Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Parsnip Hashbrowns

Wow. These just checked off so many boxes for me: Salty, slightly sweet, savory, fried, buttery, crispy, soft. So many textures and flavors fused into one delicious package. Would totally serve to overnight company. This version has a sweet take - if you are vehemently opposed to the idea of a sweet-ish hashbrown, season with onion powder and garlic powder instead of the warming spices listed below.

Breakfast is calling! Or dinner - whatever.

Parsnip Hashbrowns
Serves 3 as a side


3 peeled parsnips
4 tablespoons butter, or more to taste (I used salted Kerrygold)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Using a vegetable peeler, shred the parsnips until the core is reached. Melt butter in a pan on medium-high heat, then add seasonings. Toss parsnip shreds into pan, and stir and turn frequently with a spaghetti serving utensil (they are still good for something after all!). While stirring, parsnips will cook, beginning to brown and clump. Use a spatula to shape the clumps into three hashbrown "cakes" about the size of the palm of your hand. Continue turning another couple of minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside. Serve immediately.

Serving suggestion: With scrambled or boiled and mashed eggs.

09/01/2010: By the way, adding this note ex post facto to say that I just saw this potato/parsnip hashbrowns recipe on the BBC food site indicating that you can freeze homemade hashbrowns! I will definitely try this with my own parsnip hashbrowns recipe. -AO

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lunchbox Adventures to Come

We are so excited! My 3.5 year old daughter starts preschool in just a couple of weeks. I have already blogged about her sweet bento lunchbox, and now I'm starting to really brainstorm ideas about what primal goodies I can put in her lunchbox. (I wonder: are preschoolers already trading lunchbox items with each other?)

Here are some of my ideas - stuff that I already know that she loves to eat:
  • Miniquiches - soon I may try Gillian Fritch's delicious-looking Crustless Quiche recipe
  • Custards
  • Banana pudding (prepared in a glass dish, then chilled and transferred to one of the bento containers with lids)
  • Chicken salad - made with yoghurt and seasonings
  • Guacamole and veggies to dip
  • Yoghurt dip and veggies to dip
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Trail mix (if her preschool "does" nuts...? still don't know there)
  • Almond butter and apple slices (same as above)
  • Yoghurt blended with fruit
  • Roast beef (maybe rolled around some avocado with wasabi powder sprinkled inside)
  • Dried fruit
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Baked/cubed sweet potatoes
  • Cheeses (including organic string cheese! :-D)
  • Organic applesauce packs, via Trader Joe's
Stay tuned - all lunchbox series items over the coming months will be tagged with the label lunchboxes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Menu/Workout Plan

Oh, boy, am I excited about doing the September Primal Challenge! I am still such a novice at a lot of this, but I get stoked thinking about pushing myself to do the workouts, to cook and eat faithfully primal meals, and of course, to see what everybody else out there is doing in their challenge mode at the same time! :) I feel like Grok (or was it Fred Flintstone?) about to sink his teeth into a huge bronto steak. ;-p

I'd like to do VLC for myself as much as possible throughout the month - my single planned hiccup may be a weekend trip that we are planning with my inlaws, but hopefully I can plan ahead to minimize the extent of that hiccup. Wherever I have VLC meals planned, I will also sometimes supplement with high-nutrient starchy tubers or fruit for my girls - after all, they don't have the baby weight to lose.

I may also experiment with some intermittent fasting in September on days where I'm not as hungry or just too busy - my meal likeliest to skip would be breakfast, in which case I'd move the breakfast planned to lunchtime, thereby forgoing a smoothie meal.

So (now) Tuesday September 07 officially kicks off the festivities. Did you see that Mark will be giving away an entire COW?! (!!) Think I'll start jotting down my workout plans, too, for the sake of committing to the challenge in advance. Yabba dabba do!!!

Workout: Wii Fit Plus arms routine: 3 sessions each of pushups, planks, and side planks
Breakfast - Fried eggs, warm banana pudding for my girls
Lunch - Blueberry coconut smoothies (I add the whey protein powder after dosing out shares for my girls), loaded ("big-ass") salads
Dinner - Steaks, salsa guacamole (steaks and avocados are on sale at Giant, woo!)

Workout: Workout of the Week, or however much of it I can muster! ;-)
Breakfast - Sauteed kale with bacon and mushrooms,
Lunch - Peach coconut smoothies, apple slices with almond butter, cheese slices
Dinner - Shrimp, Sausage, and Summer Squash casserole - a new recipe from Mark's Daily Apple

Workout: Kettlebellin', working whatever the Tuesday WOW didn't
Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs with melted Kerrygold and pepper
Lunch - Lime cilantro coconut smoothies, baked sweet potatoes
Dinner - Crock pot pork ribs, salads

Workout: Rest/play day
Breakfast - Eggs scrambled with butter
Lunch - Nectarine coconut smoothies, nuts
Dinner - Whole roasted chicken, baked Brussels sprouts, baked parsnips

Workout: Wii arms (see Monday), kettlebellin'
Breakfast - Fat guacamole devils
Lunch - Coconut curry chicken spinach soup using leftover chicken (recipe to come)
Dinner - Leftovers

Friday, August 27, 2010

Basic Butter-Glazed Shrimp

I have a sister-in-law in the Midwest who is a kitchen wonder - recipes inspired by her cooking certain to appear again and again on this blog. In the beginning of June (life before Grok, as it were), when she and her family were visiting, she introduced my husband's side of the family to the concept of buying, peeling, then butterflying fresh shrimp, glazing with a basic butter marinade, and then grilling to perfection.

It was one of those meals when even the most talkative in the crowd fell silent as we savored every bite. And though I've mentioned this before in my 4th of July post, I thought that the shrimp recipe merited a little extra post of its own, because it is so easy and so fast!

Basic Butter-Glazed Shrimp
Serves 3, conservatively, or 2 generously

1 lb. raw fresh or thawed shrimp, peeled, butterflied, tails removed (This process actually takes only about 10 minutes per pound)
1 stick butter (I prefer to use salted Kerrygold)
Drizzle honey (totally optional - but my sister-in-law had it in her original recipe so I include it here)
A few cranks of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients. If grilling, skewer about 4-5 to a skewer, turned continuously on the grill, over a piece of foil if desired. (This is great also with pineapple on the skewers.) Do not overcook - once they are all pink and just a bit browned from the grill (see pic below), serve hot!

You can also sautee at high heat for about 5 minutes - but you must watch carefully and stir constantly. Take the pan off of the heat as soon as the grey is gone and the shrimp are all pink, lest you overcook and make them tough.

Here are the shrimp already peeled and tails gone, soaking up that butter. I'm about to butterfly them.
This is me butterflying a shrimp - just run a serrated knife along the "spine" to open it up a bit. This gives you more surface area for that delicious butter glaze to cover. ;)
Sauteed (last night's meal):
Grilled (though these had not been butterflied):

Serving suggestion with pineapple and asparagus
(great meal for nonprimal company):

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Have a Fever, and the Cure is More Kettlebell

I didn't want to ruin my inertia created by working out the last few weeks. I went ahead and acquired a kettlebell.

(For some reason when I think about the word kettlebell, I hear a barbershop quartet singing, "Kettlebell...Kettlebelllll...Kettlebell....Ke-ttle-belll!" Anybody else? No? OK, moving right along...)

I'm not sure if I was being cocky...or conservative. I got the 25 lb. bell, which is just a bit under what my 99th percentile baby Grokina weighs. I rationalized to myself that if I could haul her around the house all day long like I do, I must have some modicum of strength enough to handle a 25 lb. kettlebell.
Egads...I watched the video of this beast Eastern European dude (complete with polka soundtrack) doing his Turkish getups over and over and over for 4 minutes (in jeans). What a HOSS. And then there's the video here of a guy doing a 6 minute Tabata workout with kettlebells:

I will consider it a success if in the next few days I can manage my first basic swinging-only two-handed kettlebell session without actually killing or maiming myself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Salsa Guac

Sorry - no pics this time. The guacamole - served with tonight's fried tilapia - got eaten so fast that there wasn't time to compose any compelling shots. But you still get the recipe for this ridiculously easy guac! I would definitely serve this to company in the future with a veggie tray for dippin'.

Salsa Guac
Serves 1 very generously

1/2 cup of tomato-based salsa (I use a premade tomato/cilantro/lime juice based salsa from my grocery store's produce section)
1 Hass avocado

Combine the salsa with chunks of avocado - in your electric minichopper (I got mine at WalMart about 5 years back for $9.99) or your food processor. 


According to Nutritiondata.com, the salsa-guac mix for 1/2 c. salsa with 1 cubed avocado is roughly:

262 calories
20 g carbs (11g fiber)
5 g protein
21 g fat (woo!)

Workout of the Week Wednesday

"Ooooof" I sighed as I stood up from this morning's breakfast table.

"Why are you going '[Oooof]', Mommy?"

Good question. Yesterday, I did a partial rendition of Mark's Workout of the Week - this week's being "Grok's Rock". I did 5 sprints, 5 lunge sets, and 5 Grok crawl sets (though I'm not sure that I had the right distances on these), and I did 3 "rock throws" - or rather in my case, hoisting (not throwing) my 25 lb. 8 month old above my head from a fully squatted position a few times per set. Meanwhile, my three-year-old had been scaling the local playground just a few feet away.

Sweet maximized gluteus, my muscles are sore. I even had a banana yesterday and they are still burnin' today. Stairs and getting up and down from a sitting position are like whoa. I take comfort, though, knowing that the revenge of lactic acid is somewhat offset by my three-year-old Grokette's noticing that I am actually making an effort to be active.

So it's a good thing -

"Well, Mommy's muscles aren't used to being exercised, so they're sore. But it's OK; I know that they'll feel better tomorrow."

"Maybe some coffee would help you feel better."

Ha! Love Grokette's logic. If only I hadn't been off caffeine since last spring, when I had become pregnant with my second. (I'm still off it, too, since I'm nursing.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan - Carb Recovery

Vacation fare was delicious, and - due to a significant amount of planning ahead on my part - mostly primal. Throughout my journey eating primally, thus far the biggest reason for my ability to stick to cooking fresh whole foods has been planning, planning, planning. I plan before outings, I plan menus, I plan grocery shopping based on my menus. If I have what I need when I need it, there are less excuses.

The thing that drove me crazy on this past week's trip, surprisingly, was not having a scale with me. I've been weighing (and graphing said weight loss) almost daily since June, and being a few days away from home, eating primally with a few compromises, but not having a scale to see how my weight is affected - well, has left me wanting to get back to basics, primally speaking, and cut back on the sugars (man-made and natural both) this week.

Breakfast - Fried eggs
Lunch - Sauteed kale with bacon and mushrooms
Dinner - Chicken and wilted spinach in curried coconut milk soup

Breakfast - Almond butter smoothies
Lunch - Loaded cobb salads: Greens, hard-boiled eggs, salsa, avocado, pieces of chicken
Dinner - Bacon and scrambled eggs

Breakfast - Onion spinach omelettes
Lunch - Berry smoothies (berries of all kinds are on sale this week at Giant)
Dinner - Coconut lime fried tilapia with guacamole and salad

Breakfast - Blueberry custards (made with coconut milk)
Lunch - Pork vegetable soup
Dinner - Grilled shrimp and veggies on skewers

Breakfast - Coconut ginger lime smoothies
Lunch - Kitchen sink salads (whatever's available)
Dinner - Fried eggs, parsnip hash browns (will post recipe if my plan for these works out!)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Son of Grok's Strawberry Cheesecake with Joyful Abode's Chocolate Ganache

Happy Birthday to my mom! We celebrated over Son of Grok's strawberry cheesecake with Joyful Abode's chocolate ganache spread on top. To me, the cheesecake was just sweet enough; my nonprimal relatives proclaimed it "tart" - but in a good, European dessert kind of way - and they said that the sweet, dark chocolate ganache was the perfect balance. It might have been just a bit prettier had there been a springform pan on hand.

The only substitutions I had to make to the cheesecake mix were these: I had only one 8 oz. block of organic cream cheese, so I used 8 oz. of organic cottage cheese for the second cream cheese block called for by the recipe. The result was firm, creamy, very lightly sweet, and tart. I would happily eat by itself, but with the ganache it is a little more "intro to primal/paleo" friendly. I also added just a few of the semisweet chocolate chips to the melted butter/almond meal crust and mixed to melt/combine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tahini Dressing, and Lamb Kebabs with Yoghurt Sauce and Lambrusco

On our vacation, my sister-in-law (a nonpaleo/nonprimal) kindly sought a meal that I could also consume with relish...or more like...consume with taragon greek yoghurt. :) She made these honey-lime lamb kebabs, which were so tasty, especially with a little Lambrusco - bought by my parents at Trader Joe's - served on the side. (If I make the kebabs in the future, I'll probably cut the honey by half or more to make it less carby.) Our offering was a kale salad (still using our friends' kale!) with tahini dressing and cucumbers and tomatoes.

Quick Tahini Dressing
Dresses one large salad

1/3 c. sesame tahini
1/3 c. tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
Olive oil, to desired consistency

Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a mini food processor. Add olive oil slowly, until desired consistency is achieved.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Primal Peppermint Patties

Hot dog. And by "hot dog", I mean: PEPPERMINT PATTY!

I adapted this based on Joyful Abode's recipe. I didn't have coconut chips at my disposal, so here's my version, which is based on what I had handy. The next time I do these, I'll totally pour the mix into muffin cups or individual Dixie cups one at a time (in the picture above, I had poured to the top of the cup, and sliced after freezing).

Primal Peppermint Patties
Makes 10 large patties

1 banana
1 can of coconut milk's thick coconut cream, extra liquid poured off* and not mixed in
4 tablespoons melted coconut oil, to add to mix
2 teaspoons peppermint extract, or to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (the darker the better)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, to mix with chips
Sheet parchment paper or wax paper
10 wax-lined small Dixie cups

In blender, combine banana, coconut cream, melted coconut oil, and peppermint extract. Pour these about 1/4 inch deep into wax-lined small Dixie cups, and freeze at least 2 hours.

Once patty centers are frozen, melt coconut oil and chocolate chips in the microwave, and stir. Working quickly, remove the patties from the freezer and peel the cup away. Dip the frozen patties in the melted chocolate and lay out on parchment paper to cool. Store in fridge or freezer, and serve cool.

Funny side story: as I was trying to assemble these last night, I microwaved the chips, when the noise woke my 8-month old daughter. "Here," I said, handing the melted chocolate to my bewildered mom, who had no idea of what to do or where I was in the process. I slammed the parchment paper and knife on the counter, gave her a short scenario of my intentions, noting, "...when I get back up I'd just have to microwave it and wake her up all over again." She took the still-melty chocolate and made the patties for us all. And isn't the one above so pretty? Go, Mom!

*Incidentally, this poured-off coconut water-type stuff makes a great emulsifying base for some primal hot chocolate.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Workout of the Week Wednesday

I've been eating primally for nearly two months now - loving the menu, and how it makes me feel. But now it's time for me to get real about fitness. Mark's Daily Apple just kicked off its inaugural Workout of the Week series. Great! I thought. This week's was:

50 meter sprint
10 jumping squats
10 pushups

Basically, do the above as many times as you can, in 12 minutes.

I got psyched up yesterday morning. Today's the day! I thought. I put on running shoes (I don't own Vibrams yet and the grass was unmowed and soaking wet...hardly ideal conditions for my out of shape booty to try out barefoot running). I put the exersaucer on the back porch for my 8-month old daughter. I set my three-year-old daughter up with instructions to play on our back yard's playground while I did my thing. I counted the paces around my yard to approximate the 50 meters. I even downloaded a free stopwatch app on my Droid and called it up for a 12 minute countdown. Boy, was I going to milk this workout.

Then I ran. The first sprint was great, the set of jumping squats was appropriately challenging. I even cranked out 10 pushups. Then I sprinted again, and the second set of jumping squats was already so much harder.

Y'all, I made it through just two and a half minutes of the prescribed 12 minutes before I needed to get a break. Workout of the Week? More like Wuss of the Week!

But today I take comfort in the fact that I'm a bit sore - in a good way. I also take comfort in the concept of once weekly sprinting. ;-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stay Tuned for Primal Cheesecake and Homemade York Peppermint Patties

Since my mom's birthday is happening this week, we're going to celebrate over dinner on Thursday. I asked her if I could create a cheesecake in honor of the occasion. She was skeptical: "Sure, but - how good could you make it without sugar?" I told her that I was prepared to compromise a few bites of something made with lower-glycemic palm sugar or perhaps maple syrup. But lookee what I found:

Son of Grok's Strawberry Cheesecake

Sweet almond crusts, I think it's time that I tried this cheesecake recipe - with no sugar, to boot! I will be looking for some ripe-looking berries at Giant tomorrow, and may even make it tomorrow or Wednesday to give it time to "set" in the fridge. Since it's our vacation, I may also try out Joyful Abode's Homemade York Peppermint Patties recipe for a special treat. Looks scrumptious!

Details and pics of these dessert adventures to come!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan

We're spending the last half of the week with my folks at their rented beach house! Breakfasts and lunches are more informally arranged, so I'm planning primal meals for just my family for four then. Dinners will be planned with everyone in mind.

Breakfast - Warm blackberries, whipped cream
Lunch - Chicken leek soup, made with fresh leeks and spinach and frozen pieces of roasted chicken
Dinner - Fried eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach salad

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Omelets, stir-fried sesame ginger bok choy
Dinner - Company! Roasted chickens, romaine salad

Breakfast - Almond meal pancakes, fruit
Lunch - Leftover chicken on veggie-loaded salad (I will freeze whatever is left for future use after this)
Dinner - Prepared by my mom - Unknown

Breakfast - Curried egg salad, fruit
Lunch - Shrimp scampi on greens (though with something other than olive oil since sauteeing or grilling at high heat)
Dinner - Cooking for my parents, my brother and his wife, and us: Eggplant lasagna with meat sauce (at everyone else's request), salad

Breakfast - Bacon and fried eggs
Lunch - Primal trail mix (macadamia nuts, walnuts, dried fruit)
Dinner - Prepared by my sister-in-law - lamb kebabs!

I am really lucky that I have a mom (on a low-fat low-calorie diet) and sister-in-law (also conscious of fat grams consumed) who are willing to humor me on our vacation by not planning to cook meals that revolve around carbs (spaghetti and garlic bread, anyone?). Meanwhile I will be making efforts to make my cooking more flexible - sometimes adding fat after the fact, etc. so that they can eat how they like, as well. It's a bit of a libertarian philosophy. ;)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Mushrooms

When we met with our friends at the state park yesterday, one girlfriend turned to me with a big grin and two even bigger bags full of kale, gifted to us fresh from their (no pesticide) square foot garden. My eyes popped - "That's like, $6-$10 worth of kale!" I made note that I must milk this girl for her gardening tips; yesterday we talked a bit about how I can get a compost pile started.

I've always wanted to grow some vegetables of my own, but the dying plants by my kitchen sink testify to the remoteness of that possibility. I'm still thinking of giving it a good go next planting season, though, so clearly this friend's wisdom could come heavily into play.

Anywhoo, wanting to get out of my fresh kale salad rut, I decided to saute a bunch today when we had company for lunch - my first go at sauteeing kale. It turned out really well - I'll definitely make again.

Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Mushrooms
Serves 6-8, as a side

6 cups fresh curly kale, cut into ~1"x2" sections (I use kitchen shears for a shortcut)
1/2 stick butter (or 4 tablespoons sauteeing oil of choice)
2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1 tub sliced mushrooms
1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1" pieces
2 handfuls bacon pieces, or 6 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Splash of balsamic vinegar

In a large pan, melt butter at medium-high heat. Sautee mushrooms, onions, and garlic for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and browning. Add molasses and bacon pieces to the pan and stir to combine with onions and mushrooms, sauteeing an additional 1-2 minutes. Add fresh kale and chicken broth, and cook until kale is fully wilted, about 4 minutes. (Kale is a little tougher than most greens and may take just a bit longer to wilt before it's tender.) Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, stir briefly, and serve hot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Primal Day Out

Made a fun outing today to a state park! We got a bit of sun, definitely some playtime that is so often prescribed by Mark Sisson.

On the menu for me:

Grilled Nature's Promise chicken brats (no bun, bien sur)
Spinach/tomato/feta salad brought by friends
Trail mix (nuts and dried fruit)

Good eats, good times with friends. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick 'n' Dirty Sweet Potato Fries

Quick 'n' Dirty Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4

2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/2"x3" fries
Very generous drizzling oil of choice (I used macadamia oil)
1 tablespoon garam masala spice (or more or less, to taste)

Heat oven to 400 F. Toss all ingredients into a gallon zip bag, and shake to coat. Bake fries in foil-lined dish for 30 minutes. If desired, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end to brown fries.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Today: My first parsnip experience.

I was a little apprehensive - but soon my worries vanished. As I peeled the first parsnip, the sweet smell of carrots emerged, followed by a pleasant peppery note. Because you have to peel them and then remove a large, stringy inner core, four parsnips (the amount per package sold by Giant) amounted to just barely enough to cover the bottom of a 9"x13" pan. I kind of panicked here because I thought that I would be getting a sizeable bowl, whereas the amount I was roasting was just barely enough to make a standard American-sized serving of mashed potatoes (read: about a third of a dinner plate).

But, after pureeing them in my mini food processor, I was delighted to taste them - slightly sweet, velvety, a little peppery, perfectly complemented with a hit of nutmeg. Would totally consume this aside some Thanksgiving turkey. This is a sampling of Irish pub food at its finest - and would make a terrific base for a primal shepherd's pie, which I will definitely be making the next time I can hit up Trader Joe's for some organic grass fed ground beef (the only retail source I know of around me).

And the dish was so very rich, so filling, that the amount made from four parsnips would easily satisfy two people. I could also easily see myself pureeing it with expressed breast milk for a perfect baby's first food.

After reading through a couple of parsnip recipes, I adapted this for my own purposes.

Mashed Parsnips
Serves 2

4 parsnips, washed, peeled, stringy core removed, and cubed in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 stick butter (or 4 tablespoons roasting oil of choice)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
~1 c. half'n'half (could possibly substitute coconut milk if you do not do dairy)

Spread cubed parsnips in the bottom of a 9"x13" dish. Melt butter and nutmeg in microwave, then drizzle over parsnip cubs and stir to combine. Roast at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until just golden brown. Use slotted spoon to remove parsnips from dish, place in mini food processor or food processor, and puree, adding half'n'half bit by bit until desired texture is achieved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stoked About Primal Blueprint Fitness and September Primal Blueprint Challenge

Did you hear? Mark Sisson released a free PDF as an intro to an ongoing project with his readership to encourage Primal Blueprint Fitness. While this blog is primarily a blog about my adventures in cooking primally, I'm really stoked to see that PBF has made its debut because I'd been reading a lot on MDA about ways to lift heavy things, run fast, etc., but it hadn't been all in one place until now. And there's a community element to it, so even if I don't know anybody locally who's doing it, with the new Workout of the Week, I can at least give it a go and see how others are faring with it online.

Before I discovered MDA, I'd been slugging it out, doing 60 minute+ sessions on the elliptical at the gym (of course, while also still eating lots of sugar and flour, which of course negated the effort and probably combined with the cardio to inflame my system). Those were 60 minutes I just didn't have, either, frankly! With a nursing baby who was teething, more often than not I was getting called home from the gym early. SO, needless to say, the prospect of Mark and his Apples offering a lot of tips on short, intense workouts seems like it could be a lot more doable. For the last couple of months, I've been doing some light weight work (and of course carrying around a 25 lb. baby also probably constitutes something additional ;-p), but I'm ready to see what PBF has to offer now in terms of some anaerobic activity.

Also, the 2010 Primal Blueprint Challenge is coming...in September!! I am excited and planning on participating.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan

Up this week for a new taste: Parsnips!

Breakfast - Strawberries and cream dusted with cocoa powder
Lunch - Salads with chicken, walnuts, papaya, raspberry vinaigrette
Dinner - Scrambled eggs, sauteed squash and scallions

Breakfast - Nutmeg ginger banana pudding, almond butter smoothies
Lunch - Spinach gorgonzola omelets, sauteed mushrooms and onions
Dinner - Baked chicken, brussels sprouts, salads

Breakfast - Cottage cheese, fresh berries
Lunch - Nectarine slices broiled with cheddar cheese
Dinner - Roast beef with carrots, mashed parsnips

Breakfast - Fried eggs
Lunch - Pork and vegetable soup
Dinner - Broiled fish, sweet potato fries

Breakfast - Papaya coconut smoothies
Lunch - Scrambled eggs, guacamole
Dinner - Grilled brats, salad, watermelon

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Microwave Nutmeg Ginger Banana Pudding

Quick primal meals are harder to come by. But I serendipitously discovered this one this weekend! Yay for a microwavable breakfast. Ideally this would be paired with a couple of eggs or a smoothie featuring protein to slow the impact of the banana on the blood sugar.

Microwave Nutmeg Ginger Banana Pudding
Serves 1


1 banana, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Kerrygold butter
1 shake ground ginger (or more to taste)
1 shake ground nutmeg (or more to taste)
1/4 c. heavy cream
Handful walnuts, to top (if desired)

Add all ingredients except cream and walnuts to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Remove bowl from microwave, add cream, and stir vigorously to combine (this will further break down the bananas, too). Within a minute, it will take on a pudding-y consistency. Serve warm, and if desired, topped with walnuts.

I can tell that I will be making this a lot this winter!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Salad with Carnitas, Mango Salsa, and Raspberry Vinaigrette

Man, oh, man. We had company planned for Friday night. Out-of-town relatives who might be moving to our area soon - and the lady was just ordered by her doctor to give up grains and carbs in general. I was excited to share some primal cuisine with them and my parents, brother, and sister-in-law.

I rolled up my sleeves and got a menu going. Boy, was this going to be good.

Primal Carnitas
Serves 8

10 lb. pork roast, presliced (I bought two ~5 lb.'ers, conventional, as Kanye would say: #ITSAPROCESS)
2 c. schmaltz, for browning (I use mine rendered at home after roasting chickens)
1 large yellow onion
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried chipotle pepper flakes
1/3 bottle white wine
4 large tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 c. chicken broth

Put the white wine, the tomatoes, and the garlic into a blender or food processor and puree. Cut onion into 1" by 1/2" pieces and spread the pieces over the bottom of the crock pot.

Melt a couple of tablespoonfuls of the schmaltz on high heat in a large pan, and sear slices of the roast on both sides until browned. Layer slices of the pork with drizzles of the tomato puree and shakes of the cumin up to the top. (As you transfer the pork slices to the crock pot, you'll need to add a couple of tablespoonfuls of schmaltz to the frying pan with each new round of to-be-browned pork slices.) Add chicken broth and chipotle pepper flakes and cook on low 7-8 hours, occasionally moving slices from top to bottom with tongs, until falling-apart tender.

Salad with Mango Salsa and Raspberry Vinaigrette
Serves 8

3 heads romaine, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
2 lbs. strawberries, quartered
3 nectarines, cubed
1 tub (~1 lb.) mango salsa (Mine is from Giant, and has all primal ingredients - woo! Or you overachievers out there can make your own...)
Olive oil and raspberry blush vinegar, to dress

Put romaine in bowls, and top with a generous spoonful of each of mango salsa, followed by a generous spoonful each of strawberries and nectarines. Dress with olive oil and raspberry vinegar. Top with fresh shredded hot pork carnitas.


And would you believe it? Poor Mr. Grok came home sick for the first time in ages and we had to cancel on our company. So now I have a clean house, 10 lbs. of carnitas in my crock pot, and enough salad to feed 8. Guess that I won't need to cook the rest of the weekend!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Banamandeln Smoothies

This smoothie is sweet and mild. A nice kick of proteins, fats, and a bit of carbs. The cinnamon flavor and almond butter makes it a bit reminiscent of the gebrannte Mandeln (toasted candied almonds) sold at a German Chriskindlmarkt (Christmas market). It is also an excellent medium for whey powder, as its flavor/texture is not affected at all.

Banamandeln Smoothie
Serves 2

1 can coconut milk
2 bananas, a bit overripe and peeled, frozen or fresh (depends on your preference)
4 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 scoop whey powder, if desired
Whipped cream to top, if desired

Blend coconut milk and bananas first to ensure that bananas get fully blended in and no chunks remain. Then add almond butter and cinnamon. Blend in whey powder last. If desired, chill and add whipped cream on top before serving.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ghee Whiz

After reading the MDA post Are All Butters Created Equal?, I became convicted that I need to work on my butter sourcing. I'd been using my grocery store's Nature's Promise Organic Butter, at $4.39/lb. However, it's likely grain-fed butter, so as far as I can tell I'm not exactly doing us favors by consuming it (though it's still better than conventional butter). My mom picked up some Kerrygold butter (which is grass-fed, and much lauded by Mark and MDA commenters) at Trader Joe's for us a couple of weeks back, so I'm excited to have that as a stock in our fridge. Then I was reading the MDA comments on the butters post, and I realized that there is organic grass-fed ghee out there - in glass (not plastic) jars, no less! The conjugated linoleic acid! The Vitamin K2! I immediately felt the, "Want!" urge after reading all of those reviews about the incomparable taste and texture.

But...I'm still working on the idea of a $400 grocery bill for August. This is where my budget reality and my nutritional fantasy life collide. So I cut myself a deal: At the end of August, if I am still under budget, I will probably order some of this ghee. Though judging by the reviews, it looks as though I might as well be ordering butter laced with crack cocaine. ;o)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lime Basil Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Some people like sauteed mushrooms and onions as an accompaniment to a larger item - like a steak, or some eggs.

I could eat a bowl of them as a meal unto itself. This variation on the classic adds a couple of bright notes, between the citrus punch of the lime, and the fresh herbal kick of the basil, that complement the rich umami of the veggies and the oil.

Lime Basil Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

As a side dish for 4. Or a lunch for me. :)

1 8-oz. box mushrooms, sliced
1 large white onion, sliced into 1/2" by 1" pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves lightly packed, then sliced thinly (I use kitchen shears to shortcut this)
1/4 c. coconut oil (you could easily substitute butter here)
Juice of one fresh lime

Melt coconut oil in pan on low heat, and add lime juice. Turn heat up to high. Add mushrooms and sliced onions, and stir frequently for 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms and onions start to brown. Add sliced fresh basil leaves to this (their flavor peaks after just a couple of minutes of cooking, so add them at the very last moments just before serving), and stir to combine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Make Like a Drum

*Ahem* : Beets aren't that much to look at. I tried to do a couple of artsy shots, one of me holding them, another still life in my prettiest blue bowl, and they still looked like earthy lumps. But, this was my day to overcome my childhood-acquired revulsion to beets, so I was going to sally forth. I wrapped them in foil and baked them in a pan next to the chicken cooking for dinner.


Then, according to the instructions of the very highly rated AllRecipes.com recipe, I whipped up what turned out to be a fabulous vinaigrette (I will definitely be copying in the future just for salads or avocado!) to dress, and sprinkled liberally with feta.

And what do you know? Beets aren't bad at all. They're definitely still an acquired taste, but this time the tangy dressing and tart feta were good chaperones onto my tastebuds. And such pretty ruby tones:

My husband and daughter, sadly, were not impressed with the flavor itself, and since beets are not exactly a commonly-served company dish (and sold in bunches of three at my grocery store), I have no idea when I'll make these for myself or anybody else again. But at least I know that I can make them! And I did get an exceptional vinaigrette dressing out of the deal which will be put to future use.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Reading List/Menu Plan

Due to a combination of books bought by me and bought for me by my parents, these are part of my current reading list:

You'd think with all this planned reading that I were still in grad school, but no, those days are over. I'm researching for my own edification, sneaking in a few paragraphs here and there whenever I can. I'm learning a lot about insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and carbs; about organic v. conventional foods; about human hormonal and neural response to exercise and food; about how the American government subsidizes agriculture.

In short: I'm trying to best understand how our bodies respond to diet and exercise and all of the associated inputs to that dynamic, and bit by bit implementing changes accordingly.

I'll take the output of the last few weeks, too! More energy, and steadier energy levels. Minimized mood swings. And a loss of eleven pounds and counting, finally, after a long postpartum weight loss plateau.

Mr. Grok isn't even doing the same thing officially. But the beauty of it is: since I'm the house "cook" 90% of the time, he's eating mostly like I'm eating, with the exception of the occasional bought sandwich at work. Entirely of his own initiative, he almost completely gave up his caffeinated Barq's root beers (which he used to drink almost daily) - a big change for him. He's losing weight, too.

So I'm inspired. I'm learning a whole lot about new ways to prepare foods, particularly vegetables and seafood. I got over my childhood-associated Brussels sprouts phobia with terrific results - now we eat them about once weekly, we like them so much (even the baby and three-year-old).

I think this week I will try to breach another, bigger childhood-associated veggie phobia - beets. (*Shudder*) I think that perhaps the one and only time I tried beets as a child, they were pickled. Either way I have a bit of a mental gag reflex when beets are even mentioned. So they're the perfect item to tackle next, right? ;-p But this time the ones in my fridge are fresh, and I'm going to slow bake them with some seasoning. Give them one more chance.

Breakfast: Banana custards with cacao nibs
Lunch: Bacon cheese miniquiches, salad with cherry tomatoes
Dinner: Baked chicken, roasted beets with feta

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, watermelon
Lunch: Banana almond butter smoothie
Dinner: Fried lemon tilapia, avocado, salad

Breakfast: Cottage cheese, watermelon
Lunch: Eggplant French-toast style, sliced cheese
Dinner: Sliced steak over kale salad

Breakfast: Trail mix
Lunch: With a friend - crock pot chicken and veggies, watermelon
Dinner: Leftover chicken, cobb salads

Breakfast: Banana coconut smoothies
Lunch: Mushroom onion omelettes
Dinner: BLT salads

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Launch of Lunchbox Adventures

This spring, I bought this Laptop Lunches Bento-Style Lunchbox for my daughter for preschool, which she starts in the fall.

I'll admit, I'm getting excited in a little bit of a geeky way about preparing her lunches. I think of it as a creative challenge. (Maybe you seasoned moms out there will think to yourselves, That will get old fast.) The lunchbox is sized just right and has three lidded containers (small, medium large) and two non-lidded containers, and you can buy supplemental sets of containers to make the hustle to clean for the next day them not so urgent. (I have not contacted by Laptop Lunches to write about their lunchbox; I just so happen to like their BPA-free, phthalate-free, lead-free American-made lunchbox with water bottle and utensils, which comes in a nice kid-friendly insulated carrying case withstrap.)

For those wondering, the lidless containers still come up flush against the roof of the box, so as long as you're not putting something liquidy, puddingy, or floury, it should not spill into the rest of the lunchbox. Stuff that I would put in the lidless containers includes raw veggies (and dip in the little blue container), sliced apples, or quiches.

Oh, yea. That's right. I acquired these cuuuute little mini silicone muffin cups and plan to make miniquiches in them, and then put them in the large purple lidless container. Miniquiches are a great way to get your younger kids to work in the kitchen with you because of the tactile and uncomplicated action of putting ingredients in each (ideally pregreased) cup before pouring in the egg base. I put bowls with bits of bacon and crumbled Kerrygold Dubliner by my three-year-old, and instructed her to put them in the bottom of the muffin cups while I mixed up the egg base (1 c. organic half & half, 6 omega-3 eggs, plus seasonings to taste). After the egg base was poured in, she sprinkled dried parsley on top of each cup.

They baked up in just over 20 minutes at 375. Next time I may get wild and crazy and make crust out of crushed nuts and butter for the bottom of the cups.

See the rest of my lunchbox adventures posts here.

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