Friday, August 30, 2013

Paleo Tendencies

I just finished a creamsicle.  I can't find the recipe I used to make them (but I did post a good one for you back there), which is why I started posting more frequently on my blog.... just to keep track of things!  I have Pinterest, but I haven't organized it well, so I keep getting distracted by all the dessert recipes when I am looking for entrees.

I usually do my meal planning for the week on Saturday morning, but we're doing a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods run in the morning, so I wanted to get the list ready tonight.  No firm plans for the holiday weekend (Happy Labor Day, US of A friends!) so I will have to be flexible.

I am finishing up my first week of a two week Paleo trial.  I have eaten almost 100% Paleo all week.  I made pizzas last night that had mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  I guess that's not strictly Paleo, so that was once.  And then tonight at the farmer's market, I taste tested some gourmet nuts and didn't realize that the cashews had some sugar in their seasoning.  I only ate one, so that barely counts, right?  Speaking of Paleo, my sister commented on the beef teriyaki kabob recipe from the Civilized Caveman that I posted on my blog last week.  She asked if we used a gas grill to make them.  Well... YEAH!  And she said, That's not very Paleo, is it?  She thinks she's funny.  Sometimes I do too.  Mostly silly.  (I love my sisters, by the way!)  ANYWAY!  I will admit that there were times that I wanted to fall off the Paleo wagon.  Mostly when MR had his pizza with Trader Joe's whole wheat crust.  I really wanted that!  But I persevered.  And the trade off to that has been that I am down a few pounds this week and definitely feeling better.  My tummy issues, which are what precipitated the foray into 100% Paleo, as opposed to my usual Clean Eating with Paleo tendencies, seem to have resolved for the most part.  I will try it for another week and see if I am going to stick with it 100% (they say you can do it 85%... I am likely to do better if am all in) or go back to having some grains and legumes in my diet.

I will only post a short menu right now because we have some special plans at the end of the week, but will post the rest of the week later.  In the meantime, I have thrown in some extra items for your cooking and eating pleasure!!!

PALEOMG Mexican Salad 
Hey, this was on the menu last week!  That's right, folks, even the best laid plans.... well, you know.  So we didn't get to this and had a Mustgo night instead.  (Everything must go!)  It really  makes it easy when I have all the stuff and don't get it made.  Just move it to the next week!

Steak and caramelized peach salad
Yeah, yeah... another one that didn't get made this week.  It's because I forgot to thaw meat one day, so we had to scrape something together with whatever was in the fridge or pantry.
UPDATE:  When we made this we discovered that there is no picture and the ingredients and instructions are a little ambiguous.  If you're not very proficient in the kitchen and require very specific directions, this may not be the recipe for you.  MR is quite proficient, so was able to pull it off.  AND, I really enjoyed the blend of flavors.  But, if you are timid in the kitchen, you may want to skip this recipe.

Moroccan meatballs with citrus glazed carrots
Haven't made these in a while, and they weren't on the menu last week!  HA!  These are simple to make and I really love the flavors.

Prosciutto wrapped beef cubes
Oh, man!  These are amazing!  I absolutely could eat these every day!!!

And that's it for me for the week!  Nah, not really.  More later.... and in the meantime... check these out!

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins - I love these!  So quick to make and just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge and grab and go.  When fresh cranberries are available in the Fall, I will throw a handful of them in the batter.  When you bite into them you get a great pop of tartness in your mouth.  Yummy!

Green Smoothies - There are so many ways to make a green smoothie, I won't even post a recipe.  I will say that you can make it the way you like it.  I use a big handful of spinach, about 8 oz. almond milk, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, half a banana, and then a cup of whatever fruit I have handy.  If your fruit isn't frozen, throw a few ice cubes in too so it's nice and chilly!

Have a clean eating week!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Makin' a List, Checking it Twice!

Makin' a list, checking it twice... nope, not time for Santa Claus to come to town... it's time to make my menu and grocery list for the week.  If I don't store it here with links to all the recipes, Thursday will roll around and I won't be able to find that recipe I need, and then, well.. you know... we will have breakfast for supper again.  Not that that's a bad thing, but you can only pull that trick out so many times in a week!

We are officially empty-nesters again, so it makes the grocery bill a little lower, and cooking a little easier, although #1 Son and Baby Girl will eat what I make for the most part.  I did like to get him things that they enjoyed that we won't touch.

August weather seems to be back, so I will take advantage of the warm nights by grilling a little more.  This has two advantages, 1) we don't heat up the kitchen and 2) MR does the cooking!  (The second reason is the best reason!)  I also have promised to make a treat for a birthday at work this week.  Fortunately, I am off on Monday so I will have time to do that without cutting into my evenings.

Lest you be fooled, making my menu every week is pretty time consuming.  We really want to eat healthy, but don't want to be bored.  Plus I hate wasting food, so I have to consider how I can re-purpose things all week.  It saves money if you plan carefully.  Less to purchase and no waste is always my goal.  It was really a lot easier when we just ate crap.  But, then that has its trade-offs too, doesn't it?  So I sit here every Saturday morning, perusing recipes, making my menu and also making my shopping list.  What do we have in the pantry?  What do we have in the freezer?  And on top of it, I try to turn it into a blog that is helpful to you... okay, and to me so all my recipes for the week are in one spot.  So here is the plan!

Paleo Shepherd's Pie - I love shepherd's pie for a lot of reasons.  The biggest one is because I can pretty much use whatever I have handy to make it!  It's a great way to use up leftover veg.  I haven't made it with sweet potato before, but this sounds yummy.  We (read MR) will have to make some homemade barbecue sauce so we can have the one tiny teaspoon of it this calls for, but then we will freeze the rest for another day!

This is how he makes barbecue sauce:  Dump 6 oz can of tomato paste into a bowl.  Fill the can halfway with water and then the rest of the way with apple cider vinegar, mix it up to get all the extra tomato off the sides of the can, then dump into the bowl with the paste.  Mix in 2 TBSP blackstrap molasses, and 1 TBSP mustard.  Voila!  Super easy barbecue sauce!  Freeze leftovers.

Also, I thought I would add PALEOMG Asian Marinated Crockpot Beef Spareribs to the menu but I pinched my finger in the lazy susan cabinet while I was checking to see if we had sesame oil.  We don't.  And now my finger hurts.  We are not having these.  (But you might like them.)

Burgers on the grill.  MR will eat it on a whole wheat bun (Trader Joe's sells one with no added sugar) and I will eat mine Paleo style.  I've been having some tummy issues lately so going to try to eat mostly Paleo for a couple weeks and see if it helps.  I will probably not need a lot of sweet potato for this so may make a few baked sweet potato fries for on the side.  Waste not, want not!

Beef Teriyaki Kabobs or is it kebabs?  These are from  They are Paleo, if you're into that.  I like them because they look super-easy!
While the recipe calls for chunks of pineapple, if you want you can grill some extra pineapple.  I absolutely love grilled pineapple paired with teriyaki.  Just cut some of it in big fat strips and throw it on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  If we don't use up all the pineapple this week, I will puree it and freeze it in ice cube trays to use in smoothies later.

Pizza!  Who doesn't want pizza?  MR would eat it everyday.  I will make
this gluten-free paleo-style recipe for me and use a Trader Joe's whole wheat crust for him.  That way we both have lots of leftovers for lunches!

PALEOMG Mexican Salad is really easy to make and can be adapted to make everyone happy.  I will eat it with some salad greens, MR might have some tortilla chips.  You could probably serve it in a tortilla bowl, or wrapped in hard or soft tortillas for that matter!

Steak and caramelized peach salad - I haven't made this before, but I got the biggest peaches you have ever seen from the farmer's market last night.  You could play softball with these babies!  And the peaches this year have been just amazingly sweet and juicy.  So I figure, meat plus peaches ought to be a winner!

I am making s'mores cupcakes (NOT CLEAN!) for work and I thought it would be nice to bring in (mostly) clean gourmet s'mores  for those of us who don't eat so much junk  The graham crackers in the link are not paleo but here is a recipe that is.  I am going to try them paleo this time.  I really hope they work out! 

In case you want to know how to make s'mores cupcakes, just make Devil's food cupcakes (yes, from a mix!), sprinkle the tops with crushed graham crackers (yes, from a box!) before baking; mix about 1:1 ratio of marshmallow fluff with cream cheese frosting (yes, from a can!), and pipe onto baked and cooled cupcakes.  Top with a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers (yes, still from a box!) and decorate with a square of Hershey's chocolate.
<-----This was the old me

The new me will eat Gourmet S'mores.  These are not nearly as difficult as they sound. You can make the graham crackers the day before if that helps with timing.  The only slightly unclean thing about the gourmet s'mores is the gelatin in the fluff.  But these are meant to be a treat so shouldn't completely throw you off track to just have occasionally.  Recipe for (mostly) clean gourmet s'mores

Dip them twice in chocolate (cooling between dips) and they will look better than this.  
This was my first attempt.  I got better with practice, and not much practice, at that!

Have a clean week!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Recipe for Success

I have been trying to figure out ways to make eating clean easier for others who aren't all in yet, or who are just thinking about how to do it.  It has been a struggle to put into words the exact formula for success in clean eating.  This morning I was looking at some of the other Facebook pages and blogs that I follow and someone commented that they wish someone would just tell them to eat x amount of this, and x amount of that, etc.  That's what I really thought I wanted to do for you, and you, and you!  But I realized when I read his post, that I can't.  No one can.  This is a personal journey and it's about what works for you and your body, and also for your lifestyle.

Gluten Free Pita Bread Recipe

Because I work full time outside the home, and have a 75 minute commute each way, I have had to develop my eating plans around that.  I can take my lunch to work but we only have a microwave and a toaster oven for heating.  So those are more things I have to take into consideration.  Also, we are often away from home on the weekends, so that's another factor.  But I no longer have children at home so, to me, that makes it a little easier, because my meals don't necessarily have to be kid friendly, although I think a lot of them are.  I know they are husband friendly, because MR jumped on this wagon right along with me with no qualms or problems.  And, you should know, MR is the king of desserts!  His motto has always been, life is short, eat dessert first!  But he has adapted to this lifestyle very easily, right along with me.  He still gets desserts from time to time... just cleaned up!

Cheesecake Recipe

While I can't tell you exactly what to eat for every meal and snack that will make you successful, I can tell you INTENTIONAL about everything you eat.  Consider how it fits into clean eating and your lifestyle.  Remember some critical factors:  1) always pair protein with a complex carbohydrate, 2) eat 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks every day, eating about every two or three hours, 3) no white flour, and 4) no white sugar.  For me, I have found that I have to limit the desserts, even the cleaned up versions.  I also limit the amount of wheat flour I eat.  I can have it, just not every day, and certainly not every meal.

Also, find some favorite clean eating bloggers, and follow them, try out their recipes.  It might help you, as it did me, to create your own blog and Facebook page.  I don't know how many people read any of these, but it does a few things for me.  First, it gives me a place to stash favorite recipes.  I also have them on Pinterest, but I have found that if I create my weekly menu here, with links to the recipes, then they are all in one place and it makes my life easier!  Second, it helps me to focus and remember why I even started clean eating. It was because I was tired of being overweight and feeling like crap.  When I eat clean, I truly do feel better.  And my thinking is clearer.  Third, it gives me a place to go back and reflect on my journey.  Especially when I find myself getting off track, I like to go back and re-read the blogs and posts and remind myself why this is so important.  And fourth, it allows me to share what I have learned with others.  It took me a long time to figure out how to eat right.  That sounds kind of silly, maybe, but I think a lot of us have fallen into the trap of thinking we can eat things with "healthy" on the label and that makes it okay.  I just didn't understand that truly healthy food is something we make ourselves whenever possible, and includes only whole food ingredients.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad recipe

I guess this still doesn't answer that person's request... tell me to eat x of this and x of that.  But hopefully, it helps someone.  If nothing else, when future me reads this, it will remind her why she is doing this and why it's important to stay on track.  And let me say one more time, for the record, this is not a diet.  This is a lifestyle.  This is how I eat for now and forever.  I have been doing it for over a year, very rarely eat anything outside of the parameters (and regret it when I do), and I just don't see any reason to stop.  Why mess with success?

Have a clean day!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

KISS! Keep It Simple.... Sweetie!

I just went back through and reviewed some previous blog posts.  Reading about my friend Tom reminded me that I have not been staying true to just keeping it simple and basic.  I note that I had written a blog early in the year where I committed to doing just that.  I get a little sidetracked when I start seeing all these great recipes and want to try them.  I think I need to just allow myself to try no more than one new recipe a week, and not always have it be a dessert.  I really seem to gravitate toward dessert recipes!

Last night was a huge cheat.  I had macaroni and cheese, and not a cleaned up version.  I haven't had that in forever!  It was really good, I have to admit.  I also had a piece of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Fabulous!  Actually, not as sweet as I might have expected, which to me is a good thing.  It was food catered by the Warrior Cafe at the National Military Medical Center at Bethesda.  The crew there really knows how to cook.  They are taking good care of our wounded warriors!

Partly because of getting a little crazy with recipes, and partly because I had all that good food last night, I decided this morning to get back to the basics.  Keep it simple!  Working 44 hours this week, plus 75 minute commute each way does not add up to time to make anything too time consuming.  Going back to smoothies for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and easy suppers...  Remember that it's important to pair a protein with your complex carb, whether it's a meal or a snack.  And eat your snacks two or three times a day.  It keeps the hunger monster at bay so you don't munch on something you shouldn't... like the peppermint patties in the community candy dish on the secretary's desk.  Just sayin'.

A typical day might be:  Breakfast - green smoothie; Lunch - leftover black beans and rice; Supper - Burger with lettuce and tomato, and a side salad.  For my snacks in between I might eat an apple with a small handful of almonds, or a cheese stick (Trader Joe's are the best!) and some strawberries.  I like easy, portable snacks that I can munch on at my desk.

Also, remember to get some kind of exercise in every day.  Often, for me, it is just a walk.  I like to do it twice a day, but that doesn't always work, so do what you can.

So this week's menu:

Black beans and rice
This is so easy it's ridiculous!  Saute some chopped onion in a couple TBSP of olive oil.  Throw in some crushed garlic.  Then add a can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes and a can of black beans (drain and rinse the beans first).  Sprinkle in a little crushed red pepper if you like.  Heat through.  Serve over cooked brown rice.

Burgers on the grill, veggies too!
Trader Joe's sells clean whole wheat burger buns

Brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce from The Naked Kitchen
I usually brown some ground beef to go in this for protein.  The sauce is really easy to make, and makes enough that I can freeze some for another day.

Hot dogs and slow cooker baked beans
Really? Hot dogs?!  We buy Hebrew National beef hot dogs.  While I would venture to say that a purist clean eater would not eat these, they don't contain sugar, and they are required to meet a standard since they're kosher, so I figure they are okay occasionally.  If I am going to eat a hot dog, which isn't that often, it will always be a good quality one like Hebrew National.
As for the baked beans, this recipe is also from The Naked Kitchen.  These are really close to what my mom used to make in the oven in a crock.  So yummy!

We either make a whole wheat crust, or by the fresh dough at Trader Joe's.  MR makes his own sauce with a can of tomato sauce and Italian seasoning.  There is always plenty of leftover sauce so he freezes it for the next time!  Add whatever toppings you like!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

An Inspirational Story

The story you are about to read is true.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent... oh wait, that's Dragnet.  (If you don't know what that is, go ask your Grandpa!)  Seriously, though, the below story is true.  I saw it lived out.  I am still seeing it being lived out.  This is his journey, and I am pleased to share it with you.

Tom’s Journey

In 2000 at the age of 41 I was diagnosed with a partially blocked artery near my heart. Since then I have been on cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other heart-related medications. Throughout the past few years I've tried to diet but always reverted back to my same eating habits which consisted mostly of processed, sugary, and mainly junk food. As I maintained my regimen of taking heart medicine daily, I noticed that my weight continued to increase. At my heaviest I weighed 232 lbs, but that is only what I was measured at the doctor’s office – I’m sure that I was closer to 250 lbs. In 2010, I began having severe knee pain and sought out an orthopedic doctor. In June 2011, I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee but it didn't work and in December of the same year I had a total knee replacement. As my knee healed I had plenty of time to think about what I was doing to my body but once again I did not have the willpower to stick to anything. Another year went by of eating whatever I wanted and not really enjoying it.

Last summer, (2012), I watched the Joe Cross film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and wished I had the willpower like those highlighted in that documentary. I tried juicing in the past but hated the mess it made and the cleanup of the juicer was a pain. I then began to notice the infomercial on the Nutri-bullet and thought that I would like to try it. However, it probably would have been another fad diet gadget that would just sit around the house after using it twice, like the juicer. It was also during this time that I began to notice a huge change in our good friends, MR & MRS. Both MR. and MRS. were losing lots of weight and talked about doing it while they ate “clean.” I thought that it sounded like a crazy concept and went back trying to drown myself drinking gallons of water each day and still eating whatever I wanted, thinking that the water would wash the pounds away.

Finally in October 2012 after feeling miserable about myself I was at Target and saw the Nutri-Bullet and decided to take a chance. I brought it home and I distinctly remember my wonderful wife looking at me knowingly as if it would be used twice then put it away with the juicer. Even so, my wife was supportive and began to help me by purchasing more fruits and vegetables which I could pulverize in my bullet to make a nice green smoothie. This actually took off and I began to eat 1-2 green smoothies per day. I them began to follow MR. & MRS. “clean” eating style and began viewing a variety of clean sites and redesigning our recipes. During this time my wife began to change our dinner recipes and adopted a Paleo concept. In a month I had already lost 8 lbs and I was motivated more than ever.

I began researching more about healthy eating and took more of an interest in green smoothies. After a few months of using the Nutri-bullet I decided to upgrade to purchase a Vita-Mix and once I had this gem… I was on my way. Now I start my day with a green smoothie and I either make one for lunch or take leftovers that I make into some type of salad. For dinner my wife will have a Paleo-style meal ready and I am able to stay full throughout the day. Unless I’m too busy at work to have my snack, I usually never go without eating something for more than a few hours. I love grapes, almonds, cucumbers, fresh fruit and any non-processed clean type of food. I was the type of person who would drink a case of soda in a week and eat a large bag of chips in one sitting. My favorite snacks were a glass of cold milk which I could dunk not one but several cookies in.

For those who believe they don’t have the willpower or for those who fall off the wagon, take it from me… you can do it. We all have our cheats and that’s fine, but eat clean 6 out of 7 days in the week and you will achieve your goal.

Now 10 months into this journey and 60 lbs lighter my doctor has taken me off all my meds… This was my ultimate goal – not just losing weight but getting off the meds. I thank God everyday for the work he has done with me and I pray that he continues to bless me.

Okay, me again!  I am so happy for Tom that he has been allowed to go off all of his medications, and has had to get all new clothes!  You can do it, too!  You may need to start in baby steps, or go all in from the beginning... whatever works for you.   You can do it!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Rose is a Rose

Do you call it a cheat?  Or a treat?  But it all amounts to the same thing, doesn't it?  Last night I had really just the little bit of salted caramel frozen yogurt, with mini (really super-mini) chocolate chips on top.  But to my body it's all just sugar, so it kept me awake for the longest time.  The up side to being so sugar-sensitive, now that I have essentially been off of processed sugars for well over a year, is that my body knows anytime it has taken in sugar.  I can almost feel the blood rushing around in my body!  Always a good reminder of why I don't eat that stuff (much) anymore.  So you can't sneak it in on me!

Okay, so back to eating right again today.  And actually, one little bit like that, to me, is not falling off the wagon... unless you then spend all weekend eating it!  But I won't, because I only bought as much as I was going to eat in one sitting... maybe 1/2 cup or so?  We went to a place called Ha-Ha's in Fenwick Island.  Serve yourself fro-yo in a bunch of different flavors.  Then you can add toppings like crushed Oreos, gummy bears, chocolate chips, brownie bites.... just all kinds of junk.  Nice for a treat now and then, but for sure not a steady diet!  We had actually planned to go go-karting, but a thunderstorm rolling in put the brakes on that (HA!).

I have noticed lately that I have been cheating more (still not a lot) than when I first started on the clean eating journey.  And I have noticed too that it has an immediate impact on my body.  So I really have to stop doing that.  I try to combat it by having healthier snacks around.  Here are some of the staple items we keep around to snack on:

Nut butters (with no sugar added)
Greek yogurt (goes well with a drizzle of honey, some of the granola below, and a little fresh fruit)
Homemade granola (I cannot tell you how easy this is to make and I just LOVE IT!)
Whole wheat pretzels - we order these online from Martin's Pretzels.  The other week we were in PA, and went by the factory store and picked some up!
Fresh fruit, of course

Personally, I limit the amount of dairy and wheat that I take in, but MR doesn't seem to have any issue with it, so we always have that stuff for him even if I might not eat it regularly.  The key for me is really being more intentional about what I eat.  Not just mindless snacking.... that's what got me in this mess in the first place.  But considering how long it's been since I've eaten, and what I really want.  And, most importantly, drinking water first, preferably with a slice of lemon squeezed into it.  Apparently, oftentimes when we think we are hungry, we are just thirsty.  So, what do you snack on?  Do you think about it, or just do it?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Easy Dinners for the Weekend!

My weekend started early!  As of 4:30 tonight I am done working until next Tuesday!  YAY!  Hanging at the beach with my family!  I brought along some stuff from my fridge (waste not, want not, right, Mom?!)  But still had to figure out what to actually eat the rest of the week.  As usual, we based on our menu on what we already had.  And then MR ran to the store for the rest of the supplies. So, here we go!

THURSDAY (tonight)
I used  this dough recipe, but I didn't have any vital wheat gluten (forgot to bring it!) so skipped that part and it turned out fine anyway.  The recipe says it will make two crusts, but it really made one large (14"-15") with a thickness similar to a hand tossed (not thin, not thick).
For the sauce, MR just takes a 25 oz. (or something like that) can of crushed tomatoes, 2 TBPS olive oil, oregano and Italian seasoning to taste.  EDIT:  This makes a lot of sauce, of course, but we freeze it in a few small containers so we have it for the next time!  And there will be a next time!
Top with your favorite toppings!
Bake at 400 for about 14 minutes.

Cheesesteaks - another wonder of the world!
When we have our cow butchered, we order steaks shaved thin for this purpose.  You can buy it this way at many groceries too.  Saute cut up peppers and onions in butter or ghee, then cook steak thoroughly.  Serve with provolone cheese and leftover pizza sauce (see Thursday) in whole wheat tortilla wraps, whole wheat buns, or skip the bread altogether and make Cheesesteak stuffed peppers!  

This is so super easy (HA!) and very tasty.  Soup isn't exactly a beach food, but I don't like to spend a lot of time cooking when I am on vacation!  I also have some leftover cooked chicken I will throw in, and a can of black beans (rinsed and drained).

Hey, we have to go out once in a while!  We're at the beach.  How about some blue crabs?!

Hope everyone has a great week!  And eat clean!