bacon-wrapped cajun sweet potato wedges

Rewind to a few days ago…my husband and I were walking along the beach discussing what was on the menu for dins.  I was saying that I was totally in the mood for chicken wings.  Feeling adventurous, we decided to make our own.  They turned out fab (we made 2 different types), but that recipe will be featured in another blog post later this week.

Anyhoo…we also knew we wanted something ‘bacon-wrapped’ to be partnered along side it.  My initial thinking was to do some bacon wrapped asparagus in the oven.  Then we conquered…meh…a solid choice, but we really wanted to kick it up a notch.  I wanted to try making something new.  Creating a dish which was a better pairing for the wings was definitely in order.  And besides, who doesn’t love the classic good ‘ol bacon n’ sweet potato combo?!? I DO…I DO!!!

Disclaimer:  Not gonna lie…as we continued strolling on our merry walk…there was perhaps a mini-domestic, ummm, I mean a friendly discussion on how to tackle these babies!?  LOL!  The Duster was somewhat skeptical to say the least!  Should we pre-cook the bacon a little bit first?  Hmmm…or should we wrap ‘em up and cook  it all at once?  Will the bacon make them super soggy?  Geezzzzz, or do you think that they turn out crispy-ish?  In the end, we just decided to go the most simple route and chop up the sweet potato into chunky-sized wedges, wrap them with wild boar bacon, sprinkle with some Cajun spice…and basically hope for the best!  To our surprise and content (bellies were growling at this point)…our fingers crossed method totally worked!  They actually turned out INCREDIBLE!!!

Since I posted a photo on Facebook…3 friends have made them, and have been more than happy with the way that they have turned out!  Oh ya…BTW –  you don’t need to use wild boar bacon (that’s just what we had on hand).  Go with your favourite variety.  However, I would stress good quality bacon is a better choice!  This lil’ number is fully excellent right out of the oven, but equally as wonderful at room temperature to serve as a fantastic appetizer at a party or wee shindig!

P.S – Later that Saturday evening we met up with a good friend of ours, and brought him all the leftovers.  Let’s just say…he gobbled them up like nobody’s business.  No talking  at all, and perhaps not even coming up for air, as they were demolished!  In the end…super easy and one of my fav’s to date!!!  Try ‘em…(but beware…highly addictive!)  ;)

* quantity of ingredients depends of size of desired batch

5.0 from 1 reviews
bacon-wrapped cajun sweet potato wedges
appetizer, side
4 +
 
Ingredients
  • good quality bacon - we used wild boar (pretty thick)
  • sweet potatoes - peeled and chopped (fairly chunky - into wedges)
  • a dash or two of Cajun spice
  • some sea salt
Instructions
  1. start by peeling and chopping the sweet potatoes into wedges (chunky style) and place in a bowl
  2. sprinkle with Cajun spice and mix thoroughly
  3. then take the sweet potato wedges and wrap them with slices of bacon (if bacon is too wide, you can slice length-wise...it really depends on the cut!)
  4. line a baking sheet with some tin foil and then arrange bacon-wrapped wedges evenly on the pan
  5. preheat oven to approx. 325-350 degrees and cook until bacon becomes crispy (40-ish minutes depending on oven)
  6. if you wish to make them 'extra-crispy'...turn the oven to broil for the remaining 5-10 minutes
  7. plate and sprinkle with coarse sea salt (we used lemon & thyme - yummy!)
  8. for extra enjoyment...we dipped them in some delicious spicy guacamole
  9. enjoy!

bacon n’ dill sweet potato salad

Make it your own.  Cooking paleo-styles doesn’t have to be all that difficult.  It is quite simple actually.  Read on to see how easy it can be.  This may be especially helpful to you if you are new to paleo.  Substituting for paleo ingredients is highly doable in most cases.  Take an old family recipe and make it your own.  Grab a friend’s go-to dish and make it your own.  Spruce up a meal idea from your past, by adding a new somethin’-somethin’ and make it your own.   Shake up meals that you see being prepared on T.V, by mixin’ and matchin’ and make it your own.  Or…….even try, transforming an entree from your favourite restaurant and make it your own.  Have a looksy at a recipe from a cookbook and make it your own.  Add in your own twist or flair, to make it unique. ‘Own it’, by adding in ingredients that suit your tastes and desires.   ‘Own it’ by being upfront and giving credit, when and where credit is due.  When inspired by someone or something, be sure to make note.  Although most of the dishes I make, I think up on my own or create by throwing random ingredients together…this one was not a PALEOdISH  ‘original’ to speak .

I purposely choose to post this one because – a) I love it so much and b) – knew the initial ‘store-bought version’ (source of my inspiration) wasn’t fully paleo.  It was my mission then, to make a more paleo-ish recipe.  You can do this too!  Why re-invent the wheel!?!  Let’s face it, we have all done this before.  Is it copying?  Naww…not in my books.  Again, just be sure to show appreciation and acknowledgment towards the ‘thing’ or the ‘being’ that gave you the idea in the first place.

I first tried this salad quite some time ago (last year), when I was competing in the Element CrossFit Challenge.  We were running behind and crunched for time…(as per usual), so I decided to pick up a few things to bring with me from the grocery store down the street.  I walked in…did my littl’ stroll about and grabbed some ‘sweet potato salad’ from the “meal-to-go counter” (some of you from Toronto, may know the salad I am talking about – think Loblaw’s or ValuMart).  In my mind, I thought this would be a quick, easy and yummy ‘post-wod’ meal.  So off I went…and was good to go.

Since then, I have been meaning to ask them what the exact ingredients were…and from there, substitute ‘this and that’ in order to make my own.  So, this is exactly what I did.  Many people are hestitant or afraid to ask store owners, farmers, restaurant managers etc…what is in their food!  Don’t be!  Most places have the information readily available and are happy to provide it to you.  Alright, on with the story…I proceeded to ask the young lady behind the counter and she responded by pulling out a big binder from beside the meat slicer.  She flipped to the appropriate page and rhymed off the goods…the salad included: sweet potatoes, green onions, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, minced garlic, cilantro, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, mixed herbs, salt and pepper….and SUGAR.

After reading/hearing the list of ingredients, I thought to myself…meh…not too…TOO bad, but I can def make it more paleo and geared towards my taste buds.  So this is what I did.  I was influenced by the basic foundation for the recipe, so I obviously stuck with the roasted sweet potatoes and green onions, but made the following modifications.  I took out the dried fruit…and added bacon.  Why bacon?  Well because it is wicked in damn near everything.  Then I threw in pumpkin seeds, rather than sunflower.  I wanted to try pine nuts, but they were nowhere to be found!  Kept the garlic, but roasted the cloves instead.  Yum!  Switched the cilantro for fresh dill, because it is my fav!  Ixnayed the canola and opted for olive oil instead.  Stayed on par with a splash of balsamic and a sprinkle or two of sea salt and fresh ground pep.  However, gave the mixed dried herbs the boot and added in some chili flakes instead, to kick it up a notch.  I totally garbaged the sugar, while wondering why it was really even in there in the first place!?!  Oh ya…I also squeezed in some fresh lime juice, because lately it goes in just about everything!!!

As you can see, a few  minor changes here and there, but they def made a noticeable and fairly drastic change in the end product’s taste.  I would have to say that the 3 ingredients that altered it the most were – the bacon, the fresh dill and pepper flakes.  The roasted garlic was a close 4th, as that flavour was more prominent in my concoction.  Again, back to the real purpose of my post.  I wanted to show you that recipes are ever-changing.  One individual person does not ‘own’ the only ‘egg frittata’, ‘beef stew’ or sole ‘roasted chicken’ recipe.   Be creative, don’t over-think it and experiment with an array of amazing substitutes.  Cooking can be an old pastime, a new venture or something to be shared among family and friends.  Find a way to make it your own.  Make it fit your lifestyle.  More importantly, find a way to make it enjoyable.  It is possible…explore a little.

Signed,

the gal who never used to like to cook

5.0 from 2 reviews
bacon n’ dill sweet potato salad
appetizer, side
2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes - chopped and roasted
  • 4 cloves of garlic - chopped and roasted
  • olive oil for roasting and dressing
  • 8 slices of thick bacon - cooked and ripped into pieces
  • Dressing:
  • 2 limes - freshly squeezed juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 green onions - thinly chopped
  • a handful of fresh dill - chopped
  • a dash or two of pepper flakes (optional)
  • a few sprinkles of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • garnish with a handful of raw pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. arrange slices of bacon on a tin foil-covered baking sheet and cook for 25-30 mins at 375 heat - keep an eye on it, as thickness of the bacon can vary cooking time
  2. when cooked, set aside to cool
  3. next, peel and chop sweet potatoes and garlic into cubed-like chunks
  4. toss in some olive/coconut oil and arrange on another baking sheet and roast for 30 mins or so at the same heat, until slightly browned
  5. remove and set aside to cool
  6. in the meantime, chop up green onion, fresh dill and prepare the other ingredients to form the dressing mixture in a bowl. Stir all dressing ingredients together.
  7. once the roasted sweet potatoes and garlic are cooled, proceed by adding in bacon pieces.
  8. finally, pour in dressing and mix everything together thoroughly - I like to use my hands here to make sure all is coated well!
  9. garnish with raw pumpkin seeds or other nut/seed of choice
  10. can be stored in refrigerator and is even more delicious and flavourful if served cold the next day!
Notes
• as with any dressing, feel free to taste and tweak it as you go!

Lastly, I want to leave you with a fabulous post by Mark Sisson, who outlines and discusses various Primal Substitues for Non-Primal Foods.  Enjoy!

sweet potato chips

Sweet or salty?  What have you found most difficult to give up since ‘going Paleo?’   For me…it’s CHIPS!  Oh dear potato chips…how I love thee, but hate thee at the same time.  You are so savoury on the palette, but make me feel like complete $hit after I have devoured you!  As I have mentioned before, I am really not much of a sweet tooth gal in the least, but hold any craving for that sodium filled crickly bag.  Yes, you guessed it ~ Ruffles chips, good ol’ Miss Vickie’s, or any other kind of chip for that matter.  In the moment, they are so delicious.  I have even caught myself fully licking the seasoning off them (secretly hoping that no one is looking).  Afterwards, is a completely different story.  Don’t chuckle too hard…I know you have all done that, or even worse, strategically ‘cherry picked’ through the bowl of chips to find the ones completely caked in the most seasoning!

When I do get that craving, which isn’t really all that often, I say to myself, there must be an alternative that is equally as satisfying.  Aside from the obvious convenience of just walking into the nearest variety store, choosing your flavour and paying at the counter; this “homemade” version isn’t that much more complex.  This snack is simple and in my opinion WAY more delectable!  I am not even kidding…I have made many batches of these, consisting of different flavours and literally have had a hard time keeping them in the bowl for long, because they are so damn tasty!

Tip~ think of your biggest vice…how can you “paleo-ize” it, or make something in YOUR kitchen that is similar, yet TONS yummier and way more nutritious!?!  It’s totally doable, but just might take a little more thought.  Get thinkin’…experiment a little…

sweet potato chips
appetizer, snack
4
 
Ingredients
  • coconut oil - I used Bali's Sun
  • 3 large sweet potatoes or more (depending on size of batch you want to make)
  • coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • other spices/herbs - cinnamon, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, curry etc...(you get the idea!)
Instructions
  1. wash and peel (preferable - I forgot!) the sweet potatoes
  2. thinly slice the sweet potatoes as evenly as possible - I used a mandoline slicer (seriously one of the best inventions and most solid purchases that I have made for the kitchen yet...love this thing!)
  3. use a silicone brush to coat the baking sheet with coconut oil
  4. continue by brushing the sliced sweet potatoes with more coconut oil (be fairly generous here)
  5. bake in the oven @ 350 for 30 minutes, turning regularly (time may vary slightly depending on oven)
  6. they are ready once they turn golden brown
  7. let cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack (this helps to make them more crispy)
  8. enjoy!

Haven’t tried using coconut oil?  Try it!  It will change your life…believe me.  Subtle, yet a hint of flavour.  Ability to sustain high heat while cooking.  Overall…amazing!  Love it…love it…love it! 

Also, if you don’t yet own a madoline slicer, I would highly recommend getting one.  It really does make slicing and dicing much easier!  I have two.  The basic one I have is the OXO Hand-Held Mandonline Slicer and the more complex (fancier) one I have is the Borner Germany V-Slicer Plus Mandoline .  Both of them are fabulous!

bacon infused sweet potatoes

 

A couple weeks ago, I decided what the heck…why not?  So, without really giving my notion too much thought, I clicked on the link to the Element CrossFit Ontario Challenge and registered as a competitor.  “Join CrossFitters from across Ontario for a great day of competition and community. This will be an all day event for individual CrossFitters featuring both Rx’d and Scaled divisions.” As I mentioned in my previous post, entering a CF competition of sorts has always been a goal of mine, well not always, but since becoming more serious about CF.  Did I realize this would be happening so soon?  No way!  I think it’s good though…sometimes the longer to wait, the more your reservations or fears will get the better of you.

Since clicking that little “submit” button to join this challenge, I have definitely wavered back and forth.  Am I nervous?  Hell ya!  Have I thought about pulling out?  Ummm…ya!  Would I ever really do that?  Not a chance, I am too stubborn, well actually I prefer to use the word determined!  With that said, after the initial shock of “what the heck have I gotten myself into” feeling, much of this nervousness has passed (for now), and I am super excited and stoked about just doing my personal best.  With t-minus one week- not even…I look forward to this new experience more than ever.  The WODS (workouts of the day- 4 in total), get posted tomorrow =)  From there, I will decide if I will enter the rx’d or scaled category.  I have a feeling it will be weight heavy forsure! (Boo to no double unders being on the list of possible movements! lol)  Either way, I am sure that after it is all said and done, I am going to be so grateful that I jumped onto this opportunity feet first.  As much as I hate people watching me workout (I will get over this quickly I am sure), I am leaving you will an invite…come spectate and cheer everyone on next Saturday!  Oh, and it’s free!  It will be a day filled with good vibes and great folks. 3…2…1…go!

Lastly, I will end off this post with a recipe that seriously made me lick the bowl clean…not even kidding!  It is so delicious!!!  I made a huge batch, and to be honest the sweet potatoes were even tastier the next day after all the flavours had a chance to meld together…oh so good!  This recipe is great and serves well as a post-wod snack…depending on your type of wod etc…

Post Workout Nutrition: High or Low Carb? By Robb Wolf | July 1, 2009

My previous post seems to have stirred some interest and a fair amount of confusion. Should one use carbs post workout or not? If so how much, and when? Like a great number of situations, how we manage our post workout (PWO) nutrition depends on where we are and where we want to go. To read on click here…

bacon infused sweet potatoes
side
many
 
Ingredients
  • 8 regular sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 pound of bacon- nitrate free if possible
  • 1 small white onion- thinly sliced
  • dash of cinnamon
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. begin by peeling the sweet potatoes and washing them thoroughly
  2. dice them up into small chunks (this helps speed up the cooking process)
  3. get a large pot, fill it ¾ of the way full with water and bring to a boil
  4. cook sweet potatoes on high for 10-15 minutes, until softened
  5. in the meantime or before, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy and set aside
  6. mid-way through cooking the bacon, add in the diced onion and cook simultaneously until caramelized
  7. then mash the sweet potatoes until you achieve a desired consistency (you can also use a hand blender)
  8. crumble the bacon and then add in the bacon/onion mixture
  9. combine by stirring together completely
  10. enjoy!