Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is it cold out? Because it sure is Chili here!

I am leaving tomorrow evening for an epic road trip of sorts.  We are going to California to backpack through several National Parks and spend some time on the beach.  In preparation for the trip (and also our newly found budget) I decided to try to make primal chili (aka beanless chili) for the trip.  My plan is to freeze the Chili tonight, stick it in the cooler, and eat it Saturday night around a beautiful campfire.

I'm told that traditional chili did not include beans.  I've got to be honest on this one, I don't miss them or the corn at all (I prefer traditional chili with corn).  As my husband said "I'm sort of obsessed with this chili!"  I hope you will be too.

Paleo Chili
2 lbs. ground meat (I used 1 lb. ground turkey and 1 lb. ground turkey italian sausage), browned and drained
2 (15 oz) cans of diced tomatoes (no good stuff; no salt added)
1 (30 oz.) can tomato puree
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 red onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 portabello mushroom cap, cut into bite-sized pieces (you want them moderately chunky still)
1 c. water (optional)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 heaping Tbsp. almond butter (optional, but so delicious)
1 Tbsp. molasses (optional, but again, delicious)
1 tsp. black pepper
a pinch of salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook on a low temperature on your stove top until you are satisfied with the flavor combination.  OR, if you are like me and cooking your Chili in July (because that makes so much sense) cook in your crock pot.  High for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ask and You Shall Receive!

Wouldn't you know it?  A financial website that emails me their newsletters emailed today about a grocery planning website designed to do comparison shopping!  Amazing.  It's amazing how in tune the universe can be with you sometimes...

Anyways, here the link to the cool website.  It comparison shops for only the items you like to eat between your favorite grocery stores, allows you to plan your meals, browse their meals, edit the recipes (to turn paleo), and print off your grocery list (or email to your phone).

Could this be any more user friendly?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grocery Woes

My husband was accepted into graduate school for the fall. I am currently in graduate school and teaching full time. We recently sat down and tried to create a budget for next year. To say we will be broke would the understatement of the century. With two graduate schools worth of student fees, books, tuition, and a single teacher's salary, things will be tight. We averaged several months of grocery bills. It is shocking how much more we spent on groceries once we started eating healthy.

Changing my eating habits is a non-negotiable for me. I'd rather work at a coffee shop on the weekends than jeopardize my health by eating ramen 3 days a week.

Pre-paleo eating, we would spend about $400 a month on groceries.  Our household consists of just my husband and myself.  Now, eating a healthy diet, our bill is somewhere around $600/month.  What are we supposed to do?  We are trying to cut corners, get rid of the frivolous, not the broccoli.  The first month that I switched to paleo, we spent a shocking $880 on groceries for two people!

A couple solutions for those of you out there trying to make eating healthy on a budget work:

Ebates-  I love this website.  Virtually all online shopping I do, I check on ebates for the company first and compare prices.  I just got $2 back on a sleeping bag I ordered.  I got $.75 on a bag of almond flour.  It's not much, but it adds up.  To date, I've gotten almost $30 back from this website.  

Grocery Saving Tips-  I just discovered this website.  The link I posted here takes you specifically to the produce section (I didn't think anyone reading this cared about how to save money when buying loaves of bread).

23 Ways to Save on Groceries- I think a little preparation and planning goes far when it comes to grocery shopping.  Go with a list.  Go with a menu.  Stick to it.  Discipline.  Wax on Wax off Danielson.  

I would LOVE suggestions for how you make healthy eating affordable, because I desperately need them.  I know how messed up our society is that it is actually cheaper to eat processed food.  I live in Colorado and starting a garden or building a greenhouse is out of the question come September where I live.  Next summer.  :)  I need a solution for now.

Sweet Honey Lemon Dressing

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this bomb salad dressing (that's right, I said bomb). I think I am having withdrawals from teenagers because I am starting to speak like them to fill the void in my heart. :) I don't miss them enough to give up my summer.

We ate this dressing on a salad with some grilled salmon and it was absolutely delicious!

Sweet Honey Lemon Dressing
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 tsp. dill weed
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. basil
1-2 Tbsp. honey

Shake it like a polaroid picture. Shake it like a salt shaker. You get the idea: shake the ingredients together. Pour on top of salad. Lick your salad bowl clean. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cucumber Thai Salad

Note:  While this is referred to as a salad, it is not lettuce based and makes a great main course!

My brother and sister-in-law are great cooks.  They lived abroad in Australia for a few years and while they were there, they discovered some amazing recipes.  This recipe is one that my brother makes that I turned paleo.  It is traditionally served over rice noodles and with bean sprouts, so it has been adapted.  It is important to note the high sodium content in the meal.  I have severely cut back on soy sauce and fish sauce, but still, the salt is there for sure.  I would love and greatly welcome comments to make this dish with less sodium.  This is great for summer.  We sat on the porch and inhaled this.  Delightful!

Cucumber Thai Salad
2 lbs. sirloin, strip-loin, or tenderloin steak
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (1 T. for marinade, 1 T. for dressing)
5 Tbsp. lime juice (2 T. for marinade, 3 T. for dressing)
3 Lebanese cucumbers (I used English b/c I couldn't find Lebanese), sliced
6 green onions
5 oz. water chestnuts, sliced
1 c. loosely packed mint, finely chopped
9 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. loosely packed coriander leaves (I had difficulty finding this, so I used 1 tsp. dried spice in the dressing. Turns out I am just a moron. See comments.)
1/4 c. sweet chili sauce (for dressing)
1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce (for dressing)
3 large garlic cloves, minced (for dressing)
1 finely chopped chili or jalapeno (for dressing)

1.  Combine beef with 1 T. fish sauce and 2 T. lime juice in tupperware container.  Marinate in the fridge.  If you need more liquid to cover the meat, add a 1/4 c. water to the mixture.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2.  Drain beef; discard liquid.  Cook beef until browned on each side (we grilled ours).  Slice thinly.
3.  Make dressing.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, including sauce and meat.  Toss and serve.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Paleo Challenge #2: Grandma's Peach Cobbler

After reading Elana's post about peach crisp this week, I was inspired to make my maternal grandmother's peach cobbler.  I don't know if I do the original recipe justice in my description, but there are few things more beautiful on this earth than a scoop of her peach cobbler and a big scoop of ice cream.  I was incredibly nervous about this recipe.  What if my mother disowns me because I ruined Grandma's peach cobbler?  Well good news, Mom, I didn't.  :)  I wouldn't say it's the same, but I would say it's damn good.  So here's my second paleo challenge:

Grandma's Peach Cobbler
3 c. fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp agave
3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Make all ingredients together in a casserole dish.  Top with shortcake:

1 c. almond flour
a pinch of salt
1/4 c. canola oil
2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. agave

Mix together the shortcake ingredients in a small bowl using a pastry blender.  Mix until the entire mixture is moist.  Plop on top of the fruit in the bowl and press the dough flat across the top of the fruit mixture.  Dough should make a crust across the top of the cobbler.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it turns golden brown.  Serve with coconut ice cream.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ahhhh! Mazing Salad

Seen here with chicken and raspberry vinaigrette dressing

With the heat of summer, it is so nice to have a lovely little salad.  There is nothing cooler and more refreshing (well maybe a margarita).  This was so simple to make and absolutely delectable.

Granny's Apple Grape Salad
1/4 Granny Smith apple, diced
1/4 c. red grapes, sliced
1 Tbsp. walnuts, ground up
2 tsp. diced green onion
salad greens

Place all ingredients in with greens.  We served ours with grilled chicken as well.  The chicken was simply spiced with freshly ground pepper.

Radical Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1/4 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend away!   Serve on top of salad.  Recipes yield 2 large salads.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tree Hugger

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

-John Muir-

I have recently been working my way through Ken Burns' The National Parks: America's Best Idea. After watching the first two episodes I have an almost schoolgirl crush on John Muir.  
John Muir- I'm sure you can see why I'm smitten.  :)

Jesting aside.  I'm in awe of his philosophies on nature, spirituality, and preservation.  If you are like I was three years ago, you may have never heard of Muir.  John Muir is largely responsible for preserving many of America's National Parks.  In particular, he was extremely fond of the Yosemite Valley in California, where he lived and worked for many years.  He believed that he could find spirituality within the nature surrounding him.  I think no matter what your creed, there is great wisdom in this.  I grew up not far from Rocky Mountain National Park and being a Colorado native, I've spent countless hours of my life in the woods.  This isn't a blog about my religious beliefs, but rather getting out into the woods, or the desert, or the lakes, rivers, streams- anything.  Go out to your sidewalk and stare at the tree.  Or, be like Muir and go out and have a conversation with the tree.     

Since adopting a more primal diet, I can't help but apply some of his natural philosophies to all parts of life.  “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools”.  

Similarly, hasn't God cared for man through drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods?  Can he save man from fools?  Man in fools.  Fools who use chemicals rather than spices.  Fools who put in unnecessary sweeteners and salts.  Fools who play video games till their death.  Fools that remain stagnant.  Fools that only eat "food".  

Why not go natural?  Be like the trees.  Live.  Be content.  Be strong.  Like John Muir, find your Yosemite.  

"There must be a place for human beings to rest their souls.  Food and drink is not enough." -John Muir

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Did you say awesome fajita salad?

Yes.  Yes, I did.  Here's a pretty amazing meal.

For starters:

Paleo Homemade Chips
The inspiration for this recipe came from here.  Here's our spin on it:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixer, combine:
2 c. almond flour
2 egg whites
1 tsp: onion powder, garlic powder
1/2 tsp:  sea salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika

Next, get out two sheets of parchment paper (we used tin foil sprayed with cooking oil because we don't have parchment paper).  Place the dough between the two sheets.  Roll the dough with a rolling pin into an extremely thin consistency (remember, you are making tortilla chips).  Cut into chip-size pieces using a pizza cutter.  Place in preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Barb's Ribbon-Winning Salsa Fresca
That's right folks.  My mom won a ribbon at our county fair several years ago for her salsa.  Who knew that in the 21st century you could still win a ribbon at the fair?  Sorry, Mom, but I'm posting your recipe to the world wide web.

4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 yellow or red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
a pinch of salt
a splash (roughly 1-2 Tbsp. lime juice)
a handful (roughly 3 Tbsp.) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, finely diced

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  This tastes the best the longer the ingredients have to marinate together.  I suggest preparing about 20 minutes minimum before you wish to serve.

Steak Fajita Salad
Make paleo guacamole
3 ribeye steaks, marinated (see recipe below)
Leftover Salsa Fresca (recipe above)
4 bell peppers, sliced & pan fried in oil (see instructions below)
1 red onion, sliced & pan fried in oil (see instructions below)
1 green onion, chopped
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 head lettuce, chopped

Add all ingredients to lettuce.  Wonderful!  I served mine as a salad bar.  This EASILY fed 4, and I have plenty of leftovers!  We also crumbled up some of the chips and placed in the salad.

Lovely Fajita Marinade (for steak or chicken) (recipe title sung to the tune of The Beatles "Lovely Rita Meter Maid")
Place meat in tupperware or ziploc bag.  Place ingredients in bag/tupperware.

1 Tbsp. agave
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. water
2-3 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
a pinch of salt

Allow to marinate around 4 hours if possible.  Grill or broil meat and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Fajita Veggies
Heat roughly 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over med-high heat.  Flick water onto the oil.  Once the oil simmers from the water, it is ready.  Add veggies (bell peppers and onion).  Generously coat in freshly ground pepper, a pinch of salt, and any additional spices you may want.  Cook until vegetables are cooked to the consistency you prefer.  Add to salad.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Awkward Moments

I have to post about a recent situation with my good friend Megan.  We were recently in Vail, Colorado for a mountain bike race.  Upon checking into the hotel, Meg had one of the most awkward exchanges with a stranger I've ever seen.  Both of their responses (in my opinion) are hilarious.

Meg:  Do you have any place you recommend for lunch?
Concierge:  It depends.  What do you like to eat?
Meg:  Meat.  Fruit.  Vegetables.  Nuts.
Concierge:  There's a really good Italian place down the road...

I don't know what's funnier- the fact that when asked what she liked to eat, Meg gave an (honest, but weird) paleo answer OR the fact that the concierge thought Italian food was in anyway similar to what Megan gave him.  I will say that the Italian place down the road, did not exactly fit this description.  lol

Maybe next time, Meg, you should just say 'healthy stuff' or 'salads'.  :)  Although, I am a fan of meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts.  It may be tricky to find a paleo Italian restaurant anywhere, especially Vail.

Off the Wagon

Well this weekend, my husband and I decided that we would throw paleo out the door and eat whatever was provided for us.  So our weekend in the mountains looked a bit like this:

ate, ate, ate, drank, ate, ate, ate, played with nephews, ate, ate, ran, ate, drank, drank, ate, and so on

Needless to say, we both feel like crap and I have a sneaky suspicion that I gained several pounds over the 4th of July weekend.  No matter how tempting the homemade cookies, delicious beer, caramel corn, or the strawberry shortcake was; I am not sure if it was worth it.  I feel like I am starting over back at square one again.  I guess, in a way, I am.  Who knew that just five days of falling off the wagon would make trying to get back on so difficult?

So, here's our plan:  One week.  Strict, pure paleo.  No cheats.  No "these are sorta allowed" foods.  No artificial sweeteners.  No caffeine.  Nothing.  Lean meat.  Fruit.  Vegetables.  Nuts.  Berries.  I suggest, others do the same.  Still haven't recovered from the corn on the cob or the bratwurst?  How about the potato salad?  Even if you were "good" on the 4th of July, I find myself slowly falling away sometimes.  I need a kick in the pants.  I need a reminder of how good it feels to eat right and WHY I like to eat right.

We had dinner with our friends last week.  The topic of cheating (on the diet, not on spouses) came up.  All four of us found ourselves cheating more and more.  Hardly a day has gone by last week where I didn't sneak in SOMETHING that lacked nutritional value.  It could be a cracker at the grocery store, or a slice of pizza when out with friends.  But the crap stops here.  Today.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Breast Milk; Best Milk

This past week I've had two good friends give birth.  My brother and sister-in-law also announced they were pregnant with their second baby.  Not being a parent myself, my husband and I often discuss if paleo/primal eating is healthy for a nursing mother or for children.  Check out this link to Mark's Daily Apple about breast feeding and the primal diet.  Very interesting!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gone on Vacation

Hey all!  I'm going away for the long weekend to celebrate the Holiday with family.  Be back sometime Wednesday...  Happy 4th!