Thursday, January 27, 2011

Breakfast of champions- for dinner! *Repost*

This summer I joined a CSA for the first time. "CSA" stands for "Community Supported Agriculture;" it involves paying a lump sum to your local farm prior to the season, and they then provide you with a "share" (a box of assorted produce, and possibly flowers and/or eggs) each week throughout the summer. It can be a little risky, as the farm cannot guarantee successful harvests, but I thought I'd try it out, as I had recently discovered that I have a local organic farm that offers this option. Well, I've started getting my shares, and I've been really pleased! I decided to split the share with a dear friend, because the boyfriend and I didn't want to risk having to eat ten pounds of heirloom tomatoes every week; seems like it was a good move.

The first box was zucchini, yellow squash, Yukon Gold new potatoes, sweet onions, cucumbers, a bag of herbs, and a bag of squash blossoms. I'd never heard of squash blossoms as an ingredient; the farmer suggested cooking them with eggs, so I figured an omelette dinner would be a great way to incorporate all of my spoils into one meal.

*A word about eggs- I believe it is important to have high quality eggs. When I get them from the store, I always choose organic eggs and I prefer to get local pastured eggs when they're available. The local chickens roam around on grass, as nature intended, and their eggs are cheap to boot! They often cost half as much as the organic grocery store eggs (or if you're as lucky as me, you have a friend with hens!)

Contrary to popular belief, the terms "cage free" and "free range" are not synonymous with "pastured." Cage free hens, while not confined to cramped, filthy cages, are likely confined to a cramped, filthy henhouse and do not get fresh air and sunlight. Good eggs come from happy chickens! Here's Mark Sisson's Egg Purchasing Guide- he breaks down all the labels; it can be a bit confusing.

Squash Blossom Omelette with Home Fries and Salad

2 tablespoons butter (I like Kerrygold cultured butter)
3 eggs, scrambled with a tablespoon of cold water
3 squash blossoms; 2 chopped, 1 left whole
1/4 cup each jullienned zucchini, yellow squash, and chopped onion
1 tablespoon feta cheese

Home Fries
2-3 yukon gold new potatoes, chopped small (about 1 cup)
Fat of Choice (FOC) for frying- I used grapeseed when I originally made this, but now recommend some ghee or quality lard
Salad with Green Vinaigrette
2 cups torn romaine
a few slices of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion
feta cheese, to taste
8 genoa basil leaves
a few sprigs of fennel leaf
1 leaf anise hyssop
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 TBS raw apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

-Start with the potatoes; they take a long time! Add about 1/3 cup of oil to the pan, and heat to medium-high (or medium if your stove runs hot like mine). Add your taters. Stir them every couple of minutes, and cook until they are golden brown, then drain on paper towels and season to taste. This will probably take about 25 minutes (speed up the process by nuking them for a few minutes first).
-I threw together the salad next, set aside in the fridge
-Make the dressing: blend together herbs, mustard, vinegar, honey, oil, salt and pepper (I used my trusty Smart Stick) I had never made a dressing from scratch with fresh herbs, and it was WONDERFUL. The next day at work I snacked on cucumbers dipped in this stuff.
-While the potatoes are almost done cooking, start the omelette. Sautée the veggies in butter for a couple minutes, then add the chopped squash blossoms and cook for a minute more. Set the filling aside.
-Add a little more butter to the pan to melt, then pour in your eggs (take a few minutes to really whip the eggs well; it'll make for a nicer texture)
-Stir the eggs gently, moving the cooked bits from the edges toward the center.
-Once things look pretty solid, but the eggs are still a little runny on top, add your filling and feta cheese.
-Fold the omelette as best you can; I just folded it into thirds, and flipped it seam-side down.
-Open third blossom, and lay down in the pan to cook for a minute, just until it gets wilty.
-Transfer omelette to your plate, and lay the third blossom on top so it looks pretty :)
-Top your salad and potatoes with Green Vinaigrette, and revel in the seasonal goodness!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Link Love

Dr. Eades tweeted the other day that General Mills is reporting that Americans need more whole grains!  What's next, Budweiser takes a survey and determines that we our blood alcohol levels are dangerously low, and we need to drink more beer?  Hopefully the masses will consider the source...

I was a little concerned about all the bruising I've been getting from deadlifting, so I asked about it on PaleoHacks and pretty much everyone recommended I acquire some tall socks.  These will work with my Vibrams, pretty nifty!  I have a birthday coming up, *cough*.

One of the toughest things for a newbie to wrap their mind around, IMO.  Decades of being told vegetable oil=good, animal fat=bad can be a tough concept to shake!  I love this primer on fat from Balanced Bites; tells you what's good, what's bad, and WHY. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Deadlifts, Presses, and Confit, oh my!

Well, the aforementioned chicken confit turned out amazing!  I salted the chicken thighs and drumsticks, put them in the crockpot over a few scoops of lard, and also dropped in a handful of garlic, and some roasting herbs wrapped in cheesecloth.  I put it all together and stuck it in the fridge before bed, then started cooking before leaving for work in the morning (a little before 6:30).  The boyfriend dutifully turned off the crockpot a little before 3:30 pm, and I tried a piece as soon as I got home, and it was wonderful.  The garlic I had added was caramelized to perfection, and the chicken was falling apart.  I chopped up some cauliflower and garlic, drizzled it with a few tablespoons of the fat out of the crockpot, and roasted it at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, then blended it into mashed cauliflower.  Then I had some chicken with the cauliflower.  It was so good, I had to call one of my girlfriends as I was eating it, and tell her what I had done.  She said to me "are you crying over chicken?!"  This stuff is RICH though; halfway through my small plate, I had to stop, or I may have keeled over.  I'll definitely have to make this again; it's super easy, and a great winter meal.

In gym news, I was perusing the Whole9 site and came across their 603 PTP program and was intrigued.  While I do believe in mixing up the ol' fitness routine (i.e. don't have a fitness routine), I do see the merits of focusing on foundational movements like the deadlift and press to get stronger.  I still can't do a pullup, so I am open to trying something different to get there!  I'll still be mixing in kettlebell swings and other fun stuff, and I'm looking forward to seeing how much more I can deadlift in 3 weeks.  I guess I ought to figure what my 1RM is; I started out the program doing 105lbs, and I was slightly sore the day after, so I think I'm pretty well on target.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Food bites...

I have a crockpot full of chicken confit going at home, and I am quite excited about it :)  I've never made, or even eaten it before, but the post from huntgatherlove is promising fried-chicken-like goodness, and that sounds good to me!  I think I'm going to have it with mashed cauliflower (will probably roast it with some garlic and blend with the Smart Stick- that gives it a nice creamy texture) and some kale (most likely prepared in the residual grease).  So that shall be dinner!  For breakfast, I brought some eggs I prepared last night; I lined a muffin pan with bacon, cracked an egg in each cup, and baked at 350 for about 15, almost 20 minutes (yolks were nice and soft on top, a bit more done on the bottom).  I think next time I'll need to pre-cook the bacon for a few minutes, but they were great.  Lunch is tuna salad (made with onion and homemade mayo) in boston lettuce leaves. 

I bought a duck at the grocery store last night, so that's on deck for the weekend, and will make meatballs with mushroom sauce tomorrow (probably with some veggies roasted in today's confit fat, mmm!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Massive weekend fail and feedback

I already fell off the Whole30 wagon, and am feeling a bit disappointed in my lack of resolve.  I have completed monthlong detox programs in the past, and can be very disciplined, but I made the decision to have a few NorCal margaritas over the weekend.  I went to a dear friend's house and we feasted on grassfed steaks, roasted sweet potatoes, and grilled asparagus.  But, under the evil influence of said margaritas, I had a big bite of cornbread smothered in butter!  That was the worst part because I am totally getting gluten and dairy out of my system, and plan to find out if I have a dairy intolerance also.  So, I've started over, and I'm ok with that because I don't feel like the Whole30 is some kind of food prison; I love everything I've been eating, and I feel good about my workouts.

Winter grilling glory :)

I received a big order from, and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!  I got a bunch of steaks, ground beef, some nitrate-free pork sausage, roasts, short ribs, cow heart, liver, and a few lbs of pig fat, which I rendered into lard.  That was a fun project, but the boyfriend didn't appreciate the lingering smell, so I'll have to keep that for the warmer months so I can open the windows while it's cooking.  Also, we went to a meditation class at Evolve Yoga & wellness on friday evening, which was great.  I thought we would just stay for half an hour (an hour of meditation is a lot for newbies!), but the instructor spent some portions of the class discussing different techniques, etc., so it went by pretty quickly.  For the most part, I feel pretty good about the weekend; just need to take this thing one day at a time!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm doing the Whole30!

Well, I have finished my heavy cream, stuck the pastured butter in the freezer and am not feeling tempted by cheeses, so it's time to hunker down!  I began my Whole30 program two days ago (click on badge at the top-right of the page for all the info) because I feel pretty good, but want to feel great!  At the end of the thirty days, I'm going to try adding dairy back in, and I'm hoping it goes well.  I've never been one to chug a glass of milk but dammit, I love butter, and coffee without cream just doesn't do it for me.  As for coffee, I'm playing around with that, and may cut it out for awhile as well.  I stuck a can of coconut milk in the fridge, and have been scooping some of the cream from the top into my coffee, but it just isn't the same, and when I drink it, I yearn for real cream and a packet of truvia :(  I'm one of the lucky few that doesn't need coffee to function, but I love having a hot drink in the morning on my way to work, so I may just switch to green tea; that way I won't feel like I'm having a sub-par version of what I really want.

Eating has been pretty easy, despite the beautiful apple cake that has been sitting on the table behind me at work!  Here's the breakdown of what I've been eating:
Breakfasts- Deviled eggs made with homemade mayo, eggs fried in avocado oil w/bacon, apple/almond butter "pancakes" (crap!  Paleo-fied treats are not allowed!  I don't have an emotional attachment to pancakes so this wasn't a derailment to me, but from now on I'll save these for after the 30 days)
Lunches- Big salad topped with veggies, grilled chicken, olive oil; baked chicken and kale; I'm drawing a blank on tuesday's lunch, I know there was salad involved...
Dinners- Tuesday night was burger topped with caramelized onions, with sautéed kale and sweet potato & parsnip oven fries, last night was ribeye steak with roasted broccoli, and left over kale & fries.  Boyfriend doesn't like kale, so I've eaten a whole pot of it these last couple days!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Food porn

I've finally uploaded and sifted through a bunch of food pictures from the summer and fall; here's what I ate!

Oil-poached salmon (cook on LOW in olive oil for about ten mins) with cucumber, avocado, and blanched asparagus!  Dressing was almond butter with some ginger, garlic, a little rice wine vinegar (shhh), sesame oil, and a little water to thin out.

Ribeye steak topped with boursin cheese, mashed cauliflower, sautéed courge loungue squash with onions.  I think I see some heirloom tomatoes in there too.  The squash was from my summer CSA; it's a delicious French variety.

Candy-cigarette alert: coconut-macadamia cookies!  Based on Elana Amsterdam's recipe, but with some chopped macadamias and unsweetened coconut instead of chocolate chips.  I'd also sub honey for the agave, and maybe use a little less oil, or a little more almond flour.

Bunless burger with bacon, caramelized onions, & havarti, with a side of some Alexia potato wedges with minimal ketchup.

Pancakes topped with peaches and real whipped cream- I'd recommend omitting the agave.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Repost- Shrimp Fajita Salad

*Delicious salad recipe from the old site*

I made some paleo fajitas a couple weeks ago, and it was pretty delish, but the pile of meat and onions just felt…incomplete. So the other day I figured I’d incorporate some raw veggies and make it into a salad, and it was even better! I did use bottled dressing for this (Honey Lime Vinaigrette); in a perfect world, I’d make my own, but we gotta choose our battles! I didn’t feel too bad about this because with all the guacamole, I only needed a couple little sprinkles of the dressing.

I feel good about eating this because not only is it super tasty, but it’s full of protein, healthy fats, and some fiber. I absolutely love avocados- I've been known to eat several in a week, and guac is so good on salads. This salad also has lots of cilantro, which is believed to help us detox heavy metals; I recently read that drinking cilantro broth can help with mercury poisoning, pretty neat huh? I know, this recipe looks super long and complicated for a salad; it’s really not! It has a few steps, but it’s super easy, I promise! *The salad filling also makes a wonderful wrap in a collard leaf*

Makes 2 servings

For salad:
½ lb raw shrimp (or some high quality steak, chicken, or a combo if you’re feeling sassy)
½ medium onion, sliced
Handful of mushrooms- I used a few slices of portabella and chopped them up (Fajitas typically have peppers, but I just can’t stand em!)
1 head romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato
Handful of cilantro, chopped

1 avocado
Juice of ½ a lime
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1 small clove of garlic, chopped super fine

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I like Colavita organic)
2 limes
2 huge cloves of garlic, smashed
A couple shakes of cayenne and cumin
Handful of cilantro, chopped

First, cut your 2 limes into quarters, squeeze the juice into a bowl, and drop the limes in. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients; just do this an hour or two before you want to start cooking or the lime juice will turn your shrimp into ceviche (if using meat, marinate for a few hours or overnight). Then add your shrimp, and pop into the fridge.

When the shrimp are almost marinated to your satisfaction, make the guacamole:
-Cut the avocado in half, lengthwise, remove the pit
-Scrape the avocado into a bowl (I like to score it into cubes while in the peel- makes the mashing phase easier)
-Add garlic and cilantro, squeeze in ½ of a lime
-Mash with a fork to desired consistency (I like mine chunky!)
-Stick in the fridge until ready to serve (about half an hour so the flavors can marry)

After that, prepare the salad:
-Wash lettuce and tear up into pieces
-Chop tomato and remaining cilantro
-Toss together with a little dressing (if you don’t want to use bottled, I’d just whisk together a little lime juice, a tablespoon of honey, and a couple tablespoons of good olive oil)

You’re almost done! Time to cook; ideally I would grill this stuff, but I live in an apartment and didn’t feel like cleaning the Foreman:
-Heat up a couple TBS of oil to medium/high heat (I like to use coconut oil; I believe it has a higher smoke point than olive oil, and I think the flavor is nice in this recipe)
-Add the sliced onions, cook for a few minutes until they are starting get some color. If using peppers, I would add them at this time
-Add the marinated shrimp, and mushrooms if you are using them
-Cook everything for about two or three minutes, until shrimp are opaque

Put it all together:
-Pretty self explanatory; plop some salad on your plate, add shrimp/veggie mixture, and top with a heaping helping of guacamole. Olé!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The obligatory New Year's post

Well, I can actually say things will be different this year, and truly mean it.  The last week of 2010 was a game-changer for me; I have gotten a not-so-friendly reminder that life is short (don't worry, everyone's ok!), and I don't want to waste another minute feeling less than my best.

Call me selfish, but I've gotten pretty good at putting myself first.  I was brought up to have good boundaries and to not feel like I have to make everyone else happy.  I don't think you can really be a great partner, parent, friend, etc. if you do not meet your own needs.  Always put on your own oxygen mask first, right?  If you're feeling exhausted, it's ok to cancel your plans sometimes.  If you're offered a piece of food that will make you feel like crap, there are many gracious ways to turn it down.  Give people a little credit; most can take this stuff in stride and not think you're a horrible person.  And if they can't, well, are they really worth your concern?  Your life is yours, and we all have to deal with the consequences of our own choices; why make crappy choices just to make others happy, while you take the fallout?  It's old news, I know, but it never hurts to remind myself of these things, and I hate to see others complicate their own lives over co-dependent BS!

How are you going to take great care of yourself this year?  I am doing the Paleo challenge for January; I'm getting extra strict so I can see how much better I can feel.  I've been pretty well with avoiding grains, but I need to get more strict about small amounts of gluten (breaded stuff, soy sauce, etc.), and starting next week, I will be cutting out dairy as well; I don't drink milk but have some cheeses and heavy cream to use up and I just can't afford to waste food in the name of some arbitrary start-over date (oh, and NO ALCOHOL!  I've had enough over the holiday season :/).  So far so good; I made some pulled pork, kale, and roasted sweet potatoes on Sunday, and I've been having leftovers for lunch.  Boyfriend got Chinese food the other night, so I had him get me some shrimp & veggies without sauce or rice; I added a little tamari and ginger at home.  Intermittent fasting is going pretty well; I like having my coffee with cream on the way to work, but I've been bringing green tea, then having my coffee sometime after 8am when the "feeding window" begins.  I'm off to a good start, looking forward to an uber-healthy year! :)