Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sweet Potato Salad

Some things just don't have priority right now... this blog is one of them. But since I've fled the house of wrestling boys for a few minutes of quiet in the garage while the chicken for the week is cooking, I thought I'd share this yummy sweet potato salad I came up with a couple weeks ago. 

Sweet potatoes. You either love 'em or hate 'em.  I love 'em!  Whatever you'd use a potato to make you can make a more flavorful (and healthier) version of with sweet potatoes.  Granted, they are sweet.  So if you don't want sweet, you don't want sweet potatoes.  I have absolutely nothing against sweet!

Potato salad (home made) is one of my favorite comfort foods.  And, like iced tea, if it's not made well, it can be disgusting.  The stuff you buy in the store they call potato salad I call yuck.  The homemade potato salad that my grandmother makes is so good you can't wait for the potatoes to cool down to eat it!  That's how I feel about this sweet potato salad.

Sweet Potato Salad

1/2 package of uncured hickory smoked bacon cooked till crispy and coarsely chopped
6 medium sized sweet potatoes washed and diced into about 1 inch chunks, skin on
4 boiled eggs
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 sweet onion chopped finely
2 T. mustard
1/2 c. paleo mayo (or your favorite mayo if you could care less about paleo)

Boil the sweet potatoes in salted water until cooked through but not mushy... about 15 minutes.  Drain and set aside in large mixing bowl.  Chop 4 cooled hard boiled eggs and add to mixing bowl.  Add crispy, chopped bacon and onion to mixing bowl.  Add celery seed, celery salt, mustard and mayo.  Mix with large spoon until well mixed.  Refrigerate, or if you just can't stand it like me, serve up a bowl and eat it warm!



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Throw together salad

Sometimes you just have to start throwing stuff together, or rather, sometimes you just have to start throwing FOOD together.

These last few weeks I've been very inconsistent with the effort it takes to eat and feed my family a clean diet.  You can't fall off the planning bandwagon.  Period.  Plan, prepare and then repeat.  But in real life there are times when you haven't planned and haven't prepared and that's when, if you have some spare fruit and veggies, vinegar, honey, oil and spices laying around, you may be on the verge of a very yummy throw-together meal!

I literally grabbed every fruit and vegetable I had left in the fridge and stuck it on the counter and decided to make a salad out of it.  There were some leftover broiled chicken tenders in the fridge that just happened to work out perfect for adding protein to the salad.  Here's what I came up with:

Throw-together salad

2 broccoli crowns cut into small pieces
2 cups fresh baby spinach coarsely chopped
1/4 chopped red onion
1/2 cup crushed cashew pieces
1/2 cup golden raisins
about 6 strawberries sliced
6 diced leftover broiled chicken tenders


1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. honey
1/2 t. poppy seeds
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 c. light olive oil

Put all the chopped veggies, fruit and nuts in a large bowl.  In separate bowl whisk vinaigrette ingredients together.  Pour over salad mix and mix well.  Add chicken and mix well.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting back and Tuna Salad

Well, I fell off the real-food bandwagon.  Actually, that's not true.  I got off the bandwagon at the stop marked convenience and chocolate.

If you live in suburbia and work full time and try to eat and feed your family a clean, real-food diet, there's no time to stop planning and preparing.  If you don't cook you don't eat.  Or you end up eating S.Y.C.E (somthing you can eat) rather than real food.  I got tired of planning and preparing after our long stent with some nasty respiratory infection and went to Chic-Fil-A, had pizza, cake, ice cream... I gave up.

The good news is, I'm back.  The bad news is, my body hurts.  I guess that's good news too in a way.  At least now I know for sure all that yummy stuff I can eat is actually causing me physical pain.  It's not just a coincidence that within hours of eating all that junk my hands were swollen and my belly felt like a volcano about to erupt.  The next morning my body felt like I had been hit by a truck.  And after a week of eating like that I now have worse pain in my arthritic left knee.

So bye bye sugar, processed food and flours and hello planning, preparation, meat and veggies!  It's Whole30 time round 2.

To get back on track I've been eating dates like crazy today, trying to ward off my craving for the leftover chocolate birthday cake in my fridge.  Dates + almond butter= God's Snickers Bar.

Tonight we had Tuna Salad with homemade mayo on a bed of cole slaw.  It's one of our favorite quick meals.     Even the kids like this one:

One can albacore tuna
3 T. homemade mayo
1/2 ripe avocado
plate full of cole slaw mixed with homemade mayo and your favorite spices

Mix a bag of pre-made cole slaw mix (get it from the bagged salad section in the supermarket) or 6 cups of shredded cabbage and carrots with about 1/2 c. of homemade mayo.  I added an additional tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, celery seed, paprika and salt and pepper to the slaw and mixed well.

Drain canned tuna of all water.  Mix well with 3 T. of homemade mayo.  Add in diced sweet onion and tomatoes if you like (I like, but my husband prefers just tuna please).  Place a half of a ripened avocado (with the seed removed) on the bed of cole slaw.  Scoop a large spoonful or ice cream scoop full of tuna salad mixture into the avocado.  Sprinkle with pepper or paprika or chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ground Beef Frittata

I don't wanna be chicken, I don't wanna be a duck, so I changed my luck...

(My Ground Beef Frittata. Sorry.  Not a photographer. It's much tastier than it looks!)

That's what's going thru my head.  OK, anyway, I don't wanna be a pumpkin bread blog.  But that's pretty much what I'm turning into.  I realized looking back yesterday that I've got three posts on some form of pumpkin bread.  And I never posted any of my meals from my Whole30.  So here it goes.  How about a frittata?

This is probably my personal favorite of all the recipes I discovered and made while I was doing the Whole30.  Actually it wasn't so much a recipe.  It was a template.  In the back of the It Starts with Food book, the authors have WONDERFUL recipe templates to come up with meal ideas using the ingredients you have available.  I LOVE it!

When I say frittata I feel like I'm a butler serving a very wealthy family their breakfast, "Your fri ta ta sir."  In my hick-world, we call this an omelet.   One of these lasts in our house for two breakfasts.  I make it in the evening, cut it into wedges and store it in the fridge.  It reheats nicely and as much as I like cooking I'm not one to get up at 4 am to make a fresh fri ta ta.

You could use just about any combination of meat, veggies and spices you desire for your frittata.  Here's what I used in this one:

1/2 sweet onion thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 large handful of fresh baby spinach
1 lb. fresh ground beef
10 eggs
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 T. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In large cast iron skillet (or oven-safe skillet) heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Add ground beef to skillet.  Break beef apart and cook until thoroughly browned.  In large bowl whisk 10 eggs with the spices.  (If your cast iron skillet is not well seasoned you may need to add some more olive oil to your meat and veggies before the next step.)  Top your meat and veggies with your handful of fresh spinach.  Pour eggs over the spinach and meat mixture.  Allow the the skillet to continue to cook on medium heat for a few more minutes, using a spatula to pull up the sided of the eggs off the pan, allowing more of the egg mixture to seep underneath.  After about 5 minutes place the entire skillet uncovered in the preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggs puff up and slightly brown around the edges and fork comes out clean when the middle of the frittata is pierced. 


Monday, February 25, 2013

Simple {Paleofied} Pumpkin Bread

Ugh.  I don't feel too good.  But this virus-nasty-cough-thing didn't stop me from making pumpkin bread Saturday afternoon.

I'm new at playing around with grain-free ingredients to come up with baked goods.  Up until now I've basically picked a gluten-free recipe and substituted the GF flour with almond meal.  But for this recipe I browsed four or five different versions of the recipe I was looking for and got a general idea of how many eggs, how much flour, how much leavening, etc. should go in it.  I ended up finding this WONDERFUL series on the science and art of Paleofying.

Up until reading that lady's very helpful series of posts I had never heard the term Paleofy and I didn't know it was a derogatory term at that.  Apparently the real "righteous" Paleo-eaters don't qualify grainlessly baked goods as Paleo.  In their eye those goodies are just glorified, or Paleofied junk food.  Maybe so, but until eating pumpkin bread with almond meal, real pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs, spices and honey makes me sick, I'm still going to call it a real good treat that isn't a cheat.  As far as I know, there are masses of evidence that conventional wheat, sugar and other things whipped together to make the cookies, cakes and quick bread we all crave are bad for us.  But there are no such bodies of evidence for cookies, cakes and quick breads made with grainless, real food ingredients. I'm not really big on the paleofied label, but if you want to call it paleofied pumpkin bread that's fine with me.  I'm still calling it good and real.

Ok.  So this recipe is thanks to looking at this, this, this and this (all look delish!) and guessing at what was best to substitute with.

Wet Ingredients:

1- 15 oz. can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut milk

Dry Ingredients:

1 c. almond meal
1 c. coconut flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 t. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in another bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until well blended.  The texture will be a thick batter you will spread more than pour into two bread pans which have been greased with coconut oil.  Pans should be about 1/3 full.  Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

This is a very moist, simple, feel-good bread.  I love it for breakfast along side my frittata.  I love it for lunch after my left over pulled pork and cole slaw.  I love it for an after work snack.  I think you get the picture. I love this simple, moist pumpkin bread.  I'm sure you could take it up a notch or 5 from simple to decadent if you added in some of your favorite chocolate, coconut flakes, nuts, fruits, etc.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Food Philosophy

Like my side bar says:  Give thanks.  Amen.  Dig in.

I want to be clear about something, I believe its important to take care of the body you've got.   I don't believe eating or not eating certain foods (or substances claiming to be foods) makes you any better or worse of a person.  If you call the Big Mac dinner, or a cinnamon roll breakfast, or light yogurt and a dressing-drenched salad lunch, and you thank the Lord for what you're eating... God bless ya!  I hold no personal judgements against you or your diet.  We can get together for lunch anytime.  I promise not to condemn you for eating Micky D's if you won't judge me for eating my slow-cooked pulled pork with homemade coleslaw and sweet potato.

I see the Biblical trend towards a self-made religion through a restricted or "righteous" diet.  A diet doesn't make you righteous.  A diet doesn't make you unrighteous.

My change in diet and newly forming food philosophy has nothing to do with believing it to be morally wrong to eat certain foods or morally right to eat others.  It's purely a what's-best-for-the-physical-body philosophy.

I'm not even really hung-up on Paleo or Whole30 diet labels.  I have chosen to go grain-free and sugar-free (not honey-free) and dairy-free because after adhering to a Whole30 and/or Paleo diet for the past month and half I feel never-going-back better!  You can read more on my Whole30 here.

I like the way Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the authors of It Starts With Food (a great read by the way):

If you’re reading this blog, we all have one thing in common:  we try to eat well, whether we call it “Paleo” or “Whole30″ or just plain “clean”. We know the difference between Real Food and Stuff You Can Eat. We eat real food, natural food, nutrient-dense food. We avoid foods that require additives to be “healthy”, high-tech fabrications designed to replace real food, and food-like products made from ingredients we cannot pronounce. And we do this, day in and day out, for the vast majority of our meals and snacks.

I believe that what we eat has an enormous impact on our health and how we feel.  My health and how I feel is important.  One thing I've come to realize about myself is that what I've really valued is taste and convenience... actually not even the taste.  I mean yes, the chocolate cake or pizza tastes good for five seconds before it starts to hurt me, but now that I've been eating clean or real (as I like to call it), I've found that those foods don't even taste as good to me anymore.  The foods that I liked and craved gave me seconds of pleasure and weeks of pain.  I was trading a moment of pleasure and convenience for being hurt.  I don't want to be hurt by food anymore!  Sheesh!  Rediculousness!  I want to eat good, real food and not hurt myself. 

I was thinking today about how my kids are growing.  Their cells are dividing and they are generating the mature bodies they'll live with for many years.  And then it hit me, "I need to feed them real food!  I can't be just giving them the stuff I consider S.Y.C.E (stuff you can eat) because they are used to it and it's convenient and cheaper while I eat real food!"

I have been weaning my kids off the S.Y.C.E diet they are used to and they're actually doing really well shifting over to "real" food.  But I've still caught myself planning to eat something and giving them the S.Y.C.E they want just to appease them.  I don't plan on taking away treats for my kids.  Treats are a pleasure in life that we all, especially kids, can enjoy and be thankful for.   But the treats don't have to hurt us.  So instead of pre-packaged cookies with lots of ingredients my kids and I can't pronounce I'm gonna make them some homemade fudge.  Ingredient list: cocoa, coconut milk, vanilla, and honey.

Again, I don't believe for one second what you eat or don't eat makes any moral difference.  I do believe what I eat and don't eat does have an effect either for good or bad on my body and health.  And as a mom and wife, and the head chef of the house, what I choose to feed my family is going to effect their bodies and health for good or bad.  I want to feed them real food, not just something they can eat.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Homemade paleo mayo

The recipe is all over the internet.  Mine is not an original except that I used apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice (I'm sure others have used vinegar instead too).  I tried making it with lemon juice, but me and the fam all agree- the vinegar version is better.

1 egg at room temp.
2 T. apple cider vinegar at room temp.
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 c. plus 1 c. light tasting olive oil (not extra virgin)

The key to the whole thing is patience.  You have to let the egg and apple cider vinegar come to room temp. in the food processor.  That means put them there and let them sit for a good half hour or so.  Then add the dry mustard, sea salt and light tasting olive oil.  Again, patience is required. Once you have all those ingredients in the food processor, turn the processor on and begin blending.  Then veeeerrrrryyyy sllllooooooowwwwwllllyyyyy (very slowly) drizzle the remaining 1 c. of olive oil into the food processor.  Very slowly.  It should take at least 3 minutes to drizzle the entire cup in.

If you've been patient, your mayo should be thick.

Enjoy mixed with tuna or use as a base for your own salad dressings.  I've been taking 2 T. of my homemade mayo, adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a 1/2 t. of seasoning salt (or your favorite spices), whisk together and walla... dressing.  Great mixed with some cole slaw!