Whole 30 #3 – Week 3

Week 3 is always when things start to finally feel better.  On each of my Whole30’s, week 3 is when the swelling is pretty much all gone, my clothes feel looser, I’m sleeping better, and the scale is starting to cooperate again (down 7 lbs now).

This week we had E.J’s favorite meatloaf, brisket, smoked ribs, and Crock Pot Orange Chicken.  For dinner on Monday we had Crab-stuffed Tilapia, which I took to the next level by using Primal Kitchen’s Chipotle Lime Mayo and adding some crushed red pepper  to the stuffing… OMG, serious yum!

This weekend, we even had a little impromptu pool party IMG_2784where we served some Whole30-friendly summer fare that everyone really enjoyed.  E.J. grilled up some sugar-free smoked sausage from one of the smokehouses out near Weimer, TX, and my friend Anita contributed her now-famous Cucumber, Tomato, & Avocado salad, which is perfect for a hot summer get-together.

I also found a new Whole30 & Paleo friendly potato salad that everyone (including me) raved about.  Potato salad is serious business down here in Texas – everyone has a favorite recipe, and I’m no exception.  As far as I’m concerned, my mom’s mustard potato salad with pickles, boiled eggs, and gobs of Miracle Whip is the epitome of the classic summer dish, but since E.J. and I have decided to ban white potatoes from our diet, we’ve been looking for a decent substitute.  While I’ve tried several sweet potato versions, the texture and the sweetness of the yams just hasn’t really worked for me in this application, so I was thrilled when I finally found the legendary “white sweet potatoes” at Whole Foods.  They call them Japanese sweet potatoes, and they have a dark red skin with a white inside.  They are harder and not as sweet as a Jewel Yam or other standard sweet potato, so they actually work really well for dishes that you want to be more savory.  This recipe from Paleo Running Mama is the ticket.  I am so glad I made a double recipe, because we have leftovers that we will definitely be enjoying this week.

IMG_2783Now comes the final week of the Whole30, which will be made even more difficult due to my need to travel for business Monday – Wednesday, but as always I’ll pack as much as I can in the way of snacks and emergency meals just in case, and I’ll just be really picky with my meal orders while dining out.

 

 

 

Pinterest FTW!

This past weekend I finally had a full Sunday to do my cooking thing, and it’s been quite a while, so I had lots of new things to try.  Recently we’ve had such lovely cool evenings that E.J. and I have been sitting out on the front porch with the Buddy monster and just relaxing – him with his pipe, and me with Pinterest.  Pinterest really is a fun way to collect ideas for Paleo recipes, because 1) there are lots of them already out there with wonderful mouth-watering photos and 2) because sometimes you find a mouth-watering photo for something that isn’t Paleo, but it wouldn’t be that hard to adjust.  Here are the Pinterest wins I had this week:

  • Paleo Chicken Pot Pie – This is apparently one of Brendon’s favorite foods, and I never really knew it.  I remember tolerating pot pieIMG_2714 as a kid – mostly we’d get the ready-made frozen ones and I’d carefully eat the chicken and the crust while leaving most of the carrots and peas behind.  So it wasn’t exactly something I went out of the way to learn how to cook, and frankly, Paleo pie crust is tough to pull off anyway.  Well, it’s looking more and more like Brendon will be heading back up to North Dakota to work again, so I wanted to at least try to make a Paleo pot pie for him before he left.  It wasn’t the prettiest set of pies I’ve ever made – I really struggled with the crust sticking to the parchment paper after I’d rolled it out, but where it lacked in beauty, it made up for in taste.  Brendon was over the moon for it, so I’ll call that a success!
  • Paleo Pizza Quiche – Ok, before you laugh at this one, hear me out.  First of all, pizza is heavily debated in the Paleo universe, and as a staple of the American diet, it’s one of the hardest cravings to crack.  I’ve tried lots of crusts from cauliflower to almond flour, to frozen – and while they’ve been OK, it’s just not the same.  The truth is that when you are trying to mimic the real thing, you’re just going to fall short every time.  Nothing is going to give you that satisfying crust and real cheese experience, so sometimes it’s better to go for something that’s close, but not trying to be the real thing.  One example is the lettuce wrapped lamb burger I often get at a restaurant for lunch near my office.  It’s not even trying to be a hamburger or cheeseburger, but it’s just close enough to satisfy the craving without being disappointingly short of the real thing.  That’s what I was going for with Pizza Quiche.  Something enjoyable and reminiscent but not an analogue.   I modified the recipe a little to use his favorite toppings: mushroom, Italian sausage, onion, and green pepper, and then added slivers from a batch of Paleo Pizza Cheese from Paleo Cupboard which melt over the top when the slices are warmed up.  E.J. said it was awesome.
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Cod – This is another quickIMG_2716 weeknight recipe that can be added to last week’s theme.  The prep is super easy, and the flavor of the prociutto fried around the cod in butter is out of this world.  Even mom liked it.  For fun, I made some paleo tortillas and a lemon cream sauce to drizzle over the fish and the spinach also that added to the fresh flavors.  I’ll definitely make this one again.

Quick Dinner Wins

This past weekend was again one of those where I had places to be on Sunday in addition to my regular meal prep duties.  Fortunately, we still had quite a few lunches in the fridge from last week, so a couple of slow cooker dishes filled the gap.  But one of the things I’ve learned in our Paleo journey is that there’s nothing more depressing than food boredom.  Since I hadn’t had time to really try any new and exciting dishes this week, I decided to see if I could pull off some quick weeknight meals and share them with those of you who struggle to dedicate 6-9 hours of your weekend to cooking.

Here are a couple of those wins:

  • Honey Glazed Salmon with Orange and Ginger from Laughing Spatula – let me just say “Wow”.  I had picked up some salmon this weekend when scoping out the seafood counter looking for lobster specials.  I really didn’t know what I was going to do with it at the time, and just picked up some asparagus to go with it, because there’s something about asparagus with seafood…   Anyway, I had made a special treat for E.J. and Brendon on sunday in the form of a Double Chocolate Orange Torte, and had another really good navel orange sitting on the counter that needed to be used.  On the way home on Monday I searched “Paleo Orange Salmon” and picked this one out of the long list of hits.  To make it a one-pan dinner, I trimmed the asparagus and just laid it on top of the sliced oranges around the salmon and let the lovely juices mingle.  Yum!  This is definitely a must-try, and was seriously a 30 minute meal with very easy cleanup (quite rare in the Paleo world)
  • Steak with Chimichurri Sauce from Paleo Hacks – I used flank steak instead of skirt steak, but this chimichurri turned out really well and made for a really quick weeknight meal.  Over the weekend, I cooked some beets in the slow cooker and had them available in the fridge already, so all there was left to do was caramelize some onions on the stovetop, have E.J. grill the steaks, and throw everything in the blender for the sauce.  Dinner was served in about 20 minutes.  Can’t ‘beet’ that! (I’m sorry, couldn’t resist)
  • Pork Loin with Blueberry Sauce from PaleoLeap – I’ve posted this one previously, but it’s another really good quick weeknight win.  I think you could even substitute cherries, blackberries, peaches, or any other pork-friendly fruit and end up with a lovely meal within 30-45 minutes.  If you’re looking for a way to amp-up a pork loin, this is it!

Et voila!

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

My favorite recipe for Shepherd’s Pie on FunctionalFoodie.com appears to have gone all 404 on me.  So while I don’t have the original printed, I know it was based on Gordon Ramsay’s recipe, so I reimagined it.   Here’s what I recovered from memory that worked this past week:

Paleo Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Time: 45-60 mins
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

My re-creation of the amazing Paleo Shepherd's Pie recipe from FunctionalFoodie.com.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lbs ground lamb (Ground beef substituted is ok, but lamb is best)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 4 tbsp Coconut aminos
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary,  trimmed and finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 pkgs frozen cauliflower (steamable bags)
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large skillet, warm olive oil and cook meat, crumbling with a spoon or spatula until no longer pink.  Drain grease and return to skillet
  3. Add grated onion and carrot in with meat.  Cook until vegetables are soft.
  4. Add coconut aminos, garlic and tomato paste.  Mix and cook for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant
  5. Add wine, stock, thyme and rosemary and simmer until liquid reduces.
  6. Pour meat mixture into a large baking dish
  7. Steam each of the 3 packages of cauliflower in the microwave according to directions
  8. Combine cauliflower, garlic salt and black pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add coconut or almond milk if needed to achieve smooth consistency
  9. Spoon Cauliflower mash over meat and spread until covered
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower topping starts to brown


Happy Easter!

This past Sunday we entertained once again for the big Easter meal, and there was plenty of Paleo goodness to go around.  While the kitchen effort was doubled when combined with the week’s lunch & dinner meals, the result was a highly satisfying meal and a lot of great food to look forward to throughout the week.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • “Best of all worlds” Paleo Lasagna – Last week I made a double-recipe of the Bolognese sauce and had quite a bit leftover.  My options were to either freeze it and have it available for future weekends when I don’t have cook time, or use it in something else. I chose Option B and combined that sauce with the Grain Free tortilla recipe from Against All Grain as a noodle replacement, and the cashew cheese from my bookmarked Paleo Lasagna recipe on Paleo Newbie.    The reviews are in and apparently this is a huge win. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but so far I’m hearing it’s positively scrumptious
  • Creamed Spinach – if you are a fan of creamed spinach, this is your recipe.  It’s not runny or lumpy or flavorless like a lot of the paleo versions out there (I’ve tried quite a few of them and never been really happy with the result).   This one is creamy and thick and full of awesome.   As a bonus, because it’s not made with dairy, it actually reheats well, so you can make it ahead of your event and just warm it up when you need it (or reheat it for leftovers).  This is my new go-to for spinach.
  • Paleo Lemon Pound Cake – This one from Paleo Hacks really turned out nice.  It’s soft, dense, like a pound cake should be.  The fresh lemon flavors were a great compliment to the springtime meal
  • Carrot Cake Donuts – E.J. and I haven’t had donuts in a year and a half, so when I started looking for Easter-themed desserts, this one jumped out at me.  The flavor is outstanding and if you like carrot cake, these are a real treat.

I hope everyone had a great holiday.  I have actually been fighting with severe knee pain for the last several weeks and finally have an MRI scheduled for Friday.  Hopefully there’s nothing seriously wrong, and I’m just suffering from a sprain/hyperextension.  In the meantime it’s been really frustrating not being able to run or walk easily, so it was nice when the weather cooperated enough this weekend to get in the pool for the first time this season.  I was able to do some laps and at least get my heart rate up for a bit, and felt much better for it.  It’s been raining steadily since then, but I’m hoping it will clear up so I can get back in tomorrow.

Slow Cooker Sunday

E.J. and I had a fairly eventful weekend, considering we originally didn’t have much planned.  Friday night, E.J. wasn’t feeling very well, so we called it an early evening and just stayed home, but that was really the only relaxation we got.

17757225_10208869035672281_5729165839992357941_nSaturday was the annual Houston Art Car Parade downtown, which is a fairly big deal when it comes to H-Town traditions.   Considering I remember attending 20 years ago when there were only a handful of cars, the parade has come a really long way and consists of nearly 2 hours of colorful entries sauntering down Smith street.  I consider the Art Car parade a must-do activity for any self-respecting Houstonian, along with the Rodeo, NASA/Space Center Houston, and the Texas Renaissance Festival.  So it was with great horror, that I discovered E.J. had never seen the parade before.  Queue a serious face-palm.

Anyway, this year’s parade was at 2pm, so we had plenty of time before then to run some errands, have a lovely Paleo-friendly lunch at Escalantes in the Woodlands, and then head downtown for some parade fun.  We ended the day having dinner with friends at one of our favorite fancy dinner spots, Peli Peli in Vintage Park.  If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend the South African inspired restaurant, and while there’s nothing on the menu that is anything short of delicious, you have to try their beef filet covered in Diane sauce.  Sigh… it’s a rustic mushroom cream sauce that definitely isn’t dairy free, but oh is it divine.

Then today we were planning on meeting some friends in the afternoon, so Sunday Cook Day needed some special help.  Enter my 3 trusty slow cookers!  Before we headed out, I managed to get a Shepherd’s Pie cooked and packed for lunches, and also these favorite Crock Pot dishes going:

  • Mongolian Beef – this has become a new favorite.  I actually made it for the first time last week, but only made a single recipe, so it didn’t last long.  It’s back by popular demand this week and with more meat
  • Sweet Chipotle Slow Cooker Chicken – This is my own invention, a super simple sweet & spicy chicken that is easy to do in the standard sized pot. I paired this with some sauteed yellow squash and zucchini with onion.
  • Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce – Instead of sweet potato noodles, I went with spaghetti squash to help reduce our carb intake this week after Saturday’s splurge.

But before the weekend ended, I went ahead and helped E.J. kick the craving he’s had lately for hot dogs.  We grilled up some Applegate Farms Uncured grass-fed beef hot dogs and used this cassava flour bun recipe to make some hot dog buns.  Like most Paleo buns, the texture is definitely different from standard bread, but they held up well to the dog and the toppings.

At least today is a short week.  Next weekend is the big Easter meal, so I’m starting to put together my recipe list.  Next week I’ll report on the springtime spread!

Good Eats

E.J. is always saying on Paleo Marine that the secret to sticking with Paleo is the tasty meals.  I happen to agree with him, and while I certainly enjoy looking forward to a tried and true favorite dish, I do enjoy trying new things and blazing new culinary trails.

This weekend, I ventured into the world of cast iron cooking, and found two new favorites to add to the list:

  • Paleo Fruit Crisp – This month’s Paleo Magazine has a recipe for a skillet fruit crisp that I modified to use up some of those lovely strawberries and blueberries I mentioned in my last post.  The resulting dish was not only delicious, but very pretty, and held up well to a dollop of coconut milk ice cream.  I’ll post the steps I used in another post this week.
  • Caveboy Casserole – This gem from Our Paleo Life (minus the olives) was another surprise win.  This one-dish meal packs lots of veggies and flavor together for a really enjoyable meal.  I had some of this for lunch on my cook day today, and look forward to having again for meals this week.

Since E.J. just finished up his first drill weekendIMG_2666 in the Guard this weekend, I decided to make him a special Sunday meal with one of his favorites – stuffed fish, Paleo style.  I have tried stuffed flounder, tilapia, and others in the past, but this Crab Stuffed Tilapia from FitChicLA is by far my new favorite.  It’s not difficult to throw together and makes a very pretty meal.

E.J. said it’s one of the best Paleo meals he’s had so far, so we’ll definitely have to make it again sometime.