Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spring = BBQ!

The weather here in Oregon has been so mild of late.  I joke with my east coast friends that we've had a week and a half of winter, and spring is here now.  Hard to argue that with temps in the mid 60's and the sun shining down.  I was tempted to put out my hammock, but there's still a little breeze that keeps it chillier than the actual temperature, and you better be in the sun to be warm.
Because it's been so nice I got excited to get the Traeger grill out.  We bought our Traeger towards the end of last summer and used the heck out of it.  I was so excited about it because it was easy to start and everything I put on it tasted good.  Even meat!  I don't like to cook meat without a meat thermometer because I always ruin it.  So this hot, black, smoking box was just magical for me because everything comes out tasting good.  I'm more than ready to get it fired up again and that's what we did last night.  If you haven't had a Traegered corned beef, well then you are in for a real treat, and that's where I started this year.  I can't even describe how a Traegered corned beef tastes different that normal corned beef, it just does.  The more fat on your beef the better too.  I once bought a slab that was light on fat and it did not taste as good.

Other than the Traegered beef, I have struggled with my food intake, nothing sounds good.  When I go to the store I end up wandering around looking for something that sounds good.  Tomorrow is Sunday and I'm going to use the day to find a couple of recipes to try. Hopefully reviewing the blog with remind me of things I was excited to eat.
I had a few major slip ups to eating gluten free.  We went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and I thought I could get just plain wings, with the sauce on the side.  Unfortunately, I ordered the boneless wings and they came with a very chunky breaded coating, with the sauce on them.  I was so disappointed.  I ate them anyway and they were terribly disgusting.  Next time I'll go with the naked burger.
Last night we were short on time due to OSU evening games and my husband brought home a ready to cook meatloaf.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'm sure it was a gluten bomb.  It just makes me realize how much more attention I need to give to controlling all our meals.  We need meals that are quick to make when time is limited.  Again, planning will probably be key there.

On the plus side, my refined eating habits are making a dent in my health.  I am down 10 pounds, have more energy in general and most importantly, I am see results in the gym.   My endurance has improved, my strength has improved noticeably and I don't have the joint aches like I used to.  If I hurt now, it's from working out, in a good way.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Oops, it's Valentines Day!

I forgot that both my husband and I would be home on Valentines Day, I should have planned better.  I wanted to throw a corned beef brisket on the traeger, that would have been special.  Too bad we didn't have one.  So late in the afternoon I punted with ground beef.  For him it was a win, for me it was cooking two meals and experimenting for a couple of hours in the kitchen.  See below for what I came up with.  You'll notice still too much chicken and not enough other meat variety.

Recent good meals:

Trader Joes Red Lentils with crumbled chicken sausage.
Spaghetti Squash with chicken sausage

Yummy products:
Chia Bars
Trader Joes Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Trader Joes Freeze Dried Mangos

TJ's Red Lentils
I followed the direction on the back of the lentils package, but decreased the red pepper flakes to 1/2 tsp (next time will make it 1/4 tsp) and used Leprechaun Golden Cider instead of wine, it turned out delicious.  I had just made a fresh batch of chicken bone broth and that helped develop a nice deep flavor.  The recipe used half the package of lentils and was enough for me to have 3-4 meals with it.  A couple of times I topped the lentils with my chicken sausage crumbles.  If the red pepper flakes hadn't been so strong, I would have added a couple dabs of Sriracha sauce on top.

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Sausage:
The husband and I ended up at home on Valentines day with nothing planned for dinner.  We were both tired, had only a few ingredients in the cupboard, and ground beef in the freezer. He is a happy camper with Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, I obviously can't eat that.  I decided to make him the HH and use spaghetti squash for me with some GB and a homemade paleo sauce.  Last night I reflected on how I've gone from rarely cooking, to making two meals at a time, crazy!  I also end up running the dishwasher every other day since I've adopted this new way of eating. Ok, back to the meal...
I like to roast my spaghetti squash at 375 for 30-40 mins, or until fork tender.  After it's cut in half and cleaned out, I slather it in TJ's garlic EVOO and season with whatever spices float my boat that day, then put it in the oven cut side up.
  I looked up a recipe for Paleo Beef Stroganoff, but it made way more than I needed so I just wrote down the ingredients and guessed on the amounts for what I needed.  I started by sauteeing onions in ghee.  Then added full fat coconut milk, chicken bone broth, Leprechaun Golden Cider (all sauces are delicious when cooked with alcohol.  Cider is my gluten free answer), dried parsely, salt and pepper.  Unfortunately after adding the coconut milk, I added too much bone broth and cider which thinned the sauce down too much.  I was never able to boil off enough liquid to get much thickness to the sauce.  I had used leftover coconut milk and didn't have any extra to add back in. I think if I had considered that to begin with, it might have been wonderful.  I was just too excited to get all those flavors in there, however it did taste good. From the Googling I did, it sounds like making a roux with coconut flour doesn't work out well either, but that is something I'd like to try for myself.
To put it all together I ended up using sliced chicken sausage on top of the squash and spooned the sauce on top.  It was good, but next time I'll do a better job keeping the sauce thick.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happiness Bites

Alright, so I'm eating pretty clean and I've given up many foods that I like, and I've done so for the benefit of my health. I'm surprisingly, mostly ok with that. But sometimes I need a little something special, something I enjoy but still is pretty ok for me.  I think I found that item at Trader Joes (yea TJ's!), and here it is...

Over the course of the last 2-3 weeks I've been on the hunt for a dark chocolate bar that is 85% or higher in cacao, and has relatively few ingredients. I'm looking to avoid nuts, bad oils, dairy, and soy. I think the sugar content of this bar is reasonable, and I don't have huge sugar cravings after eating a couple of squares.

This bar is my winner. It meets the above criteria and is made the winner over other bars for the following reasons:
Value: this bar comes packaged as 2 individually wrapped bars in a re-closeable box for under $3. I can't recall the price, it might be $2.49, but it's definitely under $3. Other bars left me no way to close the package after I had opened it.
Format: both of those bars are divided into smaller grids for you to break off pieces. Many other bars had larger squares and I felt like I couldn't eat the right portion.  It also made those bars disappear faster, which was a huge negative. With the smaller squares and two bars, I always have some chocolate in my pantry.

Taste: this bar had just the right amount of sweetness with a smooth fruity under tone.
I'm so thankful for Trader Joes!

Monday, February 9, 2015

How Much Protein is Enough?

That's the question I'm struggling with now.  So far I have been able to eat enough food, but I lack energy in the afternoon, which is possibly from not eating enough protein.  The effect is magnified even more after a 10 am WOD.  
I am not a big meat eater. 3-4 oz at every meal is enough for me, mentally.  But perhaps it's not giving me energy long enough to make it to the next meal. In the past I have used more plant based protein. My CrossFit coach suggested eating more meat based protein by eating some with my snacks.  I am having a hard time with this.  I don't want to see meat more times during the day.  I suppose I can get used to it, if I try.  

Recent meals:
I used the pulled pork leftovers for several days.  It was easy to top with salsa and the other goodies I had on hand.  That will be a repeat meal, and it's pork based too, bonus.

Trader Joe's All Beef Hotdogs are delicious and easy to make.  I cook them, cut them up and top them with my probiotic sauerkraut, onions, drizzled with some homemade ketchup from "Well Fed 2".  Quick and easy.  This will be a good meal to take to home baseball games.

BLTA lettuce boats: Romaine lettuce leaf topped with bacon, tomato and avocado, then topped with another lettuce leaf to make a "sandwich.  Need to find a non-egg containing mayo.

Bone broth was a nice way to add a healthy snack.  Need to make more.

Ideas to Try:
Need to make a lentil soup and freeze some.

Super Bowl Food

Still working on finding good food options.  Luckily chicken is my best friend and nothing goes better wiith football than chicken wings!

Today I pulled a recipe off of for "Amazing and Easy Chicken Wings", and they didn't not disappoint.  I think they could easily be renamed "Honey Mustard Chicken Wings", as that is what they tasted like.  When I have more time I will rework this recipe to use honey instead of the brown sugar, and decrease the amount used.  I did substitute coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce.

Along with the chicken wings I baked some sweet potato waffle fries prior to putting the chicken in the oven.  Other snacks included a very dark chocolate bar by NibMor and figs from Trader Joes.  My drink of choice was a delicious hard apple cider that tastes slightly like a dry champagne, by Leprechaun .  Mmmmm delicious and gluten free.

For "dinner" I've had a pork shoulder in the CrockPot and will have ingredients out for shredded pork nachos.  These can be made whenever the eater is ready for food and can include whatever ingredients the composes chooses.  For my husband he's got regular tortilla chips and cheese.  Mine will have a small base of sweet potato tortilla chips.  Other toppings include salsa, guacamole, cilantro and black olives.

All my food choices were winners, even if the Seahawks weren't.