Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eating Enough...

Getting enough calories can be a challenge for me.  Well sort of.  I don't eat grains, dairy, sugar, or legumes, so that limits the types of calories I am getting.  I don't eat snacks usually.. they mess up my blood sugar levels and then I get crazy cravings.  I exercise.  My body needs some good wholesome fuel intake.  So how do I maximize the good stuff, stay satiated and satisfied?

Here's the low down. I eat at meals.  I eat a LOT.  I'm serious.  When I started eating this way I looked at all the food on my plate and thought there is no way I can eat all this.  I did.  And amazingly I wasn't hungry until the next meal.  My blood sugar levels stayed stable.  I was good.  Life is great with big glorious meals.

How do I get enough calories?  Besides eating a lot?  Whole 30 was my inspiration for my meal planning.  Here is a link to their synopsis of what and how much to eat.  Their easy images helped me figure out portions to begin with.  And YES, eat all the healthy fat you can.  The fat makes a HUGE difference.

It is a little embarrassing to admit, but here goes.  I eat eggs and bacon almost every day for breakfast.  4 medium eggs or 3 extra large eggs-- JUST FOR ME :)  Fried in 1 Tablespoon (sometimes more) of coconut oil.  Topped with 1 Tablespoon (or more) of crumbled bacon (I buy the Costco bag).  Liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper, it is my breakfast of champions.

I ignore my own advice every morning and skip the the veggies-- unless I feel like adding in some peppers and tomatoes and onions to my eggs.  I eat breakfast at 7:30 and this keeps me full and satisfied until lunch at noon... Even with a good hour workout between those meals.

Each day I pack a baggie of veggies.  Celery, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes... whatever I am in the mood for. Your average sandwich zip bag can hold 2- 2 1/2 cups of veggies.  That is a good start to your lunch.  I eat my daily celery with a little serving dish of almond butter for some good fat.

I also pack a baggie full shredded, unsweetened coconut.  Plain coconut takes a while to chew, digest and process in your body.  It is relatively low in calories when you think about how long it takes you to eat it.  I  mix in a small handful of almonds with my coconut to get some extra crunch.

I add to the veggies and coconut/almond mix my "protein" rich main dish.  Jarred chili, lunch meat sandwich, leftovers from the night before.  Whatever strikes my fancy.

If I am still a little hungry, I'll finish off my meal with a small piece of fruit and a hard boiled egg.

I try not to eat snacks too often.  If I am really hungry, I'll eat what I wasn't able to finish at lunch time.  Or I'll eat a breakfast type food.  Pumpkin pancakes, veggie & fruit smoothie (with extra amino acids) or some "Granola."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dinner Time Tips

How I serve dinner. (Steak & Potato Salad)
Anyone can eat a healthy dinner and still feed their family well too.  Here are a few tips that have kept my family happy while I eat what I need too.

  • Serve things separately:  I mix together the things I can eat and serve the rest in separate  dishes.  The kids can pick what they want to mix together on their  plate.  We all can eat and enjoy without the fighting.  It helps a lot with my picky kids to tell them they have to pick a protein and a veggie to put on their plate.  The rest of the food is optional.

  • Modify your favorite foods: We love curries and stir fries.  But my standby recipes had flour and food starch.  My family has been able to adapt to not so thick sauces.  I omit the thickener called for in the recipe, and just let the liquids evaporate.  The sauces aren't as finger licking thick, but the flavor is still amazing.

  • Plan for lazy mom days.  When I am pinched for time, or I emotionally or physically can't cook a good meal (those days happen to us all!), I buy my kids $5 pizza or cook up some boxed mac and cheese, and I just eat some good for me leftovers.  Yup, laziness happens.  PLAN FOR IT!  and you won't be tempted.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pumpkin Pancakes-- Revisited

If you're a regular you'll remember my apple pumkpin pancakes.  They are great when I feel like really working, but on mornings or afternoons when I am more, well, lazy, this variation of pumpkin pancake is a great fix.

There is some apple sauce and banana pureed into the party and some coconut and almond flour help keep this pancake less eggy and give it a heartier texture.

Pumpkin Pancake Part 2
1 banana
4 eggs
1 cup pumkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond flour
2 Tablespoons coconut flour

Puree all the ingredients together in a blender.  Cook pancakes on a greased griddle over medium to medium low heat.  Flip pancakes when the bubbles solidify.. about 2-3 minutes per side.  These guys take a little longer to cook than regular pancakes.  Don't fret if  one falls apart as you flip it.  It happens to the best of us.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Steak and Potato Salad

Dinner at my house starts out like this...    and ends up like this.

I'm a modified "paleo" eater and my family is typical American.  So working together in the kitchen to cook for for all of us takes a little planning and preparation.  This meal, Steak and Potato Salad, is great for the whole family.  The ones who love their grains chow down on them.  Me, I turn everything into a salad or a wrap.  It works for us.

This recipe I modified from an old Pampered Chef cookbook.  The recipe calls for cooking it all on the grill, but I have to be a little difficult...

Steak and Potato Salad
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 lbs boneless beef steak, cut 3/4" thick
3 tablespoons balsamic vinager
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 onion, sliced
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
6-12 cups romaine lettuce (varies by family)

Fire up the grill.
Combine garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper into a paste.  Spread all but one tetaspoon of the mixture onto the steaks; set aside.   Stir together the garlic mixture with the vinegar, olive oil and mustard.  This will be your dressing.

Brush the potatoes with 1 tablespoon coconut oil.  Cook steak and potatoes on the grill, uncovered for 13-16 minutes, or until the steak is cooked to desired temperature, and the potatoes are tender.

I like to sautee my onions on the stove, while the meat and potatoes are cooking on the grill. Heat up a skillet and melt the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil.  Sautee the onions until they are tender and sweet.  I add a pinch of salt just before serving.

Bring everything to the table and let the family eat as they desire.

Menu Ideas

Steak & Potato Salad
I've had a couple friends say, how can you do this?  What do you eat?  Easy answer... Food.  But really they are asking what is my menu like.  How have I incorporated my "clean," "free" food into my family's lifestyle without causing immense pain for everyone involved.

So this what works for me.  My kids eat cereal and sandwiches and typical "american" food for breakfast and lunch and snacks.  Dinner we eat my style.  Yeah they like pasta, and I won't lie.  Pasta is a quick meal for the family.  If we are going to eat pasta for a dinner they eat it and I serve the "good for you" sauce separately for me.  They like dinner.  I eat food that is good for me.  Win Win.

Most of the time, I can cook a dinner without having to cook two meals.  I simply have to be smart about not combining ingredients, and cooking/serving some things separately.  If I am cooking Chinese food, I keep the rice on the side and I just eat the chicken and veggie stir fry with the yummy good for my body sauce.

Ready to check this out? Here we go...

Now honestly, I don’t eat with this much variety.  I almost always eat eggs and bacon for breakfast.  You might like more variety though so here are things that I toss in when I want a little change.

If you want more information about how I incorporate healthy fats and snacks, check out this post.

In the next few days I will link up my recipes to this menu.  Happy Eating and thanks for your patience as I type everything in.

Eggs & Bacon
Lunch Meat Lettuce Wrap
Asian Lettuce Wraps & Egg Rolls
Coconut Porridge
Hard Boiled Eggs
Tacos (Salad for me)
Pumpkin Pancakes
Tomato Soup
Malibu Chicken with roasted peppers & onions
Fruit & Veggie Smoothie
Sweet Potato Fries
Meatball Subs*


Caribbean Pork Roast

Japanese Curry

Coconut Curry

Sausage Peppers Penne*

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Buffalo Chicken

Pan "fried" Buffalo Chicken, no sauce

Who doesn't love a good buffalo chicken salad, wrap or sandwich.  This recipe works for all applications and is sugar, gluten, grain and additive free.

The chicken is delicious with or without the sauce. Serve it with a salad (with bacon and pineapple YUM!), as a wrap or just eat it before it gets to the table for dinner... I won't tell.

Buffalo Chicken
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast pieces
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon coconut flour (optional)

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Toss the spices in a large zip bag and combine.  Cut chicken into small strips.  Toss chicken into the bag and shake to coat the chicken in spices.

Preheat the oven to 425.  Bake coated chicken for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through.

You can also pan fry the chicken for an amazingly delicious seared crust, but I don't always want that hassle.  It is fast and easy to toss it all into the oven and multitask while it is baking.

Buffalo Chicken Sauce optional
3 teaspoons hot sauce (AKA Tabasco)
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients.  Toss over cooked chicken.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sour Cream Banana Bread

Not healthy.  Not Paleo.  But good eats...  A friend requested the recipe.  And I am glad to share.

Sour Cream Banana Bread
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coconut Topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Cream together the butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla.   Add the sour cream, bananas, and pecans. Mix well.  Mix in the flour, soda and salt.   Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until a skewer poked in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes.

For the topping, combine the brown sugar, and butter in a sauce pan and stir until melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the pecans and coconut.  Spoon over loaf while warm.

Makes one heavenly loaf

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kung Pao Chicken-- Almost Paleo

I am collecting my recipes.  The ones I love.  The ones I have adapted to suit the way I am eating now.  It is ridiculously frustrating to forget how I fixed a recipe last time and where did I write it down?  So I put it here and I can find it when I need it.  So thanks for you patience with all my recipes and please accept my apologies for no pictures.

Kung Pao Chicken-- Paleo Style
Chicken & Marinade
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon coconut aminos (soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Sauce & Veggies*
3 Tablespoons coconut aminos (soy sauce)
3 Tablespoons vinegar
2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (recipe here)
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 bell peppers, diced
1/4 cup peanuts (paleo style use almond or pecan pieces)
chili garlic sauce

Marinate chicken in vinegar, coconut aminos, salt and sesame oil for 20 minutes.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Drain chicken, and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Chop vegetables.  In a large skillet, stir fry garlic, onion and peppers until softened.  Add water chestnuts, aminos and Hoisin Sauce.  Add cooked chicken and peanuts to the skillet and stir to combine.

I put the garlic chili sauce on the table so each person can add as much heat as they desire.

* if you love a thickened sauce for your Asian food and tolerate cornstarch well, double the liquid ingredients in the sauce and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.  Cook to thicken the sauce.

Hoisin Sauce

I am addicted to Asian style food.  The seasonings make everything taste better.  And the juxtaposition of tender meat with crisp veggies makes me happy.  A lot of my favorite "Asain" recipes use Hoisin  Sauce as a base.  My problem is that hoisin is full of sugar and soy and other things I am currently eating.  The solution... Erica made Hoisin sauce.

I use this sauce on lettuce wraps, in Kung Pao chicken, and Cashew Chicken (recipe here) and even as a salad dressing.  This makes a large batch so you can use it in a couple different recipes.  Happy eating!

Hoisin Sauce
3/4 cup coconut aminos (you could use your favorite soy sauce)
1/3 cup almond butter
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix well to combine

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pumpkin Chili

No really it doesn't taste like pumpkin, I promise.  The pumpkin is an alternative thickener and adds body to the recipe.  Yup, this is another grain free recipe that I found and really like.  I modified this recipe from a friend to make it thicker and to suit my palate.  This makes a good size batch.  I double it and put it in jars in the fridge to eat for lunches each day.  (And, yes, I like it enough to eat it most days for lunch...)

This is a THICK chili, so if you want it thinner or you want to add beans to the recipe, increase the diced tomatoes to two 28 oz cans.

Pumpkin Chili
1 tsp coconut oil
2 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey, your choice)
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (optional for heat)
28 oz can tomato juice (lazy confession, I puree diced tomatoes)
28 oz diced tomato, undrianed
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for heat)
2 teaspoons salt

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Brown meat.  Add in chopped vegetables.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and seasonings.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Curried Chicken Salad

I modified this recipe from an old Pampered Chef cookbook.  The original recipe calls for a combination of mayonnaise and plain yogurt as a base for the dressing.  I switched it up for full fat (yum) coconut milk and a little bit of lemon juice for some tang.  The result was a definite hit for me.  It will become a lunchtime staple.

Check out the gorgeous picture from the cookbook.  Then mine.  Yeah, maybe I'll plate mine to look that good too.... or not.  It tastes great whether or not it looks amazing!

Curried Chicken Salad
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder (I like Madras)

1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes, sliced in half
3/4 cup celery, sliced
1/3 cup green onion tops, thinly sliced
2 apples, chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecans, (I used almonds today)
1 medium cantaloupe
lettuce leaves

Combine the coconut milk with the lemon juice, salt and curry powder.  Set aside.  In  a large bowl combine the chicken, grapes, celery, green onion, apples and pecans.  Pour dressing over the top and toss to combine.  Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight to allow flavors to combine.

Serve on a bed of lettuce and cantaloupe.

Monday, February 24, 2014

No Bake Cookies... Healthier

So I have been eating sugar free for a while.  Meaning no sugar, no honey, no agave or stevia, no sweetener of any kind.  I've been branching out into different more "natural" sweeteners to see how they react to my body and this was the recipe I chose to try out honey.  I like it.  I liked it a lot.  Almost too much.  They are in the freezer hiding from me so I don't eat more today.  (So much for breaking my "sweet's addiction.")  I'll keep working on that one, while you enjoy this dessert.

Coconut No-Bake Cookies
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey (next time I'll reduce that to 1/3 cup, but I'm sensitive to sweet)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut

Melt honey and coconut oil together.  Add in the cocoa powder and almond butter and stir until smooth.  Add vanilla and coconut.  Scoop into small balls.  Freeze for a couple minutes to set.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Is Up With Me

I happen to be a normal person.  Well almost.  Sort of.  Well, besides being "awesome," I have struggles, just like you.  Down days (months), health problems, annoyingly amazing children and the like.  We all have it.  It is part of being human.

I've mentioned before that I have struggled with depression for years.  I've actively sought help for that depression for the last 13 years with meds, counciling, exercise therapy, and light therapy.  You know I'm down, when I can't muster the energy, or motivation to write, dance and create.  (Oh did you notice that I didn't post anything here from November - mid January.   Well it was a tough time. Thanks for sticking around!)

My awesome doctor combines neurology and homeopathic care and suggested that one reason I might not doing as well may be because I have some underlying food intolerance causing my body to resist healing.  The suggested plan?  One month clean eating.... No dairy, No sugar, No grains (wheat, corn, rice, quinoa, chia...), No legumes.  No soy.  Really it is a "Paleo" diet designed to allow the body a period to heal and be well.

I'm not here to advocate or argue the merits of this "diet" but I do know how I feel.  My moods are stable for the first time in who knows how long-- I don't feel compelled yell and swear at the slightest problem.   I don't crave food-- I feel hungry and I eat, but that need to eat (fill in the blank) doesn't exist anymore.  The bonus is weight loss and inches lost-- my "holy schnikeees those pants are too tight to wear" jeans are now comfortably loose.  I recognize moments of irrationality, where before that irrationality was too real to argue with.  I feel good, balanced, healthy.

So take it for what it is worth.  You'll be seeing more Paleo style recipes here, although I will include substitutions for non-Paleo friends.

For my fiends who worry about my health and whether I am getting enough nutrients from the 4 basic food groups, I am not planing to live this way for life.  But if eating clean is the price I pay for my sanity, I am willing to make that sacrifice.  In the next few weeks I will be introducing foods back into my diet to see how they work in my body.   I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pumpkin Apple Pancakes

These pancakes have become a go to on-the-go snack for me recently.  They boast a good balance of protein (from eggs), vitamins and fiber (from pumpkin) and natural sweetness (from apple slices).  They are sugar, grain, and dairy free too.  I can eat until I am full and not feel guilty about what I put in my mouth.

On the down side, they do take longer to cook than traditional pancakes and can be slightly temperamental when flipping-- reducing the heat and cooking a little longer solved the problem. Just warning you.

Apple Pumpkin Pancakes
1 apple thinly sliced
4 eggs beaten
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted

Heat a skillet to medium to medium low heat.  Grease the skillet.  Slice the apple.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, extract, spices, baking soda and melted oil.

When the skillet is hot, place apple slices directly on the skillet.  Let the apples cook for 2 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Spoon the batter over the apples covering them completely.  Allow to cook 2-3 minutes more or until bubbles begin to form and the surface is less shiny-- see pictures below.  Carefully flip the pancakes and cook 2 minutes more.

Serve warm (or cold), plain or with apple sauce for a yummy treat.  You could also smother these in almond butter and sliced bananas too.

Makes 12 pancakes.  For a sweeter pancake you can add 1 mashed banana to the batter.  Adding the banana will increase the yield.

Not ready to flip

Ready to flip

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Margarita Chicken Wraps with Pineapple Salsa

I've been a little down recently.  I've had food failure after food failure.  I knew how to cook at one time, but my doctor had me switch up my diet to try to fix some health problems (read more about that here) and it has been like I am learning to cook all over again.

Fortunately, success is coming more often!!  I am feeling tremendously better-- especially when a recipe turns out.

Margarita Chicken wraps was a fusion between my craving for pineapple salsa and my daughter's request for lime chicken.  I've made the Margarita Chicken before for my divine Southwest Chicken Salad so you might remember it.  All  you do is chop the Margarita Chicken in small pieces, and load both the chicken and the pineapple salsa in a lettuce leaf and eat away.  Sweet, salty and sour in one mouthful.  YUMM!

Margarita Chicken Tequila Lime and Salt flavor this chicken (minus the tequila at my house...)
2 chicken breast halves
1/4 cup lime juice (lemon works well too)
2 Tablespoons salt
Splash of Tequila (optional)

Place the chicken breast on a cutting board.  Hold the chicken with one hand and slice the chicken horizontally to make thin breast pieces.  Toss the 4 breast pieces in a zip bag with the lime, salt and tequila.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour.

Grill the chicken over medium high heat 10 minutes on each side or until the juices run clear.  Allow the chicken to sit for 10 minutes.  For the Chopped Chicken Salad, slice the chicken to cubes.  For the Lettuce wraps, I like the chicken finely chopped.

Pineapple Salsa

2 cups fresh chopped pineapple
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon lime juice (lemon will work in a pinch)
cilantro, salt, pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients and allow flavors to mix for 15 minutes before serving.

*** I tried this salsa the other day with ham wrapped up in lettuce and it was amazing too!!