Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Have you ever...?

...made your own almond milk? I've never had store bought almond milk. I had been hearing and reading about it so I checked out a box of it at the grocery store, and there was a whole bunch of un-caveman-like stuff in there in addition to the almonds and water. Turns out, it's even easier than I expected to make your own. How easy? This easy:

1 cup almonds (whole, slivered, whatever you have)
3 cups water

Equipment: blender, fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth

If possible, soak the almonds in a bowl of water for 1-8 hours. If not possible, don't worry, this is not going to make or break your "milk". Put almonds and 3 cups of water in a blender, and let it go on high for about 30 seconds. Line a fine mesh strainer with a couple layers of cheesecloth, set it over a bowl, and dump in the mixture. Let it sit for 40-60 minutes until fully drained, then give the cheesecloth a good squeeze to get out every last drop.

This is just a basic recipe. If you
want it sweetened you can throw in 4-6 dates before you blend, or use your sweetener of choice. You can add some unsweetened cocoa powder. I like it with some cinnamon and nutmeg- it tastes like horchata. To be honest, since I've never had store bought almond milk, I have no idea how this compares. It could be horrible. But I'm 99.3% sure that it's not.

The real reason I thought to make this recently is because I wanted to make a smoothie and thought I would try something different than my usual coconut milk. I used 3/4 cup almond milk, 1 very ripe banana, and 6 strawberries.

Oh, and don't throw out the almond meal that remains after the straining. You can use it as a crumb topping for a fruit/berry cobbler:

Mix almond meal with a couple tablespoons of fat (ghee, butter, coconut oil), 1 egg white, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

In a baking dish combine desired fruit (peaches, fresh or frozen berries) and the juice of 1 lemon. Spread the almond topping over the berries and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes- until the top is golden brown. Let cool before digging in. I imagine you could eat this for breakfast with a little almond milk poured over it... like oatmeal!

Look at that. Three recipes in one post.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chile Colorado

This can be made with pork or beef. As a matter of fact, I think this is the first time I've ever had it with pork. I adapted this recipe and it made enough for 3-4 people, next time I will definitely double the amount of meat so I can have some leftovers.

~2 lb pork roast, cut into 1" cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic
3 dried ancho chiles
2 dried guajillo chiles
2 cups chicken broth (homemade or reduced sodium!)
1 cup water
2 T preferred fat for cooking

Put pork, 1/2 the onion, and 2 cloves of garlic into a large pot/dutch oven. Add just enough water to cover the meat, and add ~ 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer partially covered anywhere from 60-90 minutes. You want to cook it until the pork is tender enough to cut with a spoon.

While the pork is cooking, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the dried chiles. Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes until the chiles soften a bit. When they are cool enough to handle remove the stems and seeds. Don't worry if some of the seeds remain, these chiles are pretty mild. Put the chiles in a blender or food processor with their cooking liquid and a couple of pinches of salt and puree until smooth.

Once the pork is done I transfer it along with the cooking liquid to a bowl, and use the same pot to sautee the remaining 1/2 onion and 3 cloves of garlic (chopped) in your fat of choice. After a couple of minutes use a slotted spoon to add the pork back into the pot and cook for 5 minutes more. Then dump in the chile mixture and use the reserved pork cooking liquid to thin the sauce to whatever consistency you like. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Then eat!

I just had a bowl of this and a spinach salad for dinner. I imagine this could easily be made in a crock pot by making the chile mixture and pouring it over the pork, onion, and garlic; then adding enough water to completely cover the meat. Cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8 hours. Seems like it would work!


So, what did you make this week? Does anyone have any recipes to share (successes or failures)? Any questions you want to throw out there? Maybe someone else has had the same question before, and found an answer...

Here's a little tip I want to share: burgers wrapped in lettuce leaves- don't do it. Well go ahead and try it, but don't say I didn't warn you. Unless it's also wrapped in paper (a la In-n-Out's protein style burger) it's way more trouble than it's worth. I usually eat my bun-less burgers with a fork and knife, but I figured I'd give the lettuce leaves a shot today. If you decide to try the lettuce method here are a few pointers:

1) Eat outside, preferably not in any clothes that you need to wear in public afterwards
2) Once you pick it up don't put it down or else you'll have an even bigger mess
3) Don't try this after your hand has been ripped open from 100 pullups and 70 toes-to-bar in the past week

I am making pork Chile Colorado for dinner tonight, and I will post the recipe later!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thai chicken soup

Before November, this would've been a recipe for Thai chicken noodle soup. So I took out the noodles and added some zucchini and everything worked out just fine. You can make this soup in no time, and it's even better the next day after the flavors have really had a chance to hang out.

2 Anaheim peppers
1 jalapeño
3 cloves garlic, sliced, chopped, minced.... whatever you prefer
1 yellow onion, cut in half and sliced into half moons
6-8 cups REDUCED SODIUM chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini (I'll tell you about this in a minute!)
3 T cilantro, chopped
1 bunch of basil, chopped
juice of 2 limes

Heat your preferred cooking fat in a big pot over med-high heat. Coconut oil would be DELICIOUS here and I can't believe I didn't think of it until now after I've already cooked the soup. Anywho....

Sautee the onions, peppers, and garlic with a couple pinches of salt until they start to soften. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once it boils add the chicken and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer for ~7 mins, until chicken is cooked through. Add the carrots and zucchini. I decided to turn my zucchini into noodles to replace the rice noodles I used to use. Just take a veggie peeler and run along the zucchini lengthwise, and repeat. This worked wonderfully. Finally, add cilantro, basil, and lime juice and turn off the heat. Taste and add salt as needed.

I like it very spicy and the one jalapeño tonight just didn't cut it for me. I would probably throw a Serrano in there next time. I imagine this would be great with shrimp instead of chicken as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Asparagus almond frittata

Here is a recipe that my friend, Margaret, sent me. Frittatas are great. They are one of those clean-out-your-fridge kind of meals- you can take whatever veggies and meat you have and throw 'em in, and it's almost guaranteed to be delicious.

8 eggs or equivalent egg whites or egg beaters
2 cups cooked veggies (asparagus or broccoli)
2 cooked/diced chicken breasts
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup cottage cheese (optional)
1/4 cup plain or unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Beat eggs, add salt and pepper and remaining ingredients, mix well. Pour into greased 9 inch glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until you can insert a knife in the middle and it comes out clean. Cool and refrigerate covered, lasts several days.

She's going to try out a sweet version as well, and hopefully lets us know how it goes:
Subtract veggies and chicken, add 1 t cinnamon and 1-2 cups berries.

Thanks, Margaret!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boredom (and a couple of recipes, too)

Trying to stick with an exercise routine? Better switch it up *cough*CrossFit*cough* to keep yourself interested. You started mountain biking? Great! Now how long would you stick with it if you only rode the same trail over and over? So our venture into paleo(ish) eating shouldn't be any different.

Everyone has their go-to foods- you know they are good for you; you know how to cook them; you know you don't hate them (chicken and broccoli sound familiar?). Ok, it's time to add some excitement to your life.

CSA box
For the past few years (except this year; we are determined to have a successful garden this season!) my household has received a CSA box once a week. CSA stands for "community supported agriculture" are basically buying into a share of a farm's harvest, whatever it may be. By signing on for one of these things you are supporting your local farming community and getting delicious organic veggies at a great price (ours came out to $22/week for a household of 4 adults), and you have a chance to try some things you would never really consider buying at the grocery store. Here are just a few things the CSA box introduced me to: pumpkin (and I mean, like, an actual pumpkin that I had to figure out how to cook, not a can of pumpkin puree), parsley root, romanesco, turnips, green garlic, and agretti. Here are the links to the two farms that I used to get my veggies from (they now operate their own individual CSA programs)

I'm not even going to tell you how many different spices we have in our kitchen. A lot. A lot a lot. And I think I've attempted to make something with every single one. When we go to the grocery store we always check the spice aisle because sometimes there is a sale (spices can be pretty pricey) and we stock up on our basics- cayenne pepper, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, etc- and then sometimes, when we're feeling a little crazy, we'll get something like annato seed, or cardamom, or caraway seeds. And then figure out what to do with it. I definitely grew up in a household where the spice cabinet consisted of salt and pepper and that's it (love you mom!) so it's fun to experiment by making our own rubs for bbq-ing, or trying to replicate the amazing food from Los Cubanos.

Have you ever...?
I learned to cook from watching the Food Network. I really did. Now I'm learning to cook again by poking around every single paleo website known to man and I'm still seeing things I never would've thought of on my own. Every week I'll try to post something like yesterday's "Have you ever...?" and hopefully you will say, "No, I never!" and then go try it.

Ok, here are the recipes for the rest of my meal from yesterday.....

Pork loin marinade:
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Juice of 2 limes (zest of 1 lime)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 t salt
1 t cumin
1 t black pepper

This is a very quick marinade based on a Cuban "Mojo". Quick to put together and quick to do the job. You do not need to let the pork marinate for more than an hour or so.... actually you wouldn't want to because longer than that and the pork will end up mushy from all the citrus. Yuck. After that, you pretty much just grill it until it reaches an internal temperature of about 150. Then (and this goes for all meat!) let it rest before you slice it so the juices don't all run out, otherwise you will have a big mess AND dry meat, and nobody wants that.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad (shout out to Dato for introducing this to me):
2 cucmbers, sliced into half moons
2 tomatoes, sliced into half moons
2-3 green onions, sliced or chopped
Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
Equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil, maybe just under 1/4 c each? (I add a little more vinegar)
Salt and pepper to taste

Um... mix it all together in a bowl! I like to let it sit for 10 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Have you ever...?

...grilled Brussels sprouts? Did you know that Brussels sprouts are in the same vegetable family as cabbage, broccoli, and kale? Did you know that it is indeed "Brussels sprouts" (with an S!) and not "Brussel sprouts"? But I digress.

A lot of people hate these tiny cabbages, but I have always loved them. Roasted, cooked in bacon fat, lightly steamed with butter. But just when I thought I couldn't love them anymore, Alton Brown (a la "Good Eats" on the Food Network) told me :YOU CAN GRILL THEM. It's so simple that you would never think to do it. At least I didn't. Click here for the original recipe, but here's the gist:

1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts (try to get them about the same size for even cooking)
2 T olive oil (or whatever fat you like to use)
1T minced garlic
1 t dry mustard
1 t smoked paprika
1t kosher salt (depends on your taste, I found 1 t to be a little salty)
1/4 t black pepper

Heat your grill over medium heat.

To prep sprouts, cut off a little bit of the stem end, but leave the sprout in tact. Remove any outer leaves that, well, don't look delicious to eat. Partially cook the sprouts by putting them in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 3 minutes. To the bowl add olive oil, garlic, mustard, paprika and salt and toss to evenly coat. Once the sprouts are cool enough to handle, put 4 or 5 sprouts on skewers (preferably metal) with about 1/2 inch in between them. Grill covered for 5 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes. It may take a minute or so more on the grill depending on the size. Remove sprouts from skewers and toss in the original mixing bowl (if desired) before serving.

If you use wooden skewers make sure to soak them for 30 mins prior to cooking so they don't catch on fire.

On a delicious non-paleo note, this is a great way to prepare any thin skinned potatoes, too. New potatoes, fingerling, baby yukon gold. Just boil them until they are halfway cooked, toss in some olive oil, salt, and spices and throw them on the grill. Toss them in butter and chopped chives after or serve them with garlic mayo. If you're going to deviate from your paleo diet, you could do a lot worse than potatoes.

We had these tonight alongside a grilled pork loin and tomato and cucumber salad. I will post the recipes for those two delights tomorrow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

This is based on a recipe from "The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (15th edition)". You know, that red and white plaid binder with the recipes all divided up with different tabs that your mom used to have? This was one of the few casseroles that did not require "condensed soup" as one of the ingredients and it's very versatile. You can switch up the meat, the veggies, the topping.

A few things:
1) I totally eat sweet potatoes. Some paleo peeps are against them, and it is generally advised to cut them out if you are trying to lose weight. If you don't want to use sweet potatoes you can steam some cauliflower and throw it in the food processor until it is smooth and it works just fine as a substitute. Or you can use parsnips or some kind of squash.

2) Ground turkey is not usually my meat of choice because it is so low in fat, and it tends to be dry. But it works wonderfully here especially with the sage. You could use ground beef or ground lamb.

3) I pretty much just use whatever frozen veggies I have. You can really make this with any fresh or frozen veggies you want. Keep in mind that certain veggies, like leafy greens and mushrooms, will make the filling more saucy than others.

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" cubes
2 garlic cloves, halved
1/4 c chicken broth, low-sodium (or milk if you prefer)
1 T butter (optional, you could use olive oil, or whatever fat you'd like)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 c frozen peas & carrots
1/2 c frozen pearl onions
1/2 c frozen spinach
1/4 c chicken broth
8 oz can tomato sauce, no salt added
2 T Worcestershire sauce (technically not paleo, so leave it out if you wish)
1 t dried sage
salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put sweet potato cubes and garlic in a medium pot, with enough salted water to just cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and boil for ~ 15 minutes. Sweet potatoes are done when you can easily stick a fork in them and they slide right off. Drain, mash or beat with a mixer and gradually add chicken broth (or milk), butter, and salt. Keep mashing/beating until smooth, you may have to use a little more than 1/4 c of liquid depending on desired consistency. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

Heat a large skillet (with some sort of fat in it) cook turkey and chopped onion over medium heat until brown. Drain if you'd like, I usually don't. Stir in frozen veggies and chicken broth, bring to a boil then simmer for about 5 mins.

Add tomato sauce, sage, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to turkey mixture. Spoon turkey mixture into casserole dish then spoon the mashed sweet potato mixture on top and spread in an even layer. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

BBQ recipe roll call

There was a ridiculous amount of amazing food yesterday after the Southbay Open event hosted at Crossfit Cadence. Here are the recipes for the dishes I made. Please post your recipes to the comments- whether they were paleo or not (remember this is a "mostly" paleo blog).

Lemon bars- I used (extra virgin) coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil, and you could easily use butter if you'd like.

Asparagus Salad- I added green onions to this. I make this salad at least 3 times a month, as it is a big hit in our house.

Favorite Websites

I decided to start this blog after hearing a few people at Crossfit Cadence (most recently Austin) saying that they get bored with eating the same thing everyday, and that they would love to have a place where we could interact with each other, ask questions, post our favorite recipes, etc... so (hopefully) this is it! Let me tell you, I have done the research for you! When we did the paleo challenge back in November I obsessively looked for recipes and resources, simply because I love to eat good food.

The title of this blog is "mostly paleo" because I'm not super strict about eating paleo. However, I'm not super lax either. I did 30 days completely paleo in November, and that allowed me to really notice what I could and could not add back into my diet. My body just kinda went ahead and made those decisions for me after those 30 days. My tastes have changed a bit and the biggest indicator to me that I can't tolerate something anymore is sleep. I've always had trouble sleeping and when I am eating strictly paleo I sleep better, and when I eat certain things I sleep horribly. It's that simple for me now. For other people you might discover that certain things upset your stomach, affect your energy level, change the condition of your hair or skin.... but you can really only figure that out if you eat "clean" for a while and then experiment with adding foods back in.

So, right off the bat I thought I would post my three favorite websites, and a few tried and true recipes from each.

I've made countless awesome desserts from this website, and I even ordered her almond flour cookbook. But the savory dishes I've tried have been amazing, too. She always uses grapeseed oil, I always substitute coconut oil or butter (you can substitute it 1:1); she always uses agave nectar and I always use honey as a sweetener- in many cases I cut the amount of sweetener in half and it turns out just fine.

This is the best collection of paleo recipes around (well, for now... just wait till this blog gets rolling!) I found this meatloaf recipe on there the other day and it turned out great! Personally, just because I knew it was in there, I could taste the coconut milk. So I would probably use regular milk instead (since I'm not too strict on dairy)... but my non-paleo counterpart, Dato, thought it was some of the best meatloaf he's had.

This website has lots of great ideas and insights. I got his Primal Blueprint Cookbook for my birthday and every dish has been a big hit in my house so far.
The chocolate chip cookies from this post are easy to make and more than satisfying. I've even made them with just raisins instead of chocolate chips and they were great.
These egg muffins are borderline genius and you can put whatever you want in them.

What are your "go-to" websites when you're trying to figure out what to cook? Post them to comments!