Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reader Recipe Requests

I'm down to the single digits of my Whole 30.  It's been an eye-opening experience, a miraculous one at that.  For the first time in months Tally and I are out walking again and we both couldn't be happier about it.  Yesterday was tough, I was huffing and puffing, we added a segment to the walk today but finished in the same amount of time, about 40 minutes.  It will get easier each day, adding segments until we are covering the 3-4 miles we used to do.  I've said it before, no foodstuff on this planet can EVER taste as good as it feels to be out walking my dog pain free!  

I had a couple of reader recipe requests from the Sunday Spam post I made the other week.   The guacamole I made was very simple but turned out spectacular.  I think it was because the avocados were perfectly ripe and sweet.  When you're not eating sugar/sweeteners it's amazing where your taste buds find delicious, natural sweetness.  I used three avocados and mashed them in a bowl.  I didn't mash them too much, I wanted some contrast in texture, chunky and creamy.  I squeezed the juice of two fat limes and one lemon over the avocados.  I added a few thinly sliced scallions, both white and green parts and seasoned it with salt, pepper and a pinch of both cayenne pepper and smoked chipotle powder.  I did not add any garlic because raw garlic tends to overpower the delicate avocado flavor.  

As for the chicken and butternut squash coconut curry, it's not really a recipe.  I don't claim to be an authentic Indian chef, but I've been cooking Indian inspired food for many years and I feel like I have a good grasp on the flavors.  I found a great Indian cookbook in a bookstore in Covent Garden in London on our 2006 trip and learned so much from it. 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi is available on Amazon, it's a great resource.

I used split chicken breasts on the bone.  I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and tandoori spice mix.  I roasted them at 400 for 45 minutes.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, I removed the meat from the bone and chop it up and set it aside.

I added a diced onion to a sautee pan with some ghee, then the spices to bloom them.  Cumin, coriander, garam masala, fenugreek and tandori spice mix, a good couple of teaspoons each but less on the cumin.  Then I added a mixture of garlic, ginger and apple, which I whizzed to a pulp in the chopper.  Apple helps thicken the sauce. Seasoned with salt then stirred in half a can of coconut milk. Full fat, thank you very much!  I added a cubed butternut squash and cooked it until it was just tender then stirred in the chicken.  

For the Pilau Rice, I chopped a cauliflower in the chopper.  I did it in batches, pulsing it until it's the texture of rice.  I honestly did not think it was going to be good, it smelled really strong of cabbage-funk.  I set it aside.  I put some saffron and cardamom pods in a bowl and poured over about half a cup of hot water to bloom the flavors.  I got a chopped onion going in a hot pan with ghee.  I cooked it until it was very tender and translucent.  I added some fenugreek and turmeric.  I added the cauliflower rice and the saffron and cardamom water.  I cooked over medium high heat until it was the perfect al dente texture, about 7 to 9 minutes is the sweet spot.  The cabbage funk cooks out and what's left is a wonderful Pilau rice to serve with the curry.

EDIT~I almost forgot to tell you...don't forget to garnish with fresh cilantro, it's a must for Indian food!!!

I hope you try the recipes.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best.  


Sunday, July 29, 2012

AwesomeSauce

You've heard me lament about how hard it is to find condiments without added sugar.  This presented a problem when I want something as simple as barbecue sauce or ketchup. I sometimes make my own barbecue sauce but I always use ketchup (which contains sugar) but in the spirit of The Whole 30, I had to think outside the box.

Enter the POM!  Pomegranate juice has a great flavor and intense tangy sweetness that I thought would be perfect for barbecue sauce.  The sauce is thick, tangy, sweet, smoky and full of flavor.  It is indeed awesome.

AwesomeSauce~BBQ


6 ounces of pomegranate juice, make sure it is 100% juice with NO added sugars
6 ounces of tomato paste
3 heaping tablespoons of Dijon mustard, I like super spicy Maille original
1/3-1/2 cup of vinegar, I used a blend of apple cider and balsamic
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon smoked chipotle powder
cayenne pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste, I used Trader Joe's jalapeno sauce which has no added sugar

Heat the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, turn down heat to maintain a hard simmer.  Simmer juice until it is to reduced 2-3 tablespoons.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Start with the lesser amount of vinegar and add more if you need the sauce to be a bit thinner.  Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, let cool, pour into a mason jar and store in the fridge.  Slather on slow cooked pork, ribs, grilled chicken legs.  Devour!

I also decided to try and make homemade ketchup because I can't make my favorite veggie dip without it.  This also turned out even better than I had imagined it would.  And it was so easy!

AwesomeSauce~Ketchup


8 ounces of apple juice or cider
6 ounces of tomato paste
1/3-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

Heat the apple juice in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, turn down heat to maintain a hard simmer. Simmer juice until it is reduced 2-3 tablespoons. Add the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.Start with the lesser amount of vinegar and add more if you need the ketchup to be a bit thinner.Let cool, transfer to a mason jar and store in the fridge.  Mix with homemade mayo and chopped dill pickles to make the best veggie dip ever. Devour!

Friday, July 27, 2012

London 2012 SQUEE!



It's time for my favorite sporting spectacle of all, THE OLYMPICS!!!  And this time it's combined with one of my other favorite things, London.  I love England and have had the opportunity to travel there many times.  I adore London and have been following the coverage obsessively, the best being on BBC America's morning news program GMT.  Talk about up close and personal.  Rob and I both are really looking forward to watching the opening ceremony this evening and I'm going to be avoiding the media as best I can so I won't get spoiled in case they don't #savethesurprise.  

I've got my festive Olympic themed manicure on.  Not a bad try for my first attempt at nail art.  Rob got a kick out of it.


Tomorrow is the women's gymnastics and Sunday is swimming, so it's going to be a great weekend of programming.  I'm also excited to watch the women's power lifting.  The NBC website has the schedule so you can search for your favorite event and see when it's going to air.  You can also watch all the events as they happen live online at the NBC website.  What event are you most looking forward to?

In other news, I'm still going strong on The Whole 30.  It's day 17, but I only know this because I checked the calendar.  This way of eating agrees with me so much I'm really considering sticking with it beyond the 30 days.  I will reintroduce dairy and see how my body responds because I do love cheese and would like to have it on occasion.  It's the only dairy that I miss.  I have been really enjoying steamed coconut milk in my Sunday cappuccino. 

The leg continues to improve and I feel like I'm ready to resume my normal activity like walking the dog and getting back to the gym and going back to work.  I've been really afraid of re-injuring my leg but I'm starting to get antsy to get back to it.  

I've got Paleo Pineapple Ribs in the slow cooker for tonight's dinner.  I will let you know how it turns out.  Enjoy the day and have a marvelous weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Champion Double Dry Athletic Wear

One issue I have about going to the gym is making sure I have the appropriate clothing to wear.  I'm not talking about being a fashion plate, I'm talking about comfort and proper fit.  I don't like things that are too clingy, which makes me feel self conscious and that can take away from focusing on my workout.  

When I first started working out, I realized the first thing I needed was a good sports bra.  I have big breasts that sag.  That's what a lifetime of obesity and yo-yo dieting gets you.  I've learned to live with it but there is nothing worse than working out in the wrong bra.  Oh, the horrors of pinching, riding up and the dreaded bounce.  It's not easy to find a good sports bra just anywhere when you have DD's.  Most companies that manufacture athletic gear for women tend to think we all look like Jennifer Aniston.  Well, we don't and we all deserve to have good workout gear no matter our size or fitness level.

Thank goodness for Champion athletic wear.  They have bras in a large variety of sizes and although they don't all work for me, I found one that works.  Behold, the Powersleek!  It's available up to a 44DDD.  I love this bra.  It's a bit like body armor, it straps my bewbs down and does not move.  It's also made of the Double Dry fabric so it wicks moisture away, which is great.  It's comfortable despite the maximum support. It's a bit pricey but it wears like iron.  My first one only just wore out after several years of regular use.

I was also excited to find that Champion also makes plus size workout gear in the Double Dry fabric.  I purchased a pair of pants and two shirts and I LOVE THEM. They are so cool and comfortable.  They don't cling or ride up.  They slip right back into place.  They drape beautifully and the sleeves are generous enough that I don't feel self conscious of my flappy bingo arms.  They wash and wear well and do not wrinkle.  My one complaint is the fabric on the shirts can catch and snag fairly easily, but that's not a deal breaker for me.  

You can sometimes find the plus size bras and gear at the Champion/Hanes outlets on promotion.  If you want to shop online, be sure to sign up for ebates.  Champion offers 5% cash back though ebates and sometimes it's on the daily double!  

I really appreciate a company who realizes that everyone should have proper fitting workout clothes not matter what size or shape you are!  If you fear working out because you don't look like Jennifer Aniston and don't have anything to wear, give the Champion gear a try.  

Note~ This is an unsolicited review.  Items were purchased by me and this review is uncompensated.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Spam

It's Sunday and the weather here has a terminal case of swamp ass.  I went out to do a few errands and came back sweating like a Romanian wrestler!  The only difference between a Georgia summer and  a New England winter is having to shovel snow.  It's equally as long, equally as unpleasant and by mid-season I feel like I'm under house arrest.  But I still don't want to shovel snow, so there is that.

It's day 12 of The Whole 30 and I FEEL GREAT.  My leg feels better than it has in months.  If you are struggling with low energy or aches and pain of unknown origin or an injury that just won't heal, please give your health and body 30 days.  You will not regret it.  If you need any information, meal planning advice or encouragement please do not hesitate to contact me!

Let's get to a little food porn, all meals are Whole 30 approved and I enjoyed making and eating every one of them.  


This is pilau rice I made to go with butternut squash and chicken coconut curry.  It's made from shredded cauliflower.  I've never tried to make a rice dish subbing cauliflower for grain before and it was a hit.  Texture and taste was spot on, even Rob loved it.  He gets major points for being so supportive of me and eating whatever Whole30 dish I cook for supper (and enjoying it.)


Butternut squash and chicken coconut curry with pilau "rice."  This was outrageously good.  I didn't even covet Rob's naan bread.  I did covet his glass of red wine though.


Soft boiled eggs over pork, sweet potato, celery and onion breakfast hash.


This was a lunch of tuna salad, baby peppers and romaine lettuce.  Trader Joe's jalapeno hot sauce is sugar free and so hot and flavorful.  I've been putting it on everything.  The Whole 30 has made me even more vigilant about reading labels.  There is sugar in almost EVERYTHING.


Speaking of sugar, here's my sweet baby napping in the herb garden.


Roast fresh bone-in, skin-on breast of turkey with Trader Joe's fresh salsa, the most outrageous homemade guac ever on a bed of greens, peppers and baby cukes.  


Crabmeat mixed with leftover guac in romaine boats for lunch.


Surf and turf salad with some olives on the side.  I sauteed the shrimp in clarified pastured butter and was in seafood heaven.


My favorite simple roast chicken with green beans and mushroom "amandine." The hot, fresh drumsticks are the best.


Sole meunière, recipe from The Nourished KitchenI breaded the fish in ground almonds and cooked it in clarified butter. This is the dish from the scene in Julie and Julia when Meryl Streep's Julia first arrives in France, tastes it and whisper-groans, "BUTTER."  And it is very buttery and nutty and lemony and succulent.  It was a date night at home dinner that I served with a simple green salad.  A good time was had by all!


A paleo version of my Fast Food Burger Salad, mean no cheese and hot sauce in place of ketchup in the dressing.  The tomatoes where not from the farmer's market and were not delicious.  Boo!


This morning's breakfast.  It has been impossible to source humanely raised uncured bacon without sugar in it.  But Whole Foods came to the rescue with these delicious chicken and apple sausages.  The spice mixture was so tasty, like a mixture of cayenne and cinnamon.  Fried eggs and strawberries round out the plate.  I have been trying to eat vegetables with every meal but the berries were lost at the back of fridge and if we didn't eat them asap they'd end up in the bin.  

Pork, peaches and jalapenos are simmering in the crock pot for tonight.  That will go with a spicy slaw and homemade BBQ sauce which I whipped up this morning.  As I said, it's tough to find condiments with no sugar.  I bought some fresh pomegranate juice and reduced it down to add a touch of sweetness to the sauce.  

I hope your Sunday is going just how you want it.  SYL!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Whole 7

How is your week going?  Did any of you decide to take on The Whole 30 Challenge?  (Marcus?  He's not up to the challenge!)  I'm in the midst of Day 7 of my Whole 30.  Take a look at this article about what to expect during The Whole 30 and here is how my first week unfolded...

Day 1~ Felt so hungry and cranky, had a beast of a headache all day.

Day 2~ Detox headache dissipated by bedtime, thank goodness!

Days 1-3~ Detox body aches and stiff legs, mucus drainage in the morning.

Day 4~ Post nasal drip in the morning but lessened, general pain, stiffness and malaise started to dissipate, by the afternoon increased mental clarity kicked in, temperature regulation kicked in, as in I don't feel hot all the time but comfortable and not needing to push the A/C down every minute, better sleep!

Day 5~ Fullness signals kicked, couldn't finish breakfast, more mental clarity and energy, mild aches and pains, but less than previous days.

Day 6~ No itchy eyes, sneezing or coughing upon waking, easier time waking, less grogginess *without* caffeine!  The bloat has left the building, hunger/fullness signals continue to improve, the *urge* to eat is markedly less, not talking about hunger here, I'm talking the urge to eat for reasons other than hunger, the urge to snack after supper is gone. Went to bed later, just wasn't dying for my bed tired at my usual bedtime.

Day 7~ Clear eyes, clear skin, up earlier with more energy without caffeine, today is the first day that I can tell that inflammation is starting to lessen as my leg is starting to feel better.  You have no idea how thrilled I am about this!   Increased mobility and decreased pain has no food or drink equivalent in value.

I've eaten well this week, I've not missed the dairy as much as I thought I would.  I coveted Rob's glass of wine Saturday night, but other than those first few tough days, it has not been bad.  I'm doing this to benefit my health and I can see that starting to occur. 

Have you check out the The Whole 30 plan and thought, "There is NO WAY I can give up_________!"?  If you are happy with your health/mobility/weight/sleep quality/digestion/energy level then no worries, but if not, do a little soul searching as to why.  Ask yourself,  "Why can't I give this up for a short amount of time? "   Is your health not worth it?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Whole 30~ Day 2

I'm not sure I'm going to be doing a day by day breakdown of The Whole 30 but I will be updating it periodically with my progress and thoughts.

I was so hungry yesterday, even went to bed hungry and with a headache.  I made sure I ate more today by adding a fourth smaller meal.  That extra meal has made a huge difference in how I feel today. 

I did more batch cooking today.  I made a delicious Italian Basil Beef in the crock pot.  So easy, too.  I browned a grassfed chuck roast on all sides then placed it in the crock pot. I added a thinly sliced onion to the meat.  I deglazed the saute pan with a bit balsamic vinegar and added some tomato puree and crushed garlic and poured the mixture over the meat and onions.  I added lots of fresh basil and cooked it on low for 8 hours.  The meat shredded like butter and melted in our mouths.  I served it with cauliflower and a big green salad.  

I'm going to add mushrooms to the leftover beef and then stuff zucchini boats with it for another delicious dinner.  I also made a tandoori chicken and butternut squash coconut curry.  That's for dinner tomorrow evening, but curry is always better after it sits in the fridge overnight so I made it today.

In other news, I invested in a pair of original Birkenstock sandals and they are amazing, worth every penny!  I got the dusty purple suede straps and they make my feet, hips and back feel really good, especially while standing in the kitchen today.  I have hope for my right leg now, I plan to be walking the dog, back at the gym and back to work soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

100% Natural

After this morning's haircut my hair is now 100% natural. Lots of silver there, but I like it! It is so liberating not to be beholden to that box of color every three weeks.   What do you think?
 

I stocked up at the farmer's market and Whole Foods yesterday and got right into the first day of The Whole 30 today.  No sense in "waiting until Monday."   I made up a batch of mini-vegetable frittatas yesterday afternoon and today I made a batch of hash with onion, celery, yam, apple and ground pork flavored with poultry seasoning.  I ended up eating it for lunch and it was so delicious.  Now I have plenty of non-dairy, non-grain breakfasts at the ready.

I made supper and it's chilling in the fridge, one of my favorites, Thai Lettuce Cups.  I had to alter the recipe a little to make sure no hidden sugar got in via the condiments.  No wonder so many of us are sugar addicts, there is sugar everything.  Normally I wouldn't sweat the sugar in a teaspoon of sriracha hot sauce but I'm doing this thing to benefit my health and I don't want to half ass it.  

Coffee isn't a forbidden fruit on The Whole 30 unless you think that you are dependent on it.  I skipped it because I don't like it black.  I'm feeling pretty good so far, we shall see how it goes.  It's a lot easier than a juice fast, that's for sure.



Monday, July 9, 2012

It Starts with Food

I'm searching for solutions.  I want and very much need to facilitate the healing of my leg as well as help bring my hormones into balance.   I'm enjoying my forties, Oprah was right, it's a great age for so many reasons.  But peri-menopause is NOT one of them.  I'm hot, irritable, tired and unable to focus much of the time, not to mention my metabolism has come to a grinding halt.  The new arch support insoles are a help to my leg but I fear that there is more to the issue.

So how can I kill two birds with one stone?  It starts with food.  I'm in the midst of reading a new book called  It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways.  You know how distrustful I am of "diets" but this book has been illuminating.  I've always known that how I eat directly correlates to how I feel physically and emotionally but this book breaks it down the HOW and WHY.  I just finished reading the chapters on hormones, and inflammation and I'm about to go back and read them again this afternoon. 

I know that the couple behind The Whole 9 are considered "The Paleo Power Couple" but whatever label is given to the plan, it is built on real foods.  Three meals per day based on  sensible portions of meat, poultry, seafood and eggs then rounded out with many and varied vegetables and supplemented with sensible servings of healthy fats and fresh fruit.  It's definitely not the all you can eat bacon and butter buffet that was low carb diets of old.  In fact bacon, as well as all processed meats, is discouraged during the 30 days.  Reintroduction of potentially inflammatory foods like dairy, legumes and grains is gradual, one at a time, giving the body time to adjust and to see if any previous health issues occur. 

I've read through the Whole 9 website a few times but have been a little fearful of giving The Whole 30 a try.  But now that I'm in the midst of reading the book, the rational behind an elimination diet makes much more sense.  Giving up dairy is going to be tough for me, but it can't me much worse than the state I'm in at the moment.  

Not sure what will come of all this but I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, I have some more reading to do.  If you have had any experience with The Whole 30 or any elimination diet please share your experiences with us.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

It's summer squash season.  All the varieties should be bountiful and cheap in the supermarkets and farmer's markets.  And if you're lucky, you'll have a neighbor who grows so many that he may even pay you to take them.  

One of my favorite ways to serve these beauties is to stuff them.  So versatile, you can stuff them with just about anything. They are a wonderful way to transform leftovers into something delicious.  Are you smoking meat this summer?  Pulled pork or brisket mixed with homemade peach and basil salsa stuffed squash would be a perfect summer supper!

For traditional long zucchini, I slice it lengthwise and remove and discard just the seeds.  They I carefully scoop out the flesh, reserving it for the stuffing.  The patty pan squash, I hollow it out much like hollowing out a pumpkin.  Cut the top, scrape out and discard the seeds then scoop out the flesh, again saving it for the stuffing.  I coat the inside of the boats with salt and let them sit while I make the stuffing.  This will help draw out excess water that can make the stuffing soggy.

Before stuffing the boats, be sure the rinse out the salt really well and dry them.  Do not forget this step or the squash will be inedible.



 For the stuffing, I sauteed the zucchini flesh until all the water was cooked out then I added some ground grassfed beef and leftover roasted corn salsa I had made. 


I topped them with some shredded cheese and baked them for about 30 minutes at 400F.  


Very filling and satisfying, I only at half.  They reheat beautifully for lunch the next day.

What are you going to stuff your boats with?


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another Fourth of July

This year is rolling along quickly, isn't it?  My head is spinning.  Here's a quick update of what's going on here.   Tally has flourished on homemade food.  I've never seen her eat with such gusto.  Her coat is glossy and velvety and she smells amazing.  I made up another batch yesterday and portioned it out and put it in the freezer.  It's not hard to make and my baby is worth it.  

As for my leg, one work shift set me back and had to take a sick day on Sunday. My left hip (the old injury from last year) took a beating from leaning on it as I stood for several hours at a time and I woke up in pain along with some tingling and swelling in my right leg.  Not good.  Thank goodness for my Chiropractor!

My parcel of arch supports and things arrived yesterday.  The shoes pinch my feet, the arch supports inserts won't stay put in my sneakers and the knee sleeve doesn't fit.  So that was a bust, the whole package is going back.  I'm heading out tomorrow on a quest for these items locally to assure proper fit and comfort.  The sandals felt so good as far as the arch support went and they were adorable, I was so sad they rubbed the tops of my feet raw.  It does give me hope that properly fitting arch supports will give me some relief.  Hope is good when recovering!

Not much plans for today.  I'm going to make some homemade jam with the beautiful farmer's market peaches I picked up on the cheap.  I cleaned out the "scratch and dent" box. I'm going to use this recipe Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam from Serious Eats as a template.  I'm going to cut way back on the sugar because the peaches are super sweet.  I may even replace some of the sugar with raw honey.  Peaches and honey go so well together. 

There's a Jaws marathon on today that I'm looking forward to.  Jaws is the perfect summer movie!  I hear Rob and Tally stirring so I better go get the coffee on.  I hope you have a wonderful summer day wherever your plans take you.