Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things that make me go MMMMM

Every time I explain to people about my new diet they look at me as if I must be suffering some great hardship. "No dairy, no soy, no potatoes, no legumes and no grains?!?!?" This is pretty much the same reaction I had pre-Paleo challenge myself. Truth be told it's not a sacrifice at all. Yes I'm spending more time in the kitchen and a bit more money at the grocery store but these sacrifices are investments in my overall health so it isn't even a point of debate. As far as giving up all the "fun food" that others crave: I haven't really noticed. Yes, I drove by Hardee's yesterday and envisioned the awesomeness of a buttery biscuit but I never really ate fast food crap before so why miss it now? Chocolate has been a bit of a sacrifice. I'm a woman, chocolate is more critical than ibuprofen ;) Lucky Larabar makes two products that contain unsweetened cocoa powder so I should be able to push through.
Good news is there are TONS of new favorite indulgences. The primary one for me being sunflower seed butter. I needed to find a substitute for my beloved PB and though skeptical at first, this stuff fits the bill. It has the same signature creamy consistency of great PB and its own awesome nutty taste. I've become a hardcore convert. However, running through a jar in one week is not going to get me where I want to be so I'm having to stagger my purchases of this goody. Another indulgence jerky. I'm a huge fan of and their product. When I know it's going to be an extra long day and I won't have a way of keeping a homemade meal properly refrigerated I can just grab a balanced kit and go. also has an awesome grass-fed beef jerky product that I recently discovered. Until I find the time and motivation to make my own product these two companies will be keeping me well fed.
Today I broke out the extra-virgin coconut oil for the first time. I sauteed some chicken tenderloins in the oil along w/ some curry spice then paired it with a salad and veggies to take into the office. Now my kitchen smells like Thailand and I can't wait for lunch! Coconut oil: try it out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Life is setting in

Crazy busy life 24/7 these days: up at 5AM for a 6AM CF session then home to prep and package the days meals, in the office by 9:30AM and not home until 12 hours after that. The days are long and exhausting but I'm pushing forward. I haven't had much time to try a lot of new recipes. I did, however, break my two year beef-free streak this week. Grass-fed ground beef was a necessary relief from day in and day out of chicken. I seasoned it with one of my favorite spices (cumin) and served it atop avocado and tomatoes. I first approached the meal with trepidation but it was alot like eating a taco salad *fat kid favorite* so I dug into that dish for a few nights after work.
This morning I woke up, walked into the kitchen and just said "I'm not cooking today." Couldn't stand the thought of pulling out all the cookware and spending what few moments I had to myself in the kitchen. Solution: WalMart. No seriously, they have small roasted chickens for under $5. I ran over and intercepted the deli lady pushing a cart full of the freshly rotisserie'd birdies to the display case. Chicken in hand I grabbed a carton of strawberries and some bananas then flew home and proceeded to go truly Cave-woman on my bounty. We're talking no plate, just me and a chicken leg standing in the kitchen. YUM***I sliced up half of the breast and paired it with some delicious mache lettuce, avocado, grape tomatoes, EVOO, s&p. It was a super-fantastic salad later at work. It seems that I have quickly transitioned from craving toast to turkey. I don't think I've eaten this much meat in all of last month. It's delicious! Proud of myself for turning down POUND CAKE and Papa John's Pepperoni Pizza at work this week. Weighing in tomorrow~*

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week One: Grand Success

It's been a crazy busy week and the daily new recipe attempts along with multiple grocery store runs have certainly been an added responsibility but I'm loving it. Everything has been delicious and satisfying save for an off-putting encounter with "Paleo pancakes." Plus I love taking responsibility of my food from start to finish. I'm packing lunch every day: a salad with protein and avocado plus lots of fruit and veggie options should I become peckish. There is always a serving of nuts in my desk when the work day runs into night. I haven't wrestled with any cravings either. *phew* My only fear is that I may be consuming too many natural sugars by way of fruit. I'm partaking in navel oranges, fresh plums, apples, the post-workout banana and fun combos of frozen goodies like mango, pineapple and mixed berries. However, I hopped on the scale today and was shocked to see...WEIGHT LOSS! I feel like I've been pigging out all week and yet the numbers are once again descending *finally* Not too shabby for 7 days' work

One such indulgent dish: chicken tenders!

Skinned and trimmed chicken thighs
1 or 2 beaten eggs
Almond flour w/ liberal additions of your fav spices such as basil, thyme, paprika and a pinch of sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large skillet w/ some EVOO and while that heats up dip each thigh in the beaten eggs then coat in the seasoned almond flour mixture. Place the thighs in the hot oil and turn only once to prevent flaking of the batter. Cook thoroughly~*

This was so good! I thought for sure I was violating some rule because these little goodies were better than regular fried chicken. Not wanting to overdo my fat intake with nut flour and oil I will have to ration this dish to a once a week indulgence. The chicken was great straight out of the pan and later cold on my work salad. ENJOY

Monday, April 12, 2010

Delicious day 1

This morning's workout was deceptively evil and I have a sneaking suspicion I may not have full use of my arms by tomorrow. I sped home and served up Trader Joe's Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage for a good dose of protein. This was the one sausage product they made that didn't include any kind of dairy or sugar additive so it won out by default. Pretty tasty way to start the day.

Lunch at work was a mix of Persian cucumbers, spinach leaves and TJ's organic herb mix topped with chicken tenderloins smothered in the Primal BBQ Sauce. It was fantastic! I didn't even need salad dressing to accompany the bed of greens what with the sauce and the awesome flavors from the various herbs from the bagged mix ($1.99). I think this is a necessary repeat for tomorrow.

I snacked on Buffalo jerky today as well (TJ's $4.99). It was really tasty, but as I sat happily munching away I realized there was soy sauce in the ingredients list. Day 1 and I already fouled up! Finding products without soy is a little trickier than I had anticipated but I'm not discouraged. Can anyone recommend a Paleo-appropriate jerky?

So Day 1 was a grand success, I'm feeling accomplished and looking forward to more awesome creations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ready, set, COOK

Just came home from a final pre-Paleo meal: mushroom, brie and goat cheese stuffed chicken breast with mashed potatoes and roasted zucchini plus a slice of garlicky ciabata bread and key lime pie for dessert. Yessir we celebrated in style. Now on to business! I'm in the kitchen simmering "Primal BBQ sauce" which I yanked from The Son of Grok:

1 6oz. can organic tomato paste
1.5 cups low sodium beef stock
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
2 Tbl. organic dijon mustard
2 Tbl. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl. chili powder
1Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt

Dice veggies and combine everything in a sauce pan. Bring to a low temp then cover and simmer for 30ish minutes.

I had to make two modifications since I didn't bother to double check my spices before starting on this first foray: my garlic was in a less than ideal state so instead of chopping up 3 cloves I sliced several cloves in half and will pull them out after it is done simmering. Also, I may be using all cumin or a 1/2 chili powder and 1/2 cumin mix. I didn't label the spice bag from the co-op so I'm not sure exactly what just went into the pot. No matter, the kitchen already smells divine! Can't wait to try this on some chicken for lunch tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Time to say goodbye

I found the inspiration/courage to "go Paleo" at the Crossfit Games VA/MD/DC sectionals competition last weekend. It wasn't the ripped athletes in perfect form that I found as encouragement, rather it was seeing the delicious foods that a fellow volunteer was digging into as well as the "OMG WOW" taste of PaleoKits.
Weight and food have been a lifelong issue. Tall from birth I stuck out and my peers immediately noticed this difference. Whether their taunts influenced my self-image or if I really did manage to pack on the pounds that quickly I don't know. What I do know is that food became my emotional outlet from as early on as kindergarten. It was the only thing I felt I could control. It was how I rewarded or punished myself. Bored or lonely? Eat! Happy? Eat! Trying to subconsciously delay studying or chores? EAT! Boy issues? BINGE!
I understood the need for proper nutrition. I just didn't understand nutrition. As a child I would eat bread and pasta instead of steak because I thought it was healthier! *tragic* Over the years I have been moving towards a more "all-natural" diet as well as one that frequently omits animal protein. I don't eat beef at all and rarely pork. Poultry and fish still grace my plate once a day if I can manage it. I've been following the Flat Belly Diet guidelines throughout 2009 and saw a 50lb. drop on the scale *yay* but my body composition isn't where I want it to be. I've been working out at a Crossfit gym for 3 months now and while I'm getting stronger there is still no way I'd walk the beach comfortably. So here we go: PALEO. People swear by it and I'm running out of ideas. I want to see my body change and be done with the constant obsession of "weight loss." My relationship with food is a healthy one these days. I'm a beautiful, happy woman. Coming in just under 5'10" and as a truly curvy size 10/12 I am weighing in very close to my goals. I love my natural hourglass, I don't want to be a flat chested stick insect. As an opera singer I realize that if God hadn't built me with several key physical attributes I wouldn't be the instrument that I am. I'm not fighting that, I am fighting the soft belly and remaining dietary weaknesses.
So these next few days will be spent studying up on all the rules of the caveman way and stocking my pantry with essentials. I will admit that I am currently eating the bad stuff, like some pathetic chain smoker about to kick the habit taking one last drag down to the filter: some hummus, pita chips, peanut butter, yogurt and chocolate before I bid it all adieu.
Have a very Happy Easter. I'm going to enjoy some of mom's famous Bunny Cake and collect recipes~*