Back At It!

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I’ve been super busy with all the joys in my life and frankly struggling with balance. It is the ‘off season’ with my marathon club so I’ve been trying out some new workouts and scaling back on the running a bit. I’m a huge creature of habit and while I’m enjoying the ride during this time I’m not in a groove yet. Turns out managing my family, keeping up with my fitness and cooking three squares a day is a lot of work! Adding the blog on top of that and well, let’s just say I may have run out of steam a little. Not to worry though, I haven’t forgotten about it yet!

I recently saw a you tube clip of a guy eating raw chorizo on Tosh.0. Yeah, it was pretty gross, I won’t even post the link because if you want to see something like that you can seek it out for yourself. It did get me thinking that chorizo may not be the best thing I could be eating. What exactly goes into chorizo anyway? The ingredient list on most chorizo packages is full of things I don’t normally eat. I don’t keep it in the house but it is a common menu option at many of the restaurants I frequent for breakfast and I do often indulge. Who doesn’t like a scramble with chorizo or a chorizo taco? Well, in Houston, TX it is a local favorite.
So I was shopping at my local Central Market grocery store and ta-da…they had a new product line, Mulay’s sausages. They even have a chorizo. The sausage is gluten-free, hormone and antibiotic free, nitrate free, soy, msg, dairy and sugar-free and free of any artificial colors and flavors. All varieties are made within these parameters although I have never tried the other flavors. I will soon though. So I guess you want to know what I made with it? Here it is!

Baked Eggs with Sweet Potato and Chorizo

(Can you tell I like baked eggs yet?)

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Ingredients
1 small sweet potato, shredded (I used the steel blade of my Cuisinart, 30 seconds tops)
1 green onion
2 ounces Mulay’s chorizo (more or less to your preference)
4 eggs
Salt to taste
Avocado and salsa for garnish

Method
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a pan to medium heat, brown chorizo and crumble into small pieces. Add the sweet potato and onion, cook until the potato is tender, season with salt to taste. Transfer the potato and chorizo mixture to two small ramekins (mine are 2 ounces I think, would work better in larger ones). Make two little ‘wells’ in the potato mixture and crack the two eggs on top, sprinkling a pinch of salt on the eggs. Place in the oven and bake until the whites are set on the eggs, approximately 10 minutes. Garnish with salsa, avocado or whatever you like! Diced tomato, fresh green onions or even a bit of cheese would be great!  Using the pretty ramekins, I feel, make this dish fun and even pretty enough for entertaining.

Loaded Spuds

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One of my all time favorite comfort foods is a loaded baked potato. Gosh, it’s been a long while since I had a baked russet potato with all those oooey gooey fixin’s on top. What a calorie bomb those things are, delicious nonetheless! I have found an equally satisfying alternative to those bloating spuds, loaded sweet potatoes. You could really top these with anything you want but my recent favorite is roasted broccoli with spring onion topped with my bolognese sauce that I batch cook and freeze. You can find the recipe for the bolognese here. I also have an easy way to prepare this for a quick weeknight meal.

First wash and prick with a fork your desired number of small sweet potatoes (I do three, the kids split one). Brush or smear grass-fed butter or lard all over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt. Place on a square of foil in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. This can be done ahead of time, simply cut open your potatoes when you are ready to eat and pop back in the oven when you roast your veggies to reheat. Then make the green part of your super spud…

Roared Broccoli with Garlic and Spring Onion

1 large head broccoli, florets cut apart
1 spring onion or scallion (whites mostly) sliced thin
1-2 cloves fresh garlic minced
2 T fat of choice (grass-fed lard or coconut oil will work best)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and heat a large skillet to medium heat with your fat. Add the broccoli and toss to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook broccoli on the stove top for 3-5 minutes, keep it moving so it doesn’t burn. Add in the garlic and onion and toss with broccoli for 1-2 minutes then transfer to the oven for about 10 minutes until broccoli is fork tender. This makes a great side dish to any meal.

While my broccoli is roasting I warm my bolognese in a sauce pan on the stove. When everything is hot and ready to go I layer the broccoli then the bolognese sauce on top over my opened sweet potato. This is so good I even eat the potato skins, talk about vitamin central! Yummy!!

Cabbage all day

I am really enjoying cabbage lately. Previously in my life cabbage was limited to coleslaw and maybe a few stray pieces of red cabbage in salad mix. Now I am enjoying it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cabbage has a variety of health benefits. Cabbage is at the top of the list of vegetables with high doses of cancer preventing antioxidants, it is high in fibre and vitamin C and is the lowest in calories of any vegetable. Also studies have shown that eating cabbage will help women build muscle by boosting their testosterone levels. These are just a few benefits of cabbage, for more info check out this link.

One of the things I like best about cabbage is it’s versatility. It is quick cooking and can hold up to a long slow braise. It can also be pickled, fermented or made into slaw. This week I made two similar preparations with cabbage, one for breakfast and one for dinner. My daughter loved the dinner recipe so much she asked for seconds! So I’ll share it with you.

1 head green cabbage
1/2 large yellow onion
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 sprig rosemary
2 lbs chicken thighs (I used boneless skinless because that what I had on hand, use whatever you like though)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pat thighs dry with paper towels and liberally season with salt and pepper. Heat a wide pan with a lid to medium high heat with your fat of choice and sear the chicken thighs on both sides then remove to a separate plate. Add the onion to the pan, sautéing until you see a little color on the onion then add the cabbage and herbs. Sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt and a few turns of fresh ground pepper. Sauté until cabbage begins to soften then add the thighs back in, burying them in the cabbage mixture. Pour the liquids from the chicken plate over the entire mixture. There should be a good bit of liquid forming in the pan from the chicken juices and water from the cabbage. Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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For the breakfast dish I browned some Shiner Farms pork sausage then added onion and cabbage sautéing until softened then I cracked 6 eggs on top and popped it into the oven until eggs were medium (about 5 minutes at 375). Play with it to get the eggs to your liking. I’ve got a great cole slaw recipe too which will come later. Stay tuned!!

Spring Has Sprung

I think we have it pretty good here in Houston, Texas as far as weather goes.  For me I love being outside.  I prefer to exercise out doors and when I am indoors exercising its usually in an artificially heated and humidified room.  This winter, it seems, that we here in Htown had a harsher than usual winter though.  I know, all you who live as far north as Dallas and above are laughing at me wanting to bombard me with comments about how you had to hike 20 miles to school, in 5 feet of snow, barefoot–but I have grown up on the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast and prefer heat and humidity to anything below 50 degrees.  This long cold winter which I will now refer to for the rest of my life as “The Winter of 2014” has had me in a funk!  Fortunately, I live in Houston and all that is behind me before the end of February (I hope).

This past weekend was full of sunshine and balmy temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees and some pretty high humidity which my skin is loving.  I wasted no time getting the grill fired up.  Now I do not have a fancy grille set up.  In fact, its pretty mediocre, consisting of a $20 charcoal grill and a chimney starter for the briquettes.  I WANT a fancy grill set up but because I live in a condominium there is no personal space for such a thing and everyone keeps their grill by the old worn out pool nobody but me and the kids use.  I actually think I’m the only one using my grill too.  I am fortunate enough that nobody has complained about me comandeering the only table by the pool with chairs as my grilling table.  Hehehe!

I picked up some lovely grass-fed pork spare ribs and some free range ground turkey last week.  With the turkey, I made BBQ turkey burgers glazed with Tessemae’s BBQ sauce, served those with mixed greens, avocado and grilled sweet potato fries.  The ribs I also used the BBQ sauce on but started them in my oven. This is a trick I have to use because my grill is too small to slow smoke anything.  I wrapped the ribs in foil after rubbing them with my special blend of spices and slow baked them for 3.5 hours at 275 degrees.  After about 3 hours I prepared a small fire in the pit, just enough for a sparse layer of coals on the bottom of the grill (half way up in the chimney starter).  When the coals were fully ashed over I spread them and covered the grill so as to lower the heat by limiting the oxygen to the firey coals.  I do this because I don’t want to grill my ribs but want to hit them with smoke for about a half hour to give them that real BBQ flavor.  I brushed the already tender ribs with my sugar free paleo BBQ sauce from Tessemae’s and placed them on the grill, poured the juices from the foil around those coals to further create smoke and lower the heat, then covered them.  I turned and lightly basted the ribs about 3 more times to ensure they weren’t getting to charred.   These ribs came out perfect.  Not a true BBQ rack of ribs (no smoke ring) but delicious all the same and it was super easy. I also used Tessemae’s Southwest Ranch as a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries and salad dressing for a roasted brocoli and sweet poatato salad. This stuff is my new ‘crack’, its got all the flavors of the Hidden Valley stuff I used to devour but it’s healthy. I don’t know how they do that! NO I’m not getting anything from Tessemae’s but I wouldnt turn it down if they offered!
bbq pics

Here’s the recipe for the rub.

2 T ground Cumin

2 T chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 T kosher salt

1/2 T fresh ground black pepper.

Mix the ingredients together and sprinkle the ribs front and back.  Remember to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.  This makes enough for 2 racks of ribs. You can reserve the remainder for the next BBQ project you have. It’s good on chicken or pork.

Starting over

I need to start over…again. I started this blog as a way to keep myself accountable and share tips and tricks that I use to stay on track. I love the way I feel when I eating clean but the sugar monster is always there lurking, waiting for me to waver. Yesterday I ate pancakes. Perfect blueberry pancakes with crispy edges and drippy, sticky syrup. Real food porn. They were delicious and I’d like to say I don’t regret it but I do. I’m off the wagon and I need to tell on myself after struggling with the decision to omit my weakness and go on like nothing happened. Honestly this has been creeping up, I guess, since the Valentines day box of gourmet chocolate that I justified because it was a holiday. I thought, it’s ok, they are artisan, locally made chocolates that my honey got me as a gift. Right? Wrong! Really, if I’m having to “justify” my food choices I’m probably doing something wrong just as in any area of my life. I believe it triggered my sugar addiction in a big way. Now I’m going to go back to writing the blog only when I really have something worthy to share and not just pics of every morsel of food I eat. I’m feeling uninspired and frustrated. This isn’t going to be the ‘perfect’ Paleo blog because I will never be perfect and I’d hate to be fake. The end.

Frittata!

I’d have to say my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I have eggs for breakfast every day which can get boring. I like to get creative and think outside the box. One meal I love to whip up is a frittata, usually when I need to clean out my fridge. Yesterday was market day and I needed to make room for that afternoon’s bounty. I had a couple broccoli crowns, some starting to wilt purple and yellow carrots and a leftover chicken breast–all perfect for a frittata. In the steamer basket went the carrots and broccoli. I sautéed chopped spring onion, threw in my al dente steamed veggies and chopped up chicken breast. Once everything had warmed through I poured 6 whisked eggs over the top evenly distributing it in the pan. I let this set until the eggs start to cook at the edges then place the entire pan in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, enough time to take a shower or dress your children. This is super easy and delicious no matter what you put in it. Get creative! I’ve used leftover steak, pulled pork, sausage, etc. Don’t forget to season your eggs with salt and pepper because they are holding everything else together.

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The rest of my meals…

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Baked sweet potato with pan roasted broccoli and green onion topped with bolognese. This was delicious and we will probably be eating it for dinner tomorrow since I still have bolognese I thawed out.

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Dinner-brussel sprouts and golden beets roasted with Oaks of Mamre turkey wings. Oaks of Mamre slaughtered their winter turkeys recently and I snatched up all I could. The wings were $4 per pound. The woman selling them suggested I use the slow cooker but I thought I’d roast them. They were a bit tough; I should have listened to her. I’ll make some Paleo mayo for the leftovers and have turkey salad.

Mixing it up

Yesterday I took a day of from the blog. I didn’t feel all that well and I suspect it had something to do with my food choices the evening before. Weekends at our house are non-stop family time and that’s when we tend to eat dinner out. By Sunday evening I’ve given in to the temptation and chosen a yummy restaurant to patron. El Tiempo on Washington avenue was my choice this particular evening and even though I chose my meal within Paleo parameters I didn’t quiz the waiter about the marinade or cooking oils used in the preparation. Sometimes it’s just about enjoyment but there’s a big lesson here. I woke up the next day with a throbbing headache. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Either way, here’s what I ate Sunday.

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Breakfast-sweet potato hash, two free range eggs, Shiner Farms sausage, kale salad, with black coffee and half a ruby red grapefruit.

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Post yoga lunch-Hanna banana smoothie from Big and Juicy (vegan, raw, paleo) and three raw carob mint NRG balls.

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Dinner- Carne Asada from El Tiempo and sautéed mixed vegetables. First of all, this was delicious. Sencond, it was swimming in soy sauce. I haven’t had soy sauce in a really long time. I also had a handful of tortilla chips. Maybe I’ll remember the headache the next time I want to eat this, maybe not.

Monday’s meals started with coffee with coconut milk and the rest of my carob mint balls. My head hurt to bad to make a proper breakfast.

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Lunch- hard boiled free range eggs, steamed broccoli, avocado and spicy salsa.

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Dinner-Italian herb marinated chicken breast with butternut squash purée and spring mix dressed with EVOO and balsamic vinegar.

Kale-ing it up

Honestly kale isn’t the most palatable of vegetables. It does have amazing health benefits though. Here’s why you should be eating kale on a regular basis. Now that you know that not eating kale is almost equal to a death sentence I’ll admit I don’t really love it. Even still, I have found a few ways to include it in my diet that I have learned to love. Kale works well in soups or in a meat loaf. The key is to chop it very small. I do have a great salad I invented as well–even my husband likes it. I created the recipe as a healthier choice to a popular salad on the Whole Foods salad bar. A friend of mine wanted something without the added refined sugar that was in that one and asked me if I could recreate it. Well, of course I could. Here it is.

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ingredients:

1 bunch curly kale
1 Meyer lemon
1/2 C toasted walnuts
5 un-sulfured pitted dried giant or Turkish apricots

dressing:
1/4 C raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T local raw honey
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

method:

Remove kale leaves from ribs by running fingers down the stem. It’s pretty easy to do it this way. Wash and dry the leaves and chop very thouroughly. You should do this in batches. Using a potato peeler remove the skin from the Meyer lemon and chiffonade (cut into thin strips). Toast your walnuts in a dry skillet on the stove top over medium heat, careful not to burn, and chop. Chop your apricots small and place all ingredients in a large bowl.
Place all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Pour dressing over kale mixture and toss to coat. Pack the salad into a slightly too small container and let sit refrigerated for 8 hours before serving. This salad will last 5 days in the refrigerator. The ‘sweet spot’ is 3 days.

I started my day yesterday at 4am with a cup of black coffee, two hard boiled eggs and a cup of home made chicken stock in preparation for a 13 mile run. I was out of bananas or I would have eaten one of those too. While running I had a package of lemon flavored GU chomps and one strawberry banana GU Rocktane. Fuel!!

Here’s what I ate the rest of the day.

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Post run breakfast- sweet potato hash, two free range eggs, Shiner Farms pork sausage, kale salad and coffee with coconut milk.

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Lunch-finished off the Mexican shredded chicken.

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Dinner-Citrus Pork Carnitas from Well Fed II over cauliflower rice with avacado, spicy salsa and a side of kale salad. I liked the carnitas and will make it again but I’ll sub in some ingredients to make it less sour. I’m thinking grapefruit juice instead of lemon. I won’t share the recipe because it’s not public domain. Buy the book.

I’m Calling it a Win!

So yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I always have the best of intentions to how I plan to eat. I rarely plan a cheat, except when I’m on vacation and just want to enjoy my time and taste all the flavors of the community I’m visiting. Even then I’m not planning a big ole cheat meal; it just happens that way. So I started Valentine’s Day with a special treat of one chocolate covered strawberry with breakfast which was my intended ‘cheat’ for the day. The rest of the day went great and I got in a couple great workouts with friends and even got some sunshine on my winter sun starved skin. I ate light in anticipation of my steak dinner with my family later. We had a 5:15pm reservation and in past years we are usually in and out at this particular restaurant before the Valentines day rush hits. Unfortunately I hadn’t taken into consideration that it was Friday and in the past it had been mid week. So I ordered the dry aged, Prime, NY Strip steak with the truffle poached lobster and caviar accompaniment. Well…my dinner came just as the kids were done eating (30 minutes after we ordered), no lobster, no caviar, cooked to medium well instead of medium rare. There was no time to get another steak because the kids were getting restless. They did send out a tiny two bite morsel of lobster which I ate with the steakhouse-sized side of steamed asparagus. I was starved an hour later. I had a box of artisan chocolates courtesy of my wonderful husband. I will not disclose how many of them I ate, but they are tiny and me and my husband shared them. My rules and I’m calling my day of eating a success. I did not overeat and hey…I had to carb load for my peak run today for The Woodlands Half Marathon in two weeks, so the chocolates are an approved necessity.

Here’s the rest of my food.

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Two free range eggs and Shiner Farms pork sausage and a chocolate covered strawberry!

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Post workout early ‘lunch’- leftover Mexican shredded chicken with avocado and spicy salsa.

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Smoothie from Big and Juicy Juice Bar inside Big Yoga, post 75 minute heated power flow. Vegan, raw, paleo, etc.

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Artisan chocolate assortment from Araya. I highly recommend them.

Upgrade Your Bun-less Burger

I had a fabulous dinner yesterday. I also made it from leftovers. I’m a big believer in not wasting food. There are people going hungry everywhere and I spend a lot of money on good quality foods and hate to waste money. So earlier in the week I made a pot roast with roasted root vegetables, golden beets, turnips and sweet potatoes. When I was putting away my leftovers from my pot roast I strained the cooking liquids into a Pyrex container. Those juices are full of joint healing gelatin and muscle recovering amino acids. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I know I can always freeze it and use it for the next pot roast if nothing else. Anyway, I had some ground beef, those leftover juices and those leftover vegetables. What’s a girl to do? I whipped up the root vegetables in the food processor–instant fast side dish. I love a good red wine glaze so into a saucier went my beef jus and about a quarter cup of red wine. I let those reduce down to a syrupy consistency; it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This is a rich beautiful sauce, suitable for your favorite steak, short rib or back on that pot roast. I then pan seared my burger patties and cooked them to my desired doneness (medium). Plating is key here. Put your whipped veg down, top with your burger and drizzle the sauce over the burger and veg. I opted to garnish it with some spring onions I picked up at the farmers market earlier in the week.

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I served the meal with my already infamous kale salad. I’ll post the recipe for that tomorrow.

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Here’s everything I ate yesterday.

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Breakfast scramble with free range eggs, chicken, spinach and tomato at a new restaurant near me, Dish Society. They focus on local sustainable ingredients. This is a restaurant I can get behind.

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Lunch- leftover Mexican shredded chicken with spicy salsa.

You already saw my dinner.

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Movie snack-raisins and shelled pistachios. I watched Master with the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Great movie and a great talent.