Taco (salad) Tuesdays

Taco Tuesdays. Definitely one of our favorite nights of the week for dinner. Some weeks we have ground beef, others ground turkey. Last night, when I got home from the gym, the house smelled amazing. Jon was in charge of dinner again and it definitely didn’t smell like our standard Tuesday dinner.  As I walked in the door, he was quick to point out that we could no longer use the giant jar of taco seasoning that we had picked up from Costco since it had cornmeal and sugar in it. OH MY GOSH HE WAS READING LABELS. I was so proud.

I was even prouder when I tasted it. Not only was he reading labels, but he was learning to cook. The cilantro lime dressing he made was delicious.  Served on top of spinach with a big scoop of leftover homemade guacamole, I didn’t even miss the tortillas.  I scraped every last bit of it from my plate and tried to come up with ideas to incorporate the leftover dressing.

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Both recipes can be found here: http://stupideasypaleo.com/2014/02/27/tasty-taco-salad-by-living-loving-paleo/

More than Just a Pretty Face

I remember when my husband and I first started dating and he offered to cook me dinner for the first time.  Let’s just say, I didn’t end up marrying him for his cooking skills.  (Love you babe.) He served up a very well done chicken breast prepared with no seasoning in the George Foreman grill and a side of mixed veggies with nothing but a drizzle of coconut oil.  As he scarfed down his dinner I tried to think of a kind way to ask for salt and pepper so I wouldn’t offend him.  He’s come up with some interesting creations over the course of our relationship, but lately he has been knocking it out of the park with a paleo buffalo chicken recipe he found last month.

Personally, I am not a fan of chicken.  I will eat it, but usually under protest.  On my husband’s days off work, he usually is in charge of dinner, which usually means some variety of chicken (now with seasoning, not cooked in the Foreman grill).  He has made the buffalo chicken strip recipes a few times now and I am obsessed.  I could eat it everyday. It’s that good.

Last night he whipped up the chicken and a version of paleo ranch. (I could take or leave the ranch.)  I made faux mashed potatoes from cauliflower that were spot on. Yum. Yum. Yum.

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Paleo Buffalo Chicken Strips and paleo ranch: http://livinglovingpaleo.com/2013/12/21/buffalo-chicken-tenders-ranch/ (We use coconut flour.)

Mashed Faux Potatoes (Cauliflower)

  • Steam about 2 cups of cauliflower until it is soft when poked with a fork. Drain the water.
  • In a food processor, chop 2 small cloves of garlic. Add steamed cauliflower, about 2 TBL coconut milk, and 1 TBL of butter. (I know. It’s dairy. You can sub a little olive oil or bacon fat if you want.)
  • Blend. Check consistency. Add salt and pepper. Blend some more. Add more coconut milk if thinner consistency is desired.

Enjoy!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Day 3 of clean eating was like getting hit by a train.  I went to my Crossfit box in the morning and felt like everything was moving in slow motion.  A 65# push press felt like 130# and I don’t know how I managed to make it through the box jumps unscathed.  I felt like a slug. By the time I left the gym, I had a headache creeping in.  If I hadn’t experienced a detox from the paleo transition before, I would have sworn I was getting sick.  The good news is that this funk would be temporary.  I knew it meant three things. 1) I was purging all the garbage that I had been bombarding my liver with for the past six months. 2) I needed to check and make sure I was getting enough water and nutrients in my system.  Keeping a food diary makes this so much easier.  3) The road to recovery was within reach!

The last time I transitioned to a grain-free, sugar-free way of life I didn’t hit the detox phase until about the second week into it.  I remember cursing everything under the sun and feeling like the life was being sucked out of me.  In fact, I distinctly remember wanting to quit at that moment. Thankfully I didn’t and within a few days I started to feel lighter, less bloated and full of energy.  I felt better than I ever could remember and was no longer stuck in a constant brain fog.  The first time around I had to blindly trust that it would all be worth it.  This time, I am actually excited that three days into it I can already feel the effects of the detox.  I know that clarity is right around the corner.

Detoxing is a common occurrence with any transition like this and the folks over at Paleo Plan do a great job of explaining it in this article: http://www.paleoplan.com/2011/03-02/the-dreaded-detox/

On to the good stuff. Last night, dinner was leftover ham, a trio of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), and some homemade sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes have caused quite a stir in the paleo community- and while they are acceptable in a paleo diet, it is important to note that they are high in carbohydrates. So if you are looking to lose weight and burn fat in the fastest possible way you may not want to eat them, or if you do, in moderation.  We tend to eat them on days with high intensity workouts.

Sweet potato fries are pretty simple, but I think the right combination of spices is key.  Last night I went a little spicier than usual and loved the outcome.

Sweet Potato Fries(before baking)

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled & sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 2 TBL Olive Oil
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Throw the sweet potatoes in a bowl, toss them in oil and then add the spices. Toss them with tongs to try and coat them as evenly as possible. Make a single layer of the fries on the foil.  Bake for about 15-20 mins and flip.  Bake another 15-20 mins.  Depending on how thin/thick the fries are cut the cooking time will vary.  Once done to desired crispiness, remove them from the pan and place them on a paper towel for a few minutes to cool off and absorb some of the excess oil.

Damn you Pumpkin Spice

My husband came home from work last night, head down.  “I screwed up. I ordered a pumpkin spice coffee with almond milk at Dunkin Donuts this morning. I didn’t mean to.” It was only day 2 of our challenge.  I laughed. He tried to explain. I laughed more.  Was this going to ruin the challenge? Nope. But I wasn’t gonna let him know that.  I just shook my head and asked if he wanted to call the whole thing off. “Of course not!”

Habits are hard to break, especially ones you didn’t know existed.  Like the simple act of ordering a flavored coffee and not realizing that it was loaded with sugar.  Or only reading the nutritional label on packages and not the entire ingredients list.  There is sugar hidden everywhere! Just because the label claims 0g of sugar in the nutritional section, doesn’t mean it isn’t made of it.

Last weekend I made my first turkey. And while I like turkey, sometimes I need to get creative with the leftovers.  Dinner last night was Paleo Turkey Pot Pies.  The measurements in the recipe below are rough estimates. I don’t really measure things when I cook so take the instructions with a grain of salt…

Paleo Turkey Pot Pie

For the filling:

In a large pan, saute:

  • 2 Carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks Celery, sliced
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. Mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBL coconut oil

Add:

  • 1-2 c. Turkey, chopped
  • 1/2 c. Chicken Stock
  • 1 TBL Arrowroot Powder (to thicken)

Cook over medium until the liquid thickens.  Evenly divide and fill two ramekins. (14oz)

For the topping:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together:

  • 2/3 c. Coconut Flour
  • 2 pinches of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 2-3 TBL Water

Spread the “dough” evenly over the turkey mixture in the ramekins. It will be lumpy.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Insides will be lava hot.

turkey pot pie

We both love our desserts.  Jon loves anything chocolate.  I love mint chocolate chip ice cream.  We both love peanut butter cups.  So, to help us through the cravings, I whipped up a paleo treat to be enjoyed in moderation.  Dark Chocolate Almond Cups.  Surprisingly, these are super easy to make.

Dark Chocolate Almond Cups

In saucepan, melt over low heat, stirring frequently:

  • 4 Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Squares
  • 1/4 c. Coconut Oil
  • Stevia to taste (1-2 TBL)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla

In a separate bowl, beat together:

  • 1/2 c. Almond Butter
  • 1TBL Vanilla
  • 1/4 c. Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Protein powder (optional)

Line mini-muffin tin with papers.  Drizzle melted chocolate into bottom of paper liner to cover it.  Add a small scoop of almond filling.  Drizzle spoon full of chocolate over the top to cover.  I sprinkle a dash of sea salt on top and then place the tray in the fridge to cool.

Once set, I move them to an airtight container and store them in the fridge. (makes about 24 mini cups) The trick is to limit yourself to 1-2 because they are so tasty.

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Enjoy!

Holy Guacamole

Day 1 is in the books and we survived with minimal complaints from the husband.  I’m not gonna lie.  Yesterday’s menu was solid despite being in a pinch for time.  It also helped that that today is garbage day and we needed to clear some leftovers out of the fridge.  Thankfully I have a few days off before I head back into the office which means I have time to prep for the next week.  I find the transition of eliminating sugar and grains cold turkey and switching to a food plan like this is to make sure you have plenty of options prepped and ready to go.  Planning is key. I’d rather have too many snacks available then to find myself hungry and scrambling to find a healthy food source.  That to me is a recipe for failure.  A few hours of prep means that I won’t have a meltdown later. Nobody is pretty when they have a meltdown.

Lunch:

  • Paleo Buffalo Chicken Strips (Leftovers- I promise to find this recipe and come back and edit this post because it was amazing)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Guacamole
  • Raw Almonds

Dinner:

  • Steak Fajitas w/ Red & Green Peppers & Onions
  • Bed of Romaine Lettuce hearts
  • Homemade Guacamole**

I know I’m about to toot my own horn, but the guac today was incredible. I felt like I was back in Mexico, minus the beach, warm sun and ice cold margarita….

  • 2 Ripe Avocados, mashed
  • 3 Drops of You Living Lime Essential Oil (this stuff is the bomb- tastes great and the guac stays green!)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cilatro
  • 1 heaping scoop of pico de gallo

Before turning in for the night, I prepped everything in a blender cup so Jon could just wake up and blend a fresh spinach & berry protein smoothie for breakfast.  He’s also got a lunch bag filled with tuna, hard boiled eggs, granny smith apple, carrots, guac, raw seeds & nuts, olives and a paleo bacon brownie bite**… If I haven’t locked up wife of the year already for 2015, I must be doing something wrong. 😉

Side note:

I don’t personally know George who runs Civilized Caveman Cooking… but he rocks.  His recipes are just enough to get you through a craving so you don’t trash your diet.  If you haven’t checked him out, do it. If I ever meet him, he’s getting a big hug from me.  These Bacon Brownie Bites of his are my favs.

http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/recipes/desserts/chocolate-bacon-bites/