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Archive for April, 2011

I’m mainly doing this post to document my recipe so I don’t forget next time I want to make it…because it was fantastic!  I apologize in advance, as always, for my poor camera skills.  I couldn’t get any great photo’s so you will have to take my word that it was fun to make and kind of (in and ugly way) pretty.  Also, this looks complicated but it’s totally not.

So, I’ve been on Paleo for over a month now and I don’t feel like I have seen the weight loss that I had expected (especially not as quickly as I had hoped).  I feel great and I feel like I am getting stronger and stronger at my gym and I no longer have the lack of energy that I did in the beginning of Paleo (and come to think of it, before Paleo).

I’ve discovered some great recipes that have gotten me through this diet (thank you www.elanaspantry.com for the bread, the cupcakes, the muffins…) and I have a totally different view on how I ate before this.  I never realized how much of my diet revolved around bread, rice, grains, and most of all – SUGAR.  Now, even on my cheat days–yes I cheat sometimes–I don’t eat nearly as many carbs and sugars as I used to eat.

All this being said, I still haven’t eased cheese all the way out of my diet.  I’ve gotten rid of most of the other dairy but I LOVE cheese.  I also love Mexican, I mean I could eat it every day and not get tired of it.  So, I have had to come up with some new ways to do Mexican without the rice, beans, and shells/chips.  I think I found it with this recipe, which you could do without cheese, but I still add a little in because I just can’t help myself. Messy but tasty…

4 large poblano peppers

1 lb ground beef (93% fat-free)

1 onion, finely diced

1 zucchini, finely chopped

3 eggs

5 dried ancho chiles (those big shriveled red ones you get in the Mexican section at the store)

6 oz can tomato paste (make sure there is no added sugar – and you understand all ingredients on the label)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp oregano

Mexican cheese blend (optional)

For the peppers:

Turn broiler on high and line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the poblano peppers on the sheet and watch closely as the char on each side – flipping as each side chars (the skin should be blistery and black).  Mine took about 5-6 min per side.  Once all sides are charred, take peppers out and place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients in the dish.

I turn the oven straight onto 400 degrees F to get in ready for the rest.

For the “stuffing”:

Brown ground beef in a pan.  Add in onion and zucchini and cook until veggies are soft.  Drain off excess grease.  In a bowl, whisk the eggs and stir in the beef/onion/zucchini mixture.

For the enchilada sauce:

Stem and seed the dried ancho chiles (I find this easier to do before you cook them, but you can do it after but you have to be careful!).  Cover the ancho’s in water and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 15 min to soften.  Pour ancho’s into a colander and let cool a little.

In a food processor, add the ancho’s, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, paprika, and oregano.  Process into a paste. Add some water a little at a time until you get a slightly (very slightly) thinner consistency – it should be spreadable  but not too thick.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the poblano peppers out of the bowl and peel the outside charred skin off.  Remove the stem and open up the pepper.  Take your knife and smooth it along the open inside of the pepper to remove all seeds.  Place a single layer of poblano peppers at the bottom of a 9 in x 5 in loaf shaped pan (you could use a variety of other pans, I just like the way this one works).  It took about 2 poblanos to line the bottom for me.

If using a layer of cheese, I put a very thin on here, but you can do without.  Next, add about a 1/2 – 1 inch layer of the beef mixture.  On top of that, add a layer of the enchilada sauce.

Repeat each layer on more time and if you want, top with a little queso fresca or cheese of your choice.

Bake for about 30 min or until you see it start to bubble around the edges.

You could serve this with sour cream or with avocado on top and a nice green salad to start.

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Okay, so lots of small posts today from my one tasty lunch.  As I mentioned in a previous post, chicken salad is a good easy Paleo lunch.  You can pretty much add anything you want to it, but here is what I put in:

Shredded Chicken (I used a 4.99 Rotisserie Chicken that was on sale on Sunday – probably not the best way of approaching this, but I have to tell the truth)

3 Hard Boiled Eggs, peeled and diced

Shredded Carrots (1/4 – 1/2 cup)

1 celery stalk, diced

Pecans, chopped

Almonds, chopped

Paleo Mayo – 1/2 batch or about a 1/2 cup – adjust to your liking

I often add a variety of spices like parsley, sage, thyme, and dill – but I put most of those straight into my mayo this time so it was already mixed in!


Mix all of the ingredients above and serve on top of a slice of gluten-free bread.  I like to add a side of Parsnip “Fries”.

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Parsnip “Fries”

I love to serve these along side my Paleo chicken salad for a tasty and balanced lunch.  I found this recipe from Aarti Sequeira from Food Network that I had to try because I do miss fries.  I didn’t set my hopes high but was surprised when I ended up loving these!  They are definitely a little softer and sweeter than fries, but the Garam Masala adds such an interesting flavor that I didn’t mind at all.  The beauty is that they are Paleo friendly and actually not fried in any way.

I just make a quick lunch size portion for myself, so adjust as necessary.

1/2 large parsnip, cut into fry size chunks (about 1/4 inch think)

2 tbsp grapeseed oil (you can also use olive oil or any other good oil!)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garam masala

A pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Put all of the ingredients in a plastic bag (I used a quart size ziploc bag) and shake away.  Make sure all the ingredients get coated.

Dump the parsnips onto a foil lined baking sheet and back for about 15-20 minutes – keep a close eye on them though as once they start cooking they can burn fast and all ovens are a little different.

If I weren’t doing Paleo, I would suggest serving them with a Chipotle Ranch dipping sauce – very nice combination.

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Hard Boiled Eggs

Here is the easiest and best way I have found to hard boil an egg:

Place eggs in the bottom of a deep pot and cover with cold water by about 2 inches.

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and set the timer for 12 minutes (start the timer after the water comes to a boil!).  Be careful not to remove the cover until the timer goes off.  Immediately transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  This makes the perfect egg for me every time!

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I never thought I would try to make my own mayonnaise.  I mean, first, I have always thought of it as incredibly unhealthy and kind of unappealing, but also, I figured it would be more trouble than it’s worth.  Alas, the Paleo diet has made me watch pretty closely what I eat just from a perspective of not wanting all the extra additives that processed food brings.  Unfortunately, mayonnaise is the main ingredient in a very quick and easy lunch, chicken salad, which gets me through the work week without having to buy salads out everyday, so I am going to give it a whirl.

Now, if you are living Paleo (or at least trying as I am), you recognize the many benefits of olive oil and coconut oil (thank you Mark’s Daily Apple and Living Paleo for the info).  You also probably realize that eating isn’t necessarily about counting calories, but about getting the most health benefits out of your food as possible (and realizing that most low fat food is stuffed with sugar to make it still taste good!).

Now, I will say to start that the mayo does use a raw egg, so proceed with caution.  This being said, so does regular mayo so I can’t really see a reason I shouldn’t try it at home if I am willing to risk whatever plant the pre-packaged stuff was produced in.  I used a combination of two different recipes based on what I had on hand.  Thank you to CavemanForum and PaleoDietLifestyle for the two different and easily adaptable recipes which got me started on the path of homemade mayonnaise.

Here it goes…

This made about a cup of mayonnaise (about half of that I used to make my chicken salad – recipe will come later).

1 large Egg (best if you can get the ones with Omega 3 added)

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp lemon (I didn’t have any on hand, so I had to use apple cider vinegar instead)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup olive oil (I only had extra virgin, but use the lightest you have on hand – more will make the mayo yellow/green)

In a food processor, add the egg, mustard, salt, and lemon/vinegar.  Blend on high speed until throughly mixed.  While still mixing on high speed, drizzle the olive oil and coconut oil in a slow stream to the mixture.  This took about a minute.

Voila!  Mayo.  I added paprika, basil, and parsley to my mayo mixture as part of it was going straight into my chicken salad.  Refrigerate the mixture covered for up to a week.

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I know, I know, I haven’t posted in a long time.  I have been trying this Paleo diet and I was beginning to think that cooking would never be fun again.  I mean – what is interesting about meat, vegetable, fruit, meat vegetable, fruit, nut…or so I thought.  I have been coming up with some pretty interesting and tasty concoctions.  I was just hesitant to post them given I am no Paleo expert and didn’t want to come across as knowing more than I really do.

But here is the thing, I like blogging and talking about my trials and tribulations with cooking so I decided to come back and start posting again.


So how is it going??  I am one month in on Paleo and feeling great!  I don’t miss my vices as much (pasta, dessert, etc…) but when my sister pointed out Elana’s Pantry I almost thought it was too good to be true…there were bread and dessert recipes galore.  My next thought was — could they really taste good???  The answer?  YES!!!

While Paleo doesn’t necessarily promote using any sugar or sugar substitutes, this recipe requires a minimal amount of agave nectar that I really felt comfortable with given the fact that it would be the only real sweet I have in a week.  I served my bread topped with chicken salad and it made a delicious lunch.

Elana’s recipe for Simple Bread is a little easier than mine because I had to make my almond meal by hand (didn’t have any almond flour handy), but the recipe was still very straight forward and only took about ten minutes to whip up.  I used a mini-loaf pan that I got at the grocery store – 5.75 in x 3 in. but Elana used a slightly larger one – just don’t go to large as this doesn’t make a huge loaf.  From comments on her site it looks like you can double the recipe and it works fine.

Ingredients

2 cups almond meal

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

1/2 teaspoon salt (I had to use kosher – all I hand on hand)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

1 tablespoon agave nectar (I used raw honey as it was what I had on hand)

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

First, to make the almond meal, I grinded almonds in my food processor for about 2 minutes.  I took the almond meal and mixed it with the rest of the dry ingredients (flaxseed meal, salt, baking soda).

I then whisked 3 eggs in a separate bowl and added in the rest of the wet ingredients (honey/agave, apple cider vinegar).

Mix together the wet and dry ingredients.  Pour the mixture into your loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Refrigerate to store.

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