Sunday, 30 September 2012

What Kind of Crazy WOD is This???

I have a confession to make.

I went out for a fun WOD today--we wanted to go climbing the mudslide cliff.  I'm not saying we didn't do that.  But when we got to the ravine, standing 200 feet up over the river, I could see even from the top that the river was chock full of salmon.  Spawning.  So they were swimming.....really....slowly.

And I wanted one.

Caveman instincts went on high-alert.  I didn't want to go fishing.  I wanted to hunt the fish, whack-a-mole style.  Is there a law against that?  I didn't know.  Is it only fishing if there's a rod and reel involved?

So I worked my way down the 200 foot sheer mudslide.  And in jeans and hiking boots went wandering upriver.  (That's the trick, right?  To get behind them?)  Total red-necks.  We hunted fish with rocks and sticks.  In $200 hiking boots and knee-deep icy water.  Because that's how we roll.

Sure, there came a point when we could have had one.  But we didn't.  Guilty conscience.  Like shooting fish in a barrel.  The thought of eating something from our local river.  The thought of hauling home a 10 lb clubbed freshwater salmon.

And only THEN did we go on with our mudslide climbing.  The mud was so steep and wet that you had to zig zag your way across the entire width of the cliff in order to slowly work your way up to the top again.  You can see Rei just sitting on the lip of the cliff watching me cross the whole thing.  I wanted a WOD.  I wasn't going to take the easy way up.

Hey, there's another cliff to climb off to the right....
Funny thing; Jonathan had it right.  The other night (while filming an episode of Big Primal), he asked me (really lighthearted) what I did to work out. And after we described a few of our more unusual escapades (because telling him I do push-ups in my basement seemed like a boring story and woefully inadequate) he laughed, took a deep breath, and said "Wow, you guys really go for the whole-body experience thing, don't you?"

The benefit of exercise outdoors; fall colours were awesome
Why yes, we do.

Because life is more fun that way.

He also suggested that strength didn't matter, it was the ability to be agile and lift our whole body weight up onto things.  Does this count, Jonathan? I'm gonna say yes.

Maybe next year I really SHOULD look into that Tough Mudder thing.  I think it might suit me.

OMG Chocogasm Crepes

Yes I did just make crepes and fill them with chocolate-almond butter-banana goodness and make crazy moaning sounds the whole time I ate them.  No, we did not videotape it.  It would not have been appropriate for the content of this blog.....

So, what happens when you don't have any almond flour in the house?  You find a different way of making crepes, that's all.  These were dead-simple.  But you do need a really good non-stick frypan for crepes.  This is not a job for cast iron.  Not unless you want a crazy mess and a lot of frustration.  Well, it just so happens that I bought myself a new ceramic-coated pan last week to film the episode of Know it All, and I only paid $30 at The Real Canadian Superstore.  It is a fabulous pan, and the price is just spectacular for ceramic-coated.

This was the quietest breakfast I think I ever served (with the exception of my moaning, of course)  I don't know how much we all chewed the crepes.  Of course we chewed the bacon--that would have been crazy-dangerous!



  • 6 eggs
  • 1 banana (can use a frozen one)
  • 2 Tbs tapioca starch
  • 2 Tbs coconut flour
  • 1/3 c coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • butter, for frying
  • waxed paper
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • up to 1/4 cup coconut milk (to thin sauce)

First make your filling because this all comes together pretty fast.  mix the chocolate chips and nut butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir, and add in coconut milk as needed to make the sauce thin enough to spread.  Because the crepes are delicate, you want the sauce to be almost thin enough to drizzle.  Set aside.  Try not to eat too much of it while you prepare the crepes.

Combine all the crepe ingredients in a food processor or the biggest cup of your magic bullet; blend well.
Heat skillet to medium heat.  When pan is hot, add a dollop of butter and lift pan to swirl around, coating the whole bottom of the pan.  Pour a small amount of the batter into the pan and lift the pan, swirling it, to spread the batter all over the base of the pan.  Set it back down and watch it bubble and set.  As soon as it begins to brown a bit around the edges, carefully slide a spatula under it and flip it over.  They are a bit delicate, so be gentle.  If you're nervous, slide the whole thin onto a plate and then invert the plate over the pan to flip it that way.  Cook for a few seconds more on the other side.  Do not overcook them.

Tear off a square of waxed paper bigger than the crepe.  Lay the paper on your counter and flip the crepe out onto it.  Spread about 2 small spoonfulls around on the crepe, getting as close to the edges as you can.  Lifting the waved paper on one side to help you, roll the crepe into a cigar shape.  Then roll the waxed paper  around the crepe and set it aside.  

Move onto the next crepe by staring with a fresh dollop of butter in the pan.  Always start with a dollop of butter.

Keep going until you run out of batter.  I managed to get 9 crepes out of this mixture.

Serve with bacon if you have a handy-dandy spouse to cook the bacon for you while you make the crepes.  Listen to the sound of silence as your children eat without chewing.

Then ask them again if they really miss grains.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

15-WOD #1

The 15-WOD....#1

Because a workout should be do-able
Because a workout should not be dreaded but embraced with clenched teeth
Because no muscle-building workout should have to take longer than that which I'm willing to commit to
Because we all have things to do and a life to get outside and live....

My break from working out must come to an end.  

Because it's time to get off my butt and do something that includes heavy things.

Hey, I'm heavy.  No, not THAT heavy.  But one hundred twenty-something is enough to call it heavy lifting,  I say.  Because I don't own any weights and believe in the power of lifting my own body weight.  Repeatedly.  And its getting pretty cold out there these days.

For 15 minutes (timed WOD)

(always start with 20-30 jumping jacks to get the heart pumping first, then start the timer)

15 squat jumps
10 push-ups
5 chin-ups/knees to elbows
pause for 30 seconds

Keep repeating, going through the rounds as fast as you can, for 15 minutes.  

Oh, I still can't do a full-out chin-up.  Yea, that's right.  How long have I been at this?  So I alternate, one round with assisted chin-ups, one round with knees to hips.  I'll get there.  Its not like there's a deadline.  I will probably be able to do a full-on handstand push-up before I can do a regular chin-up.  Truth.

Pumpkin Pie Custard

I have no idea why people ever started cooking pumpkin pie using canned pie filling.  Seriously.  Do you know how easy it is to make pumpkin pie?  If you ever buy canned pumpkin (not the pie filling, just pure pumpkin) and rip off the label and read the back of it--it's just pumpkin, canned evaporated milk (ewww), brown sugar, a couple of eggs and some spices (and of course a pie crust).  Ok, well, we choose not to eat a lot of those things.  So that does make the pie making experience a little more difficult.

-But not impossible-

So with a few simple substitutions, you can have your pie and eat it too.  Really, you can.

I love pumpkin.  Pre-paleo, I loved pumpkin loaf with raisins.  I loved pumpkin-spice muffins.  I loved pumpkin ice cream with white chocolate chunks and graham crackers in it.  I loved pumpkin angel foodcake and pumpkin bars with frosting.  One day, I will find a way to make all of these foods work within the paleo-acceptable framework we all follow.  But for today, we'll stick to pumpkin pie.  Or in this case, for an even simpler twist, crustless pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie custards.  Just because I'm all about simple.

For this recipe, you're going to need either 8 4-oz ramekins, or 8 equal-sized mugs, or 8 4-oz mason jars, or anything else like that.  Heck, you could use bigger containers, but remember to cook them longer to compensate for that.

Now onto the recipe!

Makes 8 4-oz servings


1/2 of a large 796 ml can of pumpkin (that's the only size can we get here in Canada)
1 can coconut milk
3 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1/4 c maple syrup


Lightly oil ramekins with coconut oil.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In large bowl, whisk eggs, then add all other ingredients, mixing until combined.  Divide evenly among your 8 ramekins.  Boil some water.  Place your ramekins into a larger lasagna-sized casserole dish and pour about 1/2 to 1 inch of boiling water around them.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 20 minutes more.  Custard will still be very slightly jiggly.  Turn the oven off and just leave the custards in there for 5-10 minutes more, until set and no longer jiggly.

Remove with tongs to a cooling rack.  Sprinkle with a touch more cinnamon to serve.  Eat them warm or cool, eat them with real whipped cream (for the authentic experience), or with whipped coconut milk cream. For a real treat, serve them with squares of dark chocolate for scooping like we did right after the show wrapped up (what a shame we ran out of time taping before I got to explain them; they were the only recipe there that was 100% mine--but then again, I didn't even plug my blog once on the show, silly me....)

Wow your "non-paleo" family by serving these little gems surrounded with fresh berries.  They won't know you "paleo-ified" the recipe because they taste exactly like the real thing.

It really is that easy.  

You're welcome!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

B2B Beef & Broccoli

ha-ha--you thought I'd fallen off the Back to Basics bandwagon?  Wrong!  Still going strong, and the cravings are substantially subsided these days....

I think it's going to be beef "surprise" night around here for a long time.  With the half-cow order, and the bison order now both received, my freezer(s) are stuffed to the gills.  There's no such thing as looking for something specific.  You open the freezer door, and whatever tries to fall out and attack you is what you're going to eat that night.  Between that and going a little hog-wild at the farmers markets, we are overflowing.  Now I get to try to think up what I can pull together based on what I have on-hand.  This is not how I normally do things.  I'm more of a "plan the meals, then shop for the ingredients" kind of girl.  This is all backwards.  Ah, well, I love a good challenge.

So the other day I was at my usual Hakka restaurant, and I demanded a gluten-free meal.  Yes, demanded.  In fact, i refused to go until it was agreed that I'd get a special meal.  I got my own plate of food and everyone else got to share multiple plates of junk food.  Try telling a man at a Chinese restaurant that you don't want anything with gluten.  Gluten?  Gluten?  He couldn't even pronounce the word.  I'm pretty sure he didn't understand me.  So I did the best I could.  I ordered the broccoli with beef.  The sauce was mild and not sweet, and not terribly abundant, either, and it tasted pretty darned good.  I think I ate a whole head of broccoli, the serving was so large.  But as I tasted mouthful after mouthful, I kind of thought I could make this myself at home pretty easily.  This is my attempt.  I think it came out pretty tasty, too!


2 Tbs gluten-free tamari sauce
3 Tbs coconut aminos
2-3 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs tapioca
3 Tbs beef broth

1 head broccoli
1 1/2 lbs cheap cut of steak
1/2 red pepper
1 large carrot
1/2 cooking onion.

Prep everything:  Shave the beef as thin as possible.  Chop broccoli.  Slice the peppers, carrots, onions.  Mix the sauce in a small bowl.  Taste for sweetness/spiciness.  Add coconut aminos for sweet, or chili-garlic for heat.

In large skillet on medium heat, saute onions until translucent (in fat of choice).  Remove.  Turn up heat to med-hi.  Saute broccoli, carrots and peppers until broccoli is just al-dente.  You may want to keep them covered so they steam a bit, and you may need to add a Tbs of water to help it steam a bit.  When it begins to get tender, remove from heat.  Let pan get good and hot again.  Add a bit more fat to pan and sear beef, in batches if necessary, removing from pan when its still somewhat pink (and cover it to let it finish cooking).

Turn pan back to medium.  Add all the veggies and sauce, stirring to coat and thicken, heating through, and add beef and juices at last minute, tossing well to coat in sauce and make sure its warm throughout.  It won't be pink any longer, but its ok if it is a bit pink still.

If you're like me, serve with sriracha sauce.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Back to Basics Days 11&12 and a Lot of Other Stuff!

The weekends can be hard to eat properly.  There is more time and more temptation all around you.  Fortunately, tonight I'm hosting a paleo Meetup at my place so I'll be too busy to worry about food.

If you haven't already, you HAVE to go to and see if there's a local paleo meetup group in your area.  These meetup groups are awesome--they're a great way to meet the other paleo peeps in your area and sometimes these groups have some really great things going on.  Tonight, we're doing a potluck and hosting a Skype chat with Dr Rivkah Roth.  Dr Roth has written several books on the subject of gut bacteria and its connections to both celiac disease and diabetes.  It appears that many, many diseases actually begin in the gut.  I'm stoked!  In the coming weeks, we're having a meetup with Jonathan Randles, host of Big Primal (  We're taping an episode for his show with a Wing Night theme.  The following day, we're going to be in Oshawa at the Treetop EcoAdventure Park (  where they have a brand new aerial adventure course designed similar to military obstacle courses--but in the treetops!  Should be a fun challenge!  I'm yelling because I'm so excited!!  And for the meetup after that, we're meeting again with Big Primal for a hallowe'en/fall harvest inspired potluck that we're still hashing out plans on.  We also are hashing out details, hoping to get a special guest who will be discussing food addiction.  There's so much good stuff coming up, and that's just my own GTA Paleo Meetup group.  Just an FYI--the Paleo Parents have their own meetup group, too, that they host at their house, too.  Wish I lived in their neighborhood--I would love to meet them one day.  For now, all I can do is steal ideas from their meetups.  I stole their hallowe'en idea.  I bet there's going to be some truly awesome paleo-treats at their house for that meetup.  Hopefully we'll all be over our Whole30 month by then, because those treats may be too hard to say no to.

I got my first beef order last night.  The farmer brought it right to my house.  I can't say enough good stuff about this farmer.  I think we'll be seeing a lot of him and his beef in the near future.  My freezer is now stuffed.  So is my neighbor's freezer.  And I have a bison order arriving today, so I don't have a clue where I'm going to put it.  I need to buy a second freezer off Kijiji, I think.  But the price of grass fed and finished meat is so awesome when you buy a half cow/buy straight from the farmer.  The beef cost me $4/lb hanging weight, fully butchered and wrapped.  The bison is $5.50, also the wrapped price.  I bought a free range chicken, too, at $4.50/lb.  I'm pretty happy about this.  Feels pretty good to be buying from local farmers and local markets.  Did you see my last plug for the farmers market in Richmond Hill?  They're everywhere, folks, so get it while its fresh and local because here in Ontario, the peak harvest season is very short before we have to go back to buying imported everything.  Of course, you could always try to preserve all that fresh local stuff so you are still eating local in the middle of the winter.  More on that one in another post, though.

So what will I eat today?  What will my fellow paleo peeps bring to the potluck?  Its such a shame I'm on this Back to Basics thing, because Glen brought some really tasty organic wine to the last meetup and I can't have any this time.  But next time I will!

So my day went like this....

  • coffee--lots of coffee
  • breakfast; fried eggs and back bacon (peameal with the cornmeal removed)
  • lunch; leftover cuban beef and cauli-rice from the day before
  • dinner; (potluck) chicken stew, zucchini salad, olives, fruit salad, paleo chocolate cake (just a taste) and an organic apple cider
Ok, so there were some cheats in there--everything I ate was paleo-appropriate, but not-so-much Back to Basics/Whole30 appropriate.  The paleo chocolate cake did contain something to sweeten it (must have; it was pretty tasty), and the apple cider did contain alcohol.  What can I say?  I'm human.  I broke down in the face of free food and social interaction.  It was a damn good meetup.  Biggest turnout so far.  The skype with Dr Roth was so incredibly informative--have you ever Skyped?  The connection wasn't great, which did make it frustrating, but she had so much information she wanted to share, she was generous with her time.  She talked exhaustively about the duodenum and not just its connection to diabetes and celiac, but also its connection to chronic heartburn/reflux, leaky gut, gluten sensitivity and so much more.  Expect to see a ton of  new science and research supporting this in the next few years.  I think we're going to see an explosion of studies connecting the gut (and duodenum) to just about every health issue out there under the sun.

and day 12

  • coffee--lots of coffee (I know, I know...)
  • breakfast; raspberry clafouti without any sweeteners
  • lunch; leftover ribs, raw carrots, boiled beets
  • dinner; offal-ly good meatballs in tomato sauce on cauli-rice
Do you ever pull something out of the freezer, thaw it, then realize it isn't what you thought it was?  i didn't know I had chicken in my freezer.  I know I still have leftover pork back there somewhere, but there's a half cow in the way and I can't find it just yet.  May have to eat my way to it.  But see how un-colourful fried cauli-rice is without soy sauce??  tasted alright, though.  It started out as the recipe from WellFed, but then I added chili-garlic sauce, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, fermented ketchup and it started to taste like I wanted it to without missing the soy sauce.  Good enough.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Back to Basics Days 10 & 11

Is this cheating--including several days at once in one blog?  Nah, I'm just being efficient, right?

I like to think that its a good thing that I've been too busy to think a lot about food.  Because I'm always thinking about food.  Its an obsession.  Saying no to every snack and treat that pops into my mind has made it dead-simple.  Saying no is a learned habit, and I'm improving at it for sure.  This Back to Basics has really simplified food for me this month.  Its funny, if you let yourself have treats, it becomes a slippery slope of what you will and will not allow yourself to try.  If you just say no to everything, well, it becomes really very simple and straightforward.  If the people around you see that you can be swayed, they will always try to sway you.  If they see you aren't going to give in on food issues, they'll eventually only offer you things that fit your plan, or just go away altogether.  Not that you want to make people to go away, per se, but you want people to stop tempting you, right?  Let me just say that all day thursday and friday there were cookies all over my office.  We had an auditor in, and we like to put out a spread for visitors, so all day long I watched him munch on cookies and two-bite brownies while I sat in the meeting room with him.  We laid the cookies out on trays like that for two days and every time I walked into the kitchen for a glass of water I had to fight the cookie-monster war in my head.  Those little red jam-filled ones don't bother me.  It was the x-l double dark chocolate cookies and the two bite brownies.  It was all the willpower I had to avoid one.  Because I know, every time you cheat, you make it easier to cheat again.  And again.  And why, oh why, are there so many business lunches this month?  It is challenging, for sure.  But hey, I have definitely had a lot less snacks due to the busy week.

Day 10

  • 2 mugs coffee
  • breakfast; sweet potato casserole with an egg and coconut milk
  • lunch; giant chicken and steak omelette, mixed salad with italian dressing, bowl of fruit (ate at Eggsmart--that place is perfect for paleo/primal eating with their all-day breakfasts!!)  It was a business lunch, I did the best I could.  
  • dinner; zoodles (from PaleOMG) but I add balsamic vinegar and cooked it on the stove top.

Day 11
  • 2 mugs coffee (duh!)
  • breakfast; sweet potato casserole with an egg and coconut milk (thank god I'm finally out of sweet potato casserole--it was great at first, but who wants to eat the exact same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY for a whole week?  Not me.)
  • lunch; leftover indian chicken on green beans, and a small pear
  • snack; a big cup of pork bone broth (mostly because I was hungry and couldn't fit it into the containers for the freezer, so I figured I'd just drink it.  It was delicious, thank you, and all the pork fat made my lips silky smooth for hours)
  • dinner; crockpot cuban beef thingy from PaleOMG here.  
The cuban beef thingy is delicious.  I know I'm not sellin' it by calling it that, but seriously try it.  Instead of a roast, I found some kind of fat-marbled cut of beef at the store on sale that looked like the meat cut from between beef ribs, so I chopped it into chunks and cooked it long and slow in the crockpot.  I do change her recipe, though, to drain the tomatoes and use a small can of tomato paste in place of the tomato sauce.  I think she made a typo on that one.  The tomato paste makes it thicker.  Its a perfect way to cook any kind of stewing-grade of beef.  And the cuban rice?  Awesome.  Seriously, just rice up some cauliflower and basically fry it up in a pan with some spices and a can of tomato paste.  You know how cauli-rice can get wet?  Tomato paste thickens it back up.  It's perfect every time.  And fast.  And pretty.  Because I used an orange cauliflower I picked up at the local farmers market at 19th Ave and Woodbine in Richmond Hill (that's an FYI for locals to the GTA and a big shout-out to a great market!)

Doesn't it look yummy?  It was.  Trust me.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Back to Basics Day 9

Do you ever feel like your body demands a set amount of calories every day, and begins to throw a fit if it doesn't get it?  I can't say I'm actually hungry most days, but I'm.....snacky?  Craving?  Not stomach growling, more like my brain crying out that I've been denying it the usual amount of carbs and it wants them NOW...  I'm just not one of those people that "just isn't hungry".  I'm always hungry.  I can always eat.  The hard part is deciphering the true hunger from the cravings. 

So I said no to Hakka for the first time ever today.  Yes, I did.  I had every intention of eating my frozen leftovers for lunch, but then I was asked if I wanted to go to Marlowe's instead and have some grilled fish and veggies.  Do I?  I have a hard time saying no to free food, especially high-quality free food.  So of course I went.  And I picked as best as I could with what I knew.  I think I did pretty good.  The salad came tossed in an olive-oil-based dressing.  There was a scant 1 tsp feta-type cheese on it.  Oops.  I didn't know they'd do that.  I got up to use the washroom and came back to find a diet fountain pop at my seat, too.  What can you do?  Start picking apart your meal in front of your very generous and well-meaning boss?  No, I don't think so.  You politely sip/taste the pop--it is 90% water, anyways, and you eat the meagre teaspoon of feta and make a mental note to avoid it next time, if there is a next time at all.  You do not bite the hand that feeds you.  So there, I had 2 tiny cheats today, both unintentional, and that's just life.

On the good side of things, I was quite pleasantly full from the lunch, so I should not have to deal with my body throwing cranky-fits about the lower calorie consumption today.  Dinner was placed in the crockpot first thing this morning, making my evening pretty simple and thoughtless.  More time for blogging and listening to podcasts.

A little side note--do NOT buy salted pork fat, thinking you can just fry/broil it into pork rinds.  At least, not without washing all the salt off first.  I thought, hey, I won't need to salt it after frying it.  It came out of the frypan as one huge salt lick and three very brave teenagers were completely grossed out by our cooking.  Lesson learned.  Salt pork is not just pork with a bit of salt.  That was Sunday, and I have been...suffering the consequences of too much salt ever since.  Ya, nuff said about that little issue....

So.... the day in food went like this:

  • 2 mugs coffee with creamer
  • breakfast; sweet potato casserole with an egg and some coconut milk whisked into it, a small home made pork patty
  • lunch; mixed greens salad, blackened, grilled rainbow trout with green beans and red pepper
  • coffee (of course!)
  • dinner; shredded crockpot pork shoulder with gravy, carrot pudding (recipe from PaleOMG here--I added a bit of coconut milk to make it a bit creamy)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Back to Basics Days 7&8

Ugh, I won't bore you with a post every single day showing my food and nothing else.  I promise I am working on a recipe/idea as you read this, but these things take time.....

Meantime, my daily food went like this:

  • 2 mugs coffee with my home made creamer
  • breakfast; leftover sweet potato casserole with extra coconut milk and an egg whisked in.  Yes, it was delicious.  I will eat it all week or until the leftovers run out.  I'm pretty simple that way
  • coffee with home made creamer
  • lunch; leftover chili from my freezer, half an avocado, cup of kombucha, small pear
  • coffee with home made creamer
  • dinner; ribs!  And home made coleslaw, a handful of grapes.  I was hungry.  Don't judge.
I ate too fast to take a picture.  Don't we all do that sometimes?  You guys have all seen what ribs and coleslaw look like.  I wish I had Whole30-approved barbecue sauce.  Oh, well, the ribs are in my belly now anyways.  Too late.  But I WILL FIND A DELICIOUS PALEO APPROVED BBQ SAUCE!!!

All you people out there in the paleo blog-o-sphere--stop posting pretty confectionery desserts!!  I think I'm losing my mind, and it ain't pretty.  So stop that!

....And on day 8:
  • 2 mugs coffee with creamer
  • breakfast; lefotver sweet potato casserole with extra coconut milk and an egg whisked in, a small leftover homemade pork sausage patty
  • lunch; a cup of kombucha, leftover ribs and coleslaw, a small pear
  • coffee with creamer
  • coconut and butter mashed together with cocoa powder (still don't judge) stuffed in 2 dates
  • dinner; indian chicken on green beans and a small plum, a few grapes
  • coconut milk with cocoa
OMG, I would give my left eyeball for something chocolaty right now!  Does this feeling go away, or is my whole month going to be like this?!  I totally get why PaleOMG boiled and mashed carrots with nutmeg and called it pudding.  (Coincidentally, a great side dish I will be eating this week, but pudding it ain't)...

The indian chicken recipe, by the way, came from here, but I tend to cheat and just use curry paste in place of all the spices.  It is a delicious recipe, and ridiculously simple.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Back to Basics Days 5&6

Weekends are hard for clean eating, aren't they?  Its a seriously cool, rainy day.  I want to drink wine and watch movies and munch on....anything food.

I'm having a hungry day.  I kind of lost my mind a few times in the excessive food department.  When I was at the Bulk Barn, and it was getting close to lunch time; didn't I find something that looked like a "log" of puree'd dates rolled in chopped almonds?  Bulk Barn larabars!!  I had to try it.  Yup.  They taste just like larabars. (FYI; they also had this pureed date thing with whole almonds jammed in it and rolled in coconut--things to try making myself AFTER the B2B month is over!  Maybe I'll even try adding cocoa powder.)

That's it for my sugar consumption for the day (damn weekends and easy access to food and free time...).

So my food went like this...

  • 3 mugs coffee
  • breakfast; baked omelette with blueberry sauce (a real food letdown; I will not repeat it)
  • snacking; small handful of nuts, butter with coconut shavings
  • OMG more snacking; BB "larabar"
  • lunch; leftover chicken cacciatore
  • snacking; dill pickle, olives, small plum
  • dinner: crockpot roast beef, yorkshire pudding (from fastpaleo--its awesome!!), roasted tomatoes
Thankfully, the roast beef finally filled me up for the day.  I struggled to finish my dinner and couldn't think of food again for the rest of the day.

And now it's Sunday.  I vow that today will be a better day (though my 3 jumbo mugs of coffee is starting to give me a headache at this point...)

The sun is out--perfect day for a big WOD!  So we went for a 40-minute trail run, and man, were there a lot of runners out in the woods today!

So the food part of my day went like this
  • breakfast; home made pork sausage paddies, fried eggs, grapes and strawberries
  • lunch; leftover roast beef, yorkshire, a single slice of tomato and a small pear
  • snack; cup of coffee with creamer, 4 olives, a dill pickle, some ginger-mint-lemongrass herbal tea
  • dinner; brined and baked chicken, sweet potato casserole

The chicken was a free-range chicken from my new favorite local farmer, which I thought I'd try brining on.  Basically, for every litre of water, add 1/8 c table salt.  You need enough salt water to fully cover the bird.  Because my bird came cut up, I only brined it for 2 1/2 hours.  If you want to add spices to the brine, you have to boil the water and spices first, let it cool, then use it.  

The sweet potato casserole comes from the cookbook Paleo Comfort Foods.  It's a really good cookbook, and this is my favorite way to cook sweet potato.  Basically, boil the potatoes, and mash into them some coconut milk, some butter, a couple of eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans and bake for about a half hour.  It is soooo, soooo filling!  I'm thinking of wisking a couple of eggs into the leftovers tomorrow for breakfast and voila, breakfast pudding.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Back to Basics Day 4

Its friday night, and I'm finding myself really missing my red wine.  It's just such a tradition for Steve & I to pour ourselves a glass of wine and settle into the evening drinking it down while cooking dinner together.  And tonight it's Chicken Cacciatore, which would have gone soooo well with red wine.

But I'm gonna tough this out!

I stopped by a local farmers market over my lunch hour today (at Woodbine & 19th, if you live in the GTA).  The place was awesome!  Everything is in-season now, just about everything that we can grow here in Ontario.  What's in-season here now, you wonder??

  • potatoes
  • onions
  • leeks
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • sweet peppers
  • hot peppers
  • plums
  • peaches and nectarines
  • summer apples
  • pears
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • eggplant
  • pie pumpkins
  • squash 
  • zucchini
  • cantalaupe
  • watermelon
  • kale
  • swiss chard
Need I go on?  So I went on a little shopping frenzy.  I bought some orange cauliflower.  Squashes of all sorts, leeks, plums, jalapino peppers.  I have plans.......

So the day in food was pretty simple--it will be all this month, I guess.  Imagine my shock when I went to the fridge and couldn't find 2 more hard-boiled eggs for my breakfast??  What's a girl to do?  I...survived.....but I seriously gotta find something other than eggs for some breakfasts sometimes.  The day went like this:

  • 2 mugs coffee with creamer
  • breakfast; 2 scrambled eggs with salsa and avocado, a small peach
  • coffee with creamer
  • lunch; leftover italian beef and green beans, a small pear, a cup of kombucha
  • coffee with creamer
  • snack; 1 tsp butter mixed with shredded coconut, a dill pickle, a glass of kombucha
  • dinner; stovetop chicken cacciatore, a small plum

Looks so simple, doesn't it?  I roasted a red pepper, peeled and pureed it and threw it in the sauce.  I carmelized the onions first in oil and balsamic vinegar.  I sauteed the mushrooms in butter and garlic before adding them, so while the presentation is simple, the taste was totally all there.  

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Back to Basics Day 3

It is again a crazy day.  Believe it or not, I only had time for 2 coffees this morning.  I have such a raging coffee addiction.  Maybe addiction is too strong a word.  I drink it because its warm (and I work in an air-conditioned office) and it keeps me full.  Now, I blame yesterday's headache on eating those orange slices (and not the bottoless black coffee I drank), but today around mid-morning I developed another killer headache and I don' have any idea what caused it.  I wonder how long something that you ate (that you're allergic to) stays in your system?  I know, I know, I should just avoid citrus fruit.  But c'mon, I've given up so much already!  Alright, its no excuse.  But I'm not making any promises.  Next thing you know, you'll be telling me to give up coffee too.  I have tried that.  I don't like not having coffee.  Don't like it one bit.  I miss the warm creaminess.

So my food for the day went like this:
  • 2 mugs coffee with homemade creamer
  • breakfast; 2 hard-boiled eggs with salsa and a half avocado, 1 small peach
  • lunch; leftover roasted chicken thighs and roasted squash, 1 cup home made kombucha and 1 small pear.
  • coffee with creamer
  • dinner; italian beef and green beans

Geez,  cannot for the life of me find here this recipe came from.  I promise to find it and  post it ASAP.  Its delicious.  We make this alot.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Back to Basics Day 2

Ah, now there are eggs.  Much better prepared today.

My day was crazy, how about yours?  It was probably for the best.  Less time to stuff food in my mouth, something I'm prone to doing.  Matter of fact, I met with a friend for lunch, and we were so busy talking and finishing each others sentences, that I didn't even get to finish off my meal.  Probably for the better--I was eating orange slices, and I know full well I'm allergic to citrus fruit.  How do I know this?  About an hour after I ate, I had a sore on my tongue, I had a splitting headache, and I had a rotten feeling in my guts that has persisted for the rest of the day.  But oranges sure are tasty, aren't they?!

So today, my food went like this...

  • 2 mugs coffee, with homemade coffee creamer
  • breakfast; 2 hard-boiled eggs with salsa, 1/2 avocado and a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • lunch; Eggsmart--chicken and steak omelet with green peppers and mushrooms, a few slices tomatoes and a few slices of cantaloupe and orange.
  • snack; 1 Tbs home made coconut butter (butter, coconut, vanilla), some olives
  • dinner; crispy chicken thighs and roasted squash with cinnamon and nutmeg

Crispy Chicken:

sprinkle chicken with
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp chipotle or blackening spice
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until juices run clear


toss cubed squash with 
melted butter

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Back to Basics Day 1

Well, there are no eggs in my house.

Yesterday was a stat holiday, so everything was closed.  No worries, though--it was not so much poor planning on my part as it was complete laissez-faire attitude.  I'd survive.  I'd find something to eat.  Into the freezer I dove at 5:45 this morning, bleary-eyed and in a hurry, and found half of a frozen meatloaf.  Not just any meatloaf, either.  My Offally-Good Meatloaf.  Ground pork and beef liver mixed together.  Good enough.

So, my day in food looked like this:
  • 2 cups coffee with homemade coconut milk and coconut oil coffee creamer
  • breakfast; 1 1/2 slices offal meatloaf with a handfull of grape tomatoes, a splash of salsa, and one very small, slightly underripe pear
  • coffee with homemade coconut milk and coconut oil coffee creamer
  • lunch; big bowl of beef heart stew, 1 cup home made ginger-lemon kombucha, 1 small peach
  • coffee with homemade coconut milk and coconut oil coffee creamer
  • snack; 1 Tbs pureed coconut flakes mixed with 1 tsp coconut oil and 1 tsp almond butter
  • dinner; swedish meatballs, from The Foodie and the Family recipe here, served over mashed cauli
....And as promised, my starting stats (which despite today being my hormone poison day, I will not re-measure for the rest of the month)

Weight: 129.5 lbs
Waist: 27.5"
Hips:  37.5

A Simple Scallop

Sometimes its the simple things that taste the best.  In this case, juicy, fatty pork shoulder and good old-fashioned scalloped vegetables.  But how do you make a good scallop without potatoes and milk and cheese?  Don't fret.  It doesn't have to be complicated.  My scallop included only 5 ingredients.  Seriously.  And they're delicious.  It went like this:

Ready in 1 1/2 hours
Feeds 6 as a hearty side-dish


2 1/2 cups sliced sweet potatoes
2 1/2 cups turnips, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup home made garlic-basil mayonnaise (recipe here )
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
1 Tbs dried parsley


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Using a food processor, slice your sweet potatoes and turnips fairly thin.  Don't forget to peel the turnips.  It doesn't matter with the sweet potatoes, but definately peel those turnips.  Throw them in a big bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, parsley, mayonnaise and most of the parmesan, if you're using it at all.  Don't worry, even without it, these will be delicious.  The homemade mayo will convert back to olive oil in the cooking process and will leave your veggies tasting rich and buttery/creamy and very faintly garlicy.   Sprinkle remaining parmesan on top (if you use it at all)

Bake, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

That's it.  It's even better if you already threw your hunk of meat in the crockpot that morning.  Simplicity at its finest.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Back to Basics

Sometimes it's the quietest voice that springs the loudest idea.

A FB friend of mine sent me a little private note the other day, asking the simple question, "Are you doing a Whole30 in September?"  It was a simple question, and she was probably just curious, but it really stuck in my head.  Yea, I needed a Whole30.  I needed a 21 day sugar detox.  I needed them both!  This long, hot summer has seen many-a poolside BBQ, drinks in the pool, picnics and lunches with friends and family, days spent boating on the canals, summer parties and long days on the beach. And most of it has genuinely been paleo-friendly, really, but there have been many drinks, many occasions to sneak in an ice cream, or two or three.  Some of them were even "paleo" ice cream--but not all of them.  There have been many treats, many "just this once" moments. Isn't that what summer's all about?  Squeezing every last drop of sunshine and fun into every single day, of quick, easy food and long days in the sunlight with friends.   So, yes, the idea of a Whole30 really stuck with me.  Time for a little "house cleaning".

Over the next few days the voices grew in numbers--the Whole30 and 21day Sugar Detox sprung up everywhere.  It travelled like wildfire through the internet.  It seemed like everyone who wasn't already doing a Whole30 was about to start one.

I guess it makes sense.  We all want to get back into the routine of healthy eating, of proper meal planning, of schedules and school time for our kids.  September is the beginning of a new year for many of us and it is a new opportunity to get things right--or make them better.  We all want to atone for our summer of fun and for our food-filled vacations.  We all had it, this lapse of good sense.  We've all eaten too much of one thing or another.

Now, I honestly didn't "fall off the paleo bandwagon"...  No, I just ate paleo-ified treats every single day.  I ate paleo pancakes every single weekend with real maple syrup and so, so much bacon.  You know, all those grey-area foods that are OK, if eaten in moderation?  I ate them all, and none  of it was in moderation.  I ate yogurt and cheese every day.  I ate nuts by the handful, went through several jars of almond butter over the summer.

And I kept promising myself I would stop.

But I didn't stop.  I ate my way through summer, so to speak.  And I did it while still "being 80% primal".  But it was the worst interpretation of primal/paleo you can imagine, and I know it.  My guts know it.  Oh, Lord, my guts know it.  My heartburn is back.  My headaches are back.  Those are my real barometers of good eating, and they're both telling me its time to stop.

Have you ever read the fine print of the Whole30 program?  Wow, it sounds scary-serious.  It sounds downright militant.  It sounds painful and exacting and while I totally agree with all the principles, I suck at following rules.  Even though the Whole30  is simply a clearly worded black-and-white approach to true paleo eating, it overwhelms me.  It intimidates me, and it does not accommodate my preference for a primal-approach over the more severe paleo approach.

So first, lets go over the basic tenets of the actual Whole30 program
  • No Sugar: this includes the obvious processed sugars, but also honey, maple syrup, and artificial sweeteners including stevia and xylitol.  Even "safe" artificial sweeteners encourage a sweet tooth so let your taste buds re-adjust to real, natural sweet flavours without adding extras into your food
  • No Processed Foods: food should look like the plant (or animal--sort of) that it came from, it should not contain a list of ingredients.  This includes conventional lunch meats and bacon, and also protein shakes and protein bars.
  • No Alcohol:  plain and simple; alcohol is a sugar.  Even paleo-accepted dry red wine.  It has more harmful ingredients than helpful ingredients (unless you're raising teens like I am--then it has a LOT of helpful ingredients that keep you from committing murder).  I know, I know, but this is going hurt me more than it'll hurt you.
  • No Grains: this is a no-brainer.  You know why.  But a Whole30 means NO CHEATS for 30 days.
  • No Legumes: also a no-brainer.  I don't know about you, but the only things I really miss from this category are Kraft peanut butter and soy sauce.
  • No Dairy: if you're more "primal" than paleo, you're going to miss this one.  I know I will, despite being lactose-intolerant.  But the truth is that dairy is insulin-spiking.  Studies have shown that dairy causes a blood sugar spike that is much higher than the actual sugar content within the food, suggesting there is something about dairy that our bodies are reacting to negatively.  Try and see if it makes any difference--just for a month to avoid it
  •  No Paleo-ifying: don't try to fit your old diet into this mold--for just one month, forgo the paleo pancakes, paleo muffins, paleo ice cream and all the other whatnot (sniff, this is where I tend to fall down).
  • No Weighing In: there is nothing more defeating than making a bunch of drastic changes and not seeing immediate results.  But let this process work--and avoid the shock of fluctuations caused by outside factors.

OK, well, fair enough, its not so scary.  All I'd really have to change is stop eating the paleo-ified treats for a month, skip the alcohol for a month, and avoid dairy.  So maybe I just won't make paleo pizza or anything Mexican-inspired this month.  I can handle that, can't you?  Olives, here we come a-snacking!  Scared yet?  Maybe a little.  Maybe because "Whole30" sounds a little like a decree from the heavens....

But then I heard another interpretation.  I heard Irish Paleo Girl ask who else will do a Back to Basics with her.  (Ironically, I miss-read it, too, but that's what I took away from it).  Huh.  Back to Basics.  Now that sounds do-able.   That sounds simple.  Just Eat Real Food.  Isn't that the way we should be eating all the time?  Sometimes we forget that tenet.  I myself am constantly trying to turn paleo-safe foods into neolithic-tasting foods; pizza, spaghetti, muffins, pancakes, pies, tacos...  I have to admit, I've tried it all.  And I love the challenge of doing it.   I will continue to do it, too.  But sometimes, we need to step back and hit reset, you know?  Just hit reset for a month.

The truth is, I got tired of my kitchen and my fanci-fied meals weeks ago.  I just got downright tired.  Tired of cooking, tired of cleaning, tired of exercising, tired of going to 5 different places to get all of my different foods.  I wanted to squeeze in every last drop of summer, to not be standing in my kitchen or running errands or even blogging.  I wanted to shove the food into the crock pot and forget about it.  To sit back and read a book, to come home at the end of the day to food that is already waiting for me.  Is that selfish?  I wanted food tastes like the kind our grandparents would make--real whole chunks of meat and simple vegetables, simple ingredients and minimal fuss.  I wanted to steal those last few minutes of summer and hoard them for me alone.

And now that we are into the last stretch, squeaking into September, it is time to hit reset.

It is time to start clean, start fresh.  To remember why we're here, and remember what real food is supposed to be--meats, eggs, vegetables, fats, some fruit, some nuts.  Eat nose-to-tail.  Eat coconuts, not coconut flour.  Almonds, not almond milk from a box.

For the month of September, I'm going to return to the basics.  I'm going to cook a lot of bone-in, skin-on meats and roasts in my crock pot.  I'm going to eat eggs with salsa and avocado for breakfast instead of  yogurt parfaits made with grain-free granola.  I'm going to avoid all baked paleo-goodies and paleo pancakes and sweeteners.  I'm going to cook simple meals that consist of meat and vegetable and spice like its supposed to be done.  I'm afraid there won't be a lot of recipes, but  there might be a lot of "ideas" instead, don't worry.  I'm not going to disappear for a month; in fact, I will take many pictures along the way.  I will try to cook with more organ meats and use a lot less nuts (and those nuts will be whole nuts, not almond meal).  I will not drink alcohol, just for this month (a world without wine is not a world I want to live in).  And just for shits-and-giggles, I will weigh and measure myself only once on day 1, and again at the end of the month, just to see what this all means.

So how is my "Back to Basics" idea any different from the Whole30? 
  • I will still eat butter and use Parmesan cheese.   Don't get me wrong, I AM cutting out dairy.  The Whole30 allows for clarified butter, but who has time for that?  Butter does the body good.  It makes simple food taste better.  The lactose content is almost non-existent.  Same with Parmesan.  You're not eating huge quantities; it is used only in very small amounts to improve food flavour.  It is classified as a fermented product due to its very long ageing process. I promise I will not put 2 cups of it on a meatza.
  • I will still eat fruit.  The Whole30 advocates 1-2 servings of fruit per day.  I'm not suggesting heaping loads of fruit here; I eat 2-3 servings of fruit/day on average.  As long as it stays that way, I'm not going to sweat it. 
  • I will eat ordinary grocery store meats and vegetables.  Yes, you heard that right.  I have not, and likely never will, buy organic produce unless it's on sale cheaper than the conventional stuff or if its by accident because I shopped at a farmer's market.  Sure, I am working on a big grass fed beef and bison purchase, but if it hasn't arrived yet, this is not going to make or break my attempts at eating right.  Cost is everything, and if all I can afford is conventional meat and produce, so be it.
  • I will still eat almond butter.  The Whole30 suggests limiting nut consumption, and they're right.  But they don't say to avoid it altogether, just to limit it.  Its too easy to go overboard on this one, so I will only resort to it in moments of extreme hunger desperation. 
  • I will still drink kombucha.  I don't see it mentioned anywhere in the Whole30 plan.  It does contain sugar, but the sugar is there to feed the bacteria and is mostly absent from the end product.  In my opinion, and understand that my kombucha is home made so I have complete control over what is in it, there are far more good things in kombucha than bad.  It does my body good. 
  • tapioca starch and arrowroot are still OK.  Here's another thing that's not mentioned in the Whole30.  If you're of British ancestry, like me, nothing makes a meal more palatable than a thick sauce or gravy.  It doesn't have to be a complicated one.  I'm only using it as a thickener so I get all the fat juices and broth into me, too.  I'm not about to make a load of tapioca starch bread this month.  I'm only talking crock pot roast beef and gravy served with roasted carrots.  If I can have gravy, I can stick to it.  All the Whole30 recipes appear to have been written with West-Coast taste buds in mind.  You know what I mean.  I must have gravy.

Starting on September 4, the day the kids return to school,  I will adhere to the "kiss" principle.  Keep it Simple, Stupid.  Because "Keep it Clean, Stupid" doesn't make a good acronym.  Back to Basics I go.

Who's with me?