Holiday Heavyweight & Thoughts on the New Year

I admit I was a little nervous going into this holiday season.  I’m a sucker for my mom’s Christmas cookies and was curious how my self-control would fare with all of the treats, snacks, appetizers, and homemade food that would be placed before me.  For my fitness challenge group that I’m a part of, we weigh ourselves and measure ourselves every 2 weeks.  We had a weigh in before Thanksgiving, a little after Thanksgiving, then right after Christmas.  I’m not one to obsess over the scale, but I was curious. 1 pound. I gained 1 pound…and a half of an inch in my thigh.  Everything else stayed the same.  I guess my emotions were surprised and happy.

A few thoughts on this…
I realize that after 1 year of Paleo, it has become the way that I eat.  I am amazed at the things that I resisted over Christmas.  For instance, I chose to eat a HUGE salad instead of a hot delicious cheese and pepperoni pizza.  I tried to get full with good stuff so I wouldn’t be tempted with the bad stuff.  Actually, the Christmas goodies didn’t really appeal to me at all.  I saw gut rot on that plate instead of sugar and cinnamon and chocolate chip tasty goodness.  I would rather have fruit.  Crazy.  I did bring a few things with me while traveling.  I made sure to pack some easy paleo snacks for my road trip home.  This kept me from getting hungry which could result in pigging out on whatever the stab n grab convenience store had in the warmer. I also took along a few Paleo staples from home.  Almond flour, almond milk, sweet potato chips.  I didn’t want to be thatgirl.  “Sorry, I can’t eat that” or “Is that Paleo?”  I knew it would be a time for a few treats, but also didn’t want to set myself up for failure.  Another thing that I did was take along some workout DVDs. The nearest CrossFit box to my hometown is about an hour and a half away.  I chose to stay home and do a few “Hotel WODs” as well as some T25 (workouts by the creater of Insanity). 

I guess the main theme during Christmas and Thanksgiving was self-preservation and setting myself up for success.  Strategy played a HUGE part in this.  I know what my weaknesses are.  I also knew that I couldn’t stay 100% Paleo.  I picked out a few favorite meals/treats and planned for them.  Everything else was off limits. 

With all of this in mind, I look toward 2014.  I’m not one to make resolutions…never have been.  I choose to set goals and make lifestyle changes throughout the year, not just January 1.  Although, I suppose now is a good time to evualuate how I’m doing at reaching my goals.  This past year, I have reached about half of my CrossFit goals.  That’s ok, they will be moved to the 2014 goal list.  This year, through my eating and dedication to the gym, I have become stronger, faster, leaner, more toned, and I have more days without pain than days with the pain.  I feel good.  I plan on staying on this track.   Also, I have more sick days in my sick day bank at work.  My immune system is healthy.  I don’t get the bronchitis/laryngitis/influenza bouts that I have had in the past.  In fact, in 2013, I haven’t been sick once from an actual illness other than food poisoning (that chicken was just a day or 2 too old.  oops.). I call that a success. 

I hear various versions of “I could never eat the way you do….I like my (insert your choice of sugar/starch/grain here) too much.  I could never give it up.  You must have a lot of self-control” ALL.THE.TIME. I eat the way that I do so that I can feel good.  It’s not easy by any means and I’m tempted constantly.  I have self-control because I MAKE myself have self-control.  The long-term reward of resisting those treats outweighs by far the immediate reward of eating those treats. 

The other day, I heard “Oh, Paleo is just a fad.”  To that I say, clean eating is not a fad.  I think we’re onto something here.  Now if the rest of the world would just hop aboard the train to cleanfoodville, we’d be set.

Happy Eating and a Happy New Year!  Cheers to 2014

Lindsay

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Tis the season for squash.  So many options.  I love it!  While perusing through the Delicously Organic site, I happened upon this recipe. I was drawn in by the picture, intrigued by the ingredients. Here’s the info.

Ingredients
Squash
2 acorn squash, cut in half pole-to-pole, seeds removed
1 tablespoons ghee, melted (click here for an easy homemade recipe)
1 tablespoon honey
Celtic sea salt

Filling

4 tablespoons ghee
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups “riced” cauliflower*
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup pecans
1/4 cup plumped raisins**
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Adjust rack to middle position.
2. Place squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet.
3. Combine ghee and honey then brush the squash with the mixture using a pastry brush.
4. Season with sea salt.
5. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons ghee in a large sauté pan and swirl to coat.
7. Add onion and celery then cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until soft.
8. Stir in cauliflower and cook for 3-4 minutes until hot.
9. Stir in thyme, pecans, raisins, sea salt and pepper.
10. Spoon filling into acorn squash and roast for 20 minutes. Serve.

 

*To rice cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces and place half of the pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 12-15 times until cauliflower is the size of rice. Repeat. As an alternative, you can grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater or chop finely with a large chef’s knife.

 

**To plump raisins: Place raisins and 1/4 cup juice (orange, apple, even kombucha works!) in a small saucepan. Bring to a low simmer. Turn off heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove raisins.

 A couple things.  I used butter instead of ghee.  I was at work, hungry, and afraid I would get called out while making it.  For time’s sake, I chose to use the regular grass-fed butter.  Also, I used apple juice to plump the raisins.  Good choice on my part.  Thirdly, I couldn’t find a grater at work, so I ended up finely chopping the cauliflower.  That worked just fine. 

I was thoroughly impressed with this dish.  I planned on having it as a side, but ended up actually eating it for dinner.  It’s filling and super tasty.  I couldn’t get enough!  It tastes like Thanksgiving stuffing.  The flavors are perfectly savory with just a subtle hint of sweet.  The crispy filling compliments the soft squash really well.  The flavors just layer perfectly.  This would be a great side for a family get-together or a warm the soul kind of dish for a cozy night at home. 

Happy eating!

Recipe HERE

Chia Seed Pudding

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Chia seeds.  Packed with a big nutritional punch in a tinylittleseed.  Chia seeds are interesting little buggers.  When dry, they look kind of like a poppy seed.  When moisture is added, it basically turns into a gelatinous orb. It has been debated that these seeds can help curb hunger.  I guess my take on it is that since the seed sort of expands, it helps you to feel more full. In addition to maybe curbing hunger, these seeds are pretty good for you.  Fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3.  All of that in these tinylittleseeds. 

I typically use Chia seeds when I make shakes and smoothies.  I’m always looking for other uses for these funky little seeds.  Recently, I came across this pudding recipe on the Deliciously Organic site.  Sounds pretty delicious.

Ingredients
1-1/2 Cups full fat coconut milk
4 Tbsp real maple syrup (or honey)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup fresh berries

Instructions
1. Whisk coconut milk, maple syrup, and extracts until smooth. 
2. Stir in chia seeds
3. Divide mixture evenly between 4 glasses.
4. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
5. Serve

Note: If you’d like to make the pudding ahead of time, cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator.  Set pudding out for 15 minutes before serving.  Best if eaten within 24 hours.

I found this recipe a couple of days ago, printed it off, and set it on my counter.  This morning, before work, I quick whipped up a batch to throw in my lunch bag.  I altered it just slightly due to time.  I had about a half a can of coconut milk and added almond milk to make the 1-1/2 cups. I was out of maple syrup so I used honey.  I didn’t have any almond extract so I left that stuff out as well.  I had my blender out, so I threw it all into the blender and gave it whirl.  Once mixed, I poured the pudding into mason jars and put them in my lunch bag for work. 

Around lunchtime (about 6 hours after making the pudding), I tried this stuff out.  I added fresh raspberries to make it pretty.  This stuff is pretty fantastic.  As my medic partner so eloquently put it, “It looks reptilian!”  The seeds do give it a funky look and texture, but that’s alright.  The flavor makes up for it.  It totally reminded me of tapioca pudding.  Subtly sweet, a hint of vanilla, and packed with healthy goodness. 

I WILL be making this again.  I foresee having this stuff on hand often to have as dessert.  Perfect.

Happy eating!

Recipe HERE. Also listed is a chocolate version. I plan to make that one next time. I have fond memories of warm tapioca pudding with chocolate chips.  Ahh, memories.

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Paleo Dinner Rolls

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A friend of mine posted this recipe to The Paleo Paramedic Facebook Page.  Paleo Dinner Rolls.  Not something that should be eaten with every meal, but for sure a side that could be enjoyed once in a while.  Sometimes one just needs a dinner roll and a little butter.

Ingredients
1 cup tapioca flour (starch) or Arrowroot flour
1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large egg, whisked

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the tapioca flour with the salt and 1/4 cup of the coconut flour in a medium bowl. Mix well.
3. Pour in oil and warm water and stir. Add the whisked egg and continue mixing until well combined.
4. If the mixture is too thin you should add one or two more tablespoons of coconut flour – one tablespoon at a time –  until the mixture is a soft but somewhat sticky dough.
5. Use a spatula or large spoon to scoop out about two tablespoons of the dough and roll into balls. You will be making about 10 rolls. Use extra tapioca flour in the palms of your hands so the dough does not stick.
6.  Place each roll of dough onto a greased baking pan, parchment paper or one covered with a baking mat.
7. Serve warm with grass-fed butter.

I chose to use tapioca flour.  Tapioca flour is one of those ingredients that the Paleo Police may ding you on.  I’ve heard people go back and forth about it.  Is it Paleo….is it not?  I chose to use it.  Up to you.  I had never baked with the tapioca flour before.  Interesting texture.  Very powdery.  That’s a word, right?

I wasn’t sure how these would turn out.  The raw dough tasted kind of funky, but this recipe came highly recommended, so I carried on.  Once out of the oven, I was surprised at how dense the rolls were.  When you tear them apart, they have that bready look, so that was a good sign.  I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor.  Pretty tasty actually.  The flavor was familiar, but I couldn’t place it until a few days later.  My mom makes homemade cream puffs.  These rolls reminded me of the pastry part of the cream puff.  Perfect with a little Kerrygold butter.  Actually a pretty great side when you just need a little bread but prefer a grain-free, dairy-free option.

Happy Eating!

Recipe HERE.

Maple Paleo Cornbread

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Question: What goes best with chili?  Answer: cornbread.  A friend of mine who made the Chicken Chili recipe, that I recently posted, commented that I needed to find a good cornbread recipe.  A couple weeks after that, I came across this recipe.  The site that posted it is called Paleo Porn.  Because of the name, I actually kind of felt a little dirty looking at it.  The food looks ridiculously delicious.  Paleo Porn is ok to look at on the work computer.  Guilt-free.


Maple Paleo Cornbread

Ingredients
2 cups blanched almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 organic eggs
1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
8 tablespoons grass-fed butter, melted

Instructions
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine almond flour, coconut four, baking soda and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add eggs, coconut milk and maple syrup to a small mixing bowl and combine well with a hand mixer.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix with a hand mixer until fully combined.
5. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the bowl while the mixer is going and mix until fully combined. The mixture will become smooth, rather than grainy, once the butter is fully mixed.
6. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 glass baking dish, smooth the top with the back of the spoon and transfer the dish to the oven.
7. Bake for 25 minutes at 350°F.
8. Increase the heat to 450°F and bake for 15 minutes, this will crisp up the top of the cornbread.
9. Reduce the heat back to 350°F and bake for final 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure inside is fully cooked. If not, keep cookin and test every 5 minutes.
10.  Remove from the oven, slice and serve.
11. Cover and store leftovers on the counter or in the refrigerator.
12. Enjoy! 🙂

Another one that makes the kitchen smell delightful.  When this guy comes out of the oven, you can’t help but slice out a little chunk.  Warm Paleo cornbread with a smear of Kerrygold butter….good for the soul.  This is fairly moist and quite a bit more dense than actual corn cornbread.  The flavor actually reminds me of the almond flour pound cake that you make for the Blueberry Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding recipe that I posted awhile ago. Not gonna lie, it doesn’t taste like the cornbread we all know and love.  The gritty corny cornbread…not so much.  BUT, this is definitely a perfect grain-free, dairy-free alternative to the actual thing.  I goes really quite well with chili.  And eggs.  And turkey.  And ham.  Really, most anything.

Happy eating!

Recipe HERE.

Caffeine-Free Day 3

Today marks Day 3 of my caffeine-free adventure.  Days 1 and 2 were miserable.  I had a bit of a headache towards the end of Day 1.  That was it for a headache.  I consider myself pretty lucky.  The worst part of days 1 and 2 was how fatigued I was.  All.day.long.  Woke up tired, went to bed tired. I really could never wake up.  Today, Day 3, I actually woke up refreshed.  I didn’t need to press the snooze button, I didn’t crave coffee, and I didn’t wake up groggy.  THIS is how it’s supposed to be.  I was in Oklahoma this past week visiting my dad.  On the drive there, I consumed 7 cups of coffee and an energy drink.  I was a little apprehensive about the drive home.  It went smashingly.  Figuratively, not literally.  A caffeine-free 7 hour road trip.  Kind of a miracle.  I felt awake the entire time, energy all day.  None of that caffeine crash that you get in the middle of the day.

While I miss my beloved caffeine, I’m happy to be off the sauce. Thankful that my quitting caffeine cold turkey has gone so well.  The first few days are the worst.  Anticipating smooth sailing from now on.

-TPP

Caffeine-Free Christmas

I love coffee.  Coffee ranks right up there with bacon. I just love coffee. Maybe a little too much.

Today is day 1 of no caffeine. It’s not a week long detox or a 30 day challenge. I’m just done. I took a few days off and thought now would be a good time to go through the withdrawls….at home instead of work.

On an average day, I drink at least 6 cups…up to 10 or 12.  Sometimes an energy drink or 2. Kind of a slight problem. I realized that something needed to change when I had to turn to energy drinks to wake up. 

Coffee tended to take the place of water. I would choose the energy over the hydration.  Bad. Just another reason to get off the sauce.

Coffee has tendency to curb one’s appetite. How about instead of filling my guts with drink, I fill them with food….nutrition. Reason 3.

A couple years ago, when I first tried Paleo, I quit coffee and all other caffeinated products.  I think I lasted maybe 4 or 5 months. The first couple few days I wanted to kill, but after that, I felt pretty great. I slept better, I actually had more energy, I felt better, my teeth were whiter (husband was quick to notice this one).

So here we are, another caffeine-free adventure. Cold turkey, done. I’m ok with that.

-your Caffeine-free Paleo Paramedic

Paleo Cinnamon Bun In a Mug

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It seems like at least once or twice a day I see a “mug cake” recipe.  The directions are simple: mix, microwave, eat.  The ingredients, well, while they may be simple, they aren’t clean in the least bit.  They vary from pudding mix to cake mix to sugar to regular flour.  When South Beach Primal posted this recipe on the Facebook, I knew I just had to try it.  A cleaner version to all of those mug recipes. Yeah, I’m down.

Ingredients
Cinnamon Bun
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash salt
Dash nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
2 tbsp almond milk (unsweetened)
1 ½ tbsp raw honey
½ tsp vanilla extract

Icing
1 tbsp coconut butter (THIS is the kind that I buy in the store)
1 tbsp almond milk (unsweetened)
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Instructions
1. Mix all of the cinnamon cake ingredients in a coffee mug, mixing in the baking powder last.
2. Microwave for 2 minutes.
3. Mix all of the icing ingredients in a small bowl, drizzling over the hot mug cake.
4. Inhale immediately

Ri-dic-u-lous-ly easy.  Cinnamon bun with icing…in a mug.  I’m sold.  This could be dangerous.  Delicious flavor.  The icing really adds a lot.  Flavor AND a little moisture.  One of the best parts is the clean up.  A lot of my friends who eat the mug cakes complain that the cake is a bugger to clean out of the mug once the cake is gone.  With this one, that’s not an issue in the least bit.  You could totally lick the mug clean.  Also, I’ve had a few people ask me what’s so special about coconut butter….and could one substitute regular butter for the coconut butter?  In my opinion, coconut butter is creamier. It also has just a hint of flavor.  To be honest, I don’t know how this recipe would turn out with regular butter.  If you make it, let me know. I just know how tasty it is with the coconut butter. I would guess that the flavor would not be as rich with the regular butter.

In short, this is a pretty fantastic single serving cinnamon bun.  Mix, microwave, masticate.  I HIGHLY recommend checking it out.
Happy Eating!

Recipe HERE. While you’re at it, take a gander around South Beach Primal’s webpage.  Tons of good stuff!

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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One of the dishes that I agreed to make for Thanksgiving Dinner at work was sweet potatoes.  Personally, I feel like T-Day dinner is salt salt salt salt salt.  I wanted to find a recipe that had a hint of sweet.  Sweet sweet potatoes it is.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients
4-6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk)
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
(Scale this recipe for the amount of people being served, I figured 1 sweet potato per person)

Instructions
1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes, and place in a large soup pot filled with water.
2. Bring water to boil, and boil sweet potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes.
3. Drain sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl, or kitchen aid mixer.
4. With kitchen aid mixer, or hand mixer, mash sweet potatoes on low to keep from getting lumpy and “glue-like”.
5. Continue to mash while adding coconut oil, almond milk, and maple syrup.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Simple.  Crazy simple.  A few changes.  I used heavy whip instead of almond milk.  Also, my hand mixer recently took a crap and the station that I was at did not have a hand mixer.  Blender it is.  May I recommend a hand mixer or Kitchenaid mixer…works a little slicker.  Lastly, I opted not to sprinkle with s&p.

These sweet potatoes are darn tasty.  The clan at the station loved them as well.  Perfectly and subtly sweet.  A great way to enjoy a guilt-free sweet potato dish.

Happy Eating!

Recipe HERE.

 

Thanksgiving Turkey Chili

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I worked a 12 hour shift Thanksgiving Day AND I had family coming into town Thanksgiving night.  I wanted to come up with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, but there was no way I could throw together the traditional turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes that I grew up having….all by 8 pm.  After quite a bit of thought, I decided to do kind of a fun, Paleo slow cooker twist on Thanksgiving dinner.

About a month ago, I posted a Chicken Chili recipe.  I thought perhaps turkey might be a good substitute for the chicken.  I roasted my very first turkey 2 days before T-Day.  The turkey actually turned out amazingly well.  The carving….well, it was more like butchering.  No matter.  Turkey is still delicious whether perfectly carved or in bit size ripped off hunks.

I followed the recipe fairly strictly…with a few adjustments.  I substituted turkey for chicken.  I don’t know exact weight, but it was a couple few pounds.  In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter.  Secondly, I saved the juices from the roasting pan.  Instead of making gravy with the juices, I used the turkey drippings in place of the chicken stock.  Third, I threw a handful of cranberries into the slow cooker for a little color, tartness, and holiday flare.

I let the chili cook for a solid 12 hours.  A bit long for my liking, but that’s ok.  It truly was the perfect meal for Thanksgiving Day after a 12 hour shift.  Everyone LOVED it. To keep with the Thanksgiving dinner theme, I served it with sweet potato chips, Maple Paleo Cornbread, and a delicious cranberry prosecco.  Grain-free, dairy-free Pumpkin Pie for dessert.

This is a perfect way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers.  A hearty chili on these cool autumn….almost winter…days.  Definitely a crowd pleaser.

I hope that you had a very merry Thanksgiving, full of blessings and delicious food.

Happy Eating!