksgiving at home













SU Game November 2014


Paleo book signing!


Dresser Rand Christmas Party 2014


Christmas 2014

Wow it’s been a great year. Odd how all I have to do is look at some pictures in order to really get a sense of how lucky I am. This next year I really resolve to stress less, and put my energy more towards things I really like to do, like farming, gardening and homesteading. I also want to see if I can get the hubby to cancel cable, but we’ll see how that goes. Those are my resolutions! How about yours??


Christmas 2014

Woahhhh…long time no talk! All I know is I haven’t {felt} like blogging for the past three weeks-ish… I didn’t, shoot me!

Plus we were out of town and that makes it hard. I like to blog from my little computer at home and that’s pretty much it! How was your Christmas? Mine was too good not to share so I decided to sit down today and photo dump.



Someone enjoyed the Christmas tree!


I mainly got pictures of food…can you blame me? I made some GREAT recipes from some of the new cookbooks I got. I actually got Mediterranean Paleo Cooking and Every Last Crumb at the Paleo book signing the weekend before we left. I really have no words for that experience- it was amazing and meeting these ladies (and guy!)  was everything I thought it would be!



I look like a super creeper.

Anyways, back to the food! I started Christmas Brunch with the cinnamon rolls from Brittany Angell’s Every Last Crumb. SO glad I bought this book. I almost didn’t! I highly recommend it. It has grain free recipes like I’ve never experienced! Yes some of the ingredients are different but totally worth the effort for these amazing cinnamon rolls!


Let me back up for a minute. For Christmas Eve I made lemon garlic shrimp  from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. Everyone loved it!


That’s it in the top corner. Great appetizer for New Years if you’re looking for one!

Back to Christmas brunch. We enjoyed mimosas with the cinnamon rolls. Then chowed down on ham (from my pigs!), asparagus and sweet potato quiche from Mediterranean Paleo Cooking.



What a delicious way to start the day!


We were just missing Frank, who I had left at my parents house. After brunch that’s where we headed for more Christmas fun. Notice I didn’t mention any presents….clearly you can tell what’s important to me: food! And family of course!


Our buddies finally reunited!


Overall it was a wonderful week that we enjoyed spending with family and friends. I’m so ready for the new year. I’m not sure how often I’m going to be getting to this little blog of mine. I’m on the fence about how often I want to post. I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve backed off a bit this last 6 months. The motive for blogging is a lot different now than it was in the beginning. For now, I’ll just stick to posting when I feel like it. I hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

What was your favorite Christmas food?


Holiday Gift Guide

Yup, had to do it! I am having the hardest time deciding what gifts to get people this year and I am loving everyone’s holiday gift guides! I read them every time and have even gotten some ideas from them.

So I decided to do one of my own! First up is a list of gifts I already have and HIGHLY recommend for any foodies/whole food enthusiasts in your life:

holiday gift guide 1

1.Spiral Vegetable Slicer – love this to make veggie noodles.

2.Silicone Baking Cups – These make EXCELLENT vessels for any paleo/coconut flour muffins or cupcakes.

3.Practical Paleo: The essential how to guide for anyone that’s interested in starting Paleo!

4. Silpat mats – use these for EVERYTHING that I don’t want stuck to the pan! I actually could use more.


Now here’s some gifts that I don’t have but are on MY list!


holiday gift guide 2


1.Clinique Happy – I love this scent! I got a free sample and now it’s out and I’m hooked.

2. I Pad cooking stand I also asked for a keyboard for my Ipad. I could use a cooking stand since I use my Ipad for recipes so much! I usually make a mess which isn’t good because my Ipad isn’t even technically mine….

3. I could also use a fancy looking apron for in the kitchen. Again, I am messy!

4. Shameless: Season 3 : Best show ever! I left off at season 2 and never got to watch it since we cancelled Showtime.

5. Funny shirts from This website is the best- they have the funniest shirts. Check it out!!

Okay, hope I gave you some ideas! Hurry up because the deadline for buying gits online is coming up fast!

Do you do a lot of shopping online?

What do you want for Christmas??

** Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I earn commission if you click and buy. As always, thanks for supporting Pencils and Pancakes.


7 things I’m willing to give up in order to buy quality food

When introducing people to the “whole foods” lifestyle, one of the first reactions is regarding how expensive it must be to eat this way. I agree. And I am one of the cheapest, money saving people you will come across so I understand why the prices on things like grass fed meat, organic produce and other specialty food products may come as a shock.

Your mindset has to be in the right place of prioritizing food over other things in your life before you will be ready to adopt this lifestyle. I’ve talked about this before and have given some tips you can use when you go to the grocery store to save money on real food.

My mind is in this place where I consider some things to be a LOT less important than what I am actually putting in my body. You have to decide yourself where to draw the line. I get annoyed when people talk about how they could “never afford” grass fed meat at the same time they’re wearing designer clothes, have a perfect manicure and are holding a can of soda.

Here’s 10 things I’m willing to ditch in order to afford real food:

1) Aforementioned: monthly manicures. I used to get acrylics almost every two weeks. Not necessary!


Here’s a  pic of when I had them! Throwback!

2) Expensive Clothes

This is really a no brainer. I’ve never been much of a fashion person. It’s not like I dress like a homeless person or anything, lol, I just stop myself before I buy clothing and think “do I really NEED this?” 9 times out of 10, I don’t.  A great website I use to get designer clothes on the cheap is Thred Up. It has quality pre-owned designer clothing at a DEEP discount. I got some great pieces on here for back to school!

thred up

3) Expensive Make-up Wearing make-up every day

Okay, so I admit that for most of the year I was getting my make-up couponing from drug stores. It’s easy to get really cheap make up for next to nothing this way. But recently the cheap-o make up was making me break out. So make up is definitely something un-important to me, but recently I decided to splurge and get some quality make-up with the concession that I don’t use it every day. I’ll really only put on full blown make-up if I’m going out or doing something special. I mean who am I trying to impress at school, lol, the kids?


Yeah, yard work does not require make-up!

4) Hair products and monthly haircuts/color

My hair is long, so I can go 4-6 months between cuts! Not saying it looks pretty by month six, and when I go I just get a basic cut. I used to get hair color treatments but that gets wayyy pricey, especially if you do it once a month! Highlights and color can cost as much as 100 plus tips!

5) A new car


Austin and I have had both of our cars for awhile. Not like getting a new one with a payment would make us go broke, but I’d rather not have the payment right now. I wish we could go down to just having one car, but it’s not feasible with both of us having jobs in different towns. Maybe sometime in the future when I’m a stay at home homesteader/blogger 😉

6) Expensive specialty “paleo” bars/treats


All the delicious paleo treats out there are very alluring and look delicious, but unless I’m getting a free sample, some sort of discount, or REALLY in a bind, I’m not buying them. Sometimes I’ll coupon for Larabars, or splurge on some Steve’s Paleo Packs when we’re going on vacation or something and I need something quick, but that’s the extent of it. I’ve even started making my own nut butter and sunflower seed butters to save a couple of bucks. Almond butter at the store is way too expensive!

7) Going out to dinner


We used to go out to dinner maybe once a week….but to be honest the restaurants around me suck and I cook better food here so why even bother? I’m not going to go pay $10 for a freaking salad (because that’s literally all I can order) that sucks. I like to save going out to dinner for when we’re in Syracuse (back home) or on vacation.

Well I tried to make it to ten things but just couldn’t think of anything else that wasn’t too repetitive (new shoes…that falls under clothes) or obvious (like….soda and processed food, duh you already know I don’t buy those).

What things do you consider less important than processed food?

Do you eat out a lot?


Thanksgiving 2014

Sorry for dropping off the face of the blog earth for a week. I was away from home without the best internet connection or motivation to blog much to be honest!  Just wanted to enjoy the holiday with family and friends. Now that I’m home here’s the highlights from the week:


We had to bring both of our animals back home with us…it certainly made for an interesting trip!


Here’s one of them lounging on the couch at home.

Saturday before Thanksgiving we got together with our friends for a “friendsgiving” it was fun to get everyone together since it’s hard for us living out of town!


Yes I know Thanksgiving is spelled wrong. Our friends’ son made that and I thought it was too cute. Looked more like Christmas than Thanksgiving in Syracuse!


Whatever! It’s not 6 feet so I’m cool with that. Last Tuesday I was able to catch an SU game. Not the

team we had last year but…here’s to a less stressful season…


And now….for the Thanksgiving goodies I made…

Ample supplies for Paleo desserts..


I made two pies from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Pumpkin and Chocolate Pie. This is my absolute favorite cookbook for special holiday treats. She really has some great dessert recipes. I made the chocolate pie for Easter too and it was amazing but I later dropped the pie dish which broke and got broken glass all in the pie…so I had to throw it away. So as soon as I remembered how delicious that pie was I HAD to make it again! I actually think the pumpkin was from her holiday e-cookbook. That’s a kindle version- you can get it for wicked cheap!



Pumpkin was good but Chocolate was best! The pumpkin lacked sweetness, which was fine for me since I just finished my 21 DSD. It also made a great breakfast the morning after!

I also made a sweet potato casserole…no recipe but it turned out great!


And Brussels sprouts with bacon!


Thanks pretty much all the photos I have to dump on you. Hopefully I’ll be back this week with some more posts.


How was your Thanksgiving? What’s the best thing you ate/did?


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…’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
  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**)
  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!
  1. *You could easily double (or triple!) this recipe to feed more people!
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What are you favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

Have you ever tried the 21DSD?