Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Day Coconut Green Curry Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chowder


Have you ever seen that part of True Lies where Bill Paxton's weenie wanna-be spy character is faced with the real-life-spy Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Arnie and his partner are trying to scare the Skittles out of Bill Paxton by waving their guns at him out on the edge of some kind of quarry/dam? And Bill Paxton crumples in a pile of sobs and wets his pants?

Well, that's pretty much what region where I live does whenever faced with the prospect of snow. Even one or two inches is enough to cancel a day of public school, which therefore cancels my daughter's preschool since they tie their cancellations to the public schools' cancellations.

Which means this much snow? (Yea, where there's not enough to even completely cover the blades of grass.) Just enough to cancel school, throw off my workout plans, and provide enough building materials to make Homeslice here:

So: I had haddock fried in oil set for one of last week's lunch menus. If it's just me and the baby, I'm cool with a simple plan like that as I can supplement the baby's meal with a few cubes of cheese and call it a meal. But with my preschooler home due to cancelled school, I felt compelled to do a little something more cozy with the fish in my fridge, and thus was born Snow Day Coconut Green Curry Chowder. Most commercial and restaurant chowders are thickened by adding white flour, but this one is coconut milk based, so the thick creaminess is gluten-free, yay!

Snow Day Coconut Green Curry Chowder
Serves 6
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. mild white fish (in this case it was 2 large fillets of haddock)
2 tbsp. (again!) coconut oil
2 tbsp. green curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand, which is rumored to be on the milder side as green pastes go)
1 onion, sliced thin into 1" pieces
3 small potatoes, cubed into 1/2" pieces (I used organic russet; if you're opposed to potatoes use sweet potatoes or other root veggies)
1/3 cup small pieces of bacon
1 standard-size (14/15 oz. or so) can coconut milk
Optional: 1/2 tsp. palm sugar or 1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses, to further caramelize onions and add depth (this recipe is divided into about 6 servings and as such does not constitute a big blood sugar/insulin surge)
Salt, to taste
Water, to thin as desired

Warm oven to 400 F. Place 2 tbsp. coconut oil into baking pan with garlic powder, powdered ginger, and salt, and melt in oven until the coconut oil is liquid - a few minutes. Remove pan from oven, stir around seasonings until well-combined with liquid warmed coconut oil, and then dip fish fillets in oil mix such that all sides have been coated. Place fillets in the same baking pan with the oil mix and bake for 20 minutes.

While fish is baking, add coconut oil to a medium-size soup pot and heat to high. Add onions (and if desired: palm sugar or molasses) and stir continuously until onions caramelize and become translucent (a few minutes). Add green curry paste and further stir to combine, then add potato cubes. Add bacon pieces and coconut milk and set the soup pot burner down to medium heat, stirring to combine.

Remove fish from the oven. Make sure that it is fully (or very nearly fully) cooked, testing by flaking at the flesh with a fork. If it flakes away easily, use the fork to flake all of the fish into bite-sized pieces, and add fish and oil from pan into chowder on stovetop. (If you want to add the fish skin, that's really up to you. I kind of have an ick factor with fish skin, but that's how I roll.) After about 5 minutes of gentle stirring, taste the chowder, and add water to thin (just a bit at a time) or salt to taste as desired.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lunchbox #44

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover mashed sweet potato
  • Trail mix (almonds, walnuts, mini chocolate chips)
  • Whole milk organic yoghurt with honey drizzled on top
  • Fruit salad: strawberries, pears, nectarines

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lunchbox #43

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Pieces of leftover roast chicken
  • Slices of Kerrygold Dubliner cheese (same box as chicken)
  • Organic applesauce
  • Almonds
  • Boursin (soft cheese)
  • Fresh broccoli
  • Leftover spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Menu/Workout Plan, A Day Late, and Planning Ahead for Super Bowl Snacks

Don't be fooled by the absence of a week's beginning menu plan; we are in fact eating food. I was just sort of winging things the last couple of days, which is a bad sign, so I'm buckling down tonight to plan the rest of the week. Also? Though evenings can be unpredictable around here, I'm going to try and start again with planning my workouts, because workouts are so much likelier to happen when I write them down.

That said, we are in the middle of the tundra zone weather-wise (though not in Iowa where it's -18 F) where working out outside is purt near impossible most days. That means for the next few weeks, my primary option is working out with Veronica and at my community pool. Really hoping that groundhog doesn't see his shadow next week - so that we can get it going with the spring weather! I could really use the sunshine.

One last note: Are you planning ahead for what's on the menu for the Super Bowl?  I am definitely thinking lots. and. lots. of. WINGS.

Monday (yes, what we had yesterday):
Breakfast - Boiled eggs
Lunch - Butternut squash soup
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Tuesday (what we had today):
Breakfast - Fried eggs for the girls; preworkout fast for me
Lunch - Post-workout: oven-roasted potatoes and leftover roast chicken
Dinner - Slow-cooked beef, baked sweet potatoes
Workout - Tabata kettlebell swings

Breakfast - Bacon, eggs scrambled with Boursin
Lunch - Haddock fillets fried in coconut oil
Dinner - Steak cobb salads, strawberries
Workout - Lap swim

Breakfast - Whole milk yoghurt with one honey straw (these are great for portion control on honey! Each of the Stix has 4.3 g carbs) and halved strawberries
Lunch - I will probably workout fasted, thus postponing the above breakfast to lunch, add leftover steak
Dinner - Sausage bacon cheese quiche, sliced nectarines
Workout - Tabata kettlebell swings

Breakfast - Banana yoghurt smoothies for the girls; maybe boiled eggs for me
Lunch - Leftover quiche, sliced mango
Dinner - Beef pot roast in the crock pot, carrots, potatoes
Workout - Lap swim

Preschool lunchbox ideas: 
Today (#43): Almonds, cheese, broccoli, leftover spaghetti squash, leftover roast chicken, applesauce
Lunchbox #44: Mashed sweet potato, fruit salad, cheese slices
Lunchbox #45: Sliced nectarines, trail mix, steak slices with mustard to dip

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lunchbox #42

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Soft baked sweet potato, sliced
  • Banana
  • Slices of slow-cooked beef with mustard for dipping

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lunchbox #41

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Fresh broccoli
  • Clementine (peeled)
  • Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheese (sliced)
  • Yellow cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Ranch for dipping
  • Hard boiled eggs

Monday, January 17, 2011

Primal / Paleo Oktoberfest / "Mocktoberfest" - Gluten-Free Schnitzel with German Potato Salad

Come to Mama.

At last, I tackled "Mocktoberfest". Being partly of German extraction - and having lived in Germany for a time, sometimes I just need a good Schnitzel. Schnitten is the German verb for to cut, so you can bread and fry cutlets of just about any meat. Popular choices are beef (especially veal), chicken, and pork. The problem? Breaded Schnitzeln are ... uh ... breaded. Hence my adaptation for those living primally who need to hearken back to the Mutterland every so often.

Today we cuddled ours up next to some German Potato Salad (recipe below) and some canned red Sauerkraut. (If you are looking for a homemade red Sauerkraut recipe, check out AndreAnna's crockpot red cabbage recipe - looks delish!)

German Potato Salad

3 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
1/2 cup mayonnaise (you can make your own if you're up for it)
1/2 c. crumbled bacon or bacon pieces
1/2 c. finely diced white onion (this is optional; I left it out today since my husband and his side of the family can't tolerate them)
1/2 c. melted butter (I used Kerrygold)
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

To a boiling pot of salted water, add the cubed potato. Boil for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to spoon the potato cubes into a medium bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients into a dressing, then pour over warm potato cubes. Allow potato salad to sit for about an hour so that flavors can meld before serving.

Chicken Schnitzel with Creamy White Wine Reduction

6 chicken breasts, pounded very thin (1/2" or less)
Salt and pepper
1 cup sifted coconut flour
1 cup sifted coconut flour mixed with 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
4 eggs
4 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 tablespoons milk or cream
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 lb. Kerrygold butter

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, then dip in sifted coconut flour evenly to coat. Mix eggs, parsley, cheese, nutmeg, milk, and mustard thoroughly in a medium-sized bowl, then add 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt and mix again. In a large shallow bowl spread out the coconut flour/unsweetened coconut mix. Dip each floured chicken breast into the egg mix and then dip both sides to coat in the coconut flour/unsweetened coconut mix.

In a large pan, melt 4 tbsp. butter on medium heat. Add breaded chicken breasts to the pan, turning after 3 or 4 minutes. Continue turning breasts every few minutes until all sides are golden brown and chicken is cooked through. (In my case, this was side A 3 minutes, side B 3 minutes, side A 3 minutes, side B 3 minutes.) Keep adding butter to the pan a little at a time while cooking in order to prevent burning; the chicken breasts will soak up a lot of the butter while in the pan.

Creamy White Wine Reduction

After chicken breasts are all cooked, add 1/2 c. cream or milk to the pan, with 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. white wine of choice. Use a spatula to scrape brown leftover schnitzel bits off of the bottom of the pan and keep stirring to combine while sauce reduces. Once desired thickness is reached, drizzle over plated Schnitzel.

Optional but fun addition: gluten-free beer. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Menu Plan

We're looking at some concrete ways to stretch our food budget. I've been primal for almost 7 months and still struggle to keep the food budget contained. One way I'll be giving us some wiggle room is by reintegrating Giant's organic potatoes - russet, red, or golden. While they're not ideal all the time for me (with weight loss goals), I will still have them occasionally after working out as a refeed tool, or forego them altogether when I haven't. Since my husband and daughters don't need to lose weight, though, hopefully potatoes will be a decent addition to the menu for them.

Monday ("Mocktoberfest"):
Breakfast - Bacon mini-quiches, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Sauteed rainbow chard, butternut squash soup (yay, immersion blender!), blueberries
Dinner - Weinerschnitzel (yes, was shuffled from last week after the sudden salmon and lamb tango...), with a German potato salad. Also may try a bit of sorghum (gluten-free) beer for the first time. :)

Breakfast - Mashed sweet potatoes with nutmeg and cinnamon for the girls, grape tomatoes
Lunch - Leftovers from "Monday Mocktoberfest"
Dinner - Roast chicken, romaine salad with avocado

Breakfast - Boiled mashed eggs, yoghurt for the girls
Lunch - Post-workout baked potato, sour cream, cheese, bacon pieces
Dinner - Cobb salads: Leftover roast chicken, grape tomatoes, bacon pieces, sesame ginger dressing

Breakfast - Cheesy scrambled eggs
Lunch - Lamb chops, salad
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Breakfast - Liverwurst, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Leftover spaghetti squash
Dinner - Oven-braised steaks, salsa guac!

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #41: Bacon miniquiches, potato salad, diced papaya
Lunchbox #42: Blueberries blended with whole milk yoghurt, leftover roast chicken
Lunchbox #43: Grape tomatoes, mashed potatoes, cheese slices

Bonus "New Mom" Meal Idea for This Week:
Probably will be bringing a meal to two mothers of newborns and their families; likely tamari beef pot roast with carrots and potatoes, a great all-in-one-pan meal that has broad appeal.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coming Feature: Grown-Up Lunchboxes featuring Grown-Up Primal Packed Lunches

I've been thinking about my husband's poor neglected lunches lately. After going primal last summer, I prioritized my energies and thoughts toward ways to fix my almost four-year-old daughter's lunches when she started preschool in the fall. Now, though, I've started to get the hang of it, and within about 3 months she'll be out of preschool for the summer. Of course there will be plenty of family day trips during the summer requiring packed lunches for her, so those will feature, and she will also return to school in the fall, but I thought that it is about time that I put more effort into packing my husband primal lunches that he can enjoy at his office. (I've mentioned before that he is more or less primal by default, as long as he's not fixing it and it's tasty.)

That said, I'm currently on the lookout by shopping for some bento-style lunchbox systems geared toward adults. Since my daughter's preschool doesn't microwave food, having a microwave/hot-food-safe box was a moot point; her lunches are all cold lunches because of this (and nor do I yet trust her little hands at operating a thermos full of hot food/soup, either). But my husband has a microwave in his office, so my goal is a microwave-safe dishwasher-safe lunchbox system - something based on clay, ceramic, Pyrex, or so on. Anybody have suggestions or testimonials for grownup lunchboxes that they'd like to offer?

All this ultimately to say: if you've wondered about making packed "grown up" lunches for yourself or your spouse, stay tuned. In the meantime, browse the vast array of posts featuring my daughter's packed lunches.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lamb Chops with Red Wine Reduction

I had other plans for last night's dinner on my menu plan - that is, until I saw already discounted sale lamb chops with the extra "today's the last sell by day" discount sticker applied at Giant. Super cheap Australian lamb? Count me in.

Here's what I did (You'll notice some parallels with yesterday's miso salmon - let's just say that I was on a shallot kick since my mother-in-law gave me a huge bag of shallots that she didn't use over the holidays. Also, pickle juice a great addition just about anywhere, and my Bubbies were almost gone.):
  • Marinated 1 lb. (5 palm-sized chops in my case) in a gallon size zip bag in about 2 tablespoons Pompeii pomegranate-infused red wine vinegar and 1/2 c. tamari. (For what it's worth I'm sure regular red wine vinegar is a perfectly fine substitute.)
  • In the meantime, set 1.5-2 c. red wine (also Australian, in my case!) and 1/2 c. pickle juice (yea, you read that rightly, from my Bubbies in my case) with 4 bay leaves in a saucepan on the stove on medium-low heat to reduce until thickened and closer to syrup, over about half an hour.
  • After half hour of lamb chops marinating and sauce reducing, poured excess of chops' tamari-vinegar marinade into reducing red wine sauce.
  • Put 2 tbsp. bacon grease in a large pan with 3 thinly-sliced shallots, and sauted on medium-high for just a couple of minutes.
  • In the pan with the bacon grease, seared the lamb chops on both sides, about 2 minutes each (this is if you - as I do - like your lamb quite rare; my husband was quite freaked out by the rawness and ended up microwaving his into submission after the fact).
  • Poured red wine reduction from the saucepan into the large pan with the lamb chops and cook another 2 minutes while continuously turning the chops to ensure that they get lots of exposure to the sauce. Also scraped any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and stirred back into the red wine sauce as I flipped the chops.
  • Added the lamb chops to serving plate and allowed sauce to reduce on medium-high another minute or two, then drizzled over chops.

Incidentally, the strong, savory flavor of these chops and their sauce were very nicely accompanied by the mildness of a baked sweet potato with some grass fed butter to top.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Miso Salmon with Broccoli

It was supposed to be shrimp for dinner, but the bag of supposedly plain shrimp on sale had all kinds of preservatives listed. Bah! So, bought salmon, which got moved to lunch when I found out that my girlfriend was stopping by, and we had the lamb chops bought on deep discount for dinner with a red wine reduction and buttered mashed sweet potatoes.
Today I had a girlfriend whose office is nearby stop at my place for lunch. I cut and washed some fresh broccoli florets to have on standby. I marinated some wild Alaskan sockeye fillets in a blend of miso, honey, and apple cider vinegar - for at least half an hour.

I had the oven preheated. In a large pan, I heated some clarified leftover bacon grease with a bit of powdered ginger and powdered garlic and some thinly sliced shallots. I seared the salmon briefly (1-2 minutes) on all sides, and then put the fillets in a Pyrex dish to stay warm in the oven while I cooked the broccoli, also adding just a pit of pickle juice to salt, in the reduction that remained in the pan.

I picked out the large piece of broccoli onto our plates, and then added the fillets and poured the shallot reduction over the salmon just before serving.

Lunchbox #40

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Salad: romaine, sliced cherry tomatoes, blueberries, shredded parmesan, slices of carrot, and a ginger-sesame dressing
  • Slices of steak
  • Mustard for dipping
  • Mint dark chocolate
  • Peeled Clementine

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lunchbox #39

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Halved organic gala apple
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Trail mix (chopped walnuts, pistachios, mini semisweet chocolate chips)
  • Baby carrots

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu Plan

After a break, it is so time for me get back into the menu-planning saddle. I'm also looking at starting food journalling at the advice of a sweet gal who is a paleo weight loss success story. And how can I get a good food journal habit going unless I get back to my menu planning? :)

Some of these breakfasts I skip in favor of kettlebelling fasted - so whatever's listed in those instances is what my girls are having.

Breakfast - Leftover spaghetti squash with meaty marinara (no, really, and fortunately my 3-year-old is cool with it)
Lunch - Fried eggs, chicken sausage, yoghurt
Dinner - Roasted chicken, supplemented with leftover pork ribs and slow cooked carrots

Breakfast - Warm nutmeg ginger banana pudding, leftover chicken sausage
Lunch - Bacon, shredded parmesan, and shredded Bubbies pickles on romaine lettuce with warm bacon dressing
Dinner - Steak, romaine salad with shredded parmesan, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Pumpkin soup with garlic and caramelized shallots (might add a scoop of whey protein to mine if I've just worked out...)
Dinner - 5-Ingredient Green Curry Pot Roast in the crock pot with carrots and potatoes

Breakfast - Banana custards!
Lunch - Leftover beef pot roast and veggies
Dinner - Butter-glazed shrimp, roasted Brussels sprouts

Breakfast - Grapefruit drizzled with honey, cottage cheese
Lunch - Leftovers, whatever they may be
Dinner - Chicken Weinerschnitzel (will post on it if it works out!) with a butter and cream reduction, and tarragon asparagus soup (with my new immersion blender, holllaaaaaaa)

Preschool lunch ideas:
Lunchbox #39: Leftover roast chicken, whole milk yoghurt with honey, trail mix
Lunchbox #40: Pickle, strips of steak with mustard for dipping, apple slices with cinnamon cream cheese
Lunchbox #41: Leftover pot roast and veggies, custard, maybe some pumpkin bread or muffin if I find a killer pumpin bread recipe

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Have News for You, Roger Fox


At that rate, you may reach T-minus-20-pounds much faster (and in a much less lucrative way) than you envision.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lunchbox #38

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Almonds and a few dates
  • Sliced Bosc pear
  • Bubbies pickle
  • Babybel cheese
  • Half a banana

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lunchbox #37

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Sliced apples
  • Flax crackers
  • Natural-style chunky peanut butter for dipping (yes, I know it's not considered "primal" but peanut butter hasn't disappeared from our house for all time; it will still make an occasional appearance)
  • Bubbies pickle - no sugar or high fructose corn syrup
  • Applegate Farms sliced chicken breast
  • Milk carton (chalk this one up to me forgetting to put her water bottle in the dishwasher the night before)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lunchbox #36

Mmmm...maple-miso. Mmmm.

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Leftover roast chicken
  • 2/3 of a Larabar (Pecan Pie, which is pecans, dates, and almonds)
  • 2 Clementines
  • Leftover maple-miso kale with prosciutto

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back in the (Kettlebell) Swing

It's 2011, and in the words of Matt Foley, it's time to, (arms a'pumpin':) "get back on the right track." (Oh, how I tried to find embeddable footage of that, but YouTube's been very much restricted by SNL, it seems.)

There's a lot of talk on the primal / paleo blogosphere about folks going for a "full paleo" January - no grains, no sugar. Some are going even further by eliminating dairy, fruit, and even nuts, but for me, forgoing sugar and grains is still challenge aplenty. I think I can probably cut out milk and cheese, since I still have weight loss goals, so the dairy for me this month will probably consist of organic heavy cream and Kerrygold butter. My main workout goals are a) to, uh, work out in the first place, and b) to do so fasted, when possible, which for me will usually mean midmorning when my baby is taking her nap.

So, Veronica and I got reacquainted this morning. It had been several weeks since my last kettlebell workout, and I did a double-take when I hoisted Veronica over the baby gate and downstairs to the basement. She was much heavier than I remember. ;o)

I've kicked off the new year with a few inspirational tools at my disposal. First and foremost, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law gave me a Gymboss for Christmas. Sweet! This very simple interval timer worked so well this morning, I just might give it a name, too.

Now that I'm not necessarily beholden to whatever music is shown in online kettlebell workout videos, I've started so surf Grooveshark, where I can find even the most obscure songs and compose playlists. (Go try it if you haven't! Free to use and the artists are paid royalties by Grooveshark, so it's legit.) One of my long term goals is my own personal "ultimate kettlebell workout" playlist.

When I was doing an Atkins style low carb diet in 2005-2006 (until my first was conceived and my doctor wisely told me to lay off the soy), I was doing crazy chronic cardio - 60-90 minutes on an elliptical trainer, several nights per week, along with a lightweight (d'oh) free weights regimen. Thus, I had a huge list of 140 BPM-165 BPM songs to get me through that time on the elliptical.

But now? I'm looking for some intense music that motivates and uplifts at the same time. Loud? Sure. Rage-filled? Not really my style. I'm in need of positive themes to go with my tunes. Beats per minute don't need to be exact, as long as the beat is driving and the melody rollicking.

I'm also on the look for some broody/beat driven slower music to do kettlebell weight work on. Accoustic guitar / spare piano, and/or soft electronica are good.

Any suggestions out there for good kettlebell and workout music? What tool and tricks are YOU using to build momentum and motivation in January?

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!
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