Catch Up Weekend and Primal Challenge Reboot

The Timimimy Tee had to work all this weekend driving bus for the John Deere Classic.  That meant that I had the opportunity to catch up on some long outstanding chores.  Basically we haven’t been home for a full weekend since before the triathlon, so things were starting to pile up.  So what did I do, you ask?  Well, here, let me tell you: I went to the Farmer’s Market, Aldis, HyVee, took several long walks, vacuumed and dusted the whole upstairs, vacuumed most of the basement and moved Lucent’s litter box so that we don’t constantly have to walk over litter particles to get to the washer and dryer and workout area, attempted to rehab my water kefir grains by putting them in a sucanat/spring water solution, sprouted and roasted almonds, cut up all the veggies from the Farmer’s Market, weeded our front garden bed, did 3 weeks of meal planning for the primal challenge (more to come on that below), returned a long overdue email, finished a humongous crocheted blanket for a friend, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand…RELAXED.  On Sunday afternoon I sat outside and read for probably 3 hours. I got a little bit of a sunburn, but it was so beautiful out there that I couldn’t bring myself to go inside.

OK.  Now for some details.  First of all, I’m kind of excited about Aldis!  I stopped on a whim, hoping they would have spring water for the kefir and for the sauerkraut Tim is going to make.  They only had individually wrapped bottled water (which seems odd for a discount store!), but I found some other great deals.  Avocados were only 79 cents (1/2 the HyVee price), Rainier cherries were only 2.99.  They had nitrate-free bacon for 3.89 and mineral water for 1.49.  I’m so jazzed!!

And on the kefir grains.  So, yeah, I though for sure I had killed them. I got a couple of good, fizzy batches out of them, and then they just stopped working.  They didn’t smell like kefir (didn’t smell like anything, in point of fact).  I emailed Cultures for Health, and they sent me back some great tips.  They recommended using sucanat (unrefined cane sugar that still has minerals left in it) and all spring water.  Previously I was usually Domino sugar and just boiling our Brita-filtered water to remove the chlorine.  Evidently the rest of the chemicals in tap water are harmful to the grains as well.  I had also ran out of mineral drops, so I had stopped using those too.  The person who emailed me said you CAN resurrect the grains, so I’m giving it the old college try.

And, finally, the Primal Challenge.  A couple of workmates and I are going to embark on the 21 Day Total Body Transformation on July 20th.  My friends want to lose some weight, and I want to lose about 3 pounds and do a reset to get closer to 90/10 instead of 70/30 .  I spent an hour Saturday culling through my recipes.  I put together 3 weeks of meal plans (containing mostly just general ideas for breakfast and lunch, and then 4 distinct recipes w/ sides for supper), along with copies of the associated recipes.  I also pulled out additional recipes for them to use, if they don’t like my suggestions.  I reordered the 21 Day Total Body Transformation.  I lent it to my brother probably 2 years ago and haven’t seen it since.  I’m so glad I bought it again. It’s a very concise, helpful guide to the primal lifestyle and contains reminders that I really needed to read again.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this turns out!!

That’s the weekend, now its back to work and back to training for the Bix 7, which is NEXT WEEKEND.  ACCK!!

 

Brick #2 (aka why I’m exhausted)

Saturday we did our second brick to prepare for the triathlon on 6/14.  We biked 16 miles along the Duck Creek Bike Path, and then we ran 3.1 miles in Crow Creek Park.  The bike ride was pretty easy-peasy, but the running, Oh Boy!  My legs felt like lead for about the first mile, and I had to walk up the first big hill (it’s called The Incinerator for a reason).  Tim encouraged me though, and we powered through for the full run.  We spent the rest of the weekend taking it fairly easy, trying to give our bodies a rest.

And that’s why I’ve pretty much decided that I’m not doing triathlons any more.  I just think that this amount of exercise is too stressful for my body.  All day long on Saturday my stomach was messed up, and since I wasn’t eating anything out of the ordinary, I’m pinning it on the exercise.  Also, these triathlons get to be expensive, primarily due to the swimming portion.  It necessitates a gym membership and for me, at least, a wet-suit rental.  We did swim for free tonight in Lake G, but as they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Lake G is the quintessential redneck “watering hole.”  It was full of scantily clad, scantily toothed, heavily tattooed folk drinking lots o’ beer and Gatorade.  It’s quite the scene, and not in a good way.

Despite the training schedule, I did try a few new recipes this week.

Garlic Roasted Broccoli – This broccoli is deeeeeelicious!  So good, in point of fact, that I grew impatient with Tim not eating his while he was chatting and ate the rest of his serving off his plate.  I love roasted veggies.  Tim is a big steamed veggie fan, but I think his tastes are wrong on this one.  Roasted (doused in olive oil and garlic) is the only way to go.

Sweet Potato Chips – This recipe turned out OK.  They were tasty, but I had a hard time getting them to be crispy, which is an essential feature of “chips.”   I baked them for about 10 minutes longer than the recipe said, but still only a few burnt-looking ones got crispy.  Any thoughts on what I am doing wrong?

Coriander And Cumin-Rubbed Pork Chops – This was another recipe that I found in the free Allrecipes magazine that appeared in my mail box.  This recipe is a definite keeper – it produced a very tender, juicy, flavorful pork chop.  Speaking of which, we’re going to have to order another pig so that we can make more tasty, tender, juicy, flavorful pork chops.

Pumpkin Kiss Cookies – I’ve been wanting to try these for awhile and finally got around to it on Sunday.  I was making Tim chocolate chip cookies, so I knew I would have to make a treat for me too; otherwise, I would eat all the damn cookies.  These turned out just OK.  I should have followed the recipe more closely and used 2 teaspoons of batter per cookie.  Instead I used my normal cookie scoop, which is probably closer to 2 T.  The cookies ended up super moist and spongy.  I like the flavor, but the texture doesn’t do it for me.  Next time I will make them smaller, and I bet they will turn out perfectly.

Makin Bacon

It’s Memorial Day, which calls for something special on the breakfast table in the Longoria household. Typically breakfast consists of steel cut oats for Tim and eggs and veggies for me.  But today we had PANCAKES! and JALAPENO BACON!

I’ve tried at least 5 paleo pancake recipes and have yet to fall in love with any of them.  They always get burnt on the outside and mushy on the inside.  The flavor is usually OK, but the presentation is absolutely horrid.  Today’s venture was no different. I tried these protein pancakes from paleomg.com.  I didn’t have the protein powder she recommended, so I used our Trader Joe’s hemp protein powder.  Which is dark green.  Yep – I made dark green pancakes for breakfast.  They were actually pretty tasty. I still had the same issue with them not cooking right, but I think that’s more my fault than the recipe’s fault.

We also tried some new bacon from HyVee (we were forced to because they were out of our normal bacon).  It’s jalapeno bacon!  Since my stove top was full of pans of pancakes and scramby eggs, I decided to try the whole baking bacon thing again.  We tried it once, and the bacon didn’t get crispy, but I keep hearing people say how awesome it is, so I figured I would give it another go. I followed the instructions here.  It turned out PERFECT and oh so easy.  You put the bacon on a foil-lined sheet and cook it for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  It turned out crispy, delicious, and very jalapenoey.  If you take a look at my Instagram feed to the right, you can see a pic of the bacon and pancakes.

And now breakfast is done, Tim is doing the dishes, and I’m trying to figure out what all from the list of things I want to get done today I can actually do:  put down mulch, plant garlic and dill, clean the house, do the laundry, plan meals & go grocery shopping, do a 3 mile run, work on a watercolor painting for the bedroom, watch some of the Criterium, update the checkbook, take a bath, lay in the sun, and I’m sure I am forgetting something.  I need every weekend to be a 3-day weekend!!

Breakfast for Supper and Other Happy Things

Wow.  What a busy weekend.  It’s nice to DO stuff on the weekends because you’re living life, experiencing things, putting yourself out there, etc.  BUT by DOING stuff on the weekends, you make the weekends go by way too fast.  Next thing you know it’s Monday morning at 5:54AM, and you have to be to work in 2 hours.  BLURG!!

The busy weekend started out with a  bang on Friday night.  We met up with some friends in LeClaire, IA at the Crane & Pelican.  Well, first we went to the Wide River Winery to check out their live music and their wine.  It’s a small joint inside (24 people max capacity!), and because of the unseasonably chilly weather, the 2-person band was playing inside.  It was loud, but everyone was very relaxed and was having a good time.  The bartender was very friendly and informative.  They can’t actually sell glasses of wine for you to drink there, but they CAN sell you a $6 glass that comes with 5 complimentary tastings.  You can also buy a bottle and drink it there.  It was a scene straight out of Gilmore Girls, to be honest with you.  Even thought I was not a huge fan of the wine, I really enjoyed the 30 minutes we spent there, and now I kind of want to move to LeClaire…

After our tastings we walked up to the Crane & Pelican, which is a restaurant in an old house on a hill overlooking the river.  The building was very interesting, the staff was very friendly, and the food was very delicious.  The menu was reasonably priced for the type of food they serve (locally sourced), and the drinks were actually on the cheap side!  My steak was a little undercooked, but overall we had a great experience and will definitely go back.

We didn’t stay out too late because on Saturday we were registered for the Beer & Bacon 5K at Sunderbruch Park.  We headed out there on our bikes at 8:45. It was a gorgeous, slightly chilly day.  We met up with about 100 other runners, got our free beer mug and “5K…ish” sticker, and milled around, waiting for the race to start.  At the last minute, Tim decided to run the 10K instead!

The 10Kers got a 5 minute head-start, and then they let us 5Kers head out.  The route took an immediately left off the paved path, onto a steep, long, never-ending hill.  By the time I reached the top of the hill, I was ready to turn around and head back down to get a beer.  I powered through, though, and was rewarded by one of the funnest runs I’ve ever done.  Don’t get me wrong, trail running is TOUGH, but it was so beautiful in the trees, and the hills/stumps/roots kept your mind focused on the running.  It was so much fun.  I can’t wait to do another trail run.  The only down side, from my perspective, is that the trails are so narrow that you can’t pass anyone, and no one can pass you.

After the race, we partook of the even’s namesake treats (beer & bacon), then rode down to Great River, then rode home, and then crashed.  Oh, and we ate pizza for supper.  Pee I Zee Zee Aye!!!  Ugh.

On Sunday I had a shower in Swisher, IA that Tim was kind enough to drive me to.  It was at 1PM, so the driving and shower took up most of our Sunday.  We did get home in time for me to try a new recipe, however:  Sausage & Sweets Breakfast Bowl.  This was a very easy recipe, and it turned out quite tasty.  I even used some new salt that my friend got me from Galena – Vermont Maple Sea Salt. It went with this dish perfectly.

To accompany the breakfast bowl, I made kale chips from this recipe.  They are so tasty!

And that’s our weekend update.  Hopefully you had a great weekend and were able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

Slow Cooker Mediocrity

I made another recipe in the Nesco today:  Slow Cooker Paleo Chicken with Parsnip Puree.  As with many of the slow cooker recipes I’ve tried, this one turned out fairly bland and uninteresting.  Again, perhaps I did not make this correctly (mine did NOT turn out looking as tasty at the picture in the blog post), but this turned out very tan tasting – very mild and uninteresting without a lot of flavor.  Tim liked the chicken, but to me the dish had that distinctive “slow cooker” taste to it.  I don’t think I would make this again.

To compensate for my lackluster supper, I went out for drinks with my coworkers and succumbed to the allure of the chips and queso at Kelley’s.  I was finally back down to the weight/size that I feel comfortable at, and then I go and chock myself full of processed cheese, msg, and all around crispy, cheesy tastiness.  Oh Heather, when will you learn?

I did do *something* proactive for my health today though.  I keep reading about the dangers of nut eating, and I eat a prodigious amount of almonds.  So I finally took the plunge and am in the process of properly preparing my nuts (he he).  I soaked them over night with a tablespoon of sea salt, and now they are roasting in the Nesco at about 175.  They’ve been roasting for about 11 hours, and they aren’t quite crispy yet, but even so they are already insanely delicious.  I can’t even describe the flavor.  I’m hooked. Next card party at the Longorias will definitely be accompanied by some freshly soaked and roasted nuts.  Tasty AND good for you.  You just can’t beat that.

I have no new recipes on the agenda for tomorrow.  Instead we are trying out a restaurant in LeClaire, the Crane & Pelican.  We may also check out the local winery tasting lounge and catch some live music.  Perhaps the Longorias will stay out past 8PM on this Friday night.  Weeeeeoooo!

We can’t stay out too late, though, because on Saturday morning we have to bike out to Sunderbruch park for the Beer & Bacon 5K.  We’ve never run the trails at Sunderbruch, so this promises to be an adventure.  I follow the group that runs out there every Monday, and they seem like really fun, positive, gorgeous people, so I’m looking forward to meeting them, eating some bacon, and drinking some free Great River beer.  Look forward to me complaining about drinking beer on Sunday.  You’ve been forewarned.  🙂

And with that, I’m off!

 

Paleo Cookies and Happy Chihuahuas

Tim and I have an absolutely ancient chihuahua named Lucent.  We are currently sitting in our back yard enjoying this absolutely perfect spring day, and he is slowly wandering around the yard, pausing in patches of sunshine, looking for rabbit poop which is evidently delicious.  He’s old, he is partially blind, his back bends at a right angle, but he is still a happy little dog, as long as there is sunshine and tasty poop.  Ah, to be a dog…

I haven’t written lately.  Life was out-of-control busy these past couple of weeks, but busy with fun stuff – drinks with friends, hair highlights, art classes, etc.  Yet, busy it was, and I had no time or inclination to write.  Also due to the busyness I did not cook at much as usual and tried only 1 new recipe:  The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies.

These truly are really good paleo cookies.  They taste like ALMOST normal cookies.  I followed the suggestion in the recipe and took the cookies out of the oven right when they started to brown.  They tasted great right out of the oven, but the next morning they were super limp and doughy.  I slid them back on to a cookie sheet and popped them back in the oven for maybe 5-7 minutes.  They came out PERFECT.  These are some tasty sons of bitches, so I have to be careful how often I make them.  They have 1.5 cups of almond flour in them, and I’ve read a few articles lately (like this one here) that make me question my (incorrectly prepared) nut consumption.  It would be waaay too easy to overeat nuts when they are made into cookies this tasty.

Next week is a much more sane week.  I’ve already planned out meals for the next 10 days, and I’m looking forward to cooking at home and trying some new recipes.  Besides that, we need to swing into full gear for tri-training (only about a month left – eeeeek!!).  On Saturday we are doing the Beer & Bacon Run at Sunderbruch Park to help prepare for the off-road tri run.  Pray for a sunny, 70 degree day!

Tim and I also purchased the goods to make a couple square foot gardens.  We got some compost, top soil, plants, and seeds.  This is a new venture for us, so wish us luck.  If we get $100 of produce out of these, or a least some meditative, out-doors time, I’ll be happy.

And that’s my update for the week.  Hope you are enjoying this beautiful Saturday!

Tasty Paleo Crockpot Recipes

A friend recently asked if I have any good paleo crockpot recipes.  I have several, and I figured I might as well post the recipes here so everyone can see them.

Here are some of my tried and true favorites:

  • Bone Broth
  • Smokey Roast – This is one of my favorite roasts!
  • Slow Cooked Chicken Adobo – This is a very delicious chicken recipe.
  • Slow Cooker Turkey Breast – Good and easy
  • Primal Ham Bone Soup – I’ve made this several times, and it it always turns out delicious.  We got some smoked ham hocks with our pig, and they are perfect in this soup.
  • Garlic Pulled Pork – This tastes better when cooked in the oven, but I have cooked it in our Nesco roaster at 200 for 5 hours, and it turns out pretty dang tasty.
  • Oven-Baked Paleo Pork Ribs – We LOVE these.  I made the sauce once, and it didn’t turn out for me, but it could have been user error.  I put these in the crockpot on low (150-200) for 4-6 hours.

I have not tried these, but they are in my recipe binder to be tried soon:

Enjoy!

 

Bring on the tasty!

It’s been a good week for new recipes in the Longoria household!

I tried this new gem:  Amaretti Thins.  The dough for these delicate, fancy-looking cookies tasted exactly like Bit O’ Honeys, which I absolutely love but never eat on account of the fact they will rot the teeth right out of my head.  These little darlings will do no such thing.  Their sweetness is derived from 1/3 cup of coconut sugar.  They are light, airy, crunchy, and beautiful.  Check out my Instagram feed to right for picture proof.  I will definitely make these again, but next time I will make a double batch and perhaps melt some dark chocolate with which to douse them.  Dark chocolate-covered amaretti thins would BLOW                          MY                          MIND.  Oh!  Just a note – I didn’t want to buy an $8 bottle of almond extract, so I used my home-made rum vanilla instead, and it tasted great.

My mind was blown by the pork chops we had tonight as well:  Sweet Fire Porterhouse Pork Chops.  These were insanely easy to make.  I whipped up the marinade in 7 minutes over my lunch hour, slathered it on the chops with my fingers, and let it sit in the fridge for about 5.5 hours.  Tim grilled them up tonight, and they were juicy, delicious, and addictive. I wanted to eat all 4 of them.  I couldn’t believe how strong the orange flavor came through, just from the orange zest.  We served these with a spinach, green onion, red pepper, and mushroom salad.  Perfect spring meal.

And that’s all my recipe updates for the week.  I was all jazzed about making Brussel Sprout chips to go with the pork chops, but the sprouts were $2.99/lb, and I couldn’t justify $6 for side dish.  When sprouts go on sale, I’m definitely going to try it!

I’m also planning to try this new Salt Roasted Lamb recipe this weekend.  Salt is one of my most favorite things, so how could meat cooked in a thick blanket of it not be amazingly delicious!  I hope Mom is ready for this…

So that’s my news. Oh, I did fall UP the stairs at work today.  My back is a little tweaked, but I think I will survive.  My back was sore to start with as Tim and I ran, swam, and biked this weekend.  Don’t worry – I ate and drank more than enough to sustain me!!  But, man, does road biking ever do a number on your back.  I also got wicked sunburned from the riding.  I’m just  falling apart here.

Well, I hope you have an awesome evening.  Go make the amaretti thins and be sure to appreciate their dainty beauty before scarfing them all down.

I’m such a slacker

Man, I haven’t posted since March! That was two weeks ago!  Why have I been so lazy??  I don’t really know, to be honest.  Work is busy like always.  We’ve had a few bouts of good weather, so Tim and I have been running and biking a little more.  We did a super fun bike ride on Saturday, the Tour de Brew QC.  We biked 42 miles and hit 8 different bars/restaurants on the route.  We didn’t eat or drink at all of them, so don’t be all judgey.  It was a really fun time.  But that only accounts for one day of the past 15.  Hmmm.  Well, I just don’t know, so I’m going to move on.

So what have I missed of importance of these past two weeks?  I guess it’s been a pretty quiet couple of weeks!  I only have a few recipes to share with you.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was going to and did make Slow-Cooked Chicken Adobo.  This recipe is incredibly easy, yet tasty.  I don’t have any coconut aminos, so I used tamari instead.  We liked this recipe so much that I made it TWICE in the past 2 weeks.  We served it with sauteed shredded cauliflower, and it was delicious.

Another winning recipe was this one for Apple & Arugula Bison Burgers.  I didn’t have any bison, so I made these with grass-fed ground beef.  I really wanted to make the paleo buns too, but we wanted to catch the 1PM showing of Captain America, so I didn’t have time.  The burgers themselves turned out quite tasty, and the addition of the apple and egg made the pound of meat stretch to make 4 burgers instead of the usual 3.  Also, I know this is probably common knowledge, but sauteing onions in coconut oil for 20 minutes makes the most delicious treat you have ever had.  Who knew onions could be so tasty!!

As I’ve mentioned before, we are trying to get more liver in our diet.  My brother read a tip about how to eat more liver that I’m going to try next time I have a pound of it. Put the liver in a food processor and grind it up, then put it in ice-cube trays and freeze it.  Pop it out of the trays when frozen and put it in a freezer bag.  As you make soups, meatballs, stews, etc, add a cube or two of liver to it.  I used a similar idea and added some to ad-hoc meatballs I made.  I didn’t really follow a recipe – just added coconut flour, egg, spices, liver, onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, chili paste, etc. to a pound of hamburger and made meatballs out of them.  They turned out really tasty, and you could barely tell there was liver in them.

Ok, one last recipe – Double Chocolate Almond Espresso Muffins.  I made these last night.  The dough was AMAZING.  I had chocolate all over my fingers and face by the time these were in the oven.  The dough was VERY thick, due to the almond butter, so these were a work-out to stir.  So it was very unfortunate that I didn’t notice the I forgot to include the chocolate chips IN the batter before spooning the batter into the muffin cups.  I didn’t have the energy to scrape the batter back into the mixing bowl and add the chips, so I just kind of poured them on top and kept my fingers crossed. In retrospect, I should have re-stirred everything.  The muffins turned out tasty, but they were a little dry, and the half-melted chocolate on the top was ultra-messy.  I want to make these again, adding the chips INTO the batter this time.   I also want to monitor the doneness more carefully. I checked them at 20 minutes, and the toothpick came out very globby, so I put them in for 5 more minutes.  By then they were pretty dry.

But, they are still pretty damn tasty.  And this is why I’ve been shying away from making paleo treats lately.  I eat too many of them!!  I took some in to work, and yet I still have 3 muffins to call my own.  No one needs to be eating that much almond butter over the course of 3 days.  I’ve also realized that I truly love ultra-dark chocolate dipped in almond butter. That’s a much easier snack to make, and it’s easier to keep track of how much, exactly, I am eating.

Well, there you go.  That’s what’s been shaking here.  Exciting times, Neo!  Weeeeeooo!

I killed winter dead

It’s 50 degrees and sunny today.  I’m declaring winter dead.  Officially.  My name rhymes with weather, so my word actually holds some weight.  To celebrate the non-depressingness of today, I got a great massage for $15 this morning, had a Bloody Mary with a friend, ran 3.1 miles, raked a portion of the yard, and took a shower.  After planning the meals for the week (Slow Cooked Chicken Adobo, Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry, Salmon, Spaghetti Squash Crusted Quiche, Swedish Meatballs, and Amaretti Thins (for dessert)), I started this blog post, wrestled with whether or not to buy running tights from REI (said no for now – super proud of myself), and then went to the store.  And that’s my March 29th so far.

Last week I made a couple of tried and true recipes and one newbie.

1.  Oven-Baked Paleo Pork Ribs.  I put the spice rub on these ribs the night before, and then put them in the Nesco on 200 for about 6 hours.  While I was at work, Tim kept a close eye on them and took them out right when they were fall-off-the-bone tender.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve tried the bbq sauce mentioned in the recipe, and it did not turn out AT ALL for me, so I didn’t make it again.  We saved the juice that cooked out the ribs, however.  It mixes with all the spices and makes a super tasty sauce for the meat.

2.  To accompany the ribs, I tried a new recipe, the tantalizingly named, Broccoli Salad.  The mix of bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds and bacon sounded very interesting.  I sauteed the sunflower seeds in the bacon grease and added some salt to them. I left out the onions, as Timmy Tee is not a fan of raw onions.  This turned out amazingly delicious.  Tim and I both loved it, even though I typically do not like raw broccoli.  Here’s a pic of the ribs, broccoli salad, and the kimchi Tim made.

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This morning I prepared supper for tonight – pork chops and sweet potato salad.  I’m using a garlic ginger marinade I found in an Allrecipes magazine, so I can’t link to it, but I sure can show you a picture of it!  Tim is grilling these babies up as I type.

photo2 (2)

Here is the recipe for the potato salad.  It seems as if whenever I make paleo mayo, I can never use it all before it supposedly goes bad (3 days).  I had some leftover mayo from the broccoli salad that I made last week.  It still smelled totally fine, but I was wary of using week-old mayo.  Instead, I added some rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and mustard to the potatoes and accouterments.  It turned out really good, and you can’t even tell it doesn’t have real mayo in it!  I think I’ll continue to use this shortcut in the future and save myself the expense of wasting 1/2 a cup of premium quality California olive oil.

And that’s it for today!  Tomorrow is supposed to be even more beautiful, so we are planning a 30 mile bike ride.  I’m going to be falling asleep at my desk on Monday…  I need to find a job where I can cook, eat, run, and bike for a living!

Hope you have a great Saturday!