Monday, April 29, 2013

No time!? No more excuses!

Have you heard it?  The age old, if only I had more time...then I could eat healthy.... 

I hear it quite a bit, it's a very common excuse and, tough love coming, it's a load of bull.  I am a married, self employed mother of two who volunteers way too much at her son's school and if I can manage to get real food into me and my family three times a day, with minimal dining out,!  Let me also stipulate I do 100% of the cooking, even when my little dude wants to help, I'm still there monitoring the action and providing guidance.  I spend a lot of time planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning up but I can-and have-gotten good, real food, nutritious meals on the table in under 15 minutes.

Let me ask you, is your health worth 15 minutes?  The answer should be a resounding yes!  Yet the no time refrain plays out over and over again in houses all over America.  No time for a real breakfast, just pop in some toaster waffles!  No time to make a healthy lunch, run through the drive thru!  No time to make dinner?  Yep, pizza delivery is on speed dial.  Let's face it, our society is not set up to help you achieve optimal health and wellness!  You have to be willing to fight for it and you must prioritize your health above convenience.  Is your health worth 15 minutes?

Wonder what a 15 minute breakfast looks like?

Inside of 15 minutes, with a little foresight and preplanning, I sat down to scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms and greens with sliced salami.  And it...was...good!  It was filling, it was satisfying and I was not hungry until I sat down to eat lunch at 1:00. 

Here's the breakdown with approximate times:
Minute 1: warm pan with coconut oil, slice mushrooms, get pre chopped kale (thank you Trader Joe's) and previously separated Brussels sprout leaves out of the fridge.
Minute 3: add veggies to the pan, cover, and sauté until soft, sprinkle with sea salt or seasoning of your choice when warm, transfer to plate and return the pan to the stove when done.
Minute 10: crack eggs into the pan and scramble, slice salami
Plate it all, sit down and enjoy breakfast with your family. 

You can do this! 

A good meal of high quality protein and abundant vegetables with quality fats does not have to take you forever to prepare.  Yes, a quick search for Paleo fare on the internet can pull up countless gourmet, beautiful, high maintenance dishes and if you have the time to invest in getting one of those culinary experiences on to your plate and in your belly go for it!  But the reality is we all lead busy lives, but being busy does not have to mean not eating well.

What's your favorite go to meal that can be prepared in less than 15 minutes?  Have you found ways to cut corners and save yourself time in the kitchen without sacrificing great health or are you a slave to the stove?  A little planning and a lot of prep go a long way to getting you in and out of the kitchen and on with the business of life!

Happy eating to all and to all a good life!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Steak frittatta

Steak and shredded vegetable frittata

Frittatas are an easy way to get rid of whatever veggies are languishing in your fridge at the time and stretch an otherwise too small portion of protein to feed three for dinner and have leftovers for lunches the next day. 

1 tsp coconut oil
1 lb beef steak, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and blitzed in the food processor
1 bag frozen broccoli, blitzed in the food processor
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
8 eggs
2 tablespoons coconut flour

Pre heat oven to 350F.

Melt oil in oven safe pan and cook steak until done, adding garlic and aminos to the pan.  Add the sweet potato and broccoli and stir well.  Whisk the eggs and flour together and pour into the pan, give it a shake to distribute the egg-y goodness.  Pop it all in the oven for 25-30 minutes until done, in the last few minutes switch the oven to broil and toast the top.  Serve topped with avocado and salad on the side.

Happy eating to all and to all a good life!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teach a man to fish

What's the old saying?  Give a man a fish or teach him to fish right?  So true in so many ways!  That same belief can be applied to children and the fine art of feeding themselves.  My son is on the verge of turning nine and has always enjoyed being in the kitchen with me. He's my baking helper, veggie peeler and professional egg cracker!  Lately he's asked to take it up a notch and learn to prepare some meals.  I love that he's interested in learning how to cook, I think it's a skill that is sadly neglected in our fast paced, convenience driven, rush-rush society.  To me, preparing food is about so much more than getting calories from one place (the food) to another (your body!).  I've often said: If I feed you, I love you!  If I love you, I feed you!  It is my kitchen mantra.  Getting good quality, nutritious, nourishing food into my family is an act of love and one that, for the most part, I enjoy doing!  I'm grateful now to have the opportunity to raise the next generation of Rodriguez chefs and have enjoyed watching my son man the stove. 
His first adventure in cooking was to cook the burger sliders.  I formed them-frankly I'm not ready to have him pawing raw meat-but he took care of the rest, including a liberal seasoning of cayenne pepper!  He was so proud of his contribution to our dinner table that night, I loved seeing the sense of accomplishment he had in putting food on our plates and his joy in watching us enjoy that food.  Man, he gave his Dad an earful that night when he started putting salsa on his meat without even tasting it!  He was proud of those burgers and didn't want anyone to mess them up!  I was about his age when my dad taught me to fry eggs-in a whole lot of butter (who am I kidding, probably margarine!)  And then again a year or so later when I mastered the fine art of making boxed mac & cheese.  That's pretty much where I stopped until high school when I decided to try roasting a turkey-it was good, the kitchen was a disaster! 
The next morning he was determined to get up extra early and help me make breakfast.  We're a hot breakfast every morning kind of family and we go through a lot of eggs.  I really wish I had the space, and patience, for backyard chickens.  It would save me a ton of cash!  Alas, my backyard is woefully small and I doubt my neighbors would appreciate hearing the cluck, cluck, cluck of a backyard flock.  Paulo received his first lesson in cracking, whisking and cooking scrambled eggs on a large scale and did a great job!  They were perfectly cooked, extra fluffy, and filled with extra love that morning.   Watching my baby cook makes me kind of emotional, I must admit!  Sometimes I forget he's not little anymore.  He turns 9 on Sunday and the years have flown by.  The fact that this will be his final single digit year is kind of messing with my head! 
What about you?  Have you brought your young ones into the kitchen with you to share the fine art of feeding themselves?  If so, what's their favorite thing to cook?  And if not...what's holding you back?  Believe me, it's worth the time, the effort and yes, even the extra clean up to get your children interested and involved in cooking.  So get in there this weekend and teach your child how to cook something, then come tell me how it went!

Happy eating to all and to all a good life! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Link Love!

It's the end of an incredibly busy**read stressful!!** week.  Today, instead of sharing something I've whipped up, I'll direct you to some talented blogging cooks so you can check out a few of my favorite new things!

First up, bone broth-two words I never would have put together pre W30.  There are a million different ways to make broth, but my favorite has to be the super simple recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.  Michelle uses a pressure cooker and flavors the broth with apple cider vinegar and Red Boat fish sauce and around an hour later you've got a pot of steaming hot, super nutritious broth that you can drink straight from a mug-it's like a warm hug, on the inside.  You can use it as a base for soup, much better than even the organic broths you find in the store.  You can splash it on your kale while it steam sautés.  I store and freeze mine in mason jars.  When my little dude came down with a cold this week it was #1 on my list of things to do Tuesday morning while he sat, sniffling, on the couch! 

Next up, my new obsession, cauliflower!  I've always liked cauliflower but I must admit I preferred it smothered in "cheese" sauce.  Recently I've discovered roasted cauliflower, cauliflower rice and my new personal favorite mashed cauliflower.  All three of these recipes link to the amazing Melissa Joulwan's site who is the author of one of my all time favorite cook books: Well Fed.  I have yet to make a recipe from her book that didn't turn out fantastic!

Think you're too busy to cook real food?  Check out this list of grain free crock pot meals, there's a whole month to peruse, you're bound to find some inspiration!  When you're done there, hop over here for more crock pot ideas!   Even the busiest among us can serve up real food dinners, whether you're eating for one or feeding a whole family it's worth the time.  You are your best investment!  Find ways to get real food on the table, you won't regret it!

Ready for the main course?  Check out this recipe for the best....ever...meatloaf!  Seriously, the best

Finally what's a grain free momma supposed to make for a sweet treat?  While there's no shortage of tasty paleoified dessert recipes, I'm a big fan of these simple coconut flour biscuits.  They're not too sweet, mix up super quick and easy with a hand held blender and bake up perfectly moist and delicious!  They were the centerpiece of last night's dessert, topped with fresh strawberries and bananas, we never even missed the whipped cream!

Happy eating to all and to all a good life!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Meatballs with extra veggies

Sometimes you just have to shred it, the veggies that is! 
If you're looking for a way to sneak a few extra veggies into your child's tummy this could be your new favorite recipe.  My son is 8, he's a fairly adventurous eater, he's especially fond of spicy foods but the only way he'll happily munch on kale is when I make kale chips-I happily munch on those too!  Me?  I love kale...never in a million years did I think I'd say that!   I started to enjoy more variety in my leafy greens when I was drinking green juice or smoothies daily.  Winter for me is a natural time to take a break from those tasty beverages and I've been experimenting with other ways to get those important leafy greens in my body.  These days I'm happy to eat sautéed kale, instead of blended, with my breakfast!  I'm always on the lookout though for ways to up my little dude's veg consumption.  He'll eat salad like a champ and loves his steamed broccoli and carrots, but he's been reluctant to come to the green side and embrace kale as wholeheartedly as I have!  These little meatballs might change all that!
Veggie filled meatballs
1.5 pounds ground beef
4-5 large mushrooms
1/4 red onion
2 large handfuls baby kale
1/2 cup parsley
3 garlic gloves
Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor blitz the mushrooms until they're tiny, but don't go too far or you'll end up with mushroom paste!  Pour the mushroom pieces into a large bowl.  Repeat with the onion, empty to the bowl.  Finally combine the kale, parsley and garlic and process-sort of like making a pesto!  Dump that into the bowl and combine with the ground beef.  Create small, bite sized, meatballs and bake until done-20 or so minutes.  Serve with homemade mayo and paleo ketchup for dipping!
When I tucked my son into bed last night I asked him if he could identify the veggies that were in the meatballs.  He took a few stabs at it, because of the green tint he thought broccoli.  When I told him it was kale and parsley he declared me a genius!  He knows they're good for him but let's face it, kale is an acquired taste!

Friday, April 5, 2013

A new chapter and a salad dressing recipe

This past year has been one big experiment to see what my body needs to be well fed, healthy, strong and happy.

I've run the gambit from vegetarian, dabbled in vegan, to returning to eating meat but keeping my grain heavy diet to learning some about the Paleo Diet over last summer during a wonderful two months at Crossfit SW Portland but not being ready to take the full plunge to diving in to what's known as a Whole 30 in January under the guidance of the Whole 9 website and a really great book, It Starts With Food.

The Whole 30 (W30) in January was life changing for me.  It was during those 30 days of cutting out all grains, legumes, added sugar, dairy and alcohol that I felt the best I ever have.  Seriously..!   I went through my 30 days 100% committed to the rules and went through the reintroductions as carefully as I can and discovered what I can, and can't consume.  I'm now following a paleo diet as strictly as possible, it is what works best for me.  I'll be sharing links, info and recipes that I create-or duplicate-here.  I hope you find some things that work well for you and your family. 

Now, on to the recipe!  There are countless bottles of mayo on the shelves at your local grocery store.  Sadly, even the "healthy" ones can be loaded with chemicals, preservatives and other nasties that I just don't want in my body, or my family.  I discovered homemade mayo in January and I haven't looked back since, seriously, it's incredible and it takes only minutes to make.

This is my favorite recipe.  It's super simple, it contains an egg, olive oil, mustard powder, lemon juice and salt, that's it. No binders, fillers, preservatives, nothing artificial and did I mention it takes only minutes to make?  You must, must, must make a batch ASAP! 

Once you make a batch of fresh mayo remove all but 1/4 cup or so-really it's whatever is left in the blender that you just can't quite get out by scraping! 

To that lovely leftover creamy goodness add:

1/2 of an avocado
the juice of one lime
1 splash of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro
three garlic cloves and a tiny bit more salt and flip the blender back on. 

Voila! Instant creamy avocado salad dressing, perfect for all those spring and summer salads we'll be feasting on as the temps start to rise and the farmers markets overflow with freshly picked produce!  I served it on a bed of baby spinach and green leaf lettuce with tomatoes, diced mango and avocado and left over roasted chicken that I removed from the bone and heated on the stove in a little bit of coconut oil.  Delicious!

Happy Eating to all and to all a Good Life! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fruit and fish salad...or what to eat when you need to empty the fridge

My family was blessed to visit Oahu last week, including my in laws, we were six strong in Kailua!  It was amazing....

We rented a little house walking distance from the beach, we didn't want to be stuck eating out all the time plus with Paulo's food allergies it just isn't an option!  We were lucky enough to find a cute little three bedroom, two bathroom house literally a two minute walk away from the ocean.  We spent a lot of time in this water! 

Since we had a well equipped kitchen we ate at home as much as we could.  Mostly simple stuff, a lot of fresh fruit and salad and we took advantage of the local Whole Foods to buy some fresh Hawaiian fish.  A couple of days into our trip we bought some Marlin steaks.  I steamed them up and seasoned with black salt-I'd never seen that before!-and pepper.  Very simple and very good.  We had some left over that my mother in law shredded up with the intent of making a "tuna" salad.  Good intentions aside we just didn't make that happen.  So on our last night there we were faced with the task of emptying the fridge as much as we could, we made a gallant effort to eat up the left over goodies and to that end I made this for dinner:

In a large bowl combine:
Diced tomato
Peeled and diced mango
Chopped pineapple
Red onion
Minced serrano chile

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season with salt.

Heat a pan with oil, we had canola on hand, and add the shredded (cooked) fish.  Squeeze lemon and season with salt and pepper.  Heat through and then add to the fruit, stir well to combine.  Serve on a bed of baby spinach with crusty bread and cheap wine!