Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sexy side dishes

When I was a kid, I was super picky.  I would eat peas and broccoli, but as far as vegetables go, that was about it.  No mushrooms, no spinach, probably no carrots, definitely no peppers (ok, I still hate those most of the time.)  The last couple of years though, I've started really enjoying them, and I believe if I can do it, anyone can.  Let's face it, there are cultures that are mostly living on animal products, but if you're not eating odd bits, you may have a hard time meeting nutritional needs from just animal products.  Some folks may feel a little lost when it comes to the idea of no longer having their usual rice pilaf, white potatoes, bread, etc. with their dinner.  Well, it's time to get friendly with vegetables!  If you cook them right and use a healthy helping of fat, they will be wonderful, I promise.  You may notice roasting as a theme here; roasted veggies are the shizz.  Here are some of my fave side dishes as of late:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (like most of us, I used to HATE these, now they are one of my favorite things in the world)

1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
6 oz (half a pack) bacon- get the highest quality you can
a few shakes of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, or whatever strikes your fancy
3 TBS melted clarified butter

Slice the bottoms off the sprouts, remove the outer leaves, and slice them in half lengthwise
Chop bacon into small pieces
Toss together sprouts with butter and seasoning
Spread in a single layer in roasting pan, sprinkle the raw bacon pieces over top
Roast at 400 for about 30 minutes until sprouts are golden brown

Roasted Broccoli (or Cauliflower)

1 lb broccoli florets
3 TBS melted clarified butter
1 TBS chopped garlic

Toss ingredients together, and spread out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper
Roast at 425 for about ten minutes, until broccoli is bright green and some florets are starting to brown.
**Roasted cauliflower is GREAT as a vehicle for curry if you are missing your rice- I sprinkle it with a little curry powder and roast the florets for about 20 minutes until the tops start to get golden.**

Skillet Taters

1 lb blue potatoes
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 cup clarified butter (if you have duck fat USE IT!)

Slice potatoes as thinly as possible (I ran them through the food processer)
Add butter to large pan, bring to medium-high heat
Add everything to the pan, and sautee for about fifteen minutes, stirring potatoes every couple of minutes until they soften and some are crisping up.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Green Leafies

1/2 lb spinach, swiss chard, arugula, you get the idea
3 roughly chopped garlic cloves
2 TBS clarified butter

Sautee garlic in butter over low-medium heat until it starts getting a little golden-brown.  Add your greens, and sautee for a couple minutes until they wilt.  Add some salt & pepper to taste, and a squeeze of lemon if you have it.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

2 large sweet potatoes
2 TBS coconut flour
1 large egg, scrambled
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper

Shred the sweet potatoes with a grater or food processor
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
Cook in clarified butter or coconut oil over medium-high heat; either just dump it in (may be a 2-batch job) and stir every few minutes until golden brown (about 15 minutes) or shape into patties for sweet potato pancakes!

Make any veggie palatable
-Roast it (duh)
-Add bacon (double-duh)
-Slather it in pastured butter like Kerrygold or Organic Valley Pasture Butter
-Sprinkle on some quality cheese
-Put it inside meat (stay tuned for my stuffed chicken breasts)
-Don't overcook!  If your veggies are always coming out as mush, on your next attempt, cook them half as long as you normally would.

Didn't really have any side dish pics handy, so here's some
lovely local produce

Monday, March 21, 2011

Asian-inspired Salmon Salad *Repost*

Another throwback from the old site- it's salad season!

My name is Julia, and I'm a salad-aholic.  Salads don't have to be boring and they can be really filling, contrary to popular belief (I actually have been working on eating this one for the past hour and a half). I also like salads because they are uber-versatile; you can pretty much throw in anything you have laying around, and they're a great way to enjoy your favorite ethnic flavors without ingesting a bunch of heavy stuff like rice, cheese, or noodles.

For this particular salad, I had some salmon in the fridge and an avocado on the brink of over-ripeness. I love the dressing they have at one of my local Japanese places, so I decided to model it after that; it tastes kind of like a peanut sauce, and I pretty much have almond butter coming out of my ears at the moment, which is the perfect base for a cleaned up version.

So, I just grilled some salmon, made my dressing, and put it all together with some stuff from the salad bar at my work. Sorry, the cell phone pic doesn't really do it justice; it was quite the beautiful salad!

1 portion of wild salmon, 4-6 oz

1 TBS sesame seed

1TBS coconut oil
1 small avocado, sliced (half would probably be plenty, I just love me some avocado!)

A few cups romaine or your favorite salad greens

Some shredded carrot, onion, and cucumber


This makes about six servings, I think it should keep for a week or so in the fridge

2 TBS creamy almond butter

1 TBS honey

1 TBS +1 tsp cider vinegar
2 drops chili oil (not essential if you don't have it; it just adds another layer of flavor)

2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 TBS finely chopped fresh ginger

Some water, maybe 2 TBS

Make the dressing:

-You may want to melt the almond butter slightly (especially if it's the bottom of the jar) so it's easier to combine with the other ingredients; it only takes a couple minutes to do this on the stove
-Whisk all ingredients together; add the water if you'd like to thin it out a little

Grill the salmon:

-I did mine on the good ol' Foreman  I'd recommend laying down some non-stick foil if using a real grill (no offense George, I love your grill too)
-Smear the coconut oil on both sides of the salmon, and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.  Pat them down a little to make sure they adhere to the fish
-Grill the salmon; I just did a minute on each side because mine was pretty thin, and I like it a little on the rare side.  I always find the top plate on the Foreman grill to be hotter than the bottom, so I do flip whatever I am preparing on it.

I'm sure you can figure out the rest; I prepared the dressing and fish the night before, and had everything chilled (I am not a fan of microwaves, so I try to avoid bringing stuff to work that needs reheating; more on that later!)  Like I said before, this salad really can keep you satisfied all afternoon; it's full of fiber, good fats, and protein, don't underestimate the mighty salad! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Birthday Funtimes and Forging Elite-ish Fitness

Last friday was my birthday.  In the spirit of taking good care of myself in my old age, the boyfriend and I checked out Southern Maryland Crossfit, which is located in the bustling metropolis of Waldorf.  I got interested in Crossfit last year and have been dabbling & teaching myself some less-dangerous movements, but I know I haven't been working out at intensity, so it was time for some motivation.

They offer two free sessions to newbies; the first is an assessment, and the second is a group class.  Friday was our assessment, and we both had a great time!  The coach started off by going over some basic health history to make sure he was aware of any injuries or other limiting conditions, gave us some info about Paleo nutrition (check!), and went over how they run their classes.  He had us both show him how we are with pullups (I'm getting there- he showed us how to use assistance bands, which I'm now implementing in my usual routine), pushups (yeaaahhh, I need to do these more often), and bodyweight squats (this was ok, but I was not sitting back enough- good to know).  The coach was really cool and helpful, and put things in terms that made sense (e.g. "imagine you're drunk and there's no bathroom around; what are you gonna do?  Sit back!") Then we did a 500m row to warm up, and a WOD.  It was 5 ball slams (I hadn't done these before, really liked!), 10 pushups, and 15 wallball shots, as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes.  Only 5 minutes, you say?  Well, I don't know if I even squeezed out two full rounds, it was TOUGH.  Definitely a humbling experience, and reinforced the fact that while I've been making some good strength gains, and having fun teaching myself new lifts, I've been bo-jangling!  We're really looking forward to going back to try out a class; hopefully we'll be able to make it up there at least a couple times a month. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chocolate Salty Nuts, and other snacktime favorites!

Since getting off the blood-sugar roller coaster ride, I don't need to snack much, but it's nice to have something healthy-ish on hand when you're busy at work or on the go.  I also see that a lot of times, beginners like to have that safety net of having snack options that are "allowed."  Here are some ideas:

-Chocolate salty nuts: Melt some dark chocolate slowly over low heat; once all the little chunks are melted, mix in a bowl with macadamias, spread out on parchment, and refrigerate until the chocolate is solid again.  These can be portable in a little plastic container.

-Deviled eggs: not very portable, but great if you can keep them in a fridge at work.

-A spoonful of coconut butter

-Larabars: these are full of dates, which are full of sugar, but they are not heavily processed, and are made of real foods, so I think they are great in a pinch.  The coconut cream pie one is really tasty; just don't have these too often!

-Jerky: I'm not big into jerky, but I really like Trader Joe's Teriyaki Turkey Jerky once in awhile.

-YouBars: This is pretty neat; you go on the site, and choose ingredients to make a custom bar.  I got my first order last week, and my recipe needs some tweaking- from now on, I'll choose "more nuts," and I asked them to halve the dates to cut down on the sugar, but the bar was a bit dry.  Pricey, but a very cool concept!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Paleo and Crossfit featured on Nightline

I've been looking forward to this since January- last night Nightline aired a segment about the Paleo diet, as part of their "You Are What You Eat" series.  I just watched this bootleg clip on YouTube, as Nightline airs waayyy past my bedtime.

The piece focused on Art DeVany and Robb Wolf, and I caught glimpses of John Durant and I think Melissa McEwen; I'm an avid reader of all those folks (except Mr. DeVany, as he charges for his site) so it was cool to see them all together on a mainstream news show. 

Some positives- they gave a pretty good basic depiction of what is "allowed," and what isn't; a previous clip on Nightline stated that people following "The Caveman Diet" eat "raw meats, vegetables, and fruits," which isn't the norm. They showed people having a great time at a Crossfit box in Brooklyn, Robb Wolf demo-ing some moves (HOT!), and Art DeVany PULLING HIS RANGE ROVER (senior citizen HOT!).  Paleo got the blessing of the featured nutritionists, which means absolutely boo to me, but can help generate interest with the general public.  I really liked that Robb stressed that all kinds of people are doing this, and it's not a "lunatic fringe" movement.

On the other hand, I feel like Paleo was portrayed as just another diet, and it really is so much more.  Maybe Nightline didn't want to seem like they are giving medical advice, but there are so many people living this lifestyle that are getting off diabetes meds, healing their guts, getting relief from thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, PCOS, the list goes on.  I personally find that pretty amazing and I think it deserved a mention.  I posted on Paleo Hacks to get some other thoughts on the show, and Melissa weighed in that it came across as a diet for men, and I agree.  Since it is sometimes referred to as a "Caveman Diet," the perspective of a woman who is actually doing this (not a pair of fat-phobic nutritionists) would have been a valuable addition.

I'm really glad they did this segment.  Even if gets one person interested, and they change their life for the better, it was a success.  If not, more grassfed steak for me!