Is anyone else already thinking about thanksgiving or, heavens, Christmas?
Last year was the first year we watched the Hallmark station for all their holiday movies starting the 1st of November and let me tell you; There is nothing to put you in the holiday mood like good ol’ sloppy sentimental Christmas movies. Yes, with elves and santas and romances and disasters, with the Christ child and mangers, all of it. We got out all the trimmings early, bought cards before our usual time,( a week before Christmas) and even sent most of them!
Well we just found out it starts all over again on Oct 31st. I can’t wait. As Hubby says, “Everyone turns up on the Hallmark Channel” meaning any actor or actress you have ever know eventually finds their way onto a Hallmark movie.
But, lets talk Paleo diet for just a moment.
The menu has not changed much. We had zucchini pasta and meatballs…
The usual routine is fruit salad either for breakfast or lunch alternating with an egg meal. Then dinners vary. Last night it was cashew chicken and a salad. But I was out of cashews so it was with sliced almonds. And we didn’t have water chestnuts but did you know jicama tastes just like them? Well, they are crunchy like them anyway. Tonight it was roast pork, applesauce, sautéed cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes. So I have finally discovered that there is a way to cook without rice, pasta or beans and rarely potatoes. Now if I could just get my younger son to climb on board the healthy eating lifestyle…
As for the 7 day challenge daily pep talks, I will miss them sorely. One was about the importance of being outside in nature, even if it is just for 15 minutes a day. Its vital. Even people in hospitals with photos of nature in their rooms needed less attention and used less pain meds than those without them. Well, I don’t know if the front lawn counts, but I went out under a full moon and watered our crispy lawn for at solid 1/2 an hour.
Also sunshine. Getting that vitamin D. I didn’t really go out for 15 minutes in the sun this time like he suggested. Just ran out of time. But I am in and out of the sun all day, running to and from the car, which as we know is parked on the street because, as we know, with all my husbands Alfa projects, my car will never live to see the inside of any garage and even was demoted from the driveway…not that I am bitter. Think of all the vitamin D I am getting going to and from the car several times a day.
But even then it is big hat time, shades, I would wear gloves if I had them. I am fair-skinned. Sunshine means freckles, age spots and possible skin cancer, so I think I will pass that one for now.
Another pep talk was about exercise. In a nut shell, all the exercise in the world cannot make up for a poor diet, no matter how hard we try. Don’t get me wrong. I have not even tried. Exercise is something other people do. Wearing yoga pants. Or swimming out in the ocean, doing laps. (ahem, shark bait!). But I got out the Wii system from the sons room and plugged in the Wii-fit game and did that for 15 minutes. I was kind of excited because it said not only had I lost 3.5 lbs since my last workout 22 days ago (how dare they nag me about the days! But as you can see, over exercising is not an issue here.) but I had crossed the threshold of shame, going from “You are overweight!” to “You are…normal!” for the first time since I started using it some 5 years ago.(but did not fail to mention that I could still lose another 12 lbs or so. Pttttt!)
So exercising with a burrito in one hand and a Slurpee in the other wont cut it. Got it.
Well, that’s it for now. Go and see what my hippy daugther is up to in San Fransisco at her blog “Thread and bones“…It’s usually fun and artsy at the same time. She has become quite the photographer and has been blogging about fashion, travel and how to find the best coffee anywhere you are, food, decor, friends, photography and interesting finds. She just changed the format or what-do-you-call-it, the face…the layout…the theme? Well, it looks nice as you will see.
Everyone feeling bright and perky today? In spite of this incredible heat? You’d think we would lose weight just from all the sweating going on here.
Anyhoo, its day 3 for my paleo challenge. And its church day. So I gobbled down a banana when I got up, knowing I would eat after church. (sweat-sweat) When I got home it was some melon slices (water and honeydew) and a few slices of lunch meat. Oh and a few olives. (sweat) Oh, and part of a plum. (fan-fan-sweat) Maybe a couple of raw almonds from a bag I found in the freezer.
Wow, you should see all the stuff I just erased. Enough to put me to sleep! So I will spare you.
Basically today I learned about avoiding situations where you know you are going to be tempted beyond your means and to have a plan of action if you are. Not to wait until you are there and just “hope and pray” you have the will power to say “no”. The video talked about figuring out the foods you most cheat on. I would say mine, while not junk food, are not on my approved list. That would be milk and yogurt, homemade breads (pretty easy to avoid if I’m not baking) and warm scones. (Store bought breads hold no sway with me. But of course, I am not going to go marching into a bakery either.)
Okay, stop right there. I have no intention of NOT eating a scone fresh from the oven. I don’t make them often, so that’s good because I will eat one. Maybe two.
And if Paul would stop leaving half empty cups of milk in the fridge, life would be easier for me too.
Anyway, by spending my monies on more fruits, nuts, good quality lunch meats and so on, (and not spending it on chips, candy, fast food, soda and cereal) I can avoid the famishing moments and keep on my 7 day challenge. (to stay 100% paleo for 7 days).
Why Paleo? Because I can’t count points. Because we are too much the carnivore to become vegetarians. Because we believe in fats, so low fat diets are out. (more on fats tomorrow). So this seemed like the diet that both brings results and does not include paying someone else for a plan, special foods or pills. It’s just real food. So we do not have to worry about commercials coming out next year along the lines of “If you or someone you know was part of the ____ diet pill plan, call the law offices of Cheatum and Wheep. You deserve compensation for all the emotional stress and strain and the now non functional heart valve, liver, pancreas and central nervous systems you suffer from. Call today!”
By the way, this is my 400th post! 400 rambling stories and recipes, mostly posted so I can find them later and so when I am “over the great divide” my family will have recipes and pictures to look back on.I hope, my dear ones and friends, that you have enjoyed them. Love L.
I could have sworn I had shared the Thai coconut soup recipe with you! Mainly so I could find it later instead of rummaging through all my printouts, online recipes and cookbooks. I would have bet money! But I guess I would have lost because it is not here. I found it on our Kindle in the “Against All Grains” book. I had such good luck with it last time that I am giving it another go tonight, on day 2 of my paleo challenge.
So for day 2 we started out with fruit, sausage, bacon and an egg scramble.
I made the ‘boys’ some multi grain blueberry pancakes and didn’t eat 1 bite! Go me! (Last time I made some, I scarfed one down when no one was looking. Bad me.)
As soon as I took this picture I ate a bite of the egg, snagged one of the sausages and a slice of cantaloupe.I was too lazy to make my own plate full. It’s more fun to steal his. Just nibble-nibble-nibble. Honestly, how does he put up with it. I cant think of the last time I poured myself a glass of ice water. I just slurp on his, since he is never without. Sometimes he beats me to the punch by bringing me my own glass of water. I try drinking a sip out of younger sons cups sometimes but he acts very affronted. His look basically said to ‘get your own’.
Then for lunch we nibbled some more on Cortinas deli meats as a reward for all our good healthy shopping. Boars Head ham, mortadella, salami, soppressata, and more. Not a lot of each, but enough to round out a meal of melon salad and have some throughout the week.
Now for dinner.
Here is a recipe modified from “Against All Grain” for Thai coconut chicken soup. we all enjoyed this soup last time I made it. It reminds us of the soup we all share at our favorite Thai place and its really not hard to make. You just dump everything in the pot, bit by bit. Sometimes I use chicken sausages (the bacon n pineapple ones, yum!) with the chicken. This time it is shrimp.Whatever floats your Thai boat. (I was going to say junk, since that is a Chinese boat, but thought some might get the wrong idea.)
2 tsp coconut oil
8 whole thai birds eye chilies (which I never heard of. I use dried chilis I have on hand and pick them out later.)
2 cans (14 oz) full fat coconut milk. (This time around it is low fat from Trader Joes. Sorry, its all they had!)
1 full box of chicken broth
a 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced into about 3″ pieces and smashed with the butt of the knife.
the recipe calls for 8 kaffir lime leaves but since I never heard of them, I skipped it.
4 Tbsp. of fish sauce.
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of all fat and thinly sliced
I either add a couple of sliced bacon chicken sausages or, like today, added some cooked shrimp.
1 cup slices mushrooms. (sometimes I use button, this time I am re-hydrating Chanterells).
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of a lime juiced
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
optional spice: turmeric (makes it yellow, health benefits), any Indian spices that suit your fancy, fresh basil, etc.
optional: rice stick noodles
fresh chopped cilantro and scallions for garnish.
In a large soup pot, heat the coconut oil to melt. Add the chilies and stir for 1-2 minutes. You can leave them in at this point or pick them out. I picked them out this time and will put one on top of hubbys bowl for decor. This batch was not as hot as before, which made some of us happy.
Pour in the coconut milk and broth, bringing to a boil.
Add the chicken, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass and turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, cooked shrimp or sausages, onion, lime juice and cherry tomatoes and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Remove, if you can find them, the lemongrass sticks, the kaffir lime leaves, if you happen to be lucky enough to find them at a store, and the ginger slices (which I usually cant find in amongst the onion. You find them when you bite into them.).
Add your noodles here if using. I might next time.
Serve in a bowl and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and scallions.
One pot meal, quite easy and very flavorful!
Maybe if I ate more turmeric in my food, I would remember better to add turmeric to our food…It adds very little flavor, very mild.
Basically this makes an all purpose broth that you can add any kind of protein you like. Enjoy
In a brief update, hubby and I have turned to the Paleo diet to lose weight and regain energy and health. We started this just over 6 weeks ago.
As of now he has lost 20 lbs. and I can barely keep up with him when walking places. I have lost about 12 lbs.
If you are wondering what exactly the Paleo diet is about, maybe you have heard of it kind-of-sort-of, here it is in a nut shell:
The Paleo diet (or lifestyle really) is one where you eat wholesome, nourishing, basic foods. Meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs. You don’t eat breads, pastas, rice, any grains (even oatmeal is out) soy, sugar, legumes, dairy (sniff) and bad oils. Good oil is olive, coconut, lard, ghee and so on. Bad oils are seed oils like canola, corn, sunflower, vegetable and the like.
It started at my friend Michele’s house. She had a book called “Against all Grain” by Danielle Walker, which I thumbed through while visiting. Later, after some discussion and research, Dave and I decided to give this diet a try. Not in the “Oh boy, we are going to change our life” way but more the “Well, what have we got to lose by trying” way. So I got her book on Kindle.
It didn’t look as hard as some others diets out there and we had to do something to stop this run-away train of weight gain we were both experiencing.
I don’t like the idea of a “diet”. It sounds too temporary. “We will diet (struggle and sacrifice and suffer) until we lose the weight, then go back to the way we ate before”.
We were looking for more of an eating lifestyle change. Not that our diet was that poor! As you can read in this blog, we ate mostly homemade meals and had a pretty balanced diet. I bake a lot, but do not eat much of what I make. I just taste it and let others eat it.
But some habits had to be changed. Like the sea of chips, candy and popcorn pooling around the island of the recliner, late night eating/snacking and those several-times-a-week stops at Del Taco for cheap tacos. Every time he sat down, hubby was putting food in his mouth. Then taking a nap.
Also portion control was an issue.
The only way to get one of us to stop those bad habits was for both of us to change our ways.
So there I was, taking a crash course on cooking paleo type meals. Along the way I found Paleo Living Magazine. It has some fun and interesting posts. Also Nom Nom Paleo was a fun site to visit with practical ideas as well.
Anyway, the other day I got an email from the paleo living magazine couple, Jeremy and Louise, about a 7 day challenge. Since we have been on this diet long enough to kind of ‘get the hang of it’ , I signed us up to be challenged.
So for the next 7 days, instead of being 95% paleo, we will go for the full 100%. No cooking in irish butter. No sips of milk. No candy.
And today is the first day. So here is what we ate today.
For breakfast I made us a potato hash with sweet potatoes and 1 white potato I had peeled,diced and soaked in salt water. (this pulls out some of the starch, which I thought might be better weight wise. This is the first white potato we have eaten in 6 weeks. More to avoid the weight of the starchy food. Some Paleo people have it on their good list, some on their bad). I added some diced onion and seasoning. The difference between this and Jessica hash is the lack of corn. We can’t eat corn now. I also made him 2 cheater-poached eggs and some watermelon. (cheater poached-I put the eggs in a pre-heated skillet with olive oil, crack the eggs in, put about a Tbsp of water over the top of them and put a lid on it until its done the way we like.) I made one for myself as well.
Lunch will be leftover green salad with a hard-boiled egg sliced in, some pepitos and pear slices.
Dinner will probably be something along these lines:
What can we drink? WATER. Really that’s about it. Tea with breakfast. I do put about 1/2 tsp of honey in it. Dave has been putting a splash of juice in the bottom of his water glass, but he really shouldn’t. Coffee is okay, but neither of us really drink it. Oh yeah, coconut water is okay too. We do have cans of that sitting around. But mostly just water. You get used to it pretty quick.
I have been learning to start dinner earlier so we are not eating later than 6. (I’m trying anyway). Dave, who is a late night person and doesn’t come to bed until about 1 am is learning not to snack after dinner. I find that incredible. Because here he is up and working, then checking email and ending with a little tv. It has been about 7 hours since he ate and he is not going to eat any snacks!? That’s like eating lunch at noon, then, instead of dinner at 7, just going to bed. He does come to bed hungry and whispering, in a husky voice, sweet breakfast ideas for the next day.
But I am proud of how well he is sticking with it! I probably cheat more than he does. I know he has a candy bar in the outside fridge he takes a bite from at least once a day. I have an occasional sip of milk or spoonful of good yogurt. When I made scones a couple of weeks ago you know I ate at least one! And I had a slice of the Japanese Milk bread a couple of days ago when it was fresh. When we have really cheated, it had most definite consequences! One day 30 Dave celebrated by picking up fries from Der Weinershnitzel. He ate about 5 and thew them out. He said they had such a chemical and over salty taste! And these used to be his favorites!
I made a bag of popcorn one day, “for the boys” and we each had some. This too he thought was too salty. What’s amazing is he has always been my salt monster! Like in the old Star Trek episode with this creepy grey salt monster, Dave was always snacking on the salty stuff. He called chips his “salt transport mechanism”. And now he hasn’t had a chip in over 6 weeks. Amazing.
But yesterday, before we started the challenge, I decided to get us each a donut. I have been craving a donut for weeks and really, who, other than my older son who never eats them, can resist a donut? So I did it, I bought us all a donut.
Wow. Yes, it tasted wonderful and I enjoyed every bite. But that night my ankles (go figure) hurt so bad I could barely sleep. I have had painful ankles for a couple of years now. In short, we don’t know why. Anyway, I have not had noticeable pain in quite a while and even took the dog for a jog around the block the other night. But last night I could hardly sleep for the pain. Dave came to bed with a pounding headache. He took some Tylenol and it helped for a little while. But it came back. We both got up this morning agreeing that we would not do that again any time soon.
We had started off thinking we would do this for 30 days. But with all this new energy, with the slow and steady weight loss, we decided to stick it out a while longer. Who knows, maybe forever…
When I first heard that people were making noodles from zucchini’s I thought they were either terribly desperate or had lost their minds.
And yet here we are. If you are reading this you too must be wondering if I have lost my mind or else you have heard of this growing trendy-pasta-imposter thing and want to learn more.
If you or a loved one you cook for is having trouble either with digesting glutenous foods (or maybe just pasta) or perhaps are trying to lose weight, then making zucchini pasta is a way to get around this and still have something to eat with your meatballs. (Which we had just last night and I didn’t think to take any pics, sorry)
I have heard of mixing half zucchini and half regular pasta to cut carbs, but we went all the way and you know what? It really works!
Zucchini lends very little flavor of its own to whatever dish you are making and holds its shape, making it the ideal pasta substitute.
I am no expert in zucchini pasta but I will share what I have learned.
First, you need some kind of tool. I use a julienne peeler from Pampered Chef. It makes the stringy noodles you see above. It looks like I peeled the zucchini for this batch, but usually I do not. I just start running the julienne peeler down one side of the longest zucchini you can find, slicing it over and over until you reach the seeds. Then STOP!
Turn the vegy over so the flat side is down and start slicing again on the opposite side, until you reach the seeds, then STOP. Now start on another side and so on.
There are spiral slicers you can use to make flat spiral pastas. There are hand crank slicers that you can put zucchini in and they will make long round “pastas” out of them by going around the zucchini instead of just down its length, making much longer pasta. It’s on my Amazon wish list as we speak.
You could even just use a vegetable peeler and peel off thin slices of zucchini to make a type of ribbon “pasta”.
Now zucchini is a very wet vegetable even if it doesn’t feel like it. You will want to drain the excess moisture off. There are lots of ways people do this. One is to slice it, salt it and let it sit in a strainer for a while, like 10 minutes or so. Then wrap in paper towels or cloth towels and wring the dickens out of it. Then, oddly enough, you can put it in boiling water to cook, just like regular pasta, but not for long. I don’t understand that completely. Some people bake theirs on a low setting until dried out a bit.
Usually I just either cook it for 2-3 minutes in the microwave, drain it, then cook it a bit more in the sauce or I saute it, cooking out the water and cooking until tender, then adding sauce. However you decide to cook it, just don’t over do. Especially with the julienne peeled ones. They are very thin and if you over cook them, they might just break apart.
I usually make this with a tomato and meatball sauce but have also made a garlic, oil and Parmesan sauce for a nice side dish to go with maybe steak, instead of pasta or potatoes. Plus there are scads of recipes on the web using this type of “pasta”. Pretty much anything you can imagine.
There are lots of blogs out there showing how to make this type of psudo pasta too. Here are a couple of my fav’s:
Danielle Walker who wrote “Against All Grain” has a blog where she video’s herself making pasta out of zucchini. I tell you, it makes you want to run out and get a hand crank spiral slicer and a bushel of zucchini. Come to think of it though, zucchini pasta probably doesn’t freeze well, so maybe not a bushel. I wonder if you can dry them like regular pasta? Dehydrate them? Should I try it and start a business selling dried zucchini pasta?
I have her book Against All Grain on our Kindle and have relied on it for several meals. She has an awesome Thai “Peanut” vinaigrette recipe I made with a broccoli slaw the other day. I will post my variation of it later on. She doesn’t use peanuts thought because as a legume, they are not eaten on a paleo diet. I guess they are hard to digest for many people, not counting those with allergies. I want to try her ginger-garlic broccoli in the hopes of actually liking broccoli. (which so far has only happened when it is raw, such as in broccoli salad and slaw). And we all loved her barbecue bacon burgers with rosemary-garlic mushrooms.
I also made a variation of her wonderful Thai coconut soup (tom kha gai). I never knew you could have so much fun making soup with coconut milk! Its my new favorite thing. This soup was, as my sister would say, “The bomb!” That post will be next. You’ve got to try it!
Well, I guess our hearts, or our stomachs, were just not invested in the idea of a gluten-free menu. There was complaining. There was rejecting. There was cheating. The other members of my family didn’t like it either. We really did not even last a full week. Yes, we are a sad lot.
But we do not really have any health issues forcing us to give up gluten. We will keep working on my youngest muffins asthma in other ways. (it has been responding well to treatment recently, so that’s good anyway.)
But I still have a cupboard full of rice flours, xantham gum, potato flour, etc. So I can still make gluten-free cookies and cakes for you. Oh, did I mention the lemon-blueberry coffeecake I made, gluten-free? It was not bad at all, yumm! But then there was someone who had to ask,
“Yes, but is it dairy free too?”
I just looked at her. It’s not enough I can’t use flour but now your saying I can’t use dairy either?!? Has the world gone mad? This cake is full of butter and sour cream. Next thing you know someone will be saying I can’t use sugar either….Oh wait, a diabetic friend already asked about that. But if someone told me I could no longer use wheat flour, any dairy or any sugar, I would not only throw in the towel, but my aprons and the oven too and go back to quilting. Where is the fun?
I do understand that, for whatever reason, many people with gluten allergies also have dairy allergies. I sympathise deeply. I really do. I would have to throw out all my cookbooks and start from scratch learning how to cook all over again. I have a deep respect for the men and women out there that have had to learn how to feed their families with special allergy issues. No this, no that, make sure everyone still gets their nutritional needs met. God bless em!
There seems to be more and more of it too. Some people think, well, it’s always been like that, it just wasn’t diagnosed. Intuitively that feels wrong. The rise in serious illness’ and food allergies is staggering to me. Young people getting debilitating arthritis, autism in children, children with ADHD and all those other letter related issues, cancers… The list goes on. We can point fingers in all kinds of directions but really, we do not even know what this is all about.
Could it be all the microwave ovens? Plastic wrap? Lipstick? Jet fuel raining down on us and our crops? I could go on and on. There are no definitive answers here.
Okay, now I’m depresses. I need a scone.
In the meantime, if you want any gluten-free coffee cakes or cookies, and as long as dairy is not a problem, just give me a ring. Maybe I can help.
We, with the best of intentions, went shopping for gluten-free food stuffs. We came home over $200 poorer, but with plenty of food, gluten-free, more or less. Sort of . We got some Arrowhead Mills All Purpose mix, some rice flour, something called xanthum gum, which sounds like it comes from a xanthum tree but doesn’t. We got tapicoa flour and are still looking for potato starch. We are trying some breads that are GF. Whats up with the names of these breads. One is called “Udis” and the other is made by “Rudis”. Two GF brands of bread, both from Colorado. Hmm. Someone sounds like a copy-cat. But I don’t know who came first.
So we are toasting the bread. Not bad. We made Trader Joes GF pancakes. Not bad either. (I add some plain yogurt for richness). We have corn chips with salsa. This isn’t too tough. For burritos we had some kind of fragile GF tortillas, rice I think. Other than breaking, they tasted fine. This looks like its going to be easy!
Yesterday I took some of that baking mix and made an amazing coffee cake. Lemon, blueberry, cinnamon coffee cake. It turned out find, just a little crumbly, but nothing too bad. Of course, lots of people go dairy free too and this was absolutely not dairy free. There were eggs and sour cream, which is why it tasted so good. Oh and did I mention butter? Since we have no serious medical issues to content with, we lap up the dairy, kind of like cats would. (But then take a digestive enzyme just in case).
So life goes on. But we forget sometimes. Like when we went to Jerrys Dogs and got hot dogs and onion rings. We just looked the other way when they served up the dogs with all their wonderfulness, lots of sloppy and crunchy toppings on a big ol’ bun. Nothing GF about that meal. But we enjoyed it! Every bite of it. I have only been there once before about a year ago. We are not big hot dog fans, but when we have them, we want good ones, of course. And these were good. Fire roasted too. mmm.
My son hates the bread for sandwiches. Toast he can manage, just. But I have tried twice to make him sandwiches with it and no way jose. Hubby doesn’t mind it too much. I eat it toasted and its fine. Especially the raisin cinnamon.
Now I found some KA all-purpose gluten-free mix at Ralphs. Wonderful! So I made some GF chocolate chunk, vanilla chip cookies for a luncheon I just went to. (as well as about 8 dozen other assorted wheat and whole wheat cookies). The GF were the first to go. Not bad really. They came out a little flat maybe. But that happens to the best of us.
So there we are. Struggling along. I have to say, if there were really a severe medical issue, we would be trying harder and whining less. But at least we are trying it out. I will keep in touch and let you know.