This week I am thrilled to share an interview with Kelly Milton, author of the blog Paleo Girl's Kitchen and the newly released book, Paleo Happy Hour. Kelly's love of food, cooking, and entertaining shines through this beautiful book as she gives readers tips and tricks for a Paleo-friendly happy hour experience at home, with friends, or at a restaurant or bar. Not only does she include more than 20 recipes for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, but she also has more than 100 recipes (including a FREE one below!) for appetizers, entrées, desserts, and more. Kelly is also generously providing a copy of Paleo Happy Hour to one lucky reader – enter the contest at the bottom of this post!
1. How does alcohol fit in with the Paleo lifestyle?
I believe there are two answers to this question. For people that need to lose weight or are battling illness, alcohol may never be a part of their Paleo lifestyle. For individuals that are at their desired body composition and are in good health, drinking in moderation may be included in the diet. The same rules apply to Paleo drink choices as applies to the rest of the diet: grain free, dairy free and no added sugar. For a quick guide to Paleo alcohol and mixers click here. Alcoholic beverages should be treated like any other Paleo treat, and be limited to special occasions and consumed sparingly.
For more Paleo experts’ views on alcohol visit these links:
2. What is your inspiration for creating new cocktails?
To be honest most of my inspiration comes from drinks I had loved before going Paleo. One example is margaritas. Many people love the sweet citrusy drink, but the standard margarita is filled with sugar and artificial ingredients. Here is a list of ingredients from a commonly used margarita mix: Contains no juice. Water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate (preservative), cellulose gum, gum acacia, polysorbate 60, natural flavors, glycerol ester of wood rosin, sodium metabisulfite (preservative), yellow 5, blue 1. In comparison here is my list of margarita mix ingredients: orange, lime, coconut sugar. To try my avocado margarita recipe, click here. I’m constantly inspired to put a healthy spin on classic cocktails.
3. Which cocktail and appetizer recipes from the book are your favorites? Why?
- Scallop Bacon Sandwiches: Bacon and Scallops? What more could anyone want!
- Sweet Potato Slices with Avocado Ranch: These are like sweet potato nachos! YUM! They fulfill that craving for chips, plus with bacon, green onions and avocado ranch piled on top, they are hard to beat.
- Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts: Everyone likes bacon wrapped anything. Compared to the common appetizer, bacon wrapped dates, these have an added crunch that I prefer!
- Chorizo Spanish “Tortilla”: This is a really creative frittata-esk recipe. While you can serve it up as an appetizer, I also love having a big slice of this for dinner.
- Other favorites: Lemon Chicken Skewers with Almond Satay Sauce, Crab Stuffed Mini Portobello Mushrooms, Tuna Tartare Towers, Clam Cauliflower Soup and the California Burrito Bowl.
- Pecan Pie Bars: Pecan pie is one of my favorite desserts. It is one of the least healthy though, as it is a pile of corn syrup and sugar. This recipe tastes very similar and is made with all natural ingredients. Plus, by making them pecan pie bars, you can have a small square rather than a whole slice.
- Coconut-Baked Bananas and Vanilla Ice Cream: I recently took a trip to Thailand and tried the fried bananas. This is a Paleo version of this dish, and I think it is every bit as tasty.
- Cucumber Mojito: This refreshing drink is a blended version of a typical mojito. I love the subtle cucumber flavor when combined with the lime and mint. Plus, it’s a unique way to incorporate a vegetable into your drink!
4. What are some tips for people who want to order drinks when they go out to a bar or restaurant with friends and still stay Paleo?
I have a whole section on this in the book, and the best choice can vary based on where you are. Simpler drinks tend to be easier to order when you are out, and you don’t have to fear confusing the bartender. Some easy healthy options are wine, champagne, dry martinis, or Tequila with soda water and lime, lemon or orange wedges.
5. Many people like to entertain. How can they create a perfect Paleo happy hour at home?
At the end of Paleo Happy Hour there are 10 full menus that each have two appetizers, an entrée, side, drink and dessert. These menus make hosting your own party really easy and take the thinking out of planning the meal. I also encourage readers to get creative mixing and matching their personal favorites.
Scallop Bacon Sandwiches
These Scallop Bacon Sandwiches are definitely worthy of being considered a 5-star recipe. Both the texture and the flavor of the scallops are greatly enhanced when they are quickly seared. Once you sandwich some bacon, onion and spinach between the split scallops you are ready to add a dollop of sweet shallot sauce and prepare for a bite of pure heaven!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 16 Minutes
Serves 4-54 slices of bacon
20 large scallops
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon red pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup baby spinach leaves, stems removed
non-stick cooking spray (olive oil or coconut oil)
1 tablespoon bacon grease
2 shallots, finely diced
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon honey
1. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat. While the bacon is cooking, mix together in a small bowl the curry powder, red pepper and sea salt. On a small plate arrange the scallops in a single layer. Sprinkle half of the seasoning over the scallops. Place the scallops, seasoned side down in a frying pan coated with cooking spray. Fry the scallops over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning onto the scallops,
flip and cook another 3 minutes. Once cooked, remove both the scallops and the bacon from their pans, and set
3. Cut each scallop in half horizontally. Cut the bacon into 1-inch sections. To assemble, place a piece of bacon, a sliver of onion and a leaf or two of spinach on top of half a scallop, placing the other half scallop on top of that. Secure each stack with a toothpick, and finish with a small dollop of the shallot sauce.aside. Reserve one tablespoon of the bacon grease.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease, the shallots, balsamic vinegar and honey to a medium saucepan. Simmer on medium-high heat until the sauce thickens.