Here we go – time to wrap up 2013. This year flew by for me. I feel old saying that lol!

2013 brought a huge shift in the way that we eat. I always thought we ate “clean” and “healthy” before but after being introduced to the Whole30, the Paleo diet and low carb eating, I have truly never felt better.

Looking forward to this new year, I am going to stay focused on creating delicious, clean, real food recipes for my family and share whatever I can get good photos of with you!

Now, let’s go back in time a bit. I went through my editorial calendar and picked one recipe (it was hard!) from each month of 2013 as my favorite. I’ll tell you a little bit about why above each photo…

{click on the photo for the recipe}

{JANUARY}

January was easy. This Flu Fighter Thai Chicken Soup is amazing-good and perfect for “sick” season. I just got over a nasty flu-like sickness that knocked me out for most of December. It wasn’t pretty but I just keep telling myself that my immune system is stronger because of it. I got through it with a lot of soup like this!

{FEBRUARY}

Maple Dijon Baked Chicken Breasts for the win. You can make this with Chicken Thighs, Legs or even as “Wings”. Super easy to throw together, made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen and a serious crowd pleaser.

{MARCH}

These Thai Spiced Cashews are easy to make *if* you can find from Kaffir Lime leaves. I give some suggestions for getting dried Kaffir Lime in the notes section of the recipe but hopefully you can get your hands on some. Another easy to make recipe that will impress and be gobbled up in no time!

{APRIL}

One of my favorite things to make are appetizers. These Persian Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Bites with Dill Cream Cheese follow the trend of 2013 (Easy to Make!) yet look and taste much more complex. Perfect for an appetizer, cocktail party or finger food at a brunch, another plus of this dish is that it can be made ahead of time!

{MAY}

May was a no-brainer. It has to be Paleo Oven-Fried Chicken. I spent so  long perfecting my original Oven-Fried Chicken recipe that when we started eating mostly Paleo, one of the first dishes I began working on was this. This is a staple in our house and rarely a month goes by that we don’t make it at least twice!

{JUNE}

Anything that can be made in the Slow Cooker and taste great, is a winner in my house. We are all busy and sometimes you just need something that practically cooks itself. My Slow Cooker Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork does just that, takes all of about 5 minutes to prep and feeds a hungry crowd. You can use it for tacos, on top of a salad or even make burrito bowls!

{JULY}

July was a tough one for me because I was torn between this Paleo Pesto, Peruvian Grilled Chicken and Spiced Maple Breakfast Sausage. A lot of good eating was happening around here that month! Ultimately, I chose the Pesto because it is so versatile (we seriously put it on and in everything!), easy to make and really tastes amazing without the cheese – which is a big deal!

{AUGUST}

What could be a more perfect recipe for August than a simple, fresh vegetable dish that showcases the bounty of the season? I love this recipe so much. This epitomizes how I love to cook – on the fly, with the freshest ingredients, focused on health but keeping taste just as important. As soon as summer comes and fresh tomatoes and basil are everywhere, make my Zucchini Noodles with Fresh Tomato Sauce. You won’t regret it!

{SEPTEMBER}

When I reviewed Septembers recipes, this Punjabi Style Chicken Soup with Cabbage stood out to me the most. Full of flavor and made with affordable ingredients, this soup is the perfect intro to the cooler weather that comes along with Autumn. Plus, it tastes even better the next day which makes it ideal for lunches and keeping stocked in the freezer!

{OCTOBER}

Hands down, this is my all-time favorite way to eat Sweet Potatoes. If you haven’t made these Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes yet, don’t waste any more time. Get on it! You will thank me – these are that good!

{NOVEMBER}

Doughnuts! Need I say more? Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze that are Paleo, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Soy-Free but taste amazing. These have been consumed way too frequently in our house during the holiday season and while they are a still a treat, they are one that is well worth it!

{DECEMBER}

Not too much of a surprise that Decembers favorite is also a sweet treat right? I am so proud of this Paleo Pumpkin Pie. It took a lot of trial and error to get this just right and it is a winner! As I said in the post, you could take this to any “regular” dinner and not tell anyone that the grains, gluten and dairy were missing and I truly don’t think they would notice!

When it comes to YOUR favorite recipes, there were three clear winners:

In first place was, “How to Make Cauliflower Rice

A very close Second Place was “Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks“. Technically, this is a recipe from 2012 but 2013 was clearly its year based on popularity!

and finally in Third Place – “How To Make Zucchini Noodles

Are you guys trying to tell me something or what? It sounds like you all really get use out of the “How To” posts. I’ll try to post more really helpful ones in the coming year!

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Finally, I asked a bunch of my food blogger friends what their favorite recipe of 2013 was and why – read below to find out (NOTE: Not all of the recipes below are Gluten Free or Paleo)…

  • “I am obsessed with ice cream and this Honey Ricotta Ice Cream is unbelievably creamy! It has the pure, simple flavors of ricotta and honey.” – Honey Ricotta Ice Cream from Wonky Wonderful
  • “My avocado shitake spring rolls with spicy almond coconut sauce, because they are a fresh satisfying meal and many people now make them often!” – Avocado Shitake Spring Rolls from SpaBettie
  • “I loved this baby spinach salad with dates and almonds from Ottolenghi. I normally don’t get overly excited about salads, but I crave this one every week, at least. It’s the perfect mix of textures and flavors!” – Ottolenghi’s Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds from Joanne Eats Well With Others
  • “Grilled Fish Tacos with Chili-Lime Slaw – very proud of these because they’re mine (not adapted) and they are truly the absolute best fish tacos I have ever eaten. If fish was cheaper, I would make them constantly.” – Grilled Fish Tacos with Chili Lime Slaw from Very Culinary
  • “My DIY maraschino cocktail cherries with amaretto. I love canning, and these will carry us through the year. I’ve been using them in cocktails and on sundaes, eating them straight for the jar, and now will be using them in place of the over-processed/chemical-laden version at our New Year’s Eve board game and cocktails party!” – DIY Maraschino Cocktail Cherries with Amaretto from Savvy Eat
  • “My recipe is Easy Smoky BBQ Kale Chips. They’re incredibly easy and also healthy–they were kind of a throwaway recipe I almost didn’t post, and they got a huge response from readers. I love that they make kale sexy! And you don’t needany crazy equipment (just blender and oven), so anyone can make them and get the benefits of this incredibly healthy food. And I love kale!” – Easy Smoky BBQ Kale Chips from Ricki Heller
  • “I gave up grains but was really missing take-out sesame chicken and tofu, so I came up with this sesame eggplant with a spicy-sweet sriracha honey drizzle. It’s my favorite recipe because it not only resolved my craving with a healthier version, it actually tastes better than the take-out I was missing. It’s a little fussy, but worth the time.” – Sesame Eggplant with Sriracha-Honey Drizzle from Seasonal and Savory 
  • ” I LOVE these Baked Cauli-Tots, not only because they have been the most popular on the blog, but also because I think they have been the most popular in my house. I make double batches so that I can toss them in my son’s lunchbox, and my husband raved about them so much at work that his coworkers requested he bring them in for their holiday potluck.” – Baked Cauli-Tots from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  • “Quiche is the food that I most associate with my husband and I. When we cut out grains in September, I knew I wanted to create a quiche that we could eat. And NOT one of those so-called “crustless” quiches. After fooling around with crusts for a while, I made this one and it’s just about perfect. I’m a happy lady.” – Grain Free Pumpkin Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese from The Tomato Tart
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE – STAY SAFE! See you Friday with my recipe for Gingerbread Doughnuts (Grain Free!).
Alyssa xo