Spring Fever Medley

Yet again, it’s been more than a few days since I’ve posted.  I really have no excuse other than I’ve been both really busy, and when I’m not really busy, I’m really lazy and don’t feel like doing anything.  So…yeah.

I’m sure you’re not interested in the stories of me being lazy, so I’ll enthrall you with the stories of me being busy.

I made FOUR new recipes last week – all from the Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals cookbook.

1. Buttery Eggs & Leeks with Bacon p. 17.  This was simple meal consisting of leeks sauteed in butter over scramby eggs (with coconut milk in them), topped with bacon bits.  Very simple and very delicious.

2. Greek Salad with Lamb p.81.  This was a simple romaine salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, and ground lamb mixed with spices.  The recipe calls for fresh spices, but they are too expensive this time of year, so I used dried.  It still turned out very tasty.  Tim LOVED this salad.

3. Pork Chops with Shredded Brussels Sprouts p.95.  This was another ultra-simple recipe.  You shred a pound of brussels sprouts in the food processor and then cook them in a sh!t ton of olive oil.  So easy, but so good.

4. Cauliflower “Arroz Con Pollo” p. 109.  This recipe was more work than the other three, but since you can chop everything (onion, jalapeno, garlic, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and cauliflower ) in the food processor, it goes pretty fast.  This made a TON of food, and it turned out really tasty.  The recipe calls for saffron, which was $12.99 for a tiny bottle at HyVee, so I subbed paprika and turmeric for it instead.  From what I’ve read, nothing but saffron will give you the flavor of saffron, but I wasn’t willing to spend $13 to test that out.

That leads me to an observation I’ve had after being paleo for 2 years.  At first, I felt as if I had to go out and buy all these expensive ingredients (ghee, sesame oil, coconut aminos, spices, avocado oil, etc. etc. etc.).  However, as we’ve settled into our pattern of eating healthier, we’ve found that as long as we have olive oil, some meat, and some veggies in our fridge, we can eat pretty good!   Eating this way can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

And, as I mentioned on the outset, life is starting to get busy again, so I’m trying to go with the more simple recipes that make leftovers.  On the docket this week is Coffee Ancho Short ribs (which are currently slow-cooking in the Nesco and making our house smell amazing), cowboy breakfast skillet, brats & homemade kraut, paleo meatloaf and salmon with salad (FYI – Target has wild-caught frozen salmon on sale this week for $9.99 – $3 cheaper than normal!).  Oh, and I’m going to be decadent and make Paleo Fudgy Brownies.  I’m kind of scared to make them because I think they are going to be crazy delicious, and then I will have to eat them all.

Now on to what’s been making me busy besides making and eating food.  Let’s see.  Work is busy, which takes away my mental energy to do much of anything else in the evening.  BUT I have gotten some things done.  I’ve been making water kefir, for one thing.  So far it hasn’t been turning out – the water is still too sweet after the fermenting process.  However, the instructions say it can take up to 3 weeks for the grains to really get activated, so I just need to be patient.

I also finished Mindset which was an awesome book that really made me look at myself and my abilities/talents in a new light.  I don’t want to write a review because this post is already getting too long, but take my word for it and read it.  It’s a good perspective-shifter.

I also went to an official yoga class for the first time in 6 years!  I’ve been using the yoga app on my phone, but going to a class is so much better.  It’s great to get teacher feedback. My iPad can’t tell me if my form is bad.  I really enjoyed the class.  Even though it gave me a good workout for my core, legs, and back, it was still very calming.  Maybe it’s just psychological, but after only one class, I already feel as if I stand up straighter!  We are going back on Monday.  We are scheduled for Wednesday too, but Tim and I might try a spinning class instead.

We’ve been trying to swim too, to prepare for the tri in 4 months.  We joined the Y, and it’s been really difficult to find times where there are open lanes.  There are a lot of water walkers at the Y, we’ve found.  It’s getting frustrating.

And, well, that’s about it.  Tim and I are doing a 4 mile run in about an hour, so I should go get ready for that.  Hope you are having a great Sunday!

Primal Potluck

Back in early January, I proclaimed my intention to re-do the 21 Day Challenge (after being primal for 2 years).  After a long road trip, subsequent vacation, long road trip back, and then a long, cold, dark winter, I felt as if I needed a primal re-fresh.  The 80/20 was slipping to 70/30 or even worse.  So on 1/6, I started The Challenge.  Some of my friends at work were also trying to eat better, so I invited everyone over for a Primal Potluck to be held on 2/8 to celebrate our success.

Well, if you read this blog, you know that my plan ran into some snags, so I fell of the wagon.  We still had the Potluck, however.  This winter has been brutal, and hanging out with friends and eating good food makes one evening of it less brutal.

I originally invited 6 other couples, which including Tim and me, would have made 16 people and one oblivious chihuahua in our little house.  I would have loved to have everyone though – the more the merrier, right??  Well, it ended up that only 2 other couples could make it, and the 6 of us made a full, merry household.

For the main course, I made this Texas Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket.  I usually use honey instead of sugar, but we were all out, so we used organic sugar instead.  Also, instead of the beef stock, I used home-made bone broth.  It turned out very tasty!

For a side dish, I made Chipotle Slaw.  To be more exact, Tim and I made Chipotle Slaw.  As I was chopping the cilantro, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what I was doing.  I sliced off the right 1/3 of my left index fingernail.  It hurt like a mother.  Tim had to take over chopping duties, after tossing the fingernail-tainted cilantro.  Despite the drama, the slaw turned out quite tasty and went well with the brisket.  I also defrosted the chicken liver pate I made a couple of weeks ago (read more here).  We served it with Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins.  People said it tasted better than it looked as if it would taste – which is a compliment I will take.  I think the flavor did improve whilst in the freezer.  It tasted more like braunschweiger the second time around, which is a good thing.

For dessert, I hazarded a new recipe – Lemon Basil Cookies.  I was intrigued by the idea of basil in a sweet dessert.  These turned out fabulous!  They have the consistency of a peanut butter cookie – very dense and flavorful.  They go great with coffee and are not too sweet.  I cross-hatched the top with a fork like you do with peanut butter cookies, and they looked beautiful when baked.  Everyone liked them, or at least said they did.  😉

Our guests brought a delicious array of food as well – French wine, a salad with endive, radicchio, apples, walnuts, capers, avocado and a lot of other stuff, baked salmon with fresh dill, dark chocolate bars, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and bacon-wrapped pineapple.  It was a smorgasbord of tastiness.  Oh!  And we bought a Bota Box of wine – the Redvolution.  For $17.99, you get a box full of the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine. It’s pretty good too, for wine that average $4.50 a bottle.  While searching for wine, I picked up a bottle of Pinot Nior for $9.99 and a bottle of Malbec for $10.99, but then I heard Mr. Money Mustache’s  in my ear.  I decided to be frugal and smart instead of a fancy pants, and went with the cheaper (probably just as tasty) alternative.

Hmm.  Am I forgetting anything?  Oh yes.  Well, this is not primal at all, but a friend of mine got me a cheesecake for my birthday.  While I absolutely love cheesecake, it does not love me.  I had a piece at work on Friday, and on my way home experienced one of my old anxiety spells at a stoplight. I just can’t handle the sugar/dairy that well any more.  However, my adoration of cheesecake is so intense, that I will continue to eat it if it’s in my house, despite the deleterious affects.  To relieve myself from that personal demon, I served the rest of the cheesecake to our guests.  Everyone loved it.

While the whole supper was not strictly primal, it was a really fun evening, with interesting company, really tasty food (that was mostly really good for you), and good conversation.  Maybe we’ll do it again in February 2015!

Well, Tim and I need to head off to the pool before we cross over that hump where we don’t get out of our pajamas all day.  Hope you have a great Sunday!

Muffins & Acupuncture

My birthday was this weekend.  What does that mean?  Firstly, it means I’m a year older.  Secondly, it means I get a free day off work.  Thirdly, it means I can eat whatever I want for the weekend.  Well, that’s what it SHOULD mean.  And, that’s what it DID mean.  But what it DIDN’T mean is that those calories didn’t count.  I’m getting confused by the double negatives here, so let me state this plainly.  I ate a ton of non-paleo food this weekend, and despite it being my birthday weekend, I still gained 3 pounds.  The world is just not fair.  All that apple crisp, pizza, chicken wings, and beer had no respect for my special day.

But despite the weight gain, I had a really great weekend.  We watched a few movies, did some house cleaning, got my budget set up for 2014, went to the gym twice, got groceries for the week, etc.  I also took advantage of the poopy weather to stay inside and make tasty paleo muffins:  Apple Cinnamon Muffins, in point of fact.  These little gems are super easy and very delicious.  I think they would be fabulous with some pecans on top as well.  They make your house smell beautiful too.

I was also fighting some pretty severe sinus pain over the weekend.  Since going paleo, I rarely get sick for any extended period of time.  However, with the stress of the past month, my immune system just wasn’t up to the task of protecting me.  Tomorrow will be the 2 week mark for this cold.  I am 95% better, but only after a weekend of neti pots, epsom salt baths, hot compresses seething with eucalyptus oil, and tons of bone broth.

To get this cold completely out of my system, I went to the acupuncturist today.  I have to say, getting an acupuncture treatment is one of my favorite things.  In case you’ve never gone, I will explain what the process is like.  First, the acupuncturist takes you into a private room and asks you questions about your health and symptoms.  Mine usually looks at the top and bottom of my tongue as well.  Then she leaves the room while you strip down to your underclothes and put on a robe-type thing, climb on a cot that is covered in a heating pad, and cover up your legs with a towel.  The cot has a pillow for your head and a bolster for your knees.  It’s very warm, cozy, and comfortable.

The acupuncturist returns and swabs all the needle entry points with alcohol.  She then taps in needles in various places around your body.  I got one in the top of my head, my forehead, one of each side of my nose, my wrists, the tops of my feet, my sternum, and my shins.  If she thinks a needle is going to hurt a bit going in, she instructs you to breathe in deeply and then exhale.  It makes the slight pinch less noticeable.

When she is all done inserting the needles, she covers your feet with the sheet, moves a heating lamp over them, turns off the lights, and leaves the room.  You are left in the dark, warm room, listening to the soothing tones of Chinese instrumental music.  Fifteen to twenty minutes later, she returns and gives each needle a turn.  She leaves again, and you are left to your warm nest.  It’s a great time to meditate or fall asleep, or just to enjoy doing nothing for the first time that day.  Another 15-20 minutes later, she returns and removes all the needles and asks you how you felt about the treatment.

I find the whole experience to be very relaxing.  I never notice any *amazing* improvements from acupuncture, but I do feel better, more calm, more relaxed, and more centered.  I highly recommend trying it!

And that’s it for me tonight.  It’s almost 8 o’clock, and I have literally 5 books that I am trying to read right now.  I just picked up Mindset from the library on Friday, so I better get moving with that before I have to return it.

Have a great evening!