Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Paleo Bread + Pumpkin Applesauce

You read that right--you're getting 2 recipes in this post, to make up for my lack of culinary inspiration the past couple weeks.  Besides these two things, the new dishes I've tried lately have just been meh, and my only kitchen successes have been the oldies I've already shared with you.  For those of you who know me, the fact that these recipes include both a baked item and a dessert dish is probably mind-boggling.  But I have to keep you all on your toes, right?

In sweaty-mess news, I've decided to take this week off from the gym.  I've been getting up at 5AM to work out for about a year and a half now, and I think I just need a break from the grind.  This week I'm going to enjoy sleeping in and maybe taking a stroll around the neighborhood to enjoy the crisp fall weather I've been so anxiously awaiting.  My efforts in the gym have been less than inspiring the past couple of weeks, except for one gloriously sweaty tabata workout: alternating kettlebell swings and jumping rope.  Simply jump rope for 20s, rest for 10s, then do kettlebell swings for 20s (I used a 12kg kettlebell), rest for 10s, and repeat.  I did 6 rounds twice through for an effectively sweaty 15 minute workout.  Quick but intense, just how I like it.

I impulsively took today off to catch up on some errands, and it turns out there's a Top Chef Las Vegas marathon on the Esquire Network.  This raises two questions: 1) When did the Style Network become the Esquire Network, and 2) How will I ever tear myself away from the TV to get anything done?

Okay, now let's get to what you've all been waiting for: the food.

First up, paleo bread.  I saw this recipe on Elena's Pantry, a fun website to peruse through for whole food inspiration.  Now I really hate baking--I'm not a precise cook, and don't like the idea that you can't taste as you go like you can with savory dishes.  But for some reason, this recipe just screamed out to me.  The only ingredient I didn't have was flax meal, so I ran to Trader Joe's to buy some and didn't realize until I got home that not only did I not have a 9x5" loaf pan (thrown away after a tragic burned meatloaf incident), but the recipe actually calls for a 7.5x3.5" pan.  Who has that?  So I cooked mine in a 9" round cake pan (for all those layer cakes I've never made).  It ended up looking more like a cornbread, which doesn't bother me since I'm not slicing this bread for sandwiches anyway.  I've used it for a post-workout snack, and as a breakfast with some sunbutter or apple butter (or both) sprinkled with shredded coconut.  Holy yum. 

Paleo bread
Ingredients:
2c almond flour
2T coconut flour
1/4c ground flax seed
1/4t salt
1/2t baking soda
4XL eggs (or 5 large eggs)
1T coconut oil (no need to melt it, solid at room temp is fine)
1T honey
1T apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax, salt, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse ingredients together.  Add eggs, oil, honey, and vinegar and pulse until combined.  Pour batter in to a 9" round cake pan greased with coconut oil (or 7.5x3.5 loaf pain if you have one), bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool before serving.

 
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So easy right??  I've made this 3 weeks in a row and I love it more every time.  Now the Coach thinks it has a "Passover-food" texture, which is not a compliment if you've ever been unlucky enough to sample some Kosher Passover baked goods, but when you heat it up and add some delicious toppings it doesn't taste dry at all.  It's light and fluffy, with a nutty flavor from the flax and a touch of sweetness from the honey.  This feels like a real treat in this grain-free household, but it's healthy, so that's pretty fun right?

Alright, on to the next one...

It's apple season in upstate New York (or everywhere I guess), which means the Coach and I have approximately 2 bushels of apples in our refrigerator.  I realized over the weekend that we couldn't possibly eat all of them in a timely fashion, so I decided to make them in to applesauce.  I've never done this before, but I saw so many mouth-watering recipes on Pinterest that I couldn't resist trying one of them.  Naturally I settled on the one that included pumpkin.  I am officially on the pumpkin bandwagon.  Now the original recipe called for the juice of 1 lemon, which I did, but having used tart apples as the base this yielded a pretty tart sauce.  Which I LOVE, but if you're looking for something sweeter, either use sweet apples or omit the lemon juice.

Pumpkin applesauce
Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds apples, cored and chopped (skins on)
2t ground cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon (optional, for a tarter applesauce)
3/4c water
 1/2c pumpkin puree
1t vanilla 

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, combine apples, cinnamon, lemon juice, and water.  The liquid will not cover the apples.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat.  Simmer the apples for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until apples are super soft.  Once apples are nice and tender, remove the pot from the heat.
For chunky applesauce, add pumpkin puree and vanilla.  Smash apples with a potato masher until you reach the desired chunkiness.
For smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender or carefully transfer everything to a food processor or vanilla.  Add pumpkin puree and vanilla. Puree until desired consistency.

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 As long as you wash your apples before, it's OK to leave the skins since they don't change the texture at all and have a ton of good-for-you nutrients.  Also, I'm lazy so I enjoyed skipping the peeling process.  This recipe is SO EASY and makes your house smell heavenly.  The pumpkin adds such a yummy sweetness without having to add any sugar to the sauce.  This sauce tasted best after sitting in the fridge for a few hours.  It will stay good in the fridge for 1 week, or for 3 months in the freezer.  Want a good breakfast idea?  Applesauce with crumbled paleo bread nuked for a minute and topped with a dollop of nutbutter and shredded coconut.  There are no words...

Hope you guys enjoy these treats, let me know how they turn out if you try them!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Paleo Spaghetti and Meatballs

It's too hot out to exist.  Since moving out of the city, I've tolerated summers a lot better thanks to air conditioning in my home, car, and work.  So basically I can avoid being outdoors if I want to.  Nothing like being baked from your feet up on city sidewalks.  But even though I'm not in a full-body sweat from June to September, I still prefer fall in all its apple-picking glory (the Coach and I went to our local orchard this weekend and 203859048 apples later, I'm a happy camper).  So anyway, I did not enjoy the 95 degree weather we had today.  Yuck.

It was so soupy out this morning that my gym was already hot and humid at 6am.  Supposedly it's air conditioned, but the insta-sweat I acquired by stepping through the door indicates the opposite.  So by the time I got settled and was ready to do my thing, I honestly didn't think I'd be able to hold on to a kettlebell because my hands were already slick.  And the mirrors were fogged up.  So I loudly groaned and hopped on the treadmill with the latest Women's Health and did my old standby walk/read routine that looks like this:

0-5 minutes 3.5 mph, 4.0 incline
5-10 minutes 4.0 mph, 6.0 incline
10-15 minutes 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
15-20 minutes 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
20-25 minutes 4.0 mph, 6.0 incline
25-30 minutes 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
30-35 minutes 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
35-40 minutes 3.5 mph, 6.0 incline

I like this workout because I can flip through a magazine since the intervals are long enough for me to take my eyes off the clock, but I'm still huffing and puffing at the end.  And you know I love me some people watching at the gym--makes the time fly!

In other exciting news, I conquered my fear and made spaghetti squash last night.  Well, I really didn't conquer anything because I still came pretty close to slicing a finger off.  BUT I did take the advice of my good friend Ray and nuked the whole squash for 3 minutes before cutting it which definitely helped my knife work.  Even so, I need to just get 2 small squashes next time instead of being so entranced by the ginormous one.  But this recipe made me a believer, let me tell you!  I found this recipe in Living Paleo for Dummies and it was a total winner.  I usually avoid spaghetti squash but this dish intrigued me because you cook the meatballs in the oven with the spaghetti squash.  Gotta love cramming the oven full of food!

Paleo Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash
3T water
1lb ground beef
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
28-oz diced tomatoes
8 large basil leaves, julienned
s&p

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle water around the squash.  In a large bowl, mix the meat, egg, 1 clove of garlic, s&p.  Roll in to meatballs (I got about 12) on another baking sheet.  Place both baking sheets in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat some cooking fat on the stove over medium heat and cook the other 2 cloves garlic until fragrant, about 60 seconds.  Then add the tomatoes and basil, season with s&p.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
When the timer goes off, the meatballs should be golden brown.  Leave the spaghetti squash in the oven for 10 more minutes.  Put the meatballs in the sauce to stay warm.  When the squash is done, scrape the inside with a fork to shred the squash in to spaghetti-like strands.  Mix it also together and, voila!  Paleo spaghetti and meatballs!


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This meal was so good and reminded me more of real spaghetti and meatballs than my beloved zoodles do.  But more dangerous in a dismemberment sort of way...anyway the Coach and I slurped it up!  The meatballs were really moist and tender, not dried out like the ones I've tried that use coconut flour, or crumbly like ones with almond flour.  Definitely a hit in our house!

Hope everyone survived the heat today!



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Barbacoa Meatballs

Football is back!  I'm so happy to have Tom Brady back in the house again, it just feels right.  The only thing that would make this Pats game better would be a nice fall-ish beer, but my stomach is NOT happy with all the birthday food I've been eating lately, so that will have to wait.

The Coach took me out to a delicious pre-birthday dinner at a new-to-us restaurant on Friday (Tala Bistro for the locals), where I had possibly one of the greatest bites of food of my life.  It was called "ham and eggs", and was a piece of barbecued pork belly sitting on a mound of the smoothest sweet potato puree, topped with a fried egg.  Holy yum.  And very kosher.  It basically required a moment of silence.  After that, the rest of the meal was pretty good, but nothing could compare to that plate of utter heaven.

Yesterday we spent my birthday with my family, chatting and laughing, and enjoying my mom's chocolate chip cheesecake (are you starting to see why my belly is unhappy).  We stayed over night with my parents, planning on going for a hike this morning but it was drizzly out so instead we opted to cozy up with coffee on the couch and relax.  Definitely a good call.  I had a great birthday, full of quality family time and the sweetest messages from my friends :)  It almost makes me excited to officially be in my late 20s...

I'm happy to have a fridge full of healthy eats right now.  Nothing like a weekend full of sugar foods to make you excited to eat a salad.

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and the Coach and I agreed that this was a really fun twist on your standard meatball.  I've become a huge meatball fan recently but I'm on a perpetual hunt for something different, so this dish was right up my alley.  The original recipe calls for lime zest, but I didn't have a lime on hand so used an orange instead and loved the interesting flavors.  I also eliminated the coriander and cinnamon because, well, I just can't get in to the flavor of coriander, and without that spice I figured the cinnamon was unnecessary.

Barbacoa meatballs
Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1t granulated garlic
1t cumin
1t chili powder
1t paprika
1t oregano
1/2t salt
1/2t cayenne
zest of 1 orange


Preheat your oven to 400.  In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together all the meatball ingredients.  Roll the meat in to 12-15 meatballs and put them on an oven-safe baking dish.  Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

barbacoa meatballs
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I mean, how easy is that recipe?  You have no excuse to not try this one out.  I served the meatballs with carrot-flower puree and the Coach and I couldn't get enough.  The meat was tangy and spicy while the puree was deliciously sweet and smooth.  These meatballs would also be good served with a nice salsa or gauc on the side, or even just cooked up as ground beef on the stove top for taco salads.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Crockpot Asian Carnitas

I can't believe how much more motivated I am to keep a clean kitchen since we moved in to the new house.  I actually wipe down the counters every night.  With spray.  And sweep most nights too.  Who am I?  The kitchen isn't even substantially bigger than the apartment, but it's more open so the TV is in earshot while I clean.  Nothing makes me want to get down and scrub like Project Runway, let me tell ya.

The Coach and I finally got a grill yesterday--wahoo!  We (a.k.a. I) have been talking about it ever since we upgraded to a porch that doesn't overlook a parking lot.  With wonderfully generous housewarming gifts from our parents, we finally splurged.  So get ready for some grilling recipes!  That is, once we get propane.  Because it turns out that when you buy a grill it doesn't magically come with fuel.  Or instill in you an instant knowledge of all things charred.  But don't worry, I got a wok on super-sale at Macy's yesterday so once I learn how to turn this beast on, I will at the very minimum be able to tell you how to stir fry some veggies.  I know you were worried.

In sweaty-mess news, my gym is being renovated.  And by renovated, I mean the carpet was torn out of the locker room 3 months ago.  And until this weekend, the transition had pretty much ended there.  Now they're replacing the carpet in the gym itself (still naked floors in the women's bathroom), and in the process squished basically every machine in the gym in to a 10' x 10' space.  Which doesn't bother me because I only use free weights and barbells, but I have to say watching the people who normally use those machines exclusively wander aimlessly this morning was pretty amusing.  I know, I'm mean, but seriously if the bicep machine is pushed up against the calf raise gadget and you don't know how to survive, then your gym membership should be cancelled.

So as you may remember, the Coach dislikes the crockpot.  For that reason, I basically save the slow cooker for preparing protein for my weekday lunches.  I typically toss some chicken and Frank's in there and call it a day, every now and then throwing in cocoa coffee chili rubbed pulled pork for a change.  And then I met this recipe from TGIPaleo and my world was effectively rocked.  This is hands down the best crockpot recipe I've ever made or tried.  And it's so so so easy!  I know what you're wondering...did the Coach like it?  I'd like to say he did, but he's a crockpot snob and said it was dry.  Which it isn't.  So ignore him and listen to me, ok?

Crockpot Asian Carnitas
Ingredients:
3-5 lbs pork shoulder or butt (I've tried boneless and bone-in and thought the bone-in kept it juicier)
1/4 c Sesame Oil (I did half sesame and half olive oil because sesame is a bit too strong for me)
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 c Rice Vinegar
2 T Fresh Ginger, grated
1/4 c Low Sodium Tamari (soy, aminos, etc)
1/2t Cayenne

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients and pour over the pork in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 10 hours.

The pork should be fall apart tender at this point.  Now put it on a large baking dish and break it in to smaller pieces, however you like.  Broil for 8-10 minutes until each piece is browned and slightly crispy.  You might be tempted to skip this step, but trust me it's worth it for the crispy result.

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Your kitchen will smell amazing.  And if pork weirds you out, I've also made this with chicken and it turns out almost as delicious.  Are you drooling yet?  Because you should be.

That's all for today folks!  Hope everyone had a nice Labor Day!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I'm Baaaaack + Chinese Fried Rice


It's officially the end of summer, so I am officially back in action.  See what I did there--made it seem like I intentionally took a warm weather hiatus from blogging?  In reality, the Coach's summer schedule allowed him to get home from work by 6 every night, and his presence made the whole "I'm going to blog in order to keep myself from snacking until my husband gets home" routine unnecessary.  So instead I spent the summer stockpiling some delish recipes to report on once I'm once again twiddling my thumbs until it's time for family dinner.

Today is the perfect day to start, as the Coach is away for the weekend...at a bachelor party...in Vegas.  I'm a pretty cool wife, no?  Really, I was also invited since it's a joint bachelor-bachelorette deal but I had to work this weekend so it was a solo trip for my better half.  I'm trying not to dwell on how ridiculously jealous and painfully bummed I am not to not be partaking in the celebration.  

In other masochistic news, I'm finishing up my second Whole30.  I'm actually on Day 29 of a Whole35--I added some extra days because my birthday is next week so why not honor 5 weeks of no grains, dairy, legumes, sugar or alcohol with birthday cake?  If you recall, I kind of went bananas after my first Whole30, celebrating my last day with lots of sweets and booze and basically flushing all my hard work down the toilet.  Looks like I'm heading down that road again...but I'm too excited for dinner out with the Coach followed by my mom's cheesecake the next day to responsibly modify my plans by slowly exposing myself to those sinful foods.  Gluttonous indulgence it is then!

As I still have 5 days remaining between me and a slice of gluten-free pizza, this recipe is Whole30-approved.  The Coach and I used to get Chinese take-out all the time when we lived in Boston, and even though we have yet to find a restaurant that rivals the whole-in-the-wall joint on the BU campus we frequented post-bar so many times in our youth, we have narrowed in on a few contenders since moving to upstate NY.  Since adopting a mostly Paleo lifestyle however, eating greasy takeout usually leaves me feeling ill 100% of the time, so this fried rice recipe has come in handy when I'm trying to quench the craving without having to lie down for an hour afterward.

Chinese fried rice
Ingredients:
1lb ground chicken
1 head cauliflower
3 eggs
1T fresh grated ginger
1 large garlic clove minced
1 large onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
3 carrots, diced
1/2t cayenne
3T low sodium tamari (or soy, aminos, etc)
1t toasted sesame oil 

First, rice your cauliflower.  I prefer this method: chop up the florets in to chunks small enough to fit in to a blender.  Then fill the blender with water and pulse until you get tiny, rice-sized pieces (for me it's about 10 pulses).  Drain, and then steam your cauliflower in the microwave until nearly tender.

While the cauliflower is going, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the sesame oil, and scramble your eggs.  Take your eggs out while they're still soft and not completely done, they'll continue to cook when you add them back in.

Add some cooking fat to the skillet (I used coconut oil) crank the heat up to medium high.  Brown your chicken and season with s&p.  Once that's done, add your veggies (feel free to change these up, broccoli slaw would probably be a nice sub) and cook until tender.

Once your veggies are cooked, add the tamari, cayenne, garlic, and ginger.  Add your cauliflower back to the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and let everything hang out for 5-10 minutes.  Throw your eggs in to the mix, and taste for seasoning.  Enjoy!

DSC_0996
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This meal really is pretty killer.  The Coach picked out the biggest head of cauliflower I've ever seen so we had massive amounts of leftovers, which I am still enjoying.  And I'm not one to partake in leftovers, really at all.  It seems like a lot of steps but aside from having to clean an extra piece of equipment (the blender), this meal is pretty cinchy.  And a pretty good fake-out.  So make it and let me know what ya think, ok?

Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day weekend!  Back to work for the holiday for this girl though.  I've had two days with lots of rest + shopping, a good combo considering the crummy weather so I can't complain.  Thanks for coming back and checking out the blog! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Apple Zucchini Salad

Well, it's been a month.  Sorry about that.  BUT I have a good excuse--the Coach and I are officially homeowners!  We closed on a condo on May 21 and moved in May 25.  The whole process felt like it took forever with lots of last-minute, fun-filled drama but we did it.  And it feels SO good!  We're completely unpacked and have made some purchases but we just have more space to fill up than our wallets can handle--moving from 1 bathroom to 3 = more towels, garbage cans, soap dispensers, etc. plus bedding for the additional bedrooms and all that jazz.  Slightly overwhelming.  Which is why we were so eager for our vacation this past week!  Prior to signing our lives away, we had planned on going on a cruise this week but once we solidified the real estate upgrade we changed our location. 

We spent a few days in Providence, RI where the Coach went to a conference (which I've learned is a euphemism for fitness professionals binge drinking in athletic gear) and I enjoyed the perks of hotel living.  This entailed lots of rest without thinking about mortgages and house duties or work stressors, plus meeting with my sister who lives in the area and walking around Providence during the only two nice days of the whole week.  And obviously I found a Whole Foods to stalk.  For anyone who is planning a visit to Providence, I have two restaurant recommendations for you: 1) Luxeburger, where you can create your own burger from dozens of gourmet toppings and gorge on cheddar tots, and 2) Siena in Federal Hill (Providence's North End / Little Italy) which has the best risotto and homemade ricotta-topped meatballs.  Yum!

Then we travelled to Boston to stay at a gorgeous hotel the Coach's amazing sister-in-law got for us.  The weather was meh so we splurged on multiple daily naps in the fancy digs.  We also managed to walk around Beacon Hill and Back Bay a bit (in jeans and hoodies with umbrellas in tow, so lame for June), and went to dinner in the North End with the Coach's dad who works in the city.  Even in bad weather, there's something about being in Boston where I grew up so much that makes me super happy, so the Coach and I really enjoyed hitting up our old haunts and catching up with family.

We spent Wednesday-Saturday on the Cape with the Coach's family which was the perfect end to a week of taking it easy.  Good food courtesy of my culinary-genius father-in-law and catching up was exactly what we needed to get our souls ready to jump back in to work.  The weather held out enough for us to walk to the beach twice and OF COURSE to get some ice cream at the famous Four Seas.

Today my parents came up to visit for...Father's Day!  Happy Dad's Day to all the wonderful dads out there!  Except sorry--I think I might have the best :)  My parents allowed me to show off our new place and then gave me a huge pot filled with herbs to put on the deck.  Yup, we have a deck (!) that will soon be furnished with a brand new grill (thanks Mom and Dad!).  I am beyond pumped to turn the Coach in to a grill-master and enjoy some smoky treats this summer.

Alright, have I done enough gushing yet?  This past month has been crazy, but we are so grateful to finally be homeowners after lots of hard work.  I have been a neglectful blogger but now that I'm completely rested from a low-key week off from work, I'm ready to get cooking in the kitchen and working in the gym and to share it all with you!

Workout

So workouts have been fleeting these past few weeks.  I finished the last program the Coach gave me right before we moved in to the house, and had been just doing my own thing at the gym until we went away.  I was super ambitious and packed a ton of gym clothes in my suitcase, hoping to take advantage of swanky hotel gyms and work in a beach workout but I only ended up working out twice.  The rest of the time I just enjoyed walking around the city and strolling to the beach and decided not to stress over quality gym time.  That starts tomorrow (and it's needed after a week filled with glutenous food + lots and lots of ice cream).  I ended up lucking out in Providence with a pretty sweet hotel gym, filled with lots of free weights and space to get some good work in.  I also did one workout in our room that looked like this:

10 squats
10 each reverse lunges
10 each single-leg deadlifts
10 push-ups
50 jumping jacks
Repeat 3-5x

This is my go-to workout when equipment is limited.  The jumping jacks get my heart rate going like crazy, and the single-leg deadlift is one of my favorite moves.  Basically you keep a slight bend in both knees and then hinge forward, reaching one leg backward as your trunk comes forward, like this: cute guy with cute form.  The video shows doing it with a weight but in the absence of dumbells or kettlebells I opt for increasing the sets to get the volume I want.  Do this routine a few times in a row at a fast pace (without compromising good form of course) and let me tell ya your buns will be burning in the morning!

Eats

So since my mom brought me a pot of fresh herbs to hopefully change my black thumb to green, I decided I should trim some of the overgrown cilantro and use it in tonight's dinner.  Given all the yummy food the Coach and I have indulged in this past week, we were both more than ready for a light and fresh meal.  I served this apple and zucchini salad with some homemade meatballs and it was just what I was looking for: zucchini and cucumber are said to help with bloating because of their high water content and lemon juice supposedly is a detoxifier, so this dish seemed like the perfect answer.  I first made this salad a couple of years ago and I remember loving it, but this time I left out the added sugar and opted for a sweeter apple instead.  Here's how it came together:

Apple and zucchini salad
Ingredients:
3T olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2T apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/2c cilantro, chopped
1/4t salt
1/4t pepper
2 apples (I used golden delicious), diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cucumber, diced
4 scallions, diced

This is so easy.  First mix the first 6 ingredients together to make the vinaigrette, then chop up your apples and veggies and toss everything together.  You want to let this salad sit at least 30 minutes before serving but 2 hours is ideal to let the flavors really meld. 

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This is the perfect summer side dish.  The flavors are really bright and simple so the produce really shines.  This would be a great side to bring to a BBQ and is so versatile--peppers, celery, and carrots would all be great swaps!

I hope you all weren't too devastated by my long absence, but you can rest easy now that I'm back :)  Hope everyone's week starts off well!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sausage, Cauliflower, and Spinach Casserole

Happy Hump Day!  My alarm clock went off this morning and woke me from a super vivid dream, which had me pretty disoriented all morning.  Typically by the time my phone goes off I'm sleeping pretty lightly but this morning I saw intense pillow creases on my face in the mirror, and knew I was completely zonked before my alarm jolted me awake.  Not the most pleasant start to the day.

In other news, the battery on my iPhone is fading--completely died for the fourth day in a row after being off the charger for 8 hours.  So frustrating.  I'm planning on going to Apple this weekend, which I HATE because they always make me feel like I'm such a bad Mac-momma.  "You have water damage", "your screen is filthy", "your case is pretty dinged up", etc.  Sorry Genius Bar, let's just be happy the phone you're holding hasn't fallen in the toilet yet, ok?

Workout

I have rounds on Wednesdays so I have to go to work early...every Wednesday...and yet I continue to get to the gym late specifically on these days and only have 15 minutes to work out.  I try to make those 15 minutes count by doing some high intensity activity or another, so today I did a tabata (20 sec of hard work, 10 sec off) including jumping rope and walking lunges.  Major red face after that, but glad I banged out something worthwhile despite the time crunch.

Eats

I've been on a bit of a casserole kick lately, only Monday night's meal was pretty meh.  Last night's, however, was delicious.  I love a good one-pot meal, plus this one managed to sneak spinach in to the mix, which I typically only partake in when part of a salad.  This casserole, adapted from The Preppy Paleo, was super tasty, probably from the sun dried tomato action.  The original recipe called for ricing the cauliflower then steaming it in chicken stock, but I'm way too lazy for that, plus who cares if the cauliflower is grain-sized when it's going to wind up in a casserole anyway?  So I adapted the recipe to make it simpler, here's how it went:

Sausage, cauliflower, and spinach casserole
Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 lb. sausage
5 cups raw spinach
1/2 can of full-fat coconut milk 
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2t garlic powder
1T tomato paste
s&p to taste

Preheat your oven to 350.  Then heat an oven-proof casserole dish over medium-high heat and brown your sausage.  While that's going, steam your cauliflower.  When the sausage is done, add the spinach and mix it around until it's wilted, then throw in the cauliflower,  sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic powder and s&p.  While that's cooking together for a couple minutes, mix the eggs and coconut milk with s&p.  Then simply add the egg and milk mixture to the meat and veggies and mix together quickly before the eggs start to set at all, and throw it in the oven.  Cook for 35-40 minutes until the middle of the casserole is set.  Enjoy!

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This meal was so easy to make and packed with veggies.  I was really surprised how just 1/4c of sun dried tomatoes could flavor a whole dish!  The original recipe didn't call for tomato paste, but the Coach always talks about how tomato paste has lots of lycopene in it, so I threw it in there.  I buy tomato paste in the toothpaste-like containers that are at most grocery stores now, because unless you have a recipe that calls for a full 6oz, the rest usually goes to waste if all you need is 1-2T.  As we were eating last night, I kept turning to the Coach and commenting how surprised I was that the dish turned out so well--sometimes it's the simple recipes that taste the best!

Off to use up the rest of my jar of sun dried tomatoes for dinner...hmmm guess what I'm making?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Stuffing Meatballs + Carrot-flower Puree

I can't believe we're already halfway through May...it's weird that Mother's Day has happened and yet it was 40 degrees out this morning.  I'm pretty much counting down the days until the Coach and I have some time off this summer.  We have a lot going on these next few weeks so we are REALLY looking forward to some much needed R&R in June, not to mention our 3-year anniversary (!) at the end of May.  Lots to look forward to!

Workout

Back to lifting today!  And I'm already sore.  Womp womp.  Today's workout included dumbbell plank rows, which I have only been able to master recently.  I've pretty much figured out why these used to be so hard for me: I didn't have my feet planted wide enough in the starting position, so I would quickly crash to the floor as soon as I lifted an arm up.  You basically set yourself up in a plank, with your hands on dumbbells (I use 15lbs) and (apparently) your feet wider than your shoulders.  Then you simply do a 1-arm row with the weight, making sure to brace your core and your bum muscles, like this handsome man does so beautifully.  Let me tell you, the Coach makes it look easy but this sh*t is hard!  Major ab workout right there.  Who needs crunches, right?

Eats

So this meal last night was pretty epic, which is why you get TWO stellar recipes today!  The Coach loves all things meatball (minus any Jersey Shore references), while I tend to avoid making them because of the serious mess factor.  But I have to return Practical Paleo this week and I wanted to make one more recipe from this informative/delicious book.  This meatball recipe would pair nicely with a simple cranberry sauce like the book recommended (as the Coach quickly pointed out) but I had to use up my cauliflower before it went bad.  So enter my spin on Nom Nom Paleo's carrot and parsnip puree!  Here's how both recipes came together:

Thanksgiving stuffing meatballs
Ingredients:
1lb Italian sausage
1/4c walnuts, finely chopped
6 sage leaves, chopped
 1 egg
1 onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the carrots and onions until translucent.  Meanwhile, mix the sausage, nuts, egg, and sage together in a bowl.  When the veggies are done, let them cool for a few minutes, then mix the whole mess together.  Roll in to 12-15 golf ball sized meatballs and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Source


Carrot-flower Puree
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1lb carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1c chicken stock
3T butter

Melt 1T butter (or cooking fat of your choice) in a large saucepan over medium heat, then throw in your veggies and stock with s&p.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 25-30 minutes (I started this puree before the meatballs, and the timing worked out perfectly).  The veggies should be very tender, and then either use an immersion blender or food processor/standard blender to mix everything up.  Add the last 2T of butter and adjust for seasoning.

Source


These two dishes went together SO well!  The meatballs were moist and delicious, and the puree was insanely creamy.  This is the first way I've been able to coerce the Coach in to enjoying cauliflower puree, as my previous efforts have been poorly received--I think the sweetness the carrots added to the mix won him over.  The meatballs weren't super Thanksgiving-y (I hate to admit it but the Coach is right, the cranberry sauce would have knocked it out of the park), but the sage flavor plus the toasty nuts made these a definite make again.

Hope everyone's week is off to a great start!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Greek Chicken Hash

Happy Mother's Day!  Hope everyone had a nice day celebrating the mama's in your life, or being pampered yourselves.  The Coach and I traveled to CT today to enjoy dinner with my parents and both my sisters and their families.  We had a blast, and the day only would have been better if I had gotten to spend time with my mother-in-law as well!

We got to CT early so we met my parents at Whole Foods.  It's only been within the past couple of years that I started cooking dinner every night, and my "real, whole food" eating style hasn't come around until the last year, and I haven't been to WF since these changes.  Holy food palace.  The degree of amazing, non-processed, real ingredient options there is unreal.  I totally get why they call it "Whole Paycheck".  I could have wandered around there for hours, literally.  Choosing lunch from the hot bar was hard enough.  The Coach and I ended up leaving with some freshly ground mixed nut butter (combo of almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, and Brazil nuts), coconut flour (first time buying this, couldn't resist the $4 price tag), and some all-natural jalapeno ranch salad dressing for the Coach.  Good thing we had a 2 1/2 hour drive back, because the insane amount of Applegate Farms hot dog options had me wishing we had a cooler with us.  Did I mention hot dogs are one of my favorite foods?  Can't wait to use the coconut flour in something...hoping the new cookbook I ordered from Amazon, Well Fed by the blogger of The Clothes Make the Girl, has some inspiring dishes that call for this paleo ingredient.

Workout

I made sure to get to the gym for a quick workout this morning--I find that long car rides are way more tolerable when I've burned some energy beforehand.  The gym was pretty quiet, but the bike I chose was right next to a middle-aged man pumping so slowly I was impressed with what I assumed was a crazy high resistance level.  When I snoopishly glanced at this display, I realized the bike wasn't even on!  He was pushing the pedals in slow motion with no resistance--actually not that easy to do in reality.  5 minutes in, he began doing rhythmic fist pumps.  He seemed pretty dedicated to his routine, I had to hand it to him, even with his arms flailing about.  It was entertaining and made my gym time fly by.

Eats

I actually made this Greek chicken recipe a few days ago and never got around to blogging about it, because of my state of supreme exhaustion last week.  I'm always up for a one-pot meal, especially since the Coach has been home late this trimester so I like to get most of the dishes done so he doesn't have to scrub pans right up until bedtime.  I try to choose recipes where I can start the cooking process and continue to prep ingredients while the meal is getting underway, and this dish is a great example of that.  As always I couldn't resist the temptation to modify, so here's how my interpretation of this recipe came together:

Greek chicken hash
Ingredients:
1lb ground chicken
2-4c steamed veg of your choice (I did a combo of snow peas and green beans)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, chopped (I left the veins and seeds in for extra heat, scrape those out for a milder dish)
1t dried oregano
zest & juice of 1 lemon
¼c coconut milk (or stock)
s&p

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute chicken until cooked through.  While the chicken is cooking, steam your veggies.  To the cooked chicken, add in the garlic, jalapeno  and oregano and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add in the lemon juice + zest and the coconut milk or stock. Stir everything around and make sure you get up all the bits that might be stuck to the pan.  Add in your steamed vegetables and let reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated.


greek chicken hash
Source


This meal was delicious.  I LOVE lemon, so the fresh citrus taste paired nicely with the herby chicken.  I often like to swap out chicken stock for coconut milk because I love the creamy texture and subtle sweetness it lends to most meals.  The original recipe calls for chicken thighs which weren't at the supermarket during my weekly shop so I subbed in ground chicken--never be afraid to try different cuts or types of meat with these recipes!  Anyway, the Coach and I really liked this one, especially because it was a change from the never ending cycle of Asian and Mexican dishes I've been creating lately.  Yum!

Hope everyone enjoyed today with their family, have a nice start to the week!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thai Burger with Almond Butter Chili Sauce

Hello blogees!  I took a little time off from blogging, sorry for my absence, life has just gotten in the way, yknow?  But no worries, I come equipped with a delicious summer-ready recipe!

Workout

I've taken a week off from heavy lifting.  Crazy right?  I was feeling so run down by the start of the week, I decided to be nice to myself and gorge on the stack of InStyle and Women's Health sitting in my gym locker.  Glorious.

So no crazy gym routine today, guys.  Instead just a tip: do what you like at the gym.  It's pretty fun.

Eats

Something about summer just screams burgers to me.  Burgers and cold beverages in some sort of outdoor space.  Yum.  I've been perfecting the oven-baked burger in the absence of a grill, and this  sauce was a delicious twist on the original.  Plus I made cocoa-toasted cauliflower from The Clothes Make the Girl that was an excellent accompaniment to the spicy sauce. 

Thai burger with almond butter chili sauce
Burger ingredients:
Ingredients:
1lb ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1/2t garlic salt
1/4t pepper
1t chili powder
 
Sauce Ingredients:
3T almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
1T rice wine vinegar
1T low sodium tamari (or soy, aminos, etc)
3T coconut milk 
1T sriracha
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the burger ingredients together until just incorporated--overmixing will result in tough burgers!  Then simply divide the meat mixture in to 4 patties, throw on a baking rack over a cookie sheet linted with foil.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, flip, and bake for 10-12 minutes more.  While that's cooking, mix together your sauce.  Once the burgers are done, top with sauce and enjoy!

Thai Turkey Veggie Burger Image
http://healthylivinghowto.com/1/post/2012/04/gobble-gobble.html

Let me tell you, this sauce is bangin'.  It's super flavorful and packs a powerful punch that the Coach and I just couldn't get enough of.  And the cocoa-toasted cauliflower really went perfectly with this one.  I think the smoky flavor of grilled burgers would make this sauce taste even better, so I'm looking forward to *one day* having a grill to try this out on.  Definitely a make again!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day tomorrow!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Creamy Avocado Stir-Fry

Wah for Monday.  This past weekend was just too nice to end, in my opinion.  The Coach and I spent Sunday in Saratoga, walking around shops, eating delicious food, and lounging in the park.  Perfection.  Topped off by an absolutely delicious new creation, so stay tuned for that below.

Workout

I woke up this morning very much NOT pumped to work out.  I was energized but just had lots of stuff on my mind and figured it'd be hard to focus lifting with good form, so I opted for one of my standby run/walk treadmill routines that looked like this:

0-5 minutes 4.0 mph, 1.0 incline
5-10 minutes 7.0 mph, 2.0 incline
10-12 minutes 4.0 mph, 2.0 incline
12-14 minutes 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
14-16 minutes 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
16-18 minutes 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
18-20 minutes 4.0 mph, 2.0 incline
20-25 minutes 6.5 mph, 2.0 incline
25-30 minutes 4.0 mph, 1.0 incline

Those sneaky 5 minutes runs really had me sweaty and red-faced.  Quick but effective workout!  Plus the gym was weirdly packed for a Monday morning so I had lots of good people-watching action.  The trainers at my gym have their clients to the oddest things, sometimes it's hard to decide if I'm entertained or horrified (usually the former but occasionally the latter when I think about these clients turning in to patients with back problems one day--I can't quiet the physical therapist in me so easily).

Eats

OK, so this dish I made last night was killer.  Like crazy good and crazy easy.  Would I deliver anything less?  The original recipe is from Carrots 'n' Cake, but I had to modify since my supermarket was all out of zucchini for zoodles (made using the julienne peeler) and I continue to resist the lure of the spaghetti squash because...let's be honest, it's because I'm too lazy.  Plus I wanted to have some protein in there so I adapted the dish to include some hot sausage.  I used broccoli as my veg, but you could obviously use zucchini or spaghetti squash, or any other vegetable you like.  Here's how my version came together:

Creamy avocado stir fry
Ingredients
16oz sausage
1 ripe avocado
2T sunflower seed butter (or any nut butter)
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1T rice wine vinegar
1/2c coconut milk
1/2t salt
~4c steamed veg of your choice

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brown your sausage.  While that's working, steam your vegetables.  Then, put the avocado, nut butter, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, coconut milk, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth.  When your sausage is done, add the steamed veggies to the pan and stir them around a bit.  Then add the sauce and let the whole thing hang out for a few minutes over medium-low heat for the flavors to meld.

Creamy_Avocado_Spaghetti_Squash
Source


The sauce was so freaking good.  The creamy avocado plus the zesty lime juice was reminiscent of guacamole, while the sweetness of the coconut milk played nicely with the spicy sausage.  This was really so yummy and a cinch to toss together.  Please, please try this.  It's worth dusting off your blender.  And I don't say that lightly.

Hope everyone had as lovely a weekend as I did, and an easy start to the week!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Taco Salad with Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

Got a small sunburn on my arms eating lunch outside today.  I might seem to be elderly given by early bird bedtime, but I continue to be too immature to remember sunscreen.  Woops.

The Coach is watching Ridiculousness on MTV right now.  I hate this show--maybe it's because I work with patients with spinal cord injuries, but every time these fools crash into / fall off of something it makes me feel ill.  Anyone else?

Apparently I'm feeling a bit rambly this evening...welcome to the randomness of my mind!

Workout

 I was tired at the gym today.  I dragged my butt in because I'm too stubborn to admit defeat but I really wasn't feel it.  UNTIL I saw a woman who was probably in her 70's doing kettlebell swings.  Beautiful swings, I might add.  If that woman can haul tush at 6AM, I certainly can.  Such a good motivator.

After my daily does of inspiration, I got down to today's workout, which included lunges with an overhead reach using a medicine ball.  Lunges + any upper body move is a nice way to work some core strengthening in to your session and jack your heart rate up pretty quickly--I like these overhead reaches where you grab the heaviest med ball you can find (or simply use a dumbbell), hold it in front of your chest in the starting position, then simply bring the ball up over your head as you lunge forward.  Make sure to squeeze your bum as you push back to the starting position, lowering the ball to your chest, then alternate to the other leg.  Why is it that you can be a pretty dedicated gym-goer, and lunges are still tough?  And still leave your quads quivering the next day?  Oy.

Eats

Today's warm temps had my itching for a fresh dinner, so I'm happy I had this recipe for taco salad from Practical Paleo on tap.  You all know I'm a fan of the one pot meal, so this was a fun little change up for us!  I made the taco meat and salsa below, but also chopped up some plum tomatoes and avocado to toss in the mix as well.  Here's how the meat and salsa came together:

Taco meat
16oz ground beef
1/2 red onion, chopped (other half used in the salsa)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1T apple cider vinegar
1/2T cumin
1/2T chili powder
1/2t cayenne
s&p

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with some cooking fat.  Brown your meat, then toss in the rest of the ingredients when your meat is about half way cooked.  Stir everything together until the meat is no longer pink, then use as a base for the rest of your toppings!

Pineapple Cucumber salsa
1c pineapple, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
juice of 1 lime
cilantro to taste
s&p

This one's pretty easy--just toss everything together and taste to adjust the seasoning! 






Paleo Taco Salad
Source




The pineapple salsa was SO GOOD!  The Coach took one bite and exclaimed, "Damn that's fresh".  The combo of sweet and juicy pineapple with the crisp cucumber was really nice, plus how bad can anything with avocado taste?  Also, did you know that if your avocado is ripe but you're not ready to eat it, you can put it in the fridge for up to 5 days?  Thank you Google, because now I know that.  The seasoning mix on the taco meat was perfect, although I might add some tomato paste to make it a bit saucier next go around.  Sometimes I just like to be a bit saucy, y'know?

I have one more meal planned from Practical Paleo, but if it's as good as any one of these simple recipes I'm definitely planning on purchasing that book.  Everything so far has been a hit!

Hope you all have some fun weekend plans in the sunshine!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Italian Stuffed Peppers

Hello blogees!  Is that what you call people who read a blog?  Well it's what I call people who read my blog.  You've been named.

Is anyone else finding it harder to go to work when it's so gloriously beautiful out?  I was so looking forward to spring and now that it's (finally) arrived I'm actually more bummed because I can't be outside to enjoy it.  I keep dragging all my patients out to the parking lot--which is really the only outside space we have--whether they want to or not.  We all need our Vitamin D, right?  Check out what Mark Sisson says, author of The Primal Blueprint that I loved so dearly:

"From the presence of vitamin D receptors in our cells and vitamin D factories in our epidermis, along with the central role vitamin D plays in calcium metabolism, immunity, and gene expression, it’s pretty clear that having adequate vitamin D is an essential component of being a healthy, successful homo sapien."

Read more at http://www.marksdailyapple.com/vitamin-d-sun-exposure-supplementation-and-doses/#ixzz2S5Pz8JDJ

So there you go, sun time is prescribed by nature!

Workout
So I can't lie to you, I did not workout today.  My body felt beat last night from the hard workouts I've been doing lately, so even though I really dislike getting out of my weekday routine, I decided to sleep in today (still woke up at 4:20 to the Coach's alarm though).  So even though I didn't get my daily sweat sesh today, I am still quite sore--especially from the one-arm dumbbell rows I did yesterday.  This exercise is pretty important, since tightening up the postural muscles that run between your shoulder blades helps to spare the rest of your body--everything from your spine to your rotator cuff.  I like bent over rows best, where you stabilize one arm on a bench or on a dumbbell sitting on a weight rack, and step back until your back is nearly flat with a slight bend in your knees.  Tighten your core, i.e. suck that gut in!  Then simply use your other arm to pull the weight up, making sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together without shrugging your shoulder, like so: cute guy, cute row.  One arm at a time allows you to really focus on technique while engaging your core at the same time.

Eats
So I'm still making my way through Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, and I continue to be impressed!  Tonight's dinner of Italian stuffed peppers came together pretty quickly, and the simple flavors were really delicious.  Naturally, I made some adjustments for personal tastes, so here's how my version came together:

Italian stuffed peppers
Ingredients:
2 bell peppers
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, hopped
14oz can diced tomatoes, juice drained
1 lb ground beef
8-10 Fresh basil leaves, chopped
2c Baby spinach, chopped

Preheat oven to 375.  Chop your peppers in half lengthwise and put them cut-side down in a baking dish.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until soft.
While the peppers are baking, heat some cooking fat over medium-high heat in a skillet.  Saute your onions until translucent, then add the garlic and tomatoes with s&p and cook for a couple minutes.  Then add your ground beef and some more s&p and cook until no longer pink (remember, it's important to season each step of the cooking process so don't add too much salt/pepper along the way).  Add your basil and spinach and a little more s&p and cook until fully wilted.
Your peppers should be done at this point, so just spoon the mixture in to each of the pepper halves.  My peppers were pretty small so I had some extra meat leftover that I decided to eat as is.

http://balancedbites.com/2010/10/easy-recipe-italian-style-stuffed-peppers.html

This recipe actually came out looking like the picture in the cookbook!  Super pumped about that.  But more importantly, it was delicious!  Considering the whole process took about 40 minutes from start to finish, this dish came together very easily with simple ingredients and really fresh flavors.  This is definitely a meal I would make again, especially with the nutrient-packed spinach.

Hooray for the week being half over!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

Happy Monday!  Just kidding, there's no such thing.  HA!

Today wasn't a bad day, as far as Mondays go, but compared with the glory that was this weekend, today's gloomy skies did not have me pumped for the week.  At least I started my day with a kick ass workout--very minimal rest breaks as I ran around the gym trying to avoid the smelly guy working out in a full sweatsuit.  Seriously guy, if you're going to sweat that profusely and wreak that intensely in your current getup, change out of that unitard and in to some real gym clothes.  Gross.

Workout

So today's workout included one of my favorite moves: box jumps.  If you're in decent condition and have warmed up properly, these are a quick way to rev up your heart rate.  Sometimes I like to throw in 5 box jumps between sets of different exercises when I'm doing my own thing at the gym to increase the intensity a bit.  The real key is to start the movement in a squat position, and explode through your feet up to your destination, making sure to land softly in a squat again (butt back!), like so: some cute guy with excellent box jump form.  I usually just jump up to a bench because my gym doesn't have nice boxes and I'm too nervous to hop on to stacked aerobic steps for fear of toppling over and being that girl.  If you don't want to jump up to something that high, start with 1 aerobic step or even just jumping in place. 

***Disclaimer: I'm not a personal trainer, but I live with a former trainer to the rich and famous at the Ritz in Boston so I've learned a bit along the way :)

Eats

Since last night's meal was a total win, I was really looking forward to recreating another dish from Practical Paleo tonight (the Coach had leftovers for lunch today and is still raving).  And trust me, I was not disappointed.  I used the pineapple teriyaki sauce from the cookbook in a stir fry with chicken and veggies and it was DELICIOUS!  Here's how it came together:

Pineapple teriyaki chicken
Ingredients:
1.5lb chicken thighs, diced in to bite-sized pieces
1c pineapple, chopped
1/2c water (I used half water and half juice from the pineapple)
1T ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2t cayenne
2T low sodium tamari (soy, aminos, etc)
optional: 2T nut butter
 veggies of your choice

In a sauce pan, mix the pineapple, water, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and tamari in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Once you've gotten that going, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with some cooking fat and brown your chicken.
After 10 minutes of simmering, blend your sauce (I used an immersion blender, but you can put it in a blender).  You could leave it un-blended if you want, you'll just have a chunkier sauce!  At this point I thought the sauce looked a bit thin so I added some sunflower seed butter which I thought gave the sauce a really delicious texture (complete nut butter addict here).  If you choose to add nut butter, add it after you've blended your sauce.
When your chicken is cooked through, add the sauce and steamed veggies of your choice.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mcj7i42rCc1rcut6bo1_500.jpg


You all know that I love a good stir fry, but this one was something else.  The pineapple added a subtle sweetness, though possibly overshadowed by my addition of nut butter, so if you want more pineapple flavor either skip the nut butter or, even better, add more pineapple!  The Coach asked if I could give him a side of pineapple, because he's sort of a pineapple fiend (similar to my nut butter addiction).  This was a really nice spin on the Thai stir fry I've been making weekly, since the fresh fruit offered a nice tang to the dish.  I would definitely recommend trying this sauce out, drizzled over any meat and veggie combination!

Hope you all have gotten over your Monday blues by now!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Creamy Bolognese

How about the amazing weather this weekend, huh?  I don't know about everyone else, but the temps were in the 60s and 70s yesterday and today, not a cloud in the sky.  Definitely got my Vitamin D in this weekend.

Workout

Not so much on the workout front this weekend.  Saturday I went to the gym in the afternoon for some easy cardio on a spin bike while reading my book.  I sat outside for a bit yesterday but didn't move around much, so by the end of the day I was starting to feel the infamous ants-in-the-pants, so opted for a quick calorie burn.  Today I walked around the Union College campus where the Coach works in the bright sunshine.  Briefly I wished I was back in college until I noticed that half the kids had their noses buried in textbooks while they laid out on towels, were the other half were obnoxiously playing golf with tennis balls aimed at those studying.  Yup, don't miss college that much.  Also, it made me feel super old.  I can't believe I graduated 5 years ago...

One thing I wanted to mention: some people have asked me some specifics about the tempo sprints I do on the treadmill.  I've already detailed the numerous benefits about high intensity interval training, and going all out on the treadmill is an easy way to ramp up your fat burn at the end of a workout.  It's best to start out sprinting for 15 seconds, then hopping off the track on to the sides of the treadmill for 45 seconds.  It sounds silly, but if you're nervous about the jumping off part, practice it before you ramp up the treadmill!  Trust me, it's better to prep for some badass sprints and practice than fall off the treadmill because you've never jumped off the moving track before.  The incline should be set at 1% minimally, and basically you want to set the speed as fast as you can safely sprint.  I always start at 8.5mph and ramp it up from there, maxing out at 10mph (it's just not safe to go faster than that, if that gets easy just up the incline).  It should go without saying that you should not hold on during the sprint itself.  Start with 4 sprints, then 6, 8, etc. as they get easier.  You can also play with the rest time--go to 20 on / 40 off, or 30 on / 30 off.  These should be hard.  Like breathing hard, sweating profusely, hands-on-knees kind of deal by the end.  Enjoy!

Eats

As I mentioned last week, I'm on a total paleo-book reading kick these days.  I rarely actually buy books, especially cookbooks since I tend to come across all of my recipes online.  However, I had heard awesome things about Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, so I decided to screen this book first by taking it out from the library.  The author does an amazing job detailing how certain foods negatively (and positively) affect the digestive system, and goes in to great depth about how various conditions can be improved or worsened based on diet alone.  This book is a great resource and I definitely plan on buying it to have a personal copy to reference.

Besides the ridiculous amount of helpful information, there were also tons of yummy looking recipes in this book.  I decided that while I still have this book checked out til the end of the week, I'm going to make a recipe from it every night.  Tonight's menu: creamy bolognese.  Did you know that traditional bolognese from Italian restaurants usually has heavy cream in it?  News to me.  So this recipe has a nice dairy-free swap that I was super curious to try out.  I would say that I was more inspired by the recipe, since I made a bunch of swaps and barely followed the original.  These swaps include: subbed canned tomato sauce for white wine, used an onion and a pepper for the mirepoix since the Coach hates celery, and used fresh sausage instead of the suggested mix of veal/beef and pork plus bacon (too many ingredients to deal with).  If you're interested in the original recipe, here's the link: original Practical Paleo bolognese recipe.  Here's how my interpretation came together.

Creamy Bolognese
Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
16oz Italian sausage
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1t dried oregano
1/2t cayenne
1/2c coconut milk
6oz tomato paste
8oz tomato sauce (no spices in it, just the can)
s&p

Heat a skillet with cooking fat over medium-high heat and saute your onion and pepper until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir around for 1 minute.  Add the sausage and cook until browned.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, season with s&p, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 20-30 minutes and taste, adjust seasonings to your liking.

I served this with zoodles (just found out that's what you call the zucchini noodles you make with a julienne peeler) but you could also serve this with roasted spaghetti squash or any other veg.

Bolognese_PracticalPaleo
http://balancedbites.com/2013/03/easy-recipe-spaghetti-squash-bolognese-practical-paleo-ideas-for-replacing-pasta.html


As far as meat sauces go, this one came together relatively quickly and tasted sooooo delicious!  Not like coconut at all, which I was slightly concerned about.  Instead, the sauce was thick and creamy, perfect for when you want some Italian comfort food but don't have time to wait for it to simmer on the stove all day.  The Coach was definitely a fan--he gave it the highest rating of any dish I've made recently!  Kind of an ouch for my recent culinary adventures but I can deal.

*          *          *

Just wanted to do a quick check-in on the Whole30 front (no grains, legumes, sugar or dairy).  I'm officially one week in now, and I can already tell a huge difference, both in how my clothes fit and my overall energy level.  I definitely found myself searching out extra food this past week, as my body came off the roller coaster diet I've been on since my last go around at this detox.  For the beginning, I just focused on eating all healthy, clean foods without worrying about amounts.  This week I'm going to reign in my portions and snacking, since I've probably (definitely) been overdoing it with the almonds/walnuts.  At least that's my current game plan.  Fingers crossed I can resist the call of the nice white wine sitting in the fridge that's just calling to be sipped in this nice weather...

Hope everyone has a nice start to their week!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thai Stiry Fry

So today was a long day at work BUT something pretty awesome happened.  My patient's 4-year-old granddaughter was visiting her, and after I complimented this little munchkin on her stellar bright yellow sunglasses, she promptly did the entire Gangnam Style dance.  It. Was. Amazing.  I asked her to do it again (obviously) and she grabbed my hand and then taught me how to do it.  I high-fived her and then she offered me a fist bump, after which she said "Wattup".  I loved her.  I want one JUST like that.  Totally made my day.

Workout

Today was the third day in a row that I had to be in to work early, so I skipped the gym.  That is, I set my alarm with the intention of going in, then woke up at 5 and couldn't bear the thought of another rushed workout.  And then I couldn't fall back to sleep.  So instead I slowly sipped my coffee and then actually went to the supermarket to get some non-perishable items.  6:30AM is a great time to go to the grocery store, by the way.  Then a nice Starbucks run and phone chat with my mom before work.  A weird but kind of awesome start to my day!

So when I was more motivated to haul tush in the gym yesterday morning, I did a tabata workout (a tabata is just a format for high intensity interval training where you do something hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat).  Yesterday I alternated lunges with a 12kg kettlebell and jumping rope--this is so easy to recreate at any gym or at home, just hold a dumbbell (or no weight at all) and do jumping jacks if you don't have a jump rope.  I alternated each exercise for 6 rounds, then rested for 2 minutes, then repeated one more time.  So basically my workout looked like this:

20s lunges
10s rest
20s jumping rope
10s rest

Do that 4-6 times.  Then rest for a few minutes.  Then do it again.  Not that complicated right?  It reads pretty easy but it will jack up your heart rate quickly, let me tell ya.  Major sweaty mess status right there.

Eats

So ever since I made sunshine sauce from The Clothes Make the Girl, I use the delectable topping on just about anything, on the reg.  It's such a cinch to throw together and any ingredient thrown in the mix comes out tasting amazing.  This recipe uses sunflower butter (I get Organic SunButter, it's the only one that doesn't have cane juice in it, an added sweetener), but you could easily swap in almond or peanut butter.  I don't follow the original recipe exactly, but I have to give that blogger credit for coming up with this unreal sauce.

Thai stir fry
Ingredients:
16oz ground turkey (or chicken, or pork)
coconut oil
1 lime, juiced
2 garlic cloves, grated
1T ginger, grated
4T low sodium tamari (soy sauce, aminos, etc)
1T rice vinegar
1/4c sunflower seed butter
1/2c coconut milk
1/2t cayenne (or sriracha if you don't mind the added sugar)
Any steamed veggies you like--I used 12oz each of the following, chopped: snow peas, french green beans, and carrots

First, brown your ground meat in a large skillet in some coconut oil.  While this is working through, steam and chop your veggies.  Whisk all of the other ingredients together in a bowl.  When the chicken is cooked through, dump the veggies and the sauce in the pan and cook for a few minutes.  Make sure to taste this and adjust as needed!

paleo pad thai
http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/


This is so good.  Every time I make it the Coach and I silently nod at each other while we're inhaling the deliciousness (yup, that's a word).  If you like Asian food, you must try this.  You could even make a little omelet on the side in some sesame oil, chop it up and toss it in the mix for some added protein and a take on pad Thai!  I rarely garnish my food because I'm usually too hungry by the time it's done to care, but some chopped cashews (like in the picture) never hurt anyone.

Happy almost end of the week everyone!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries

Hi there blog world!  Hope everyone's week is going well so far!  After coming back from Boston, I wasn't particularly inspired to try lots of new dishes this week, and I've been enjoying some old standbys so far, including stir fried cabbage sausage and apple.  I really had no idea that cabbage could take on such a sweet taste.  Yum.

When I did Whole30 last time around, I made sure to have a cup of tea each night after dinner--something with a sweet taste to simulate dessert (I realize that I'm not fooling anyone, a giant bowl of ice cream would have been much better but, alas, I need to fit in to my scrubs every morning).  Last time it was vanilla chamomile which was pretty stellar.  But I've discovered something better.  Coconut cocoa tea.  Kind of like sipping hot chocolate before bed.  Plus, tea made with cocoa powder has lots of antioxidants, so that's a bonus.  But who am I kidding, I like pretending it's real chocolate.

Workout

Today's workout was grueling.  The Coach likes to sneak in these tough kettlebell complexes in to my workouts, and they always destroy me.  Today's format was pretty straight forward with 5 exercises, and 5 rounds.  First round: each exercise 5 times.  Second round: each exercise 4 times.  And so on until your last round when you do each exercise just once.  Sounds easy, but it's not.  I used a heavier kettlebell for today's workout, but in case you don't have access to a kettlebell, try something like this while holding two dumbells (maybe 10lbs each?) at your sides:

Dumbell Complex
5-4-3-2-1- Squats
5-4-3-2-1- Bent over row
5-4-3-2-1- Lunges
5-4-3-2-1- Shoulder press in a 1/2 kneeling position (a.k.a. "proposal pose")
5-4-3-2-1- Push-ups
Repeat 2-3x through as quickly as you can with a 2-minute rest after you've completed the full complex

 The key to these kind of workouts is hauling ass.  That's what revs up your heart rate best and does all sorts of good things for your bod.  Try it!

Eats

So I'm going to repeat another oldie but a goodie now.  Like a serious goodie.  Like make this tonight.  Enter: sweet potato fries, adapted from Simply Recipes.  I usually make a sweet potato side dish once per week--I figure I work out at least 5 days a week so a higher carb night is allowed.  This is my absolute favorite way to eat sweet potatoes, ESPECIALLY when I dip them in almond butter.  Holy sh*t.  Pardon my language.  But not really, because you'll say that too when you try these.

Sweet potato fries
Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes
2T olive oils
1T salt
1T seasoning (my favorite is pumpkin pie spice, goes so well with almond butter, but you could do Cajun, curry, chili powder or whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 450.
Chop up your pots however you like.  The easiest way for me is to cut one lengthwise wedge off the side of the potato approx 1/2-1" thick, then rotate the pot so that the flat side is against your board for stability, then cut another lengthwise wedge.  Keep rotating until you've cut the whole thing, then slice those wedges in to fries.  Best way to come out of your prep with all 10 fingers intact!
Mix your fries with the oil, then your seasoning.
Cook at 450 for 15 min, toss, then cook for 10-15 more until crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

Media
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/oven_baked_sweet_potato_fries/
I'm obsessed with these, and shocked at how yummy they are.  Every.  Single.  Time.  The Coach and I can't get enough.

That's all for now.  Happy eating everyone :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mexican Cauli Rice

I am so sad to see this weekend end.  After Friday night's intense events and being glued to CNN all evening, the Coach and I were beyond excited to head in to our hometown of Boston to celebrate our friend Jill's birthday--hi Jill, I hope you like this shout out as you're drinking your morning cup of coffee :)  Even though we were in the city for less than 24 hours, we had an amazing time.  Despite this week's heartbreaking events, the spirit in Boston is only stronger and there was just a contagious energy in the city.  The Coach and I walked around the Commons in the afternoon sunshine (please note, the Boston Commons have a suspiciously strong odor on a beautifully sunny 4/20...just saying), and then had a blast at dinner followed by singing our hearts' out at a karaoke bar.  In Chinatown.  Many memories made, let's just say that.


https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/?ui=2&ik=611a3d8843&view=att&th=13e2efbd7b7cd6a1&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-5Fc-0sBK5kNMiZhG-vAuO&sadet=1366587939891&sads=EV99xKKnaN9fPBLpHJYTHPqsBzI
Before we rocked out Don't Stop Believing

A quick update: today starts a new Whole30.  For those of you who don't know, this is a 30 day program where you eliminate sugar (including alcohol), grains, legumes, and dairy.  I did this back in February and had an amazing experience, but I foolishly planned lots of events for when I finished this detox and all my hard work went right down the drain.  This time around, I'm going to try to not even focus on my "end date", and just concentrate on eating clean.  I'm so weirdly excited to be doing this again, it's pretty much not normal at all.  I finally caved and ordered the book It Starts With Food, which I've read is a great supplement to the program--it's written by the people who created Whole30, and it basically just summarizes the science behind the "rules" in a practical way.  I've been on a Paleo book-reading kick lately, so maybe get ready for a book report some time soon...

Workout

With all of our traveling this weekend, I didn't get to the gym, so instead I'll share with you some exercise-related information I read the other day in my nerd-tastic spare time, courtesy of Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint.  I can't recommend this book enough--he does a great job explaining why it's so beneficial to replicate the dietary habits of our ancestors, and how to do it in a modern world.  I've learned SO much from this book, so if you're at all curious about the science behind the paleo diet, or how to "live primally", i.e. incorporate the lifestyle more in to your daily habits, I'd recommend checking this book out.

In addition to lots of dietary advice, this book also establishes some "Exercise Laws", including the importance of ensuring you get lots of low level activity through out your day.  Basically, this means getting in easy cardio, like walking, biking, or hiking.  I never fully grasped just how important it is to supplement strength and high intensity interval training with basically just moving more through out the day.  These are the primary reasons why "moving frequently at a slow pace" is important:
  1. Improved fat metabolism: increases your metabolic rate
  2. Improved cardiovascular function: decreases risk of heart attack or stroke
  3. Improved musculoskeletal system: strengthens bones, joints, and connective tissue
  4. Stronger immune system
  5. Increased energy
Not such a bad list, huh?  I get a lot of walking in at work, but I'm looking forward to warmer weather so that the Coach and I can get in more post-dinner walks to really try to apply this law on a daily basis.

Eats

I'm too enamored with riced cauliflower, my kitchen just can't handle it.  Seriously, cauli florets everywhere...clearly this is not enough to kick the habit of me making something using this method weekly, but I'm going to have to retire this cooking style soon so I don't get tired of it.  Today's recipe was inspired by this recipe from HealthyLivingHowTo.com.  And it rocked.  It came together like this:

Mexican cauli rice
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
16oz ground beef
1T chili powder
1T oregano
1/2T garlic powder
1/2T onion powder
1/2t cayenne
10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1T tomato paste

First, rice your cauliflower.  I like to do this by roughly chopping the cauliflower, putting it in a blender then filling the blender to the top with water.  Then just pulse 5-10 times until your cauliflower is the desired size.  Drain in a colander while you do everything else.
Brown your beef in a skillet in a cooking fat of your choice over medium-high heat, season with s&p.  Once your meat is cooked through, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and all the spices.  Mix this around a bit until incorporated, then throw the riced cauliflower in and season with more s&p.  Once everything is nicely stirred in to one big mess, throw a lid on the pan and cook for about 15 minutes over med-low heat or until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking.  Done!

http://healthylivinghowto.com/1/post/2012/06/how-to-eat-mexican-food-and-still-fit-into-your-skinny-jeans.html


I wish I had some avocado on hand like in the picture, because I think that would have been a delicious addition.  This meal was really good--it made a ton of food, was pretty easy to throw together, and had a nice kick from the cayenne.  Definitely a make again!

Hope everyone had a nice weekend, good luck starting the week!