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Easy-Peasy Avocado Bowl

20 Feb

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Well?

16 Feb

I had a smoothie this morning:

Coconut water
Spinach
2 scoops chocolate Vega powder
Dab of almond milk
Chocolate hemp milk
Almond butter.
Ice

Scrumpdillyicious

I am not stopping. You can’t make me… 😀

Clean Start 2012 round two.
Monday?

Big Food

10 Feb

I lived off the land a bit yesterday since we had a really big dinner for IronDude’s birthday, complete with dessert.  Yeah, I know.  I went to CrossFit this morning and totally had my butt kicked.  This stuff amazes me.  Fast Forward to 7:30 am and I would eat Buddy Love if he would stand still.  So this morning I am having leftover Chocolate Chili (courtesy of Well Fed cookbook) over some spaghetti squash.  I will have my smoothie in the afternoon with the star fruit that Suz so kindly brought me.  Can’t wait to try that one!

This is a paleo lifestyle book

Well Fed

Melissa Joulwan, D…

Best Price $29.95
or Buy New $29.95

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

7 Feb

 

I am completely in agreement with Suz about keeping the smoothie in the mornings well after our Clean Start is “over”.  Which btw, I will sign up for another if y’all are up for it!  I get more nutrients in the morning smoothie than I probably did all day previously.  I ran across this months ago, and thought about it yesterday.  This is a great way to concoct something new, courtesy of Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete.  If you are doing the paleo gig, some of this won’t work for you, but if you are doing the paleo gig, you already know how to tweak.  Just throw some bacon in it.  Kidding!!!!   Enjoy!

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

“Give a man a smoothie recipe and he’ll be healthy for a week, teach a man the Perfect Smoothie Formula and he’ll be healthy for a lifetime.” – Me

The way I see it, you only need to eat healthy twice during the day.  While you’ll certainly eat more than twice a day, just two healthy meals make it pretty hard to screw up the rest of them.iStock 000003942941XSmallOnce is in the afternoon, when a big salad loaded with greens, other raw vegetables, and nuts will fill you up and give you more veggies than most people eat all day.  And as a bonus, it’ll give you the chance to get even more good stuff, when you dress it with quality oil, lemon juice, and a little sea salt.

The other time is in the morning, when a smoothie made from fruits (and even vegetables) will not only set the tone for the entire day, but act as a vehicle for other superfoods or supplements you want to work into your diet.

That’s it. Just two healthy meals.

Even if you ate whatever you wanted the rest of the day, I’d be willing to bet you wouldn’t get fat, as long as you made sure to drink a smoothie and eat a big salad every single day.

Sure, if you were to eat at McDonald’s for lunch and Outback for dinner the rest of the time, you could probably succeed at packing on a few pounds.  But here’s the thing.

The smoothie and salad act as “anchors” that keep you on track, to remind you just how great it feels to put real, fresh fruits and vegetables in your body.  After you start the day with a smoothie, McDonald’s for lunch doesn’t seem so good anymore.  And when it’s time to start thinking about dinner, the salad does the same.

In this way, those two healthy meals become three or four—which doesn’t leave much time for junk.

Why people suck at making smoothies

Most people are alright when it comes to the salad.  But there’s something about the alchemy of throwing a few fruits, ice, liquid, and whatever else into a blender and ending up with a perfectly smooth and delicious drink that causes lots of people to struggle.

Since nearly everyone has a blender, I suspect that the reason most people don’t make smoothies consistently is that it’s overwhelming.  There are too many possible ingredients, and too many variables to tweak to get the proportions just right. And if someone should stumble upon a good recipe, they end up making it so often that they get sick of it and never drink it again.

We need a formula

Over the past few years, I’ve had a smoothie almost every single day.  I’ve constantly tweaked it, experimented with new ingredients, and kept track of what worked and what didn’t.

What follows is my version of the smoothie genome project.  It’s a formula you can follow to create nearly endless variations.  And the best part is that the uncertainty has been taken out of it for you.  You’ll need to experiment with different flavor combinations, of course, but the guesswork about proportions has largely been removed.

The recipe below specifies general amounts and types of ingredients (like “2 tablespoons binder”) and then below, you are given a menu of several recommended ingredients of each type from which to choose to make your smoothie.

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

(makes 2 smoothies)

  • 1 soft fruit
  • 2 small handfuls frozen or fresh fruit
  • 2-4 tablespoons protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons binder
  • 1.5 tablespoons oil
  • 1.5 cups liquid
  • 1 tablespoon sweetener (optional, less or more as needed)
  • optional superfoods, greens, and other ingredients
  • 6 ice cubes (omit if soft fruit is frozen)

Select one or more ingredients of each type below and add to blender in specified proportions. Blend until smooth.

Recommended Soft Fruits

  • Banana
  • Avocado

(If you have a high-speed blender that can puree, say, a whole apple or carrot without leaving any chunks behind, then the puree of almost any fruit or vegetable can act as your soft fruit.)

Recommended Frozen or Fresh Fruits

  • Strawberries (you can leave the greens on if you have a powerful blender)
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple

Recommended Protein Powders

  • Hemp
  • Sprouted brown rice (tastes chalkier than hemp, but packs more protein per dollar)
  • Pea

(Soy and whey are higher-protein, generally cheaper options, but for a variety of reasons I don’t recommend either for long-term use.)

Recommended Binders

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Almond butter or any nut butter
  • Soaked raw almonds (soak for several hours and rinse before using)
  • Rolled oats, whole or ground
  • Udo’s Wholesome Fast Food

Recommended Oils

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Udo’s Blend or other EFA blend
  • Hemp oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Almond, macadamia, or other nut oil

Recommended Liquids (unsweetened)

  • Water (my favorite)
  • Almond milk or other nut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Brewed tea

Recommended Sweeteners

  • Honey (not technically vegan)
  • Agave nectar (high in fructose, so choose this only before workouts)
  • Stevia (sugar-free natural sweetener, the amount needed will vary by brand)

Optional Superfoods, Greens and Other Ingredients

  • Cacao nibs (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Carob chips (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Ground organic cinnamon (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Chia seeds, whole or ground (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Greens powder (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Whole spinach leaves (1-2 handfuls)
  • Maca powder (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Jalapeno pepper, seeds and stem removed (one small pepper)
  • Ground cayenne pepper (small pinch)
  • Sea salt (pinch)
  • Lemon or lime juice (1 tablespoon)

There’s plenty here to get you started.  But you certainly don’t have to stay within these guidelines if you determine that you want more or less of a certain ingredient, or more than one ingredient from each category. (For example, almond butter and ground flaxseed are both in the “binder” category, but I sometimes include both in my smoothie.)

Also, note that which ingredients you use from one category often dictate how much you need from another.  For example, if you’re using avocado instead of banana as your soft fruit, you’ll need more sweetener than you would with the banana, and you’ll probably want to go light on other fatty ingredients, since avocado provides plenty of good fats.

So be creative, and don’t worry if at first you like more of the sweet ingredients and not so much of the healthier ones. Over time as you eat less and less processed and sugary foods, your tastes will change and you’ll actually crave the healthy stuff.

This is an excerpt from my vegetarian guide to your first marathon, but I’d like to turn this concept into a more comprehensive “database” of smoothie ingredients.  Leave a comment with some of your favorite smoothie ingredients or tips that I haven’t included, and maybe this will turn into something cool!

Day 15 = Star Fruit Smoothie and Progress Update

7 Feb

Two weeks into the Clean program, and day 15 of a green smoothie for breakfast every morning;  I’ve discovered my favorite smoothie blend yet, the Star Fruit Smoothie:

  •  Apple
  • Star Fruit – Carambola
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Ginger
  • Chia Seeds
  • Local Raw Honey
  • Coconut water

Half the fun of star fruit is finding a tree in the neighborhood to harvest from; and most trees are overfilled with ripe fruit this time of year.  This smoothie is light and refreshing with a great sweet, citrus taste.

So two weeks into this Clean program and I believe I’m going to try to adopt the Smoothie for Breakfast plan permanently.  I enjoy the feeling of lightness and energy in my body that the smoothies seem to be creating.  It is nice to have much of the energy usually used for the digestion process available for other uses; and I like the idea of front-loading each day with a large dose of macro-nutrients found in the greens, the fruits, the seeds.

Two weeks of Clean means my clothes are all looser, my sleep is better and I’ve not yet been hit with seasonal allergies.  Usually, I’ll start noticing allergy symptoms as soon as the first azaleas bloom; and so far, none.   To combat seasonal spring/oak allergies, I’ve been taking local raw honey daily since mid-January, started taking nettles when I feel congested and made quercitin (via apples and red fruits/veggies) part of my daily diet.  My goal is to use diet to manage seasonal allergies; hopefully by having a diet without meat, dairy, soy, wheat, corn, caffeine and sugar, my body won’t need to have so many allergic reactions.

All that stands between me and the perfect diet are all these cravings; and so my attention in week 3 on the Clean program will be on using all my accumulated meditation and yoga tools to better manage my cravings.

So here we go – week 3!

 

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Teacher and Anxious Devotee of The Clean Program.  Visit her websites at: www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com or www.Structural-Healing.com

What the Heck is Ghee?

27 Jan

On my CleanStart/Paleo bent, I keep seeing recipes that call for Ghee.  What the heck? On the Paleo Lifestyle dairy is a no-no, so essentially you are taking the milk solids out of butter.  Who knew?  Here it is…  df

 

D.I.Y. Ghee

I love ghee, and am ecstatic that it’s Whole9-approved for the latest version of the Whole30. Ghee — a traditional Indian preparation of clarified butter — has been one of my go-to fats for high-heat cooking ever since I went Paleo, and I use it to prepare everything from vegetable stir-frys to meaty stews. 

Yes, it’s cheaper and easier to get your hands on butter, and normally, if you’re okay with small amounts of full-fat dairy from grass-fed cows, more power to you. But if you’re on a Whole30, butter’s out. 

The solution? Buy some ghee, or make some yourself. It’s not hard to clarify some high-quality butter to remove all the potentially problematic milk solids — and infuse the delicious fat with a deep, nutty taste to boot. I promise you: The process is quick and painless, and you’ll end up with a yummy lactose- and casein-free cooking fat that’ll knock your socks off.

Here’s how to make a small batch (¾ cup) of ghee: 

Start with 1 cup of unsalted butter from grass fed cows. A number of supermarkets and specialty stores (including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Costco) now stock Kerrygold butter, so don’t skimp out and get the crappy stuff from the gas station snack shop. Quality matters, remember?

Throw the butter into a medium saucepan over low heat, and melt it.

Once the butter’s melted, the clear fat will separate from the milk solids. Continue to simmer the butter gently.

Once it starts bubbling, you’ll know that the water’s cooking off.

Watch for the bubbles to gradually get smaller, until the surface of the butter resembles a foam. The milk solids will then start to brown, and some of the solids will clump together and cling to the sides of the pan.

Keep a close eye on the pan. Once the milk solids turn a deep golden brown and start falling to the bottom (about 8 to 10 minutes after the melted butter starts bubbling), remove the pan from the heat.

Strain the hot ghee through a triple layer of cheesecloth into a heat-safe bowl or measuring cup.

See all the nasty bits you just filtered out? Toss ‘em out.

Store the ghee in a sealed glass jar.

After the milk solids have been removed, you don’t need to refrigerate the ghee — but I recommend keeping your homemade ghee in the fridge to be on the safe side. 

Once it’s cold, the ghee will be opaque and silky-smooth — perfect for scooping out with a spoon and throwing into a hot skillet…

…or an oven-baked sweet potato.

Ghee isn’t difficult to make, and the ready-made stuff is a fantastic option, too — especially if you’re pressed for time and/or lazy. We’ve whipped up batches of our own ghee, but I also dig my big jar of Whole30-approved Pure Indian Foods’ organic grass-fed ghee.

No excuses, people: Get your ghee on.

Slaw with Tangy Carrot Ginger Dressing – OMG! This is PRETTY!

27 Jan

Red Cabbage Slaw with Tangy Carrot Ginger Dressing

I was inspired to make this cabbage slaw after reading the awesome ode to cabbage on CaveGirl Eats. She’s one smart and sassy cavegirl.

I love me some cabbage but I don’t always have 2.5 hours to make my favorite braised cabbage recipe. Sometimes I just wanna chop up a raw cabbage, throw on some dressing and be done with it. So that’s what I did tonight.

Here’s what I gathered to make enough slaw for 3 hungry adults:

  • ½ a red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • handful of toasted slivered almonds (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of tangy carrot ginger dressing (recipe below)

Here’s how I made it:

I threw everything except for the avocados in a bowl and mixed it together.

You can let the slaw sit in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to eat it.

Right before I served the slaw, I tossed on the diced avocados so they wouldn’t get all brown and icky looking. Toasted almond slivers are another great addition to the slaw but don’t add them early because they’ll get soggy.

Here’s what I gathered to make about a cup of tangy carrot-ginger dressing:

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large carrots, chopped  
  • 1-inch knob of ginger
  • 2 scallions, whites only
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup Paleo mayonnaise
  • Salt and Pepper

I dumped the vinegar, carrots, ginger, scallions, and mustard into my Vitamix and blitzed everything until it was liquefied. Then, I added the mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste and blitzed on low until everything was combined.

I’m not gonna lie — the dressing is pretty tangy but the acidity is cut really well with the raw cabbage.

World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage

27 Jan

Recipe: World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage

Molly Stevens’s recipe is AWESOME. I make this cabbage all the time because it’s awesome. Yes, it takes 2.5 hours from start to finish, but the total prep time is only ~10-15 minutes. Plus, it makes your house smell so damn yummy.  

Before:

After:

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch coins
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/4 cup lard, ghee, or bacon grease
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Aleppo peppers (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a large gratin dish or baking dish (13-by-9-inch works well) with fat of choice.

2. Peel off and discard any bruised or ragged outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut cabbage in half, then into 8 wedges. (Don’t trim away the cabbage heart.) Arrange the wedges in the baking dish on their sides, overlapping a little but trying for a single layer. Scatter the onion and carrot over the cabbage. Drizzle with stock or water and the melted fat. Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Cover tightly with foil and transfer to the oven.

3. Braise for 1 hour. Uncover and gently turn the wedges with tongs, keeping them as intact as possible. Add a little water if pan is drying out. Cover pan and return to oven. Bake 1 hour.

4. Remove the foil, increase the heat to 400 and roast until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with fleur de sel and/or Aleppo pepper.

Zucchini Spaghetti & Meatballs

27 Jan

Zucchini Spaghetti & Meatballs

I just got a new kitchen gadget that I’m totally crushing on…

…a julienne peeler!

It makes me want to make noodles out of every vegetable in my crisper! Yes, I have a mandolin and a food processor but this tool is efficient, compact, inexpensive (currently less than $7!), and quick to clean. You can have “noodles” on the table in no time flat!

Here’s what I gathered to make zucchini noodles for 4 people:

  • 6 zucchini
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Here’s how I made it:

I washed the zucchini…

…and cut a thin slice off the bottom of each one so they wouldn’t roll around on the cutting board.

Then, I placed the zucchini flat-side down on the cutting board and went to town with the julienne peeler. I kept the top on, so I could grasp it to keep the squash steady.

Poof! A big bowl of noodles!

I placed the noodles in a covered microwave safe dish…

…and nuked them on high for about 2 minutes.

I watched them closely so I wouldn’t overcook them. Nobody likes soggy noodles.

I drained the excess liquid and tossed the zucchini with salt and pepper…

…and topped them with Rao’s marinara sauce and meatballs (which you can easily make from sausage).

See? It IS super easy!

Cauliflower & Carrot Puree

27 Jan

Cauliflower & Carrot Puree

If you haven’t noticed, I’m obsessed with making veggie purees this week. Tonight I made another one with cauliflower, carrots, onions, and garlic. I love the original recipe for garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes but with this recipe you get a healthy dose of beta carotene AND clean-up is a breeze — just one pot and the immersion blender. I’m all about the shortcuts.

Here’s what I gathered to feed 6 adults:

  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut up into florets
  • 3 large carrots, cut into small chunks
  • ½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup organic chicken broth
  • ¼ cup water
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Splash of heavy cream (optional)

Here’s how I made it:

I chopped up my veggies…

… and melted 3 tablespoons of butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. 

Then, I dropped the veggies, broth, and water into the bubbling fat. 

When the liquid started boiling, I covered the pot, turned down the heat to low, and let everything simmer until softened (25-30 minutes). Make sure your pot doesn’t dry out!

I added another tablespoon of butter, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and blitzed everything with my immersion blender

…until smooth.

I think I just like the texture of baby food…