April 30, 2014

Paleo Crock Pot

The crockpot is one of the best kitchen appliances out there. It's basically magic - throw raw food into it, flip the switch, come home to dinner. There's really nothing better. Here are some paleo crockpot recipes I've recently made and enjoyed!

All day:
  • Chicken with Applesauce and Sweet Potatoes - This meal was surprisingly great! It is completely self-contained, meaning you don't need to have anything on the side. Although, a salad would be an easy way to incorporate greens. And, I made Garlic Bread (Recipe Book) which was a great addition.
  • Paleo Pot Roast (Recipe Book)
  • Shredded BBQ Chicken - Put any amount of chicken breast you want in a crock pot. Cover/surround with Gluten-Free BBQ sauce and cook on Low for 6-7 hours. Remove surplus sauce and put in a container for the table. Shred chicken breast with two forks and stir with sauce.
  • Paleo & Whole 30 Ham Bone Soup - Click the link for substitutions and alterations.
  • Turkey Chili (Recipe Book) - This recipe is wonderful. If your crockpot, like mine, is not large enough, cook on the stove in a large pot over Low heat all day (turning burner off if you leave the house).
    • This recipe makes enough for dinner and leftover lunches and still enough to freeze for a simple meal later... See below for re-heating soup.
 
Half-day:
I wanted to note the difference between timing because those who work all day may not be able to turn the crock pot on around 3:00pm... unless you have a very well-trained dog. If that's you, PLEASE teach me your ways. Solution: Some crockpots have a time setting that will automatically switch to warm after a set amount of time... One of said crockpots is on my WishList for life right now.
  • Apple Cinnamon Pork Loin- I grew up with a mom who despised the combination of fruit and meat in any situation, so I was excited to try this recipe and the new combination. I really liked it! Although, I forgot the honey, and I think that would have added more flavor. Click here for information on the full meal I made with this.
  • Crock Pot Cashew Chicken
  • Re-heating soup (Living Off of the Freezer) - This should be do-able with almost any soup recipe. Thaw the frozen soup the day/night before in water in the sink. Heat on Low for 4-6 hours the day you want to have it... You can also do all day if you won't be home. I've done it for the Roasted Red Pepper Cauliflower Soup (pictured right) and Turkey Chili (Recipe Book).

April 29, 2014

Finals Marathon, Part I

You thought I ran a marathon, didn't you? Ha! I wish I did. My body wishes I did. Instead, I'm in the middle of slaving over final exams for three weeks. You can imagine how my diet has been treated. I'm trying really hard though. The only thing I've really detoured on is oatmeal. See "Carb Deficieny" post.
  • Whole Foods snacks
    • veggie chips
    • dried papaya
    • dark chocolate-covered espresso bean 
    • Honest Tea - 2 bottles for $2.00 with coupon!
      • Passion Fruit Green Tea (sweetened with organic Stevia)
      • Community Green Tea with Maltese Orange
  • Publix (grocery store)
    • Fruit Salad - I've bought three of these so far.
    • Nuts (raw cashews, walnuts)
    • Dried Pineapple (no added sugar)
    • Dried Cherries (no added sugar)
    • Fresh Oranges
    • Apples
    • Dark Chocolate Almond Milk - My sister talked me into buying this... AMAZING! It's weird, though, because I swear I remember trying this stuff pre-paleo and hating it.
    • Plantain Chips
    • Yucca Chips - These seriously taste just like potato chips.
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April 28, 2014

Carb Deficiency

I'm having a hard time distinguishing whether my frequent headaches and restlessness lately are solely products of the stress of finals, or if the low-carb aspect of paleo is contributing. Today is my first of four final exams.

I planned to get up at 5:45 and go to the gym around 7:00 which would've been completely doable earlier this semester. Instead, I couldn't get out of bed and ended up cancelling on a friend and sleeping until about 7:30. I felt okay waking up, made breakfast - egg whites, chicken sausage and a sliced peach - and then studied for a little bit. By 10:00 I was hungry again, extremely tired, had a headache and felt like I could throw up. The other weird thing was that the TV was giving me anxiety. I thought laying in bed and watching TV would help me relax, but it made me more nervous.

Yesterday I was reading information on a paleo community Facebook page that said low-carb diets can have adverse effects on some people, including anxiety, weight gain, exhaustion and so many others.

Basically I have 3 hours to turn these feelings around so I can walk into the exam feeling like a human-being. I called my mom and she said "You need to eat something. Forget about the 'diet' and eat something, even if it's a piece of toast and a Coke." Really, that sounded like sacrilege to me. But, more importantly, I don't want to get sick right before an exam. I haven't had bread in four months, and I haven't had a Coke in probably a year, if not longer. Nor do I have any of these in my house... Yay for a paleo pantry!

I did remember that I had rolled oats in the back of the pantry. So, I made a bowl of oatmeal with coconut milk, pumpkin, pumpkin spice and some brown sugar. I'm hoping that helps. It felt good knowing there wasn't any refined sugar or absolutely terrible ingredients in this "carb fix." For those of you needing a boost of carbs and not wanting to completely stray away from the main principle of paleo, i.e. avoiding processed "crap," try white rice for a healthy, natural load of carbs. Update: I learned that oatmeal is not AIP or paleo and may cause issues for people with strong food sensitivities. Therefore, white rice and other starches such as white potatoes and plantains are safer than oatmeal. Personally, oatmeal soothes my stomach, so it is best for me. It may not be best for everyone.

For people without medical food sensitivities: Most importantly, listen to your body. Simply knowing you can say "I was 100% paleo today." is not more important that your health, well-being and state of mind. If you need to "binge" on a bowl of oatmeal, or really a Big Mac at this point, because you are having serious symptoms, then do it. At the end of the day, you're the only one having to live in your body. Although, I would advise staying away from the Big Mac and having something you know will not cause exacerbated adverse effects.

Has anyone else had effects from low-carb, or do you think it's mostly coming from the stress of finals? I love paleo, but if its effects become adverse after a while, that may be something to consider.

12:24pm Update: I think the oatmeal made a big difference. I also took an Aspirin, drank a dark chocolate almond milk and had a few cashews just before leaving the house. I have an Uberbar and turkey jerky with me for the exam. Wish me luck!

4/29/2014 Update: I ate oatmeal with breakfast this morning again. I feel 100% better today than I did yesterday.

April 26, 2014

Study Sleepover Breakfast

Finals studying can easily be one of the most miserable times of the semester. But, with a little effort and wonderful friends - it can, instead, be a lot of fun! My G-Little and I had a study sleepover last night... I would like to say I sacrificed something to study; although, let's be real... I would've been in my cave anyway. Although, she decided to not go to formal and to study with me instead. How lucky am I?! Not only that, but she went to WholeFoods and brought PALEO study snacks: veggie chips, chocolate-covered espresso beans (Okay, these may be a stretch.) and dried papaya!!!

I took the liberty of covering breakfast...
Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes with Fresh Applewood Smoked Bacon
I went to EarthFare for the first time yesterday because their Grass-Fed Ground Beef was on sale for $3.99/lb! Um, what?! That's the same price as the ground "pink slime" at Publix when it's on sale! I saw the bacon in the meat case and couldn't resist. Who would have?! 
Bacon: Line a baking sheet/pan with aluminum foil. Lay the bacon flat in a single layer. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until desired crispiness. Put on layered paper towel and pat to get rid of excess grease.
Pecans: Line a baking sheet/pan with parchment paper. Put coarsely chopped pecans in the pan in a single layer. Drizzle with 1-2 tsp. melted ghee or coconut oil. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes. Set aside until pancakes are done.
Pancakes, adapted from Jan's Sushi Bar:
Makes 6 small/medium pancakes, about 2 servings
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. pumpkin spice
2/3 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix dry (last 3) ingredients in a separate, smaller bowl. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. 

Heat 1 tbsp. coconut oil in a skillet on medium-low heat, until a drop of water sizzles. Make pancakes using about 1/4 cup of the batter for each one.

Plating: Drizzle 1/2 tsp. honey over each stack of pancakes. Top with pecans. Serve with Grade B Maple Syrup.

April 25, 2014

Fruitbowl Friday

Lots of bananas this week, but most of them ended up in the freezer for smoothies or banana bread in the future. I apologize now because this week was one of the most boring weeks, and I'm not sure that next week will be much better. Don't blame me. Finals made me do it.
  • Saturday dinner: Zesty Grilled Tilapia with Sauteed Zucchini and Mushrooms
  • [Easter] Sunday - tons of yummy recipes!
  • Monday breakfast: Steak (leftovers) w/ a poached egg
  • Monday lunch: Coconut Chicken Tenders and Green Beans - Click the link for several quick, easy & nutritious recipes, including this lunch recipe.
  • Tuesday & Thursday breakfast: Nuts.com Coconut Kale Granola with Coconut Milk, Almonds & Raisins
    • Post on paleo cereal alternatives coming soon!
  • Tuesday dinner: Sausage & leftover veggies with a fried egg
    • I got home late and hadn't eaten, so I quickly threw this together. Not too bad!
    • Wednesday breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Sausage
  • Wednesday lunch: Grilled Zucchini, Green Beans & Tuna Salad Salad 
    • Tuna Salad on salad is one of my current favorite things. Just plop as much tuna salad as you want over a bed of lettuce. You don't even need dressing! I didn't have an avocado so I mixed a can of tuna with dijon mustard, mayonnaise and chopped celery. Other optional additions could include raisins, hard-boiled egg, carrots, dill pickles, red/white onion
  • Wednesday & Thursday dinner: Paleo Ham Bone Soup with Side Salad; Dessert: Coconut Chocolate Nut Clusters
  • Thursday lunch: Tuna Salad Salad & Leftover Ham Bone Soup
  • Thursday dinner: Salad with leftover Ham Bone Soup... I'm realizing that I had more protein at lunch than at dinner. That seems backwards.
  • Friday breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Chicken Sausage
    • This is my first go with chicken sausage. It was on sale this week, so I figured I'd give it a shot. It was really good! Although, my tummy hurts now and I'm not sure if it's the culprit.

April 24, 2014

Ham Bone Soup (Paleo & Whole 30)

I always thought my Nana was so gross for saving the ham bone and then making soup with it. Now, here I am, 10 years later, making ham bone soup... the last (8th) meal from the everlasting 5lb. ham! See the "Featured Ingredient: Ham" post for information on the other meals. This Paleo Ham Bone Soup uses all fresh ingredients and is fairly simple, if you consider chopping veggies simple. I love using my new Henckel knives which were a birthday present, so I consider that part fun. :)

I used the sweet potato substitute option. It was good, and I loved the freshness of the flavors. And, it was surprisingly filling. However, it was sort of bland. I sprinkled my bowl with sea salt, pepper & garlic powder which made a big difference. Doesn't garlic make everything better? Therefore, if I make this again, I'll probably add 2 or 3 minced cloves of garlic.

Also, make sure your crock pot is large enough. If not, put everything in a large pot and bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. If your crock pot is too small, the sweet potato and cauliflower won't get enough heat to soften. On that note, put the cauliflower and sweet potato on the bottom because they're the heavier and firmer veggies that need more moisture. I felt really clean eating this... yay!
4/24/2014 Update: This soup is just like chili... so much better leftover! It doesn't even need the extra garlic powder the next day. And, it is so filling!

April 23, 2014

Coconut Chocolate Nut Clusters

Another final-exam-calorie-craving has been curbed! A friend and I were sitting at my table (Yes, I'm in the same chair as always.) trying to figure out if our craving for something semi-sweet, yet healthy, was worth a trip to Publix or WholeFoods; or, if the time it'd take to make that trip was too valuable to give up. Instead, we used what was in the pantry to successfully supply us with fuel for this Con Law Campout on which we've now embarked...

Coconut Chocolate Nut Clusters
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1-2 tbsp. coconut oil
~1/3 nuts, any kind - I used almonds and sliced almonds. Depending on the nuts you use, chop them to smaller pieces.
1/8 cup shredded coconut

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together using either a double boiler or the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in nuts shredded coconut. Pour into lined mini muffin tins. Freeze for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!!

Oh, I also made my second pot of Chai Coffee (Recipe Book) as well... This stuff is too good. 

Why Not Walk?

Driving is so overrated. I had lunch with friends about a half of a mile from my house yesterday. It would have taken me approximately 2.7 minutes to drive there, depending on red light; and, it was about a 10 minute walk. I figured, "Why not walk? I'll get some fresh air, burn some calories, save gas and clear my mind."

As I walked to and from lunch, I was so happy for my decision, regardless of the fact that I was carrying an apple and banana down the street on my way back and probably seemed slightly strange to those driving by.

If you're in a safe place and your destination is within walking distance, ditch the car keys and take a stroll. Especially if you don't have time to make it to the gym. It seems like you're doing something we do all day... walking, but you're burning calories and using your heart. Try it out... You won't be disappointed.

April 22, 2014

Quick & Easy

Quick personal update: I feel like crap this morning from the cupcake yesterday, but I am starting the day clean. I had a cup of almond milk with hemp protein and 1/2 banana before yoga and then kale granola with sliced almonds, raisins and coconut milk after yoga. To stay away from these temptations that will set you back - even when you're in a hurry - here are some homemade, paleo & nutritious meals that you can easily throw together in 20 minutes.

It's so easy to snack all day when you're busy, and then you end up eating more food with less nutrients because making a meal takes too long. Trust me, I know how this goes. I have spent many days in the same chair in front of my computer outlining and studying. These meals will fill you up and keep you going without needing to snack. These recipes are all written in single-portions; however, they can easily be multiplied by increasing servings of protein and vegetables and proportionally increasing seasonings or sauces.

Baked Salmon & Frozen Vegetable
1 salmon filet (~0.4 lb.)
Mayonnaise or Ghee (optional)
Dill Weed
Sea Salt & Pepper

Coat the salmon filet with mayonnaise or ghee, if you wish. It will be just as good without it! Sprinkle with dill, salt and pepper. If you're not using mayo or ghee, just sprinkle the filet with dill, salt & pepper. Bake at 375 for 12-20 minutes, depending on thickness of filet. Microwave a frozen vegetable (check ingredients) while the salmon is baking. (Pictured is Green Giant Broccoli Spears.) Top with sea salt and pepper.

Max time: 20 minutes
Nutrition: Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 and protein.
BONUS: This meal costs ~$6.00!

Tuna Salad with Avocado & Celery Sticks
1 can of tuna
1 avocado
1 hard-boiled egg, diced (optional)
1 dill pickle, diced (optional)
5-6 celery sticks

Drain extra liquid out of the tuna. Mix with avocado, mashing together. Fold in hard-boiled egg and pickle. Season with salt and pepper. Eat with celery sticks.

Max time: 20 minutes
Nutrition: This meal has a ton of protein (tuna and egg), good fat (avocado) & some potassium (tuna). The crunch of the celery and pickles will make your taste-buds satisfied that they ate something substantial.

Salsa Chicken with Plantain Chips & Guacamole
1 chicken breast, sliced
1/2 cup salsa
1 tbsp. olive oil
onion powder
paprika
chili powder
garlic powder
1 avocado
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp. cilantro
diced onion (optional)
tomato (optional)

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Place chicken strips in the skillet and season liberally with onion powder, paprika, chili powder and garlic powder. Flip and season the other side. While the chicken is cooking, make the guacamole (This recipe is also in the Recipe Book) by mashing the avocado with the pressed garlic, lemon/lime juice, cilantro, onion & tomato. Top the chicken with salsa. Serve with plantain chips (Trader Joe's).

Max time: 20 minutes
Nutrition: Chicken provides protein, and the guacamole gives you those natural fats we so desperately need.

Coconut Chicken Tenders & Green Beans
5 oz. chicken breast, cut into tenders or chicken tenders
1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp. coconut flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
dash paprika
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 small handful green beans, ends trimmed
garlic powder, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tsp. coconut aminos (optional)

Heat oven to 375. 
Breading: Mix shredded coconut, coconut flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and pepper in a bowl.
Drizzle melted coconut oil over chicken breast. Bread chicken with breading mixture. Place in baking dish. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Then, broil on High for 5 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, heat coconut oil in a small frying pan. Add green beans. Season with garlic powder and pepper. Sautee for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add coconut aminos (optional) and sautee for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
This chicken is great on its own; however, for some added flavor, use 2 tbsp. of my Homemade Ketchup (Recipe Book) to dip.

Max time: 30 minutes
Nutrition: This is a very clean and lean meal packed with protein.

"Garlic Lime Chicken Bites" over Sauteed Spinach and Onions
Click here for the chicken recipe.

You probably have most of the ingredients for the chicken in your refrigerator, so this is a GREAT way to dress up a chicken breast that needs to be made. I poured the chicken and its sauce over sauteed spinach and onions (Recipe Book) and sprinkled the whole thing with sesame seeds. The sauce has so much flavor that it pulls everything together really nicely.

Max time: 25 minutes
Nutrition: Chicken provides protein. Spinach has a ton of nutrients, including iron and fiber.

Lemon Dill Baked Salmon with Sauteed Kale
salmon filet(s)
dill weed
garlic powder
1 lemon slice - may sub for lemon juice
1 cup kale
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Heat oven to 350. Sprinkle a filet of salmon with dill weed and garlic powder. Then squeeze the juice of the lemon slice over the salmon. Bake salmon for about 12 minutes, if the oven is pre-heated. It will take a little longer if the oven is still warming up. About 7 minutes before the salmon is done, heat 1 tbsp. coconut oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic clove and sautee for about a minute. Add the kale and sautee, stirring almost constantly, until tender. Once tender, pour the red wine vinegar over the kale and serve immediately.

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April 21, 2014

Day of Temptation

I woke up this morning to discover an unfamiliar, perplexing white box on the kitchen counter. It appeared to be a box that came from a bakery - they just have that image - but was completely unlabeled. Of course, I had to open this strange container that appeared overnight... Okay, that's an exaggeration. Obviously, we know my roommate brought it home after I retired to my lair for the night. Anyway, I opened it to find this... Really, I didn't think twice about it and shut the box and continued to make my [paleo] breakfast and carry on with my day.
This ended up being the story of my day... the last day of classes for my first year of law school. Maybe this means that I was naturally supposed to "celebrate" today, or maybe it means I really should have talked myself into skipping all classes for the day as I tried really hard to to do but was ultimately unsuccessful. Instead, I actually did my hair and got dressed. For those who don't know me well (like a friend in my class who automatically [and correctly] assumed I had a lunch meeting because my hair was done), this hasn't been an everyday thing lately because I'm either coming from the gym or plan on going to the gym which means I use the excuse to be in gym clothes all day... cutting back on laundry and water usage, right? #resourceful
I wore what would have been my "Easter dress" today since yesterday was spent in sweatpants studying all day.
So, my lunch meeting was cancelled which made for more study time. Lunch went well, meaning it was paleo. I snacked on celery, sunflower butter and raisins and continued to my afternoon class. Afterwards, we had a potluck get-together with a professor from last semester. Thinking in pantry purge terms and not having time to make anything, I brought two bags of popcorn from the non-paleo shelf of the pantry and popped them using the microwave on campus... genius! Well, I thought it was at least. I was [secretly] hoping someone would bring something for me to snack on while we socialized. That didn't happen. A friend ordered Papa John's; the professor brought cupcakes; a friend brought jellybeans and homemade macaroons; and, other items included pita chips and Pepsi.

I was fine about everything, except the macaroons. My inner baker had to try one because they're one thing I've never attempted to make, just because they seem so complex that I don't want to ruin their mysteriousness by trying and ultimately failing to making them. I ate a little tiny one, and it was wonderful. I really didn't feel bad about it because I really considered this a business decision for my baking ventures. I need to be educated on products in the trade. ;)

On to the next stop of my not-so-productive-at-all day: Mock Trial Banquet. As I entered, there was almost a shining light in the corner, near the water that was emanating from the table... a Smallcakes box. I never knew what Smallcakes was until a friend's birthday earlier this semester, post-paleo which was my first "cheat" and left me with a stomach ache after the equivalent of 1/2 of a cupcake. Well, that was a mistake.

Today was very eye-opening... apparently I have a weakness for Smallcakes cupcakes, and donuts don't phase me, even Donut Kingdom donuts - I later found out that's where the mystery donuts on my counter are from. After the successful day I had of withstanding temptation, I caved. Not "caved" as in "I had a small bite." No, "caved" as in, I completely collapsed and had 1/2 of each of these glorious creations...
Remember the "Not Worth It..." post? I stand by that 100%, and I debated for about 2 hours (up until I hit the "Publish" button on this post in 5 minutes) whether or not I'd tell you about this. But, my ultimate decision was to be honest. I'm not better than any other paleo out there who's human and who has weaknesses that can sometimes cause momentary lapses of judgment. And, I think that's important. I'm not here to pretend anything... This blog is for me to share my paleo journey with you and to hopefully provide insight or motivation or just a tip or trick for living paleo. Included in that are days like today.

Although, I'd argue that this falls under the last category of situations where it's a life-or-death situation and completely necessary... Here I go with that argument: I won't ever buy myself one of these magical creations. How else am I ever supposed to get one? Okay, argument over. Reality: Obviously, if it was the last one on Earth, I'd buy it. But, are you judging me? Do you think I'm a hypocrite?

I'm going to go with the assumption that the answer is "No." because we tend to be more lenient on others than we are on ourselves. Likewise, I turn that back on you... If you're not judging me for eating a cupcake, then you shouldn't judge yourself in the event that you cave and do the "unthinkable." Who cares? You didn't just commit yourself to failure or to never being paleo again. You're still paleo the moment you swallow the last bite. Am I telling you this, or am I really trying to convince myself? Sometimes indulging is necessary. Go for it. Just don't make it a habit. For those of you who are judging, go ahead. You're better than I am. But, I did pass up a donut, cupcake, jellybeans, popcorn and Papa John's. I do have willpower. It's those dang Smallcakes.

For those of you wondering, I noticed my digestion system having to work extra within 20 minutes, and I now have a headache. The effects aren't as bad as I imagined, but that doesn't mean they won't get worse.

Throw an Egg on It

As of this morning, I'm fully convinced that anything can be breakfast if you just throw an egg on it. The steak I had last night (last night's meal here!) was slightly too large for one serving, so I trimmed off a few pieces and saved it with some mushrooms and green beans. This morning, I warmed it in the oven because I don't like the flavor the microwave gives to beef and put a poached egg over it.
Leftovers
Breakfast

















Other creative ideas for eggs here and a list of sweet potato and egg (my favorite) combinations here.

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April 20, 2014

[Easter] Sunday

For those of you celebrating today, Happy Easter!

For those of you not celebrating or without any exciting plans for this holiday, you're not alone. My Con Law book and I have a great Sunday planned together, so my [Easter] Sunday plans aren't too exciting either.

Although, I did decide to make some exciting recipes in semi-holiday spirit and would like to indulge you in my menu for the day. I'll update it as the day goes on. I'll be in the same chair in front of my computer alll day. Yay for final exam time!

Breakfast
Chai Coffee - Mix 1 cup ground coffee with 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cardamom, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/8 tsp. ginger. Mix well and brew. This coffee is awesome. Awesome. Awesome. It makes coffee so much more exciting! Who thought to to add spices to plain coffee?? Genius!

Poached Eggs over Spinach & Onions I just poached my first egg! I'm so excited. I used these directions.

Lunch
Coffee-Rubbed Pork Chop with leftover Garlic Zucchini & Mushrooms (Recipe Book)
I used this coffee rub which I had leftover from when I made Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye. I just rubbed both sides of a boneless porkchop with the rub and fried it in coconut oil until done. Simple, easy, yummy!

Snack
Dark Chocolate - Dark chocolate is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Or... make you feel like you're participating in a holiday like Easter without completely blowing your anti-sugar efforts. Try to stick with dark chocolate that has 70% or more cacao. Apparently, I like to diversify my chocolate consumption. I realized I had every dark chocolate of the spectrum in the pantry when I decided that today's holiday provided an excuse to eat dark chocolate all day.

Maple Roasted Pecans - My friend who's over studying with me and I needed something to snack on but couldn't find anything satisfying in the pantry. So, I whipped these together... MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! These are awesome. They taste like the fair!

Before
After
Dinner
Sirloin with Balsamic Mushrooms and Garlicky Green Beans - The combination of flavors in this meal is awesome! It's like something you would order at a restaurant, except better because you know exactly what's in it.
Sirloin: Season both sides of 5 oz. sirloin with sea salt, garlic powder, minced onion & pepper. Grill until cooked to taste.
Balsamic Mushrooms:
coconut oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
pepper
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Heat coconut oil in a small sauce pan. Add pressed garlic and sautee until tender - about a minute. Add mushrooms, season with pepper and sautee until mushrooms begin to soften - about 5 minutes - stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Simmer until cooked down and almost caramelized - 5-7 minutes - stirring occasionally.
Garlicky Green Beans, adapted from The Healthy Gluten-Free Life by Tammy Credicott
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 big handful fresh green beans, ends snipped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp. coconut aminos
pepper

Heat coconut oil in a large sauce pan. Add green beans and sautee for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with pepper. Add garlic and coconut aminos and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

April 19, 2014

Tilapia Experiment, Round 2

I tried another new tilapia recipe tonight: Zesty Grilled Tilapia

It didn't want to stay together from the grill to the plate.
I just happened to have an orange that I brought home from the race this morning, so I had everything I needed. It was pretty simple and came out well. I liked this better than last night's; although, I'm not convinced the flavor was strong enough. I think the coconut-mango rice that it's served with on the recipe must add a lot to the meal. In that case, I wouldn't completely discount this recipe. I think if it was made with something like this Coconut Cauliflower Rice, it'd be awesome! I'll keep it on my list of things to try and update you when I do. In the meantime, let me know if you beat me to it!

These vegetables that I made, though, were awesome! I had never touched portabella or baby bella mushrooms before, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Garlic Zucchini with Mushrooms
olive oil
1/3 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 small zucchini, quartered
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms
sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a pan. Add garlic and onions. Sautee until onions are translucent and softened - about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini and mushrooms. Seas with sea salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms should drastically shrink in size and become tender.

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Cookbook Swap

Already gone through your cookbooks? Don't want to dig through Pinterest for paleo-friendly recipes? Or, don't have the budget to buy a slew of paleo-friendly cookbooks? Here's a thought! Tip #25: Swap cookbooks with a friend to accumulate new recipes in a budget-friendly way.

A few months ago I met someone at school who has been gluten-free and primarily paleo since last September. Lucky for her (and now for me too), her birthday was in November, so she was the proud new owner of 7 or 8 gluten-free cookbooks. Upon our conversation about my blog and adventures with paleo myself, she agreed to let me borrow her beloved cookbooks. I pulled a few out of the first round; but, I'm not kidding, I hit the jackpot on this second round. In case you're interested in buying it, this is the book.
Amazon
I flagged almost every page of this book. Usually I copy the recipes using my roommate's copy machine, but I didn't want to waste that much paper. Instead, I used my phone and took pictures of the recipes I flagged. So, you'll be seeing a lot of recipes from this book in the near future.

Today, for lunch, I made my first recipe out of this book. All of the ingredients (except green onions which I omitted) were in my pantry/refrigerator. It was wonderful!

"Ginger Lime Chicken Bites:
Chicken:
1 tbsp. coconut oil
3 boneless skinless [organic] chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Sauce:
juice of 1 organic lime - I used bottled lime juice.
2 tbsp. coconut aminos
1 tbsp. olive oil - Now that I'm writing this, I realize that I left this out. Didn't notice it was missing!
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger - I used dried.
1 garlic clove, minced [or pressed]
1 tbsp. raw organic honey
1 tsp. granulated onion
Topping: chopped green onions and/or sesame seeds
  1. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook chicken, stirring occassionally, until browned and almost done. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add sauce to skillet, turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until chicken pieces are cooked through. [At this point, I was sick of the coconut oil splattering that I covered it for about 7 minutes. Does anyone have a trick for decreasing coconut oil splatter?]
  4. ...Top chicken bites with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!"
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5K, Volume 2

Earlier this semester, I, along with a few other students, organized an event benefiting the local Ronald McDonald House where we collected home-goods donations and hosted a donation celebration brunch at the House. Leftover food from the brunch was then taken to the hospital and given to patients and their families. I was blown away by the facility RMH provides to families going through such a tough time. The RMH in town is BEAUTIFUL, and the staff is nothing but nice. So when I saw information about this race benefiting the RMH, I immediately wanted to do it. A friend of mine so graciously agreed to run it with me because I was otherwise going to do it solo.

This time I could wear my running shoes because they weren't throwing colored powder all over us. It made a huge difference - my calves weren't burning after 3 minutes. I got up at 6:00 and had a cup of green tea and a banana. My calves have decided to cramp almost every night lately. Does anyone have an explanation for this? Then, around 7:15 I had two scrambled eggs with three pieces of turkey bacon - need. protein. The race started at 8:30.

I ran it with a friend of mine, and it was his first ever 5K! Still, his time was better than mine. Anyone ever noticed how guys can just roll out of bed and run like it's no big deal, regardless of not running in an extended period of time? I'm jealous. But, I cut 1:30 off of my time from the last one - Yay! This was a really cool event. We ran at least the first half without stopping and then took a few breaks on the latter half. Once we got to the final straightaway, we sprinted. I'm hoping to run a 5K without stopping soon.
 

They had a ton of fresh fruit for us after the race. I may or may not have ended up bringing home 5 bananas... and an orange. They also had sandwiches; and, even though a part of me wanted one, I'm too scared to eat gluten. So, I ate [a ton of] fruit and came home and made sweet potato hash (Recipe Book) with sausage and maple syrup. Yum!
They even gave us medals!
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Con Law at WholeFoods Cafe

My poor poor friend [who's been on-and-off paleo this semester] had never been to the WholeFoods Cafe! To relieve him of this awful situation and to feed my everlasting craving for WholeFoods (WholeFoods Obsessed), we met at the Cafe to get dinner and study Con Law. Just act like you didn't read the last four words of that sentence so it still seems exciting. Once again... another awesome meal. Can I just live there?
Smoked Pork Shoulder, raw broccoli & cauliflower, Baked Plantains, Whitefish (with some awesome sauce) and Honey Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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April 18, 2014

Fruitbowl Friday

This seems to be a very monochromatic fruitbowl... Maybe I should have put an avocado or two at the top for some green.
  • Sunday breakfast: Maple Scrambled Eggs & Sausage Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
    • Click the link or visit the Recipe Book for the recipe.
  • Sunday lunch: Tuna with Avocado, Hard-Boiled Egg, Pickle & Celery Sticks*+
    • New post coming soon on quick and easy meals like this one!
  • Sunday dinner - Thursday breakfast: Featured Ingredient: Ham
    • I stretched one 5lb. ham into 9 meals for 2 people! Click the link for info on the meals I made.
  • Tuesday dinner: Shredded BBQ Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Recipe Book) and Broccoli & Cauliflower
    • I didn't have that much BBQ sauce (Products page) left in the jar, but I did have Homemade Ketchup (Recipe Book) which is basically the start of barbecue sauce. So, I whisked the Homemade Ketchup, BBQ sauce, ~1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, onion powder and paprika together to make the BBQ sauce I had go even further.
    • Then, I put two [large] chicken breasts in the crock pot, covered them with BBQ sauce and set them on low for about 6 hours. When it was time for dinner, I shredded the breasts with two forks and stirred the chicken with the sauce while I finished the sides. If you have too much sauce, scoop it out into a container and put on the side in case anyone wants extra. Then, keep it for later!
  • Wednesday lunch: Leftover Shredded BBQ Chicken with leftover vegetables
  • Wednesday dinner: Chipotle
  • Thursday lunch: Chicken Breast with Salsa, Plantain Chips (Trader Joe's) & Guacamole*+ (Recipe Book)
    • Post coming soon on this meal and other quick, easy & filling meals!
*Recipes that can be packed and taken to work/school
+Recipes that can be made ahead

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Broiled Grapefruit

I've been really into fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice lately. This week I got 5 grapefruit, and it only took 4 to fill my mason jar with juice, so the last one has been sitting in the fruit bowl. This recipe was the perfect way to use the last grapefruit. It was so yummy! I haven't sat down to eat a grapefruit since I was about 4. Shortly thereafter I was scarred for life because I soon came to find out that my dad had mistaken the salt for sugar. So for all you grapefruit skeptics, give them one more chance. There's nothing to lose. Plus, then have a ton of health benefits!

The bananas add so much flavor! I used ginger and cinnamon. Like the recipe says, play surgeon and make sure you separate all of the pieces and all of their edges from the membrane. It makes a big difference when you're trying to get the "meat" out.

April 17, 2014

Experiment: Sesame-Crusted Tilapia

As I sat trying to outline Contracts, my mind [naturally] wandered off to dinner. I knew I was going to make tilapia with spinach and onions. But, I wanted to try something different with the tilapia. It's a fish of so many possibilities. I would argue that it's easier than salmon; well, at least more versatile. I spent some time on Google and decided I'd try to use some sort of sesame seed creation. Here's what I did:

garlic powder
ground ginger
honey
sesame oil
sesame seeds
pepper

I sprinkled the fish with garlic powder and ground ginger, then drizzled it with honey and sesame oil and sprinkled sesame seeds over top and finished with pepper. Then I baked it at 425 for about 8 minutes.

It was edible and quite tasty; although I don't think it's the best thing I've ever made. And, I think I could do better. I think next time I will omit the honey and use coconut aminos. I wanted to post about this though, so you know I'm testing things out just as much as everyone else. If you have made sesame-crusted tilapia and loved it, please post the recipe!

Sauteed Spinach & Onions
This is one of the best things to make when you are really trying to be clean. It acts as a detox and is full of nutrients.
coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
[a ton of] spinach 

Heat coconut oil in a pan. Add onions. Stir until tender and light brown. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add spinach and continue stirring until spinach is wilted.
There really isn't any science to how much spinach you should use or what the spinach:onion ratio should be. Keep in mind that the spinach will wilt and almost disappear, so it will seem like a lot at first. You can almost eat as much as you want of this, so don't worry about over-eating. 

Featured Ingredient: Ham

Semi-Boneless hams were on sale this week, so I bought a 5 lb. ham and planned as many meals as I could. We ended up getting 9 meals for two people out of it! That's 18 meals for $9.00! Okay, so there were a few other ingredients. But, hey! You can't beat that. Plus, it's very convenient to have so much meat already cooked/chopped in the refrigerator during a busy week. Below is a list of the meals I made with recipes or links to recipes. There is also a grocery list at the bottom for following this meal plan!

1. Sunday dinner - Maple Glazed Baked Ham with Broccoli & Cauliflower
After dinner, I carved the ham into 1) slices 2) squares 3) cubes. I put one container of cubes and the bone into the freezer for the ham bone soup which I am going to make next week. I used the slices for Wednesday's breakfast, squares for Monday's dinner and the cubes for Monday and Tuesday's breakfast and Monday's lunch.
2&3. Monday & Tuesday breakfast: Dijon Scrambled Eggs with Spinach & Ham*+
Recipe: Heat 1 tbs. coconut oil in a pan. Add ~1/4 cup ham (cubed) and heat for 2-3 minutes. Scramble 2 eggs with ~1 tsp. dijon mustard. Pour over the ham and scramble until almost cooked. Add spinach and continue to scramble as the spinach melts.

4&5. Monday & Tuesday lunch: Tropical "Cobb" Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing*+
Click the link for the recipe for this salad.
6. Monday dinner: Grilled Ham and Pineapple Skewers (adapted from Goodness Gracious) with Broccoli; Dessert: Dark Chocolate-Covered Pineapple
First, soak the skewers before-hand, especially if you're using a traditional grill. I used 1/2 of a pineapple and cut it into 1"-thick chunks and used about 1/8"-thick, 2" squares of ham that I cut Monday night after dinner and alternated them on the skewers in no particular order. Then, I mixed the marinade using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce with the warm pineapple juice and put it over the skewers before Spin class (about 2 hours before dinner).

Grill on either a George Forman or traditional grill... everything is cooked, so you don't have to do it for long. I'm sure these would be even better on a real grill because the George Forman wouldn't close all the way. But, this is the perfect summer meal!

Roast or steam the broccoli. I steamed the broccoli with garlic powder, ground mustard, sea salt & pepper, and my sister said it tasted like Outback broccoli!

For dessert, melt dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate with 1 tbsp. coconut oil. Use any leftover pineapple chunks and cover in dark chocolate. 
7. Wednesday & Thursday breakfast: Ham and Egg Biscuits
More on the biscuits here. I sliced the biscuits in half and put the bottom of a biscuit in the toaster; then topped it with a fried egg, over-medium and a slice of ham folded in half with a little honey and Dijon mustard. The biscuits are semi-dry. But, the egg yolk, honey and mustard took care of that. Yum!!
I think avocado would be a great addition to this breakfast sandwich!
8&9. Later: Paleo Ham Bone Soup*+  - I plan on making this next week - will post an update as soon as the deed is done. I'm going to take a leap and say this will, at least, make 2 meals.
4/24/2014 Update: This soup is great! It makes at least 5 single-person meals! Here's the post.
 

*Recipes that can be packed and taken to work/school
+Recipes that can be made ahead

Grocery List (omits ham bone soup):
  • 5 lb. semi-boneless ham; precooked or uncooked - may be heavier, depending on the # of people you're feeding
  • 3 bags of Steam-in-Bag veggies OR 3 heads of broccoli OR 2 heads of broccoli and 1 head of cauliflower - basically, just three nights of veggies, your choice
  • eggs (12-18)
  • baby spinach leaves 
  • 1 pineapple
  • celery (optional for salad)
  • avocado (optional for salad)
  • sliced almonds (optional for salad)
  • Dark Chocolate (70%+)
  • grilling skewers
Items you may have on hand:
  • Almond Flour (2 cups)
  • 100% Grade B Maple Syrup
  • Dijon Mustard -You will use a lot of this.
  • Ground Mustard
  • Coconut Aminos (2 tbsp.)
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Baking powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
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April 16, 2014

Chipotle

Chipotle was the perfect study break. A friend and I got it to-go and returned to Atomic Coffee (local coffee shop) for a few more hours of studying. Check out the Chipotle post for information on this very paleo-friendly menu.
Steak Salad with fajita veggies, a ton of mild salsa, guacamole & extra lettuce
PS. I'm sipping on Tropical Green Tea at Atomic.
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