It’s been awhile…

…and my creativity is hiding somewhere.  Really, I haven’t cooked anything new and exciting since I made that awesome rutabaga recipe.  I have spent at least three nights a week driving 45-60 miles each way to get the older kids to their activities of choice, so it has left little time for reading, researching, and trying new things.  Most weeks I make sure to cook up a slow cooker full of pulled/kalua style pork and either a ton of meatballs or Well Fed’s Chocolate Chili.  Add in a steak night and a chicken night – oh, don’t forget, a fish night (it’s Lent!) and somehow I have managed to walk the primal/paleo path the last several weeks.

Where I have been making gains the last few weeks has been in the gym.  On Sundays my husband and I have a date at the local Anytime Fitness, during naptime for the little one.  I have finally screwed up the nerve to wear my goofy looking Vibrams to the gym.  What took me so long?!  My squats were so…balanced, grounded, powerful.  I love them so much.  Also, I am slowly getting closer to an unassisted pullup.  The key word there is slooooowly.  I also do the leg press machine, but I begin each workout with a 10 minute walk at a moderate pace to get the blood pumping to all my muscles.

During a good week I am also able to sneak in another quick workout at the gym.  This workout is usually entirely machine based, and that is where I have had enormous gains over the last four months.  My leg press has gone from 95 lbs to 195 lbs.  My lat pulldown has improved from 86 lbs to 113 lbs, and I have increased from 50 to 75 lbs on the chest press.  I am probably the strongest I have ever been in my life, yet my little Cavebaby is so strong I can hardly handle him sometimes!  He is eating what we eat – his favorite is Chocolate Chili with a side of sweet potatoes, but he loves any form of meat and vegetable I give him.

The only other interesting thing I have added to my regimen has been cold baths.  I have been reading the blog of Jack Kruse with interest the last several months.  He’s a pretty polarizing figure in the paleo world.  I can’t debunk his biochemistry, but from a thermodynamics standpoint it stands to reason one would burn some fat in the process.  The first plunge was bracing, but there is a certain zen-like quality you achieve sitting in a cold bath for 30 or more minutes.  I don’t know if I have lost any weight – the BF scale I shelled out some bucks for a couple of years ago has wild mood swings – but my body composition seems to be changing along with my strength increase.

So that’s what I have been up to.  Please accept my apologies for not having anything new or interesting to post in the last month!

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Spring Chicken and Vegetables

If you haven’t guessed yet, I am not a fan of chicken in general.  Usually I find chicken meat to be gamey, dry, and tough no matter how I cook it.  I have found a decent chicken supplier – they are on the small side, but the flavor is great.  Here’s what I did with my chicken tonight – and it was devoured!  The spice rub makes the chicken skin crispy and tasty – do not discard it or your chicken will taste bland.

1 chicken, cut into pieces

1 t ground fennel

1/2 t ground coriander

1/4 t ground cumin

salt, pepper

  • combine spices and rub into chicken pieces with olive oil

2 carrots

2 parsnips

1 – 2 bulbs fennel

1 onion

2 heads green garlic

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Wash and chop the veggies into bite sized chunks
  • Add to baking pan and toss with chicken pieces
  • Bake until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender

 

Rutabaga Colcannon

This was so very, very good.  I wanted to make a colcannon recipe for St. Patrick’s day, but I was too lazy to look up recipes.  I had all the ingredients of a traditional colcannon in my veggie basket last week, but I figured the carbivores would revolt if I sullied their mashed potatoes with cabbage and scallions, so I refrained and used my cabbage on the side. However, I had some rutabagas I needed to use up tonight and decided to fancy it up a bit. The result was amazing goodness, even though the kids wouldn’t touch it.

2 large rutabagas, peeled and chopped

2 – 4 T Kerrygold unsalted butter

1 bunch scallions, sliced

Salt and pepper

  • Boil rutabagas until tender.  Drain and put back into the pot over a very low flame to evaporate excess water.
  • Place rutabagas in bowl of the food processor with butter, salt, and pepper.  Puree.
  • Place sliced scallions in with the rutabagas.  Pulse gently to mix.  Enjoy!

Lent is here…

…so what to eat?  I still haven’t found a great place to buy seafood, so this weekend I loaded up on some frozen stuff at Trader Joe’s so I don’t get hungry and crabby.  Like I was on Friday.  At least I had some fresh eggs on hand…and some organic potatoes.  Put them together and you get an awesome Spanish Tortilla!  Even the kids enjoyed this.  I served it with beets – I roasted the roots, sautéed the greens, and then dressed it all in a sherry vinaigrette.  Sherry vinegar has been my absolute favorite for making vinaigrette lately, I love the way it tastes.  I also add some Dijon-style mustard and some garlic, if I feel like chopping it up. 

Newsflash: My husband, who usually shuns white potatoes, has actually requested this dish again this Friday.  Yum!

 

 

Braised Short Ribs

One of my favorite sources for recipes is Bon Appetit magazine.  I found this recipe in the October 2011 edition, and switched the flour for potato starch and grassfed beef ribs purchased from US Wellness.   I served this with the rutabagas from the veggie basket, boiled and then pureed with cream and butter and arugula dressed in a sherry vinaigrette.  It’s sufficient to say that dinner tonight was full of YUM.  Really, when I eat the grassfed beef – it tastes beefier than the stuff I get at the supermarket – more like the food I ate as a kid. 

Roasted Broccoli with Green Garlic

Both main ingredients were included in our basket this week.  I admit the first week we received the green garlic I thought it was a funny colored scallion and sliced that baby up and sprinkled in into our salad.  It was…pungent. 

Anyway, I was looking up recipes for the romanesco cauliflower I also received and they suggested roasting that vegetable, so I decided to do the same with the broccoli.  Here’s how I did it:

Broccoli, cut into florets

olive oil

crushed red pepper

salt

pepper

minced green garlic

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  For an easy cleanup, line a baking pan with foil.  Grease with olive oil and place broccoli on the pan.  Season with red pepper, salt and black pepper.  Drizzle some more olive oil over the broccoli.
  • Cook broccoli in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes.  Open the oven carefully, and give the pan a shake to loosen the broccoli from the pan.  If the broccoli looks like it is cooking very  quickly, reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
  • Check the broccoli again and sprinkle the minced garlic over the broccoli.  Stir, and return to the oven for a minute or two. 

 

 

Crock Pot Pork

For years, I have shunned the crock pot.  I know it’s a wonderful, modern convenience and it helps many working parents put together a hot, nutritious meal while they are busy, but to me the food always tasted bland and had a mushy texture.  I have lived crock pot free for five years, but then I saw the most amazing invention – a crock pot with a metal insert so you can sear the meat before you cook it all day.  That’s it!  That is all I needed to desire a handy countertop oven.  Luckily, my husband had a good day at the blackjack tables in Vegas last fall and hit the outlet mall in Primm to purchase a Breville crock pot with a nonstick insert.  Score!  So far I usually cook pork roasts in this appliance.  Here is a generic recipe, with a couple of twists:

1 – 2 Pork Shoulder Roasts

2 T coconut oil

Several cloves garlic

1 c water

  • Sear the pork roasts on both sides; add garlic cloves at this time as well
  • Add water, salt and pepper and cook all day
  • Remove roasts from crock pot to cutting board; allow to cool and shred with forks

I do two variations of this roast.  The first is kind of a kalua-style roast with 2-3 T wheat-free tamari sauce and some liquid smoke; the second one I substitute citrus juice for the water, and add the zest of the fruit when it has been shredded.  If you take the second variation and fry it up in the pan until it’s crispy it is just divine, kind of like carnitas!  I think some pickled onions from this recipe would be very refreshing with the crispy-fried pork as well. 

Whatever you do, be sure to make enough of this for leftovers.  It’s one of my go-to recipes for busy weeks because you always have tasty protein in the fridge that you can build the rest of the meal around.

A Crazy Weeks’ Worth of Eating

No need to call the Paleo Police.  I am still here, just busy hauling the kids to their activities and cooking healthy, nourishing meals for the five of us! 

The other week I had things under control cooking-wise.  I am struggling to get back to that balanced feeling, instead of feeling a little behind in everything I do.  I have actually planned the meals for this week.  I hate having the same meat two nights in a row, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  Here’s what I have planned so far:

Monday: Crock pot pulled pork with braised cabbage and sautéed chard

Tuesday: Pork fried cauliflower rice: here’s a recipe that includes kim chee, which I just so happen to have in my fridge!

Wednesday: Primal Moussaka

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Crack Chicken

Saturday: Steak night!!!

I have to figure out an easy Sunday recipe.  I usually work out on Sundays and it leaves me a hungry, crabby, tired mess!  I am very fortunate my family tolerates me that day of the week…

Stir Fried Greens

To go along with the previous post, here is a recipe I threw together one night a couple of months ago.  My husband loved it!  Kitchen tip: when you bring ginger home from the market, use a table spoon to peel it and pop the root in the freezer.  That way it is ready for use at a moment’s notice.

1 head bok choy or similar vegetable

1 T coconut oil

1/2 t sesame oil

1 clove garlic

pinch red chili flakes

1 T tamari sauce

Grated ginger

  • Place pan over medium high heat.  Add oils, garlic, and chili flakes.
  • Add chopped greens and stir, cooking until slightly softened.
  • Add tamari and grate ginger with a microplane over the greens.  Continue to cook until desired tenderness is achieved.

 

 

Wahls and Sisson: A Match Made in Primal Heaven!

Mark Sisson was the gateway drug to my primal conversion a little less than two years ago, so it’s fitting that he is building on the inspirational video of Dr. Terry Wahls I posted last month.  Primal and paleo lifestyles aren’t all about heavy cream and butter – while they can be a welcome addition to your lifestyle if you can tolerate them, the primary focus of the foods eaten should be meat and vegetables.  If you are able to consume her recommended 9 cups per day, you probably won’t be very hungry anyway.

Mark Sisson does a great job of expanding on the reasons you should be eating these great foods, and gives helpful hints on how to go about it.  Last week he featured leafy greens; this week it’s sulphur.  Just about every meat-based recipe I cook these days starts with a chopped onion.  What I found out today is that if I let it sit on the cutting board for about 10 minutes, the active components of these vegetables are able to better withstand heat.