Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day Fourteen: Beef May Hate Me, But Chicken is My Friend

Thank you for the tips about my beef crisis. Maybe one day next week I will be ready to let go of my grudge against cows and try my hand at it again.

Chicken has proven to be my strong suit, though. I scored a REALLY sweet deal (something to the tune of less than $3) on a whole chicken at the local grocery store this past weekend. It wasn't a huge chicken, but it was 5 pounds and that's more than enough for just two of us for a few meals. I had oven roasted birds before, but it has been quite a while so I wasn't expecting anything spectacular. Well, when I was considering how I might actually go about prepping the birdy, I came across a REALLY simple recipe on Pinterest. (See! I told you I can't live without it.)

So, I threw everything together (including a few sprigs of fresh rosemary from my garden that my dad so graciously planted for me. Thanks again, Daddy!), popped the chicken in the oven and went to enjoy my workout. Then in about an hour, the chicken and I were both done!

Again, I apologize for the poor picture quality. This is what happens when you cook while it's dark outside (i.e. there is no natural light to help improve the picture).

OH MY GOODNESS!!!! My mouth waters just thinking about the delectable bird. It was so good, I probably could have just sat at the stove and eaten the whole thing by myself. I would have been mighty sick afterwards, but it might have been worth it. In my humble opinion, it was better tasting than any of those rotisserie chickens you can by at the super stores. And it didn't have any preservatives or surprise ingredients! Yes, it took a little bit more effort, but honestly, it was maybe 10 minutes total hands-on time. To me, that is worth the peace of mind that I'm not pumping my body full of hidden crap.

I took some with me to work last night and ate it alongside my roasted vegetables (the ones roasted with the leathered beef) from the night before. Delicious combination, but the picture would have looked so much prettier with some greens on the side, as well.


     Leftover sirloin roast
     Baby carrots

     Roast chicken
     Roasted veggies

     Roasted pumpkin seeds
     Baby Carrots

As a side note, I started doing the Insanity workouts tonight. My plan is to alternate days between Insanity and the Supreme 90 Day workouts. (This is the plan for now. We'll see how it pans out!) But, anyhow, I may or may not have broken down in tears halfway through the first Insanity workout. No one is able to confirm or deny, so I cannot be held accountable for my emotions, but sheesh! Those workouts are killer! Phew!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day Thirteen: Beef Hates Me

Today's post is a short one because, well, frankly, I'm a bit irritated with beef! As a matter of fact, I have decided that beef and I are on a hiatus.Unless it is a simple grilled steak, I'm not making it!

Here's what happened. Keep in mind that for all of my married life, we have not really eaten beef unless at a restaurant or while visiting other carnivores because red meat just doesn't agree with my husband's GI system. No details necessary, just suffice it to say, for the 24 hours post-beef, you can certainly tell that the man has consumed red meat. Poor guy! Anyhow, I have been trying to beef up my calories (pun completely intended) and have found that adding red meat back into my diet has helped with the extra caloric intake and also has helped increase my iron consumption, too. So, I grabbed a 1.5 pound roast the other day and decided that I would make a modified version of pot roast. I had all of the ingredients on hand, just needed the meat. So, again, I went by the little stickers on the front of the meat that explain what the cut is best suited for. This one, a "beef sirloin, bottom round roast," said that it was suited for oven roasting and even contained a recipe! PERFECT! Or so I thought.

I followed the recipe instruction-by-instruction and cooked that puppy (well, it was a bovine, not a canine) up with some baby carrots, sliced onion, and chopped sweet potato. When the time was up, it smelled tasty and looked fabulous, but looks were deceiving. The vegetables were spot-on! The best roasted veggies I've had in a long time. The beef on the other hand... well, it was as if there was a big old chunk of leather on my plate. ARGH!!! Tasted fabulous. Impossible to masticate!

You will notice there is no picture today. I was so angry at that darn roast that I couldn't even bring myself to take a photograph of the thing.

Will someone please help me?!? I'm floundering around here with no guidance in the world of cow meat preparation. Chicken, fish, pork... I've got that stuff down and I'm willing to trade tips and tricks with anyone who is willing to help me out with this darn red meat!

Beef! You stink!


     Dried ol' shoe leather
     Roasted carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes

     The last of the chicken fajitas

     Raw almonds
     Apple and cashew butter

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day Twelve: Pinterest Enhances My Paleo Journey

Do you remember life before the internet revolution? Remember when you had to consult the Encyclopedia Brittanica instead of Google? Remember when you actually called or wrote to find out  what was going on in friends' lives instead of stalking them on Facebook? How about actually holding a physical book with pages instead of flipping thru the virtual pages of your Nook, Kindle, or other e-book type device? Oh, or back when people wrote in real, hard-bound journals rather than blogging?!
I know, it feels like that was f-o-r-e-v-e-r ago. I, honestly, think that I wouldn't notice much of a difference in my life if I couldn't access Facebook ever again. Yes, I'd miss "keeping up" with my friends, but I could revert back to letter writing and phone calls, if necessary. I would not be any less of a person if I never wrote another blog entry and the world would certainly not miss my half-hearted attempts at wit. I prefer to read REAL books over the computerized ones. Don't get me wrong, I read magazines and books on my iPad, but I prefer the feel of turning physical pages and the smell of ink on paper that one can only embrace when reading a book. Could I live without Google? Yes. Would life be more "difficult?" Possibly. Would more time be consumed? For sure. But, I have the skill of consulting a librarian, periodical indexes, and card catalogs, so I'm confident that I could do it. But, could I live without Pinterest? Let's not even think about that one, okay?

In the event that someone in the world has no idea what Pinterest is, it's essentially a virtual pin board or favorites list. If you find something in the vast expanse of the internet that you want to hold on to for later, for whatever reason (recipe you'd like to try, color scheme for painting your bathroom, ideas for your wedding in 26 years, etc.), you "pin" it and the site holds those "pins" in your account and makes them available for your friends to see, as well. It's a lot of sharing the same pins over and over, though. I seriously think I have seen the post for the Jolly Rancher lollipops 1,000 times. And if you want to know how to make your hair wavy only by using a flat iron, I'm confident that almost every girl ages 17-24 has posted this one to their account. Well, I jumped on the bandwagon for one of these "most popular" posts and found it to be completely worth all of the re-pins that show up on my home page. You might be familiar with the post, if you are on Pinterest. It boasts that it is "the best shrimp you'll ever taste!" The one that I pinned doesn't even go to a real blog or anything. It's simply a picture with the recipe in the caption of the pin. Four simple ingredients: butter, lemon, shrimp, and italian dressing dry mix. The instructions read, "Melt a stick of butter in the pan. Slice one lemon and layer it on top of the butter. Put down fresh shrimp, then sprinkle one pack of dried italian seasoning. Put in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 min."  Here is the picture from Pinterest:

Before I started on my Whole30, I made them just as the "recipe"/caption says. They actually were really great! I don't know that they are the "best shrimp" I've ever eaten, but they were good enough to make again. Only thing is, I'm doing the Whole30 now and butter is not allowed (unless it's clarified butter or ghee, neither of which I have time to mess with right now). So, I made them with coconut oil instead. AND I made my own no-sugar added Italian Dressing Mix using a recipe I found here (I simply omitted the sugar and significantly decreased the amount of salt). Know what?! I think I liked 'em even better with the coconut oil/homemade dressing mix. Oh, and by the way, I used peeled shrimp for this recipe. The ones in the picture clearly still have the shell intact.

I ate mine on top of bagged salad from the grocery store, but I served the hubby his on a bed of buttered egg noodles. Gosh! His looked sooooo tasty! I REALLY wanted those noodles. But, I was good! I stuck with my salad and enjoyed it.

If you eat seafood, specifically shrimp (I know, they're the cockroaches of the sea. But, we like them. And we don't eat them every day!), then I would recommend you try these with your fat of choice (butter, coconut oil, lard, etc.). And if you'd like to decrease the sodium and sugar in your dressing mix, try the homemade recipe and use 1 1/2 tablespoons of the dry mix to sprinkle over your shrimp before baking. They're too easy to pass up!


     Eggs with spinach
     Roasted pumpkin seeds

     I missed lunch. There was too much going on at that time. I need to get better at being more purposeful in eating at least 3 meals a day.

     Steamed asparagus

     Gala apple with cashew butter

Monday, June 18, 2012

Days Ten & Eleven: Grilling Goodness

So, I'm just guessing here, but I think it is reasonable to believe that cavewomen didn't have grills. They cooked over the open flame of their fire or simply ate things raw. I kind of picture a family of cavepeople sitting around their fire holding long sticks that hover over the licking flames. Cavedaddy is holding the stick that pierces the leg of antelope from the day's hunting expedition, Cavemomma holds the one with the zucchini that she found behind the cave, Cavebrother is roasting the small onions they managed to forage earlier in the day, and Cavesister holds the dessert stick, roasting peaches that she picked while climbing through the trees that afternoon. It actually sounds like wonderful family bonding time and I bet their food was delicious (in my opinion, there are few foods in life that don't taste better by cooking them over a campfire), but modern cavepeople don't have time to cook their meals over a fire every day and I'm not about to eat all of my foods raw (no offense to those who enjoy their raw diets). Thankfully, we have a grill! I LOVE grilled foods! YUM!

Our grill has made my Whole30 so much more enjoyable, too. I am loving that every day I have the joy of partaking in some kind of grilled goodness. We have enjoyed many delicious foods on our grill lately. Chicken, swordfish, steaks, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus... the list goes on. This weekend, we had one of my favorite combinations thus far: steak and asparagus. I was thinking that some grilled potatoes would have gone great, but there are no white potatoes in the Whole30, so I had left over cauliflower rice and my non-Whole30 husband enjoyed a baked potato. I'm fairly certain that there is no campfire that could have produced a dinner this scrumptious!

The day before our steak extravaganza, I made chicken fajitas. Normally, I would eat them covered with a layer of shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. Well, I am not eating dairy or grains, so all of those things are out of the question. Instead, I enjoyed the chicken, peppers, and onions in all of their seasoned splendor atop a bed of spinach. And I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't miss the extra goodies one bit.

I have a little bit more research to do, but I'm excited to tell you about my new favorite Whole30 approved product. Be on the lookout for the new excitement in the next few days!

Oh, one other note. We went out for Mexican again yesterday with some friends from church. I knew NOT to order the tostaguac like I did last week. So, I successfully found an option that is completely acceptable in my Whole30 plan and it was delicious to boot! I ordered a "Mexican chef salad" which was really nothing special and actually was something akin to my fajita salads mentioned above. It was shredded lettuce, tomato, grilled chicken, and guacamole. It was supposed to have cheese, too, but it was simple enough to order it without the queso and still filling and pleasantly palatable. I'm pleased that I know of an option that I don't have to feel guilty about or have to pick through to sort out the approved foods.

Yay for progress and delicious foods!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day Nine: Belly full of goodness

You might recall that the hubs and I were supposed to be going to the Community Market in hopes of scoring some local produce. Well, we did indeed go, but nothing looked too appealing to us and everything seemed to be exceptionally overpriced (I know they are local farmers and they need to make a living somehow, but it seemed to me that their prices were much higher than they normally are). So, needless to say, we came home empty handed. Kind of.

On our way home we decided to stop at the Bedford Avenue Meat Shop. (Typically, I would give you the link to their website, but it appears to be down at this time. My old buddy Google might be able to fill you in on other info if you want it, though.) This is a local butcher shop that sells only pastured meat products and organic sides, etc. They also sell cheeses, wines and various oils, as well as prepared foods (ribs, pasta salads, etc.). I have been intending to get to this store for probably two years now, but for one reason or another, I've never made it... until now! We took our sweet ol' time looking at EVERYTHING and decided on some sausages. We bought 2 full-sized links of a mild Italian pork sausage and 2 links of a garlic and herb beef sausage. The people who own the shop are really very nice and helpful. What I was especially grateful for was the fact that their meat cases clearly displayed all ingredients in their products, so I was able to order my sausages with confidence knowing that I was staying within the plan of my diet. We really liked this store and WILL return in the near future!

So, I used my fresh, local butcher shop sausages to make sausage "stew," which really is more of a goulash, if you ask me. I got the recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook that was collecting dust on my shelf. The recipe called for the precooked sausages that come packaged in the refrigerator section of the grocery store (the smoked sausage type), but those generally are loaded with no-no substances and I like fresh sausage and I had it on hand, so I used it. The original recipe also called for a can of beans, canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce all of which I omitted. So, here is the recipe I ended up with:

Sausage, Mushroom, and Tomato Stew (Original name, but I think I shall dub my version Sausage and Vegetable Goulash)

6 oz fresh sausage links, sliced
1/4 C onion, diced
1 (8 oz) pkg white mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 T organic tomato paste
1 t garlic and herb seasoning (I just threw some stuff together)
2 C lightly packed baby spinach

Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, and zucchini; cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients except the spinach and allow to cook 5 minutes longer or until liquid begins to bubble. Add the spinach, stirring gently until it wilts, about 1 minute longer.

It doesn't look super appealing, but it sure was tasty! I served it alongside cauliflower "rice" which I overcooked. Oops! It was my first experience with the stuff, so I wasn't sure what to expect and I made the mistake of walking away from it for "just a minute." Oh, well! Now I know for next time that it can't be trusted by itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day Eight: Mayonnaise and Beef

It's not technically Day Eight, but since I didn't read my labels like I needed to on Day Two, I've added two days (in case you were wondering why it doesn't add up).

So, I have found some help for making enough calories in one day--mayonnaise and beef. I haven't tried them together, yet, but this is not completely out of the question for a future creation.

First, you have to truly understand the magnitude of how much this mayonnaise has changed my life. I want to eat it on everything! I am the girl in our family who is known for "not liking mayonnaise." I most typically do not order it on anything and sometimes I have been known to attempt to scrape it off of items that come pre-covered in the gunk. But, lately I'm trying to come up with brilliant dressing and dip ideas so that I can indulge more often. Don't worry, though! I'm not getting all of my calories from the mayonnaise, it just simply makes it easier to get my healthy fats in each day and adds some calories that I wasn't previously eating without adding the bulk of more food. It's amazing! Thank you to all of my friends who encouraged me to bite the proverbial bullet and just go for it!

Beef. It's what's for dinner. Sorry, I couldn't resist! But, seriously, it's what was for dinner yesterday. This is a new development for me. We just don't eat red meat in our home on a regular basis. My husband's GI system is very sensitive to red meat and I prefer ground turkey or chicken over ground beef, so we just simply don't eat the stuff. But, as you well know, I'm trying to find more calories and beef seems to be the easy way to get a few extra kCals in the diet. I made beef and veggie kabobs. Unfortunately, I know nothing about picking cuts of beef. Cavewomen had that thing easy, they would just cook up whatever cut of meat the caveman slung at them earlier in the afternoon. Me? I have to survey the whole gamut of butchered flesh and decide, based on appearance, cost, and size, which piece would most suit my needs. I don't really know anything about what the different cuts are or how they are most appropriately prepared. This past grocery trip, I settled on top round because it seemed to be the trifecta when it came to appearance, cost, and amount. Only problem, it clearly was not the appropriate cut for kabobs. It ended up very dry and tough... something akin to shoe leather. It was super tasty, just not easy to chew. I need to attend a "How to pick the best slab of cow" class.

Please forgive the poor picture quality, it was nearly dark when I was grilling. Clearly, not the ideal time to take a picture.

Eggs with spinach (this is my new favorite egg combo)

Leftover turkey burger (on a bed of spinach, fresh sliced onions and MAYO!)

Beef and veggie kabobs

Raw pecans

I'm starting to think that I might need to be concerned with my cholesterol. I am eating a lot of animal proteins and eggs (which are notorious for being a source of high amounts of cholesterol). I am exercising, though, and the foods I am eating are lean proteins. Does anyone have any insights about this? I have not had a cholesterol problem in the past, I was just giving it some thought. It was suggested to me that I possibly try a garlic supplement. Has anyone used this with successful results? I'd truly appreciate any insight.

Time to Catch Up

I have been off the map for a few days and feel like I have to catch myself up quickly so that I can be fully accountable for my diet these past few days. Sunday I had intended to take the day off from blogging. I needed a break, Sunday, being the Sabbath seemed the appropriate day to do this (though, I worked my real job, still). Also, taking a break from the blog gave me the push that I needed to try my hand at making mayonnaise. I DID IT! And it was good... and I didn't get salmonella! It was a great victory for me. But the next day, the victory was quickly forgotten because on Monday, we suffered a tragedy in our home.

In the early morning hours, our sweet kitty, Rosco, passed away. He was born with feline leukemia, so we have known that this day would come, but that didn't make it any easier. You see, he has been without symptoms for all of his life until about one month ago when he started having some difficulty breathing and anorexia. We have been mourning our loss for the past few days, so the atmosphere in our home has been very somber and not so creative when it comes to food. In all honesty, I considered throwing the whole diet out the window so that I could properly eat my emotions. I had my mouth set for a Taco Bell feast with a side of "Blue Box" macaroni and cheese, a giant milkshake, and maybe a late night cheesy western (greasy cheeseburger with fried egg, for those of you non-Lynchburgers) or two. Did I mention that I am an emotional eater? But, don't lose your faith in me, I stuck with the Whole30 inspite of my sorrow.

Rather than chronicle every morsel that I ate for the group of days I was absent, let me just fill you in on some of the highlights.

Swordfish steaks
Grilled eggplant (Note: Grilled eggplant is only good while it is warm, if it gets cold, it is nearly repulsive.)

Turkey burgers (topped with homemade mayo! oh, yeah, and some veggies, too.)

Homemade chicken salad (using the mayo again and my leftover Caribbean Lime Chicken)

Let me tell you about Tuesday. I had friends in town that wanted to get together for dinner. They decided that we should go to La Carreta, a local shoebox Mexican restaurant. I planned ahead of time what I was going to order by viewing their menu online. I was so proud of myself because I had it all worked out and I wasn't going to have to be too annoying when ordering. I had intended to purchase something they call "Ensenada," which is grilled chicken and shrimp with onions, peppers, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole. It was also supposed to be served with two tortillas. I had planned to just ask for "no cheese and no tortillas, please." But, when we got to the restaurant, the menu said that it also came with sour cream, refried beans and rice. I didn't want to be wasteful and just let the food be thrown away, but at the same time I didn't want to be a pain and ask for that long list of things not be included, so I changed my plan. I ordered what they call a "Tostaguac" instead. According to the menu, it was a corn tortilla with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese and guacamole. So, I politely ordered it with "no cheese" (I had no intention of eating the corn tortilla) and patiently awaited my food's arrival. When the food arrived, it was just as I had expected, except it was covered in refried beans! I was so disappointed. I was able to pick thru the meal and eat the lettuce and guacamole and about half of the meat that wasn't drenched in beans. Needless to say, it was not a very substantial meal. And almost instantly, I regretted my decision to eat anything that I didn't make with my own two hands. My stomach was torn up for the rest of the night! No more eating out until I'm ready to be a huge pain in the patootie with specializing my order, so that I can avoid the pains in my own patootie!

In other news, I would HIGHLY recommend the homemade mayonnaise. I don't even really like mayonnaise, but this stuff was mmm mmm good! There is such a difference, in my opinion, between the jarred junk and the fresh goodness of this treasure! If you get the courage to try the recipe, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm excited to try it flavored (I'm thinking chipotle or garlic and herb maybe) and in new salad recipes. I made it into chicken salad already, but I'm thinking about using it in a tuna salad in the near future and possibly making a creamy salad dressing for my tossed salad. This new, homemade world is so riveting!

Here's the recipe for the mayonnaise from this lady who has been super insightful and helpful with her plethora of paleo recipes. Try it!!!

"Homemade Olive Oil Mayo

1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice @ room temp
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 cup olive oil (light, not extra virgin) @ room temp
1. Place the egg and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Let them come to room temperature together, about 30-60 minutes. Add the dry mustard, salt, and 1/4 cup of the oil. Whirl until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.
2. The only remaining job is to incorporate the remaining 1 cup oil into the mixture. To do this, you must pour very slowly… the skinniest drizzle you can manage and still have movement in the oil. This takes about three minutes or so. Think about three minutes during a WOD; it’s a fairly long time. Breathe. Relax. Drizzle slowly.

If you’re using a blender, you’ll hear the pitch change as the liquid starts to form the emulsion. Eventually, the substance inside the blender will start to look like regular mayonnaise, only far more beautiful. Do not lose your nerve and consider dumping! Continue to drizzle.
If your ingredients were all at room temperature and you were patient, you will be rewarded!"

Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights!  And go try that mayo!