Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Scale and Whole 30

I have about 10 days to go on my first Whole 30. I am just now getting to the point where I miss some of the variety I had with my old eating habits. I plan to change it up a bit this week and include some zucchini hummus and start learning to eat less meat and more fish, while continuing to add lots of veggies to every meal.

There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about weighing yourself while doing the Whole 30. I know that is against the rules, however, when my clothes started to fit differently I just had to know what the exact number was. After reading some blogs about this issue I now realize that the number doesn't matter. As long as my clothes ARE fitting better and I am working towards a more healthy relationship with food, the number makes no difference.

Two very inspiring blogs about this issue are:"

One of my favorite things to do is to watch cooking shows and then see how I can change dishes to make them Whole 30 approved. This morning I watched Alex Guarnaschelli make Papillote of Striped Bass. There really are not many changes necessary to make this Whole 30. I have put the recipe below after changing it only slightly. I have not made it yet but plan to this week. Tell me what you think.

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 (8-ounce) pieces striped bass, pin bones removed, skin-on
(or any solid white fish you prefer)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill fronds
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, cut into thin slices and pits discarded

For the Aioli (similar to how you would make homemade Mayo)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
*2 egg yolks
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced

Arrange 2 shelves in the oven at a fair distance from each other. The foil-enveloped fish will need some room to puff and expand as it cooks. Better to rearrange the oven racks while the oven is not yet hot. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread about a 2-foot sheet of foil on a flat surface with 1/2 of it hanging off the counter in front of you. Put the fish, skin side down, horizontally, onto the foil near the end of the counter leaving about 1 1/2-inches of foil on both sides. Season the flesh side of the fish with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with some dill, parsley and a few lemon slices. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons oil on top of the fish. Fold the foil back over the fish and fold in the sides of the foil twice. Leaving some air in the package, roll the top of the foil down twice gathering the top to make a window , leaving about 6 to 8 inches between the fish and the top. It should look like a small package, with all the sides sealed. There should be enough room left around the fish to allow for the steam to build up as it cooks, creating an inflated envelope around the fish. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of fish.

Put the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the egg yolks and pulse to blend. With the processor running, slowly add the 1/2 cup of olive oil, through the opening at the top, in a steady stream. Add the lime juice and pulse to incorporate. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Cook s Note: If the mixture is too thick, add a little cold water to loosen the texture. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Using 2 baking sheets, put 2 of the foil envelopes on each sheet and add a little water to the bottom of the sheet pan. This water will create additional steam in the oven as the fish cooks. Put the baking sheets on 2 shelves of the oven and bake, undisturbed, until the envelopes begin to puff, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to 4 dinner plates. To serve, break open the foil and drizzle with the aioli.

Use caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Whole 30

On February 19 I started my first Whole 30. I have been good and stuck to the plan exactly for 7 days. I would love to tell you all the wonderful things it's done for me but as yet, it hasn't. I am definitely going to stick it out for the Whole 30, but I am having headaches, bouts of nausea, dizziness, and so far I have not felt hungry AT ALL, in fact just the opposite. Part of this may not be related to the Whole 30 at all as I've just gotten off a round of antibiotics for a nasty ear infection. I've heard the antibiotic Augmentin can cause these types of issues. I finished the medication on Friday so I'm hoping the issues I'm having will even out. I did start taken a probiotic, not sure if that is Whole 30 allowed, but the antibiotics were hitting me in all the wrong places so I had to do something to get some good bacteria back and I figured probiotics were better than yogurt which is not at all Whole 30 allowed.

I'll spend some time tomorrow writing about what I have and have not been eating, but for now if you want to take a look at the plan, click on the following link.

More soon,

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Crockpot stew

I have been doing a lot of cooking this morning; trying to get lots of things done before I head back to work on Monday. I have had a lot of fun with my last two weeks off, but it's back to the grind pretty quick here.

My veggie CSA arrived on Wednesday and so I thought a nice, rich beef stew would be a good way to use up all those root veggies I got. I have the meat on low in the crock pot now and it's really creating a wonderful smell in the kitchen. Here is my crock pot beef stew recipe for anyone who wants to give it a whirl.

1 lb beef stew meat
1/2 bottle of red wine (the better the wine, the better the gravy!)
32 ounces beef broth (or homemade stock would be even better!)
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
pinch red chili flakes (more if you like it spicy)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 bay leaves
2 whole garlic cloves
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 tblsp worcestshire

There are many different schools of thought as to how to put this together. Jamie Oliver said he used to brown his meat, garlic, and onions before cooking as he thought that brought out more flavor. After doing it both ways though he came to find it really made no difference. I would agree, and even take it a step further and say that most of your flavor gets left in your browning pan when you do it that way. Do dredge the meat in the flour though as it will act as a thickener in your stew as is cooks. After dredging the meat in flour add it to the crock pot with all of the other ingredients above.

The other change that I am making to most crockpot stew recipes is that I am not adding all the veggies at the same time I put the meat in. If there is one thing I can't stand it's soggy, mushy veggies. So put the meat in as indicated above and let it cook on low for 4 hours. Note that I did add the mushrooms as I wanted some of that mushroomy flavor to be taken on by the meat.

After 4 hours add the following veggies:

1 bunch diced carrots
2 or 3 potatoes cubed
1 leek chopped
1 sweet potato chopped (optional)

Feel free to add whatever veggies suit your taste. I am adding the leeks, carrots and sweet potatoes because they came in my CSA this week. Just don't add too many veggies as your pot will become too crowded and they won't cook properly. Let them cook for another 4 hours on low, or if you need things done more quickly you can move your crockpot to high when you put the veggies in. Keep an eye too that you still have plenty of liquid in your pot; you don't want your beautiful stew to dry out! Add more broth and/or wine as necessary.
Adjust your seasonings and serve

I also tried my hand at making cheese crackers today. I wanted to find another use for my new Atlas pasta machine and it's the perfect tool to make thin and crispy cheese crackers. I really wanted a recipe made without butter, but olive oil instead. The crackers I made are good, and the pasta machine works like a dream, but the crackers were just not cheesy enough. This is a great recipe though and next time I will make sure I use a very sharp cheddar, and more of it. Here is the recipe I came up with, tweak it and tell me what you come up with!

3/4 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
4 tblsps extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups tightly packed cheddar cheese
1/4 tightly packed grated parmeasan cheese
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift the flours, salt and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients to the
flour mixture. When dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball dump out onto floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal balls, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cut each ball in half and form a small rectangle with each half. Flour the rectangle and run it through pasta machine on 0 setting. Flour and fold dough and run through one more time. Change setting to 1, flour and run through, repeat this through setting 3. I found setting 3 about as high as I could go before it got too thin. I then used a very small cookie cutter and laid out my cracker shapes on the parchment paper. I baked these crackers for 12 minutes at 375. You should try them for 8 to 12 minutes as my oven tends to run hot. My son ate them up quickly, almost 1/2 are gone already. I thought they were good, but needed a bit more cheese flavor.

That's what I've been up to today. Hope you are having a good one too!

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Box of CSA

I received my first CSA box from Farm Fresh to You on Wednesday. After reading a ton of bad reviews on Yelp, and other sites, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the vegetables in the box. As soon as I get my new camera I'll be able to include some pics. For now here is what was in the box:

1.5 lbs small yellow potatoes
1 lb baby bok choy
1 bunch carrots (the sweetest carrots I have ever eaten)
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch spinach
1 spaghetti squash
1 bunch green leaf lettuce
1 pound yellow onions
2 large leeks

Now that Christmas is over, and I understand the CSA routine, I will be able to prepare menus and recipes for what is coming in the box. For this week though I just threw the veggies into different combinations for the meals I made. For example one night I cut the potatos into quarters, mixed them together with the broccoli, some garlic, salt, and pepper and rosted them in the oven on high heat. I then sauted some onions, leeks, and garlic, added 1 box of veggie broth, some pasta and the roasted vegetables and let simmer. When the pasta was done so was the soup. I finished it off with some garlic olive oil and parmeasan cheese. It was yummy and so healthy. For the rest of the week I used the veggies in a smilar fashion just adding them to whatever I could. We easily went through the entire box in a week, when I was hoping it would last us two weeks. My next veggie box does not come until the 4th which is a long time to wait for veggies. I may need to tweak my order. This Wednesday I will receive a fruit box, I'll let you know how we do with that.

Until next time,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Farm Fresh to You

I just joined an Organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and it will deliver right to my home. Veggies one week, fruit the next. I am going to try it for a month and see how the family likes it. Check in with me here everyday as I blog about what we get in our box and the meals I create with these ingredients. My first veggie box arrives on Wednesday, December 21 and my fruit box on Wednesday, December 28.

Check back soon,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Super Easy Eggplant Mozzerella Sandwiches

Here is a super easy recipe that the kids will want you to make again and again. I count my husband in there too, as he asks me to make these all the time.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 box Trader Joe's Eggplant slices
4 slices low fat mozzarella cheese
4 multi grain rolls (large)

Pesto Sauce
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c pine nuts or walnuts or pecans
1 tsp lemon juice

Make the pesto sauce first by mixing all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Should be smooth and not chunky.
Put 1 tbsp of olive oil on baking sheet and spread evenly on the pan. Then lay your eggplant slices out on the baking sheet and put into a preheated 400 degree oven. Let the eggplant cook for approximately 10 minutes and then flip over the slices and let cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. You want the slices to be golden brown and crispy but don't let them burn. When they are done layer a couple slices of eggplant on one side of your lightly toasted bread. Put a piece of mozzarella cheese on top of the eggplant and keep the bread open while you either toast or microwave the sandwich JUST until the cheese melts. When done spread the pesto mixture on the side of the bread with nothing on it, then close the sandwich and serve. SO YUMMY!

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

I made this sweet potato soup last night and the whole family loved it. Remember to roast your sweet potatoes either the night before you want to make it, or the morning of the night you want to make it. That way you should be able to put it all together in about 40 minutes.

4 large sweet potatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 box veggie or chicken broth
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 onion chopped
1 tblsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garm masala
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Wash and place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Poke each with a fork before placing in the oven to allow steam to escape. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes.  Test with a fork to see if it feels done inside. Place your chopped onion and garlic into a dutch oven with the olive oil and cook until soft. Peel the sweet potatoes and add to the onion and garlic. Mash sweet potatoes gently with the back of your spoon. They don't need to be smooth. Add all the spices to this mixture. Slowly add the broth to the sweet potao mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate the broth. When the broth has been added completely, add the coconut milk next. Stir mixture and let cook,on low to medium, for about 15 minutes.
It's up to you how you do this next part, if you have an immersion blender, by all means use it to make the soup smooth and delicious. You may also use a blender, just be very careful that you don't spill the hot soup on yourself. Enjoy this warm, yummy soup!