Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A rap for my neglected blog

My s'bucks gold card is here
So I may be actin a bit queer
A peppermint mocha latte
Won't chill me out like beer
So you should have some fear

And then the hubby told me I would have been good at a Playstation game I've never heard of.  (Which is even more queer than my rapping because I have an aversion to video games and any other activity that requires eye-hand coordination beyond typing.)

The end.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Take what's (going) bad and make it good

Who's got veggies in their fridge that should have been eaten last week?  Raise your hand!  Oh, you don't?  Well, you must be a better person than I.  I like to get ambitious and buy too many veggies and then eat out 4-5 nights a week.  It happens all the time.  Last week when the hubby was sick, I decided to raid my fridge and make a soup.  I call it my kitchen sink minestrone since it pretty much had all but the kitchen sink.  Recipe as follows and you should not follow it to a T, make your own variation saving what you have from turning greener.

1 lb bacon (diced)
3/4 large white onion (diced)
3-4 carrots (diced)
1/2 bell pepper (soft spots cut off, diced)
1 super large parsnip (diced)
1.5 stalks celery (sliced)
9 tomatoes (from my garden, blend of heirloom varities)
12oz (give or take) button mushrooms (sliced)
1 package of Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausages (5)
1/2 - 3/4 box of elbow pasta (Dreamfields)
1 tbsp better than bouillon
Water (6-8 cups?)
2 bay leaves
1 branch thyme (fresh)
3 large sage leaves (fresh)
Hot Paprika
Smoked Paprika

(*all dried seasonings to taste)

In a large soup pot, I sauteed the diced bacon until it was crispy, then removed it with a slotted spoon (only burning myself in the face twice).  Set aside in a bowl.  Saute diced onions in bacon fat until almost golden/ transparent (I cut all other veggies except mushrooms while onions were sauteing).  Saute the celery, bell pepper, carrots, and parsnip with the onions, sweating them.  

Prep the tomatoes: to get the tomatoes ready, I used a paring knife to cut the part where the stem attaches out (ok, I forgot to do this part and regretted not doing it so I'm telling you to), then I used the paring knife to put a small "X" in the bottom end of the tomato.  Put tomatoes in lightly boiling water for about a minute each (until you see the skins lifting around your "X" cut), then put in a bowl of ice water to cool. Skins should peel off easily.  Quarter the tomatoes and then push the seeds into a bowl with your fingers, set aside.  Dice the tomatoes to add to the soup.  

Add tomatoes and stain seeds over pot to get excess tomato juice.  Add water (by eye depending on how much broth you want, you can add more later) and bouillon.  Add garlic and herbs - thyme, sage, and bay leaves (you can add more sage but I wimped out when a massive grasshopper scared me in my garden).  Add pasta.  Simmer until pasta is tender or up to 45 minutes, pasta will get super soft but also thicken the broth a bit.

Saute sausage in a separate pan, add to soup when done.  For some extra flavor, I sauteed the sliced mushrooms before adding them to the soup.  Add about 3/4 of the bacon back in.  Add salt and paprika(s) to taste.

Use rest of bacon as a garnish.  Enjoy!

PS- this recipe makes a pretty big pot of soup so use a large stock pot and make sure you've got room to store it in the fridge!

My hubby said this is some of the best soup I've made so I hope you enjoy it! Pretty soon I'll be off to buy all these ingredients again to make this on purpose.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Creating Healthy Habits

I wrote a post the other day and it kinda got all screwed up so I will be re-posting that later.  I'm going to make an effort to make this blog fun with a focus on food and while I am changing my lifestyle and how I view food, I will make sure this does not become some place where I rant about how much I hate to diet.  

The Habit has become quite the habit for us (more about that later) and I've got to thinking about habits and what they symbolize.  Experts say it takes 21 days to create a new habit so therefore it should take 21 days to break a bad habit by replacing it with a new one.  Unfortunately, I've found that you can't quite "forget" how awesome the gallon container of cheap nacho cheese from Costco tastes or the smell of cinnamon buns.  

Most Americans go from one extreme to the next when it comes to health; we go to extremes in most aspects of our lives - we're the ones who created the X-games!  My journey towards health has been slow and there have been pitfalls everywhere. You can see from pics on here that I go big or go home when it comes to indulging.  I'm not here to preach but over the past few years I've looked at what others have been doing that makes them happy plus gives them the body they want.  My plan is to implement some of these, give them a test drive, and if I love it adopt it, if I don't then I won't.  

Right now, I've cut sugar and grains from my diet (did you know the biologically corn is a grain?).  I am also emphasizing more whole foods versus processed items.  Seeing good food in my home makes me happy.  I have found myself making the right choices when going out and I am to the point where I'm not jealous if those around me are eating tortillas or chips - my mind is in the right place for my body.  

My newest habit attempt is smoothies and I will share my breakfast recipe with you.  If you try it, comment on here and let me know what you think.  Even if you hate it!

Breakfast of health geeks:
In a magic bullet cup (about 20 oz?  Note: I don't measure anything, just toss it all in)

Fill cup 1/2 way with ice (or a touch less)
Cover ice in coconut milk (1 cup?)
Add 1 large leaf of kale (break off stem, tear into pieces)

- blend a bit -

Now you have more room add:
1 banana (in pieces)
1 packet Stevia (eq to 2 tsp of sugar; I need the sweet esp if the bananas are not super ripe)
2 tbsp of Chia powder

- blend til smooth -

Enjoy!  I love the balance these represent in terms of omegas from Chia, calcium from coconut milk, vitamins from kale, and potassium from bananas.  It can be a perfect superfood and the banana is the dominant flavor so it feels like drinking a sweet shake (if you don't look down and see that it's green).

I've even got the hubby saying these aren't bad and he is such an eggs and bacon type of guy.  You can freeze your bananas and use them to substitute ice but take the peel off before tossing in the freezer.  (I learned that one the hard way and they don't defrost nicely!)

Here's to your health!

Got a new health focused habit?  Share below!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Healthier Dill Sauce

One of my hubby's fave childhood Czech meals is roasted or boiled beef in dill sauce.  The dill sauce is creamy, tangy, and sweet - it's probably something you would find my Norwegian ancestors putting on herring.  

Converting this recipe wasn't easy.  First of all, it's not fully Paleo because this does include cream but I used locally sourced, organic cream so I wouldn't have to feel as guilty.  I haven't found a replacement that gives the sauce the same flavor.  The original Czech recipe includes lots of flour and sugar so I think I did pretty well replacing it with healthier options and retaining the flavor.

There are some cheats here since we made it to serve with a pre-made pot roast.

Dill Sauce:

1/3 cup butter (this can be ghee or another neutral flavored oil)
1/4 cup coconut flour or almond meal (I did 1/2 & 1/2; almond meal is gritty)
2 tbsp white chia powder (for thickening)
1 cup cream divided (1/2 cup servings)
1 cup chicken broth (or broth from boiled beef)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (get the good, raw organic stuff)
4 packets Stevia (equivalent of 8 teaspoons sugar)
1/2 bunch chopped dill (pre-chop since you'll be stirring the second you start)

Mix the vinegar, dill, and sweetener in a bowl.

In a saucepan (or frying pan, as I prefer), melt the butter and then add the coconut flour and/or almond meal and chia powder.  Stir constantly, cooking on medium heat until the ingredients melt together and thicken up.  Add one half cup cream, watching your heat isn't too high.  Cook until the mixture is thick, add the vinegar/dill/sweetener mixture.  Add the broth, stirring constantly to keep it blended to prevent burning and keep from clumping.  At the end, add the last half cup of cream and salt to taste.  Cook until desired thickness (it will get thicker the longer it goes).  

Serve over beef and veggies; it's also great over salmon.  You can keep a pinch of dill for garnish as the dill in the sauce will brown a little as it cooks in.

*Side note:  This was my first sauce experiment.  Next time I plan on using only coconut flour as it's got a finer consistency than the almond meal does.  Our sauce was gritty and super noticeable when taking spoonfuls from the pan but once it was on the meat, the texture was not a problem.  Neither flour substitute left a strong flavor but I made sure to really cook all the ingredients together to meld the flavors.

Parsnip Fries

After making my goulash soup (recipe to come), I had some leftover parsnips I had to cook.  It popped in my head that I had to roast them, so one night I julienned them and stuck them in the toaster oven.  My hubby was impressed and said they were like "fries."  So the parsnip fries were born!

parsnips - julienned
granulated garlic
cayenne or hot paprika (optional)
olive oil

Julienne your parsnips, which means cut them into cute little matchstick shapes (but slightly bigger than a match stick; you can google and see a video if it's confusing).  Put them in a ziplock bag and toss in olive oil until they're all coated.  Spread out on your pan (hopefully you're putting a silpat under these); dust with salt, garlic, and paprika.  Put into a 425 degree oven (I use a convection toaster oven) for 15 - 25 minutes.

I like mine cooked well so they dry out a touch so I go for about 25 but the ends get a little burnt which I really like.  I also like to shake them about every 5 minutes and turn the pan if the back ones are cooking too fast.  Dave says they get too "parsnipy" tasting if you don't use enough olive oil.