Beef & Asparagus One Pan Dinner

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So many people still choose junk food over a healthy dinner because of price or convenience. I say saving a buck or two now will cost you big time later…so spend a bit on quality ingredients now instead of medications that won’t make you better or feel good later.

Tonight’s one pan dinner is easy on the wallet and easy to clean up.
1 lb ground beef
Dashes of black pepper, sea salt, smoked paprika, turmeric, and cumin.
6 asparagus spears, chopped
2 cups black kale, stem removed and chopped
2 tsp hot sauce (optional )

Brown ground beef over medium heat ( I didn’t use any oil).
Add asparagus. Mix in. Cover and cook for three minutes.
Add kale. Cover and cook for another one to two minutes.
Serve with hot sauce and a quarter cup of guacamole (this is the 12 pack organic cups from Costco).

Oven Roasted Pizza Caps

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If you don’t love pizza, I don’t want to know you.

Just kidding…sorta.

I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw someone making pizza on a portabello mushroom cap.  Perfect.

I made them for Mike last week and you might have seen the video on my facebook.com/nopainpaleo page, Instagram or Twitter (@nopainpaleo).  He was a little excited to dig in or he was just REALLY hungry.

I made them again on Tuesday night while Mike was at hockey.  I saved him two and he was pretty pleased (and surprised) about that.  I had leftover toppings so I just added them to some baby spinach for my lunch the next day.
Feel free to change up the ingredients listed to suit your tastes.  I was just using odds and ends left in the fridge.

Oven Roasted Pizza Caps
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 1-3

5 portobello mushroom caps
3 tbsp olive oil
6-7 slices nitrate and sugar-free bacon, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 head broccoli, chopped

6-8 cherry tomatoes, diced (optional)
5 mushroom stems, diced (optional)
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
2 tsp red pepper chilli flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 can of tomato sauce

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Preheat oven to 400F.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.  If you have a wire rack that fits in snugly, use it too.

Heat a large skillet over medium high and add the bacon pieces.  Add the onion when the fat on the bacon starts to turn clear.

Fry the onion and bacon together for about three to five minutes.  Turn down the heat if the onions start to turn brown quickly.

While the bacon and onions cook, rinse the mushrooms, removing any organic material that may be on them and remove the stem.  You can add the stem to the toppings mixture if you desire.
Brush olive oil on both sides of the mushroom cap.  I used my fingers if you don’t have a brush.  Do not use a lot of oil.  This is merely to add a bit of moisture to the mushrooms before roasting.
Place the caps gill side down on the wire rack.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
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Go back to the skillet and add in the other vegetables except the spinach.  Toss in the spices and combine.  Cover and cook for five to seven minutes (check on it a few times to make sure nothing burns).
Near the end of the cooking time, add in the spinach and let it start to wilt.  Mix into the rest of the skillet contents.

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Remove the mushroom caps from the oven and turn them over.
Some moisture may have formed on the caps, so carefully dab it away with a paper towel.
Spoon a tablespoon or two of tomato sauce onto the mushroom caps.
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Carefully spoon the pizza toppings onto the mushroom caps.  You can pile it up pretty high if you need.
Top with another spoonful of tomato sauce.
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Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool for a couple minutes before eating.
Enjoy!

Cranberry Apple Baked Pork Chops

This meal can be thrown together in under 45 minutes (as long as you defrosted the chops beforehand!)

You can certainly change out the veggies if you don’t like cauliflower.  Try broccoli or zucchini instead.  Feeding a family?  Add more veggies and chops.  This recipe was created with two people in mind.

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1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 large pork chops
2 apples, cored and sectioned into 8 or 12 pieces each
1 onion, chopped
1 small sweet potato, chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried thyme
dash of sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium/high heat.
Add the chops when the pan is hot and sear each side for 3 minutes.  You want to create a light brown crust…not scorch it so adjust the temperature accordingly.
Meanwhile, chop your veggies.
In a small bowl, combine the stock, vinegar, oil and spices.
When the chops are seared on both sides, place on a cookie sheet or baking dish.  Place the vegetables around the meat and drizzle everything with the sauce.
Bake for 25 to 27 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for a minute or two before serving.

Enjoy!

Super Smoothie

Forget Gatorade and Power-Ade.  There’s a much better way to get potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and electrolytes!  All that and more is in coconut water.  Make sure to get one that’s “not from concentrate” and has any added sugars.  Blend it with some powerhouse fruits and you have a Super Smoothie!

Super Smoothie

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Super Smoothie

1 frozen banana, slightly thawed
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp kale powder (available at Bulk Barn)
1 scoop (1/4 cup) protein powder
1 cup coconut water
5 ice cubes (omit if not using a VitaMix or BlendTec appliance)
1 tsp black chia seeds (optional sprinkle on top after the smoothie is made)

Blend all ingredients (except the chia seeds) until smooth.  Top with chia seeds if desired.

(Shown with a black coffee with a teaspoon of coconut oil)

Protein Cookie Dough

 

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Protein Cookie Dough

I love Googling and Pinteresting ingredients and dishes.  You never know what you’ll find or from where your next inspiration will come.

Today I will be searching for a slow cooker pork chop tomato recipe and I’m sure I’ll create something awesome tonight.  Luckily, my husband is always game to try my creations once.  Sometimes I hit  a winner like last week’s Deconstructed Turkey Tacos…and sometimes I strike out with a tortilla (I had to do it 4 times before either one of us would eat it 🙂 ).

Now back to my latest inspiration.  I’m happy to make snacks for the fitness addicts at CrossFit Vortex, but I wanted to make something a little nutritionally friendly especially for after a WOD.   These cookies have at least seven grams of protein per serving!

Enter this delightful cookie dough that I modified from, Big Man’s World, on Pinterest.   You can make the recipe and divide into four or five big cookies for week day breakfasts or make them into about a dozen for a mid-afternoon snack when the 3 o’clock munchies threatened to ruin your otherwise healthy day.

Protein Cookie Dough

Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour chill time (optional)
Yields: 4-5 large meal cookies or 12-13 snack cookies

1 cup coconut flour
4 tbsp almond flour (also called meal)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup sugar-free protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)
1/2 cup almond butter
1 cup almond milk (cashew or coconut works fine too)
4 tbsp walnut pieces (optional)
4 tbsp non-dairy, non-soy chocolate chips (optional)
(you can also try almond slivers, cashews, or chopped pecans)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the first six ingredients in a medium sized bowl making sure all the coconut flour has been incorporated.
Add the almond butter and blend in gently.
Pour in the almond milk a quarter cup at a time until a thick batter is created.  You may not need all the almond milk, or you may need to add a tablespoon or so to get the desired thickness.  This is a bulky dough so don’t water it down.
Mix in the optional add-ins.
Wet hands lightly so the dough does not stick to your hands. (You may have to do this after every cookie).
Form into a ball and flatten.
Place on the cookie sheet.  Continue until all the dough is used up.
Chill in the freezer for an hour.
Store in the fridge or freezer.

Blueberry Kale Smoothie

Don’t be afraid of kale!  It has more calcium than milk and more vitamin C than an orange.  Plus, you can find kale POWDER at Bulk Barn or other health food stores so you don’t have to keep the leafy bunches in your fridge.

1 banana
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 scoop protein powder (your choice of flavour)
2 tbsp organic kale powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1.25 to 1.5 cups non-dairy, non-soy mik

Blend until smooth.

Blueberry Cashew Smoothie

No milk?  No problem.  All you need is some cashew (or almond) butter and some water!

1 small banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 scoop protein powder
1 tbsp cashew butter
1.25 cups of water
Blend until smooth.

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

1/2 avocado
1 small banana
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tsp cocoa maca powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 ice cubes (optional)
1.5 cups cashew milk

Blend until smooth.

Cherry Pear Smoothie

1 pear, quartered
1 cup frozen cherries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp kale powder
1.5 cups almond milk

Blend until smooth.

Almond Raspberry Smoothie

1/2 ripe avocado
2/3 cup frozen raspberries
1 small banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1.25 cups water
1 tbsp almond butter
Blend until smooth.

Apple Avocado Smoothie

Not a banana fan?  No problem.  Get the smoothness you crave with the good fats of an avocado!

1/2 ripe avocado
2/3 cup frozen raspberries
1 apple, cored and cut into chunks
1.5 scoops vanilla protein powder (15g of protein per scoop)
1.5 cups cold water
Blend until combined and smooth.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

I’m not that girl who loses her mind when fall comes around and everything needs to be pumpkin spice this…or that.  When I saw that Oreo’s had jumped on the bandwagon, I seriously hoped that finally pumpkin spice had jumped the shark.  This smoothie is better because it has ACTUAL PUMPKIN in it!  Way better than just some spices.

1/2 banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground ginger
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1.25 cups cashew milk
1/2 cup pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie blend)
5 ice cubes
Blend on high until smooth.

Snickerdoodle Smoothie

Thank you Pinterest for this smoothie inspiration! (You can follow my boards there too (nopainpaleo)

1 banana, sliced and chilled for 30 minutes
2 honey dates, softened in warm water
1 tbsp almond butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup cashew milk (or other non-dairy/non-soy)
Blend until smooth.

Veggie Smoothie

Not all smoothies are or should be sweet fruity ones.  Veggie smoothies have their place too.  Pack them full of vitamins and use liquids like coconut water or green tea.  These are better than juices because you retain all the fiber.

Veggie Smoothie
1 carrot, chopped
1 beet root, cooked and cooled
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 lemon, peeled
1 cup strong green tea, cooled

Blend until smooth.

Protein Chai Smoothie

Chai is super-popular right now in all the fancy coffee shops but if you want to save some cash (and calories), try making this delicious smoothie at home.  The spice mix will last about a week’s worth of breakfasts.

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Spice Mix
2 tsp cardamom
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp black pepper

Smoothie
1 ripe banana (slightly chilled)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp raw maca
1/2 tsp Spice Mix (above)
1 cup cashew milk (or other non-dairy/non-soy)
Add ingredients to blender as listed.  Turn blender quickly up to high and continue until the mixture is smooth.

Kombucha!

Kombucha (also known as fermented tea) has a legion of followers extolling the virtues or this bubbly brew.  It is said to aid in digestion and has a whole host of good bacteria to help your belly feel better.

I found this great article about the 7 Reasons to Drink Kombucha.

Some say Kombucha is nothing but expensive pop for hipsters.
That’s fine.  Everyone can have one’s own opinion.

I find it helps keep my skin clear, reduces bloat, and helps keep me regular.  I’m more than okay with that!

Is it difficult to brew your own?  Not really.  You do need to keep on a pretty consistant schedule with the brewing and carbonation cycles but missing a day won’t impact the overall product.

I started my batches with one scoby (yeast culture) and a cup of starter tea from Ginny, a newer member of CrossFit Vortex.

What you need to get started.

Organic green tea (loose leaf or in bags)
Organic cane sugar (no…cane sugar isn’t paleo, but once carbonation occurs, the sugar remaining is very minimal and yeast can’t grow without sugar).
1 large glass container with a wide opening
1 tea towel
1 heavy duty elastic band
distilled water, or boiled tap water
white vinegar for disinfecting/rinsing
flip top bottles or mason jars

The following items can be purchased at a health store or get some from a Kombucha buddy or search Kijiji for fellow bottlers in your area
1 scoby
1 cup starter tea

All set?  Here we go!

Homemade Kombucha

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Start with a single batch until your scoby gets stronger and grows babies.  Yes…you read that right.  We will get there 🙂

Fill a kettle with tap water and boil.
Pour seven cups into a large glass bowl or measuring cup.
Mix in 1/2 cup of cane sugar.
Add three tea bags or 1 tbsp of loose leaf green tea.  (I use the bags so I don’t have to filter the tea later).

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Depending how strong you want your tea, steep for at least 20 minutes or until the tea cools to room temperature.  It may take up to 3 hours to cool the tea.  Do not rush this step.  If the tea is too hot, you will kill the scoby.
Rinse the large glass jar with vinegar.  Soap residue can also kill the scoby.

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When the tea has cooled, pour carefully into the large glass jar.
Add the one cup of starter tea.
Place the scoby (yeast culture) on top.  If it falls to the bottom, that’s okay.  It will likely rise again.
Secure the tea towel to the top of the jar with the elastic band.

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Keep the jar in a dark room or cupboard that doesn’t get a cool draft.  The temperature should remain room temperature or a little above constantly.  I keep mine in a cupboard in the main floor laundry room.
Leave to ferment for seven to thirty days.  If you leave it long, the result will be a more vinegar-y flavour.  I let mine sit for 10-11 days.
Check on it occasionally.  Make sure the scoby stays in the brew.  Sometimes it likes to rise out as it’s growing.  Just push it back down gently.  It should smell a bit like vinegar but shouldn’t be unpleasant.

Bottling day is fun!

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Sterilize your flip top bottles or mason jars well before you want to bottle.  A quick run through a dishwasher is perfect. Make sure the bottles aren’t hot though.
If this is your first brew, it is best not to do any additional flavouring.
Rinse a bowl or a plate with vinegar and carefully remove the scoby from the jar.  You should find another layer has grown on the “mother scoby”.  The new one is called a “baby”.  You can keep them together or separate to make two batches of tea.

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Reserve one cup of tea for your next batch.  If you are making two with your new scoby, save two cups.
Simply strain the rest of komucha through a coffee filter or fine mesh sieve into another glass container.

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Pour into the glass bottles.  You can drink the tea now in this raw state or place in a dark cupboard again for three to five days.  You must refrigerate it at this point.

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Repeat the steps above to make your next batch of tea!  Now you’re a brewer!

If you are on your second or third batch, now you can start playing with flavours.
My favourite is Raspberry Lemon Ginger.  In each bottle, place 10 raspberries, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and a few slices of freshly peeled ginger.  Pour your filtered tea on top.  Seal the bottles and set in a dark cupboard for 3 to 5 days.  Refrigerate at that point.  Keep the cycle going!

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Other flavours I have tried:  5 cherries, 1 tbsp cherry juice and 1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 a kiwi, 1 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp honey

1 tbsp pure cranberry juice, 1 tbsp lemon juice, a few slices of ginger

1 tsp maple syrup, 10 cherries, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

If you get enough sugar into the secondary fermentation, you will end up with a pretty fizzy drink.  If it’s not fizzy, you still get the probiotic benefits so don’t let that deter you.

Try experimenting with different types of tea too!  I like using organic Vanilla Chai, or  Vanilla Roobios.

Soon your brewing and bottling days will look like this!

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Pomegranate Coconut Chocolates

I was at Winners recently looking for a gift for my husband and found silicone moulds for chocolates instead.  They were a whole $3.99 and I have seen them at other shops for over 14.99.  I should have bought more than one.

No matter.  Making my own chocolates was way easier than I thought!  Feel free to change up your fillings and have fun with this recipe!  Use nuts, dried fruit or add some spices and flavourings to the chocolate mix.

Pomegranate and Coconut Chocolates
Prep Time: 1 hour
Yields:  15-18 chocolates.

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3/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup organic, dark cocoa powder
6-7  tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut.

Over low heat in small saucepan, melt the coconut oil.
Add the cocoa powder and slowly mix together.
Add the remaining ingredients and heat through.
Remove from heat.
Spoon one teaspoon of chocolate into each silicone mould.
Place the mould in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove mould from freezer and add in a few pomegranates and a pinch of coconut.
Spoon another teaspoon of chocolate into each mould.  Make sure the filling is completely covered.
Place back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or until completely hard.
Pop the chocolates out of the mould and store in the fridge or freezer.  Thaw a few minutes before consuming.

Not Reese Cups (Better!)

I have eaten my fair share of the original. ..but now I choose to eat a much healthier version. I modified a recipe I found on Pinterest (from Mommypotamus ).  The chocolate is the middle layer because it’s pretty darned rich.

Not Reese Cups (Better!)

Prep Time: 1 hour
Yields: approximately 15-18 mini cups

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Seed Butter Layer

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt

Chocolate Layer

6 tbsp coconut oil
6 tbsp organic, dark cocoa powder
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

Method

Line a mini muffin tin with 12 paper liners
Seed Butter Layer:
In a small pot, melt coconut oil over low heat until completely liquid.
Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
Stir until combined and smooth
Spoon 1 tsp of seed butter mixture into bottom of paper liners and place in freezer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the Chocolate Layer in another small pot.
Melt coconut oil until completely liquid. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients until combined and smooth.
Remove muffin tin from freezer and spoon 2 tsp of chocolate mixture into each paper liner (on top of hardened seed butter layer).
Place back into freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
Warm up remaining seed butter mixture on low heat and stir to combine.
Remove muffin tin from freezer and spoon 1 more tsp of sunflower seed butter mixture on top of hardened chocolate layer
Place into freezer one last time for at least 30 minutes to harden completely.  Store in the freezer and allow to slightly thaw before devouring 🙂

Oven-Baked Bacon

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So the World Health Organization (WHO) came out recently denouncing cured deli meats, red meat and bacon and everyone LOST their minds.  No bacon?  No summer sausage?  Whaaaa?

If you decided to read what WHO actually said instead of just the panic inducing headline, you’ll see that halfway through the statement, they backtracked on the red meat part saying it was a “possible” cause of cancer…but didn’t have any citations to back it up.  GRRRR.  WHO also neglected to mention that they were talking only about cured meats that were conventionally raised and had a whole host of awful chemicals added to make the end product look nice and red.

I won’t say that organic, pasture-fed, nitrite-free, antibiotic-free pork, beef, lamb, and fowl products are to be consumed with wild abandon but they are certainly better for you than the mass produced counterparts.
Moderation is always best when eating processed foods.  I choose the Country Naturals or the Natural Selections brands whenever I buy deli turkey, chicken or BACON.

And the best way to cook bacon is in the oven.  The mess is kept to a minimum and the clean up is super easy.

Oven-Baked Bacon
Prep Time: 20 min
Serves: 2 to 4

1 package, sugar-free, nitrite-free bacon

Preheat oven to 400F.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

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Place the bacon strips on the baking sheet leaving a bit of room between the strips.
Place the sheet in the oven.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Line a plate with paper towel and place the bacon strips on it to remove excess grease.

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Eat with the rest of your meal or crumble cooled strips into soups, chilies, or salads.  The possibilities are endless.

Coconut Breakfast Cookies

As you’ve read from previous posts, I love Pinterest.  I wasn’t sure about it in the beginning, but I now use it as a treasure trove of recipe inspirations.  I’m not a chef so I don’t have a wealth of knowledge about different styles of dishes or fancy names to call my entrées.  I love looking at things other people make and then figure out how to make them paleo.

There are other days where I find a paleo recipe that perfectly fits the bill for what I need.  That’s what happened last night.
I knew I was out of bananas so that meant my usual breakfast protein smoothie wasn’t going to happen.  Up pops a paleo Coconut Breakfast Cookie as if the Cavemen gods were speaking directly to me.  I pinned it to Recipe Inspirations on my @nopainpaleo board (give me a follow if you like!) right away and went to bed strangely excited about trying it out.

The recipe called for liquid stevia which I don’t eat.  I like a bit of sweetness from honey or maple syrup instead.  It also said that the cookies could be rolled out in your hands.  Once everything was mixed together, I didn’t think that would work, so I just dropped a large tablespoon of batter in the skillet.

I made four cookies.  I ate two for breakfast and two for a snack after doing my weightlifting program and WOD at CrossFit Vortex.
Feel free to add a bit more sweetener if you like.  You could probably add in a few seeds, nuts, or chocolate chips for variety as well.  I liked them plain just fine.

Coconut Breakfast Cookies

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4-7 cookies

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 scoop chocolate (or vanilla) protein powder (I used chocolate JaktRX)
1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup

Melt 2 tbsp of coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, coconut flour, protein powder, and honey.
Add the melted coconut oil from the skillet and mix thoroughly.
Drop a large tablespoon of batter onto the skillet.  The cookies will spread a bit.
Brown on both sizes (about 3 minutes).
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve immediately or store in the fridge for a snack attack later.