Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lamb Stew

I had no idea that lamb was so...expensive. But I was feeling adventurous and the weather was kind of crappy so lamb stew happened! I basically went off of this recipe, adding in a little more salt and garlic to taste, and subbing sweet potatoes for regular ones.

Cauliflower Rice Sushi

I really love sushi but it's higher in carbs than I'd like to eat right now, so I tried making it with cauliflower rice (seasoned with rice wine vinegar). One head of cauliflower made three rolls. I only had veggies on hand, so I rolled up a baked sweet potato with shredded carrots, steamed asparagus, peeled squash, cucumber, and sesame seeds.

Dipped it in some coconut aminos and it was surprisingly good!

Peaches and Tea

I've never been a big fruit fan, but there's something nice about the simplicity of some sliced summer fruit and a cup of pomegranate herbal tea :).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Provencal Vegetable Tian

This is adapted from 'The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go' which is a fun little directory of lunch ideas. This one is time consuming but super simple. You just need to chop everything and be around while it bakes. Really nice caramel flavor on the vegetables and great cold or hot!

1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp fresh basil
1-2 large onions, sliced
1 large zucchini (or yellow squash, or both!), sliced thinly
1-2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced (I get rid of seeds)
1 large sweet potato, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale or spinach
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 eggplant, thinly sliced and salted (the pat with paper towel to soak up moisture)
1 bunch asparagus, thinly sliced long ways

Preheat oven to 425. Toss sweet potatoes in olive oil and salt and roast until tender (about 20 minutes). While potatoes are in the oven, cook down onions and kale or spinach on the stove top in 1/4 cup olive oil for about 10 minutes. Fill the bottom of a casserole dish with the cooked onions and greens.

Drop oven to 325. Layer remaining vegetables like a lasagna, with herbs and garlic mixed in and frequent salt. Any combination of vegetables will work! I think green beans would be good too. Top with tomatoes and remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and bake uncovered for 60 minutes. Cover with foil and bake an additional 90 minutes. Bonus--it goes really well in an omelet too!

Paleo Stir Fry

I really like that paleo can often be a matter of throwing together simple, basic ingredients, like with this stir fry. I'm pretty sure we added shrimp to this (grilled separately), but otherwise threw together some broccoli, zucchini, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, peppers, sesame seeds, and coconut aminos.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Family Time in Myrtle Beach

It was a short trip, but one with a nice view (before the crowds hit, that is)!

Oh, and This Happened

On the Whole 30 you cut out a LOT--all grains, dairy, sugar/sweeteners, legumes, alcohol, processed anything--and salmon with vegetables gets really old after like Day 3. So even though I've been a proud vegetarian for over 20 years (the last two I ate seafood also), I finally got the courage to try meat. I've been mentally building up to it for a while now, reading books and articles ('The Vegetarian Myth' is a particularly good one) on how to ease back in to the meat world. I believe it has important nutrition that my body needs and I think that the grain/dairy/legume/vegetable diet I've lived on for so long has gotten me to where I am now (overweight, with severe hayfever and many other minor ailments). It's a high carb, insulin-fueled diet that I realize now is the reason I've had cravings, crashes, and steady weight gain over the years despite eating pretty healthfully and exercising regularly.

Anyways, I recently started using chicken broth when cooking (instead of veggie stock) and then dove in head first with a (grass fed, organic) beef burger...which I LOVED. It's like all the cells in my body lit up and started cheering. I felt so satiated (not stuffed) afterwards! I had about one a week while on the challenge and also tried bites of my husband's chicken and pork (which I'm still working up to). I worried a lot about what people who've known me a long time would think, but I'm at the point where I want to take control of my health and I think a paleo/Whole 30/Wheat Belly/whatever you want to call it diet is the best course of action (for me at least). I don't think I'll ever be a huge carnivore, but I would like to incorporate meat as a side to add protein, iron, etc. a few times a week. So there you go!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Filling

Though I wasn't as desperate for sweets as I expected on Whole30, I certainly enjoyed indulging for a day or two when we were done. I made these for my friend Jenn's birthday (she's also gluten free). It's the same chocolate cake recipe I've made before with a super tasty cream cheese frosting in the center. I used two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese and kept everything else the same so it was slightly less sweet.

Summer Squash on Polenta

This was also pre-Whole 30 and it was delicious. The goat cheese would definitely have to go but I might be willing to 'cheat' with polenta and corn. As far as I can tell corn doesn't cause me any issues (other than being processed and full of sugar). The yellow and zucchini squash, basil, and corn would probably make a good salad all on their own with a little olive oil and sea salt.

Greek Salad

I've been on a big salad topped with shrimp kick. This one from the local Greek restaurant would be tricky to order going forward because of the feta on top AND the parmesan in the dressing, but maybe a mixture of olive oil and vinegar on top would be good?

Cabbage Steaks

Now that the Whole 30 is over, and I'm down 13 lbs. and over a percent in body fat (whoo hoo!). I ate some feta in my salad at lunch, then John and I celebrated with tacos and Jeni's ice cream in the evening. My stomach HATED me. I kind of knew going into it that dairy was probably not my friend, and I think unfortunately that's true. So after a few days of dabbling in Diet Coke, sushi, and alcohol, we decided to jump back on Whole 30 again, planning a few 'cheats' for when we have friends in town or when we're traveling. We just felt too crappy not to, and the scale started creeping up, I almost immediately started to bloat back up, and my stomach was miserable (oh and headaches, did I mention headaches?).

To mark the interim, I'm posting some pictures with dairy that I took before the challenge. They would easily be as good without the dairy (I'm finding like gluten, there are decent substitutes for most things, or I typically don't miss it that much). Like these yummy cabbage steaks that I made using this recipe. I also brushed sliced eggplant with olive oil and salt/pepper and baked them too, then sprinkled with basil and goat cheese.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gulf Coast Trip - Day 5

This is the shiz. I booked an ocean front hotel on in Fort Walton, FL. I woke up early, ate breakfast, and parked it on a complimentary beach chair about 20 feet from the ocean. This is the life. The water is a beautiful turquoise green (they call this part of the Gulf the 'Emerald Coast'), which I found out is because of the algae and seaweed floating in the water. I floated for a while, read in my beach chair, then dipped in the hotel pool before drying off and getting back on the road.

I continued along the scenic highway to Grayton Beach, FL, a place my friend Jenn recommended I check out on my way back.

It was a cute, artsy little beach town with beautiful water and lots of cute cottages to rent. There was also a park nearby where you could camp and rent cabins. From there I was planning on stopping for the night in Jacksonville, but I was feeling motivated and made the rest of the drive home. It was a great trip and a much-needed vacation!

Gulf Coast Trip - Day 4

Today I said goodbye to Hillary and drove another hour west to visit the DeMauros! Mike is an old high school friend, and I was near his family's stomping grounds in Ocean Springs, MS so I decided to pay them a visit. Mike and Clarissa graciously showed me their cute little town (where they live about a mile from the beach) and we had lunch in Biloxi. Then it was time to get on the road and head to Florida!

I stopped in Pensacola and Pensacola Beach for a breather, then drove through to Fort Walton, FL. I took a chance on a $9.99 Mongolian buffet and they had a make-your-own-stirfry station, whoo hoo! I needed a veggie fix!

Gulf Coast Trip - Day 3

We started Day 3 with a yoga class at the Mobile Museum of Art. It was such a cool place to practice and the class was really well paced. I felt ready to take on the day! Afterwards we toured the museum and headed downtown for some regional seafood at Wintzell's Oyster House (overpriced but good). Then we Grouponed it again at the History Museum of Mobile (Hillary is working on her PhD in History), where my inner child was super excited to find an enormous dollhouse exhibit!

We also walked around downtown Mobile, which had a New Orleans meets big city vibe. It was really quiet for a weekend, but there were some fun antique shops and places to check out.

Last stop was Felix's, on the bayou, where we got good (expensive) food, a great view of the water, and live acoustic music from two talented gentlemen.

Gulf Coast Trip - Day 2

Day 2 started with the drive from Atlanta to Mobile, with a pit stop in Montgomery. It was kind of empty and didn't seem to have a whole lot going on. But then it was on to Mobile, where I met my awesome friend Hillary! She drove from Bryan, TX (we literally picked the mid spot between Austin and Charleston) and is my college friend who I met during a study abroad in London.

We had Groupon sushi at Wasabi, which I was pumped to see offered a cucumber wrapped roll (no rice) and tataki options. Yum! Then we did a quick Target stop and saw 'Tammy' with Melissa McCarthy.

Gulf Coast Trip - Day 1

Finally, summer vacation!!! Day 1 included a half day of work and then getting on the road to Atlanta. Stopped for some healthy snacks at grocery stores along the way (they still have Piggly Wigglys out in the country!) and enjoyed the South Carolina back road sights.

Goo Goo Dolls Concert

Okay, so not my favorite band (by a long shot) but it was fun hanging with John's friend Campbell and his new lady friend Tiffany while enjoying live music under the stars. I'll rarely pass up the chance for live music, and fortunately Charleston attracts lots of variety!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato with Broccoli

Another simple, easy meal. Scrub and pierce a small sweet potato and microwave for five minutes. Then wrap in tin foil and rub with olive oil and salt. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, until soft with crisp skin. Slice open, top with butter or ghee and garlic salt. I topped mine off with some steamed broccoli and it was delish!

Tomatoes and Eggplant

With summer comes tomatoes, lots of beautiful, delicious tomatoes. We had some from the CSA, and since we couldn't eat our CSA corn I traded it with a neighbor for more tomatoes (and eggplant). The first dish we made was a nice little stack of grilled eggplant, sliced tomatoes, shredded basil, chopped sundried tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction (cook 1 cup balsamic vinegar and one sliced shallot on medium heat until it reduces by half).

The next night it was almond flour breaded eggplant with simple sliced tomatoes and leftover balsamic reduction. So simple but so unbelievably good! Local summer tomatoes really are the best.

Tuna Salad with Pickles

Alright, not strictly Whole30, but if the worst thing I'm doing is eating non-homemade mayo, I think I'm doing okay. Tuna salad was from the grocery store salad bar and I served it on some chopped lettuce with sliced dill pickles (yum!).

Shrimp and Veggie Curry

The Whole30 book has some great recipes in the back, and one of them inspired this meal. After picking up some yellow curry paste at the awesome local Asian grocery store, I mixed it with a few cans of coconut milk (more than I planned because the paste was surprisingly spicy!) to make the curry sauce, which was added to sauteed red pepper, onion, snow peas, broccoli, shrimp, and baby bok choy. I ended up serving it on some steamed cauliflower 'rice' because curry is just begging for something to soak it up, right?


Basil might just be my favorite herb (cilantro is a close second). Lucky for me, the local CSA uses it as filler in a lot of their flower bouquets. So when the flowers are spent, I take out the basil and keep it going in a mason jar with fresh water on the window sill. #winning

Almond Butter and Banana 'Dessert'

Since desserts are strictly forboden on this challenge, you have to get your sweets where you can. Lately it's been chunks of pineapple and almond butter on celery stalks (surprisingly good). But I was really, really wanting something more dessert-like. I read about this and considering the circumstances it's pretty good. Half a sliced banana topped with a scoop of almond butter, cinnamon, and a little shredded coconut.

Egg Salad

So with all the leftover mayo, I whipped up an egg salad. Using chopped pre-hard boiled eggs, I threw in about a teaspoon of mustard, a stalk of finely chopped celery, half a finely chopped shallot, salt, pepper, and paprika. Then I added in mayo until it all had a nice creamy texture. Great lunch or snack!

Homemade Garlic Mayo

I read on one of the forums that sweet potato fried and homemade mayo were a good treat, and man they weren't kidding! It takes a little work but it satisfied my craving for junk. Sweet potatoes just got chopped up, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes (until tender). The mayo was easier than expected and more of an ailoli but still delicious! I added some roasted garlic, just because.

Here's the mayo recipe:

(Another) Diaper Cake

We love our neighborhood, mostly because it's the first time we've really gotten to know our neighbors. There are several couples around our age that we love having cookouts and game nights with, and one of them is pregnant. So here comes another diaper cake, this time a gender-neutral one!

Cheese! Lindsay (the mom-to-be) is so cute and teeney, you can barely tell she's preggers unless you see her from the side. Nice getting to see everyone outside of the neighborhood!

Cauliflower Cream Sauce

Oh cauliflower, is there anything you can't do?? Rice, pizza crust, you name it and cauliflower's got it covered. This recipe was really good and would make a great soup (with some truffle oil!).

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 cup broth
1 can coconut milk (15 oz.-ish)
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
Basil, parsley, and whatever fresh herbs you want to add

Chop and steam one head of cauliflower in the microwave with a little water for about 10 minutes or until the florets are really tender. Then you put them in a blender with the remaining ingredients. I added everything to the blender in thirds instead of all at once. Then I put it in a pan and heated it through, adding additional salt to taste. Yum!

Sweet Potato and Kale Fritatta

Another week, another frittata. It's not quite the same without heavy cream and a little cheese, but by adding a sauteed sweet potato it had some extra density. I also threw in a few extra eggs since it doesn't rise without milk or cream. And I seasoned the hell out of it with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and curry powder!

Lettuce Tacos

This is one of those things that looks really cool on Pinterest but is not super practical in real life. I prepped lettuce leaves, shredded cabbage, salsa, grilled shrimp, and grilled veggies (onion, zucchini, red pepper, garlic) and it all tasted good but it was super messy. We ended up eating it with a fork instead, oh well!


Mushroom Cauliflower 'Risotto'

This was actually pretty tasty, it just needed some Parmesan to hold it all together :). The cauliflower rice is not a perfect substitute but it holds flavor pretty well and gets the job done. It also reheated well for lunch the next day at work.

I got the recipe here and added some celery and parsley, as well as more garlic than it called for.

Original Recipe:

Fish & Veg

This is the Whole30 in a grains (gluten and non-gluten), no dairy, no sugar or artificial sweeteners. So there's been a lot of fish and veggies lately!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Asian Market

I had no idea such wonders existed! H & L Asian Super Market is not that far from my office and I was in search of some curry paste. Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a gold mine! It's the size of a regular grocery store, and is overflowing with exotic veggies, meats and seafood, sauces, seasonings...there had to be a hundred different types of frozen dumplings to choose from and they had dozens of seaweed options in the refrigerator section. Every type of seasoning, sauce, pickled vegetable you could imagine. They even had cute bowls like you find in China Town and cooking equipment. And the best part was everything was cheap! I got cilantro for 69 cents! A huge bag of baby bok choy for $2.11! I can't wait to go back and try the restaurant soon, as well as pick up some more goodies!

The Whole30

I was looking for a new book to read and stumbled across It Starts With Food, which describes the Whole30 plan (short version = elimination diet getting rid of everything but meats/seafood/eggs, vegetables, fruits, and oils/nuts). My husband and I decided to try it for 30 days, and so far it has been fairly easy except for the sweets cravings. I miss sugar, chocolate, and Diet Coke so badly. And a little cheese and rice would be nice to have every now and then, but otherwise it's not so bad.

Really didn't experience any major side effects and have been drinking green tea when I need caffeine. Down a few pounds and workouts seem to be going better--so far, so good!