Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lunchbox #11

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Cubed baked chicken, drizzled witha bit of balsamic vinegar
  • Strawberries, stems off
  • Full fat cream-top yoghurt, with a pinch of nutmeg, a teeny bit of vanilla extract, and a drizzle of honey
  • Sliced green peppers, two fresh figs, and two fresh dates

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lunchbox #10

Pomegranates are great primal finger food. I was struck by a huge urge to snack last night, and them remembered the pomegranate loitering in the fridge. My first try opening a pomegranate (last year), I sat and took out the arils (seeds) one by one. Took for-ev-ah. (Yes, you Sandlot fans, you can envision: "For-eh-ver! For-eh-ver!")

Then I read up on the quickest way to access the poms' delicious contents, and it turns out that doing so over a bowl of water is the most common shortcut; the membranes have just enough pockets of air that they float over the water, while the juicy seeds sink to the bottom.

For those who've never tried fresh pomegranate arils, they are a tasty treat. Sweet, but just a hint of sour, juicy on the outside with a crunchy sunflower-seed-like center.

Floating membranes - seeds at the bottom.
Drained the water from the bowl and
skimmed off the membranes at the same time:

Packed some in my daughter's lunch:

Today my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • A slice of sharp cheddar
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Leftover baked salmon
  • Leftover garlic roasted cauliflower
  • Fresh cut slices of yellow squash and green peppers

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two Dudes Cook Up High Fructose Corn Syrup in Their Kitchen

The two dudes in their kitchen show up about halfway through.

Lunchbox #9

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Sesame egg salad (made my DIY mayo with sesame oil)
  • Roasted butternut squash puree with cinnamon and raisins (believe it or not my preschooler covets raisins, ergo I can kind of get away with this as a dessert)
  • Garlic-roasted cauliflower
  • Fresh yellow squash, green pepper, and cherry tomatoes with a dipping sauce

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Menu Plan

Well, we've earned the badge of having a child in a school setting: our family had a little bout of something flu-ish over the weekend, though so far we've bounced back pretty well. I wonder to what extent our diets affected our recovery? Though I was being rather stupid and had too much dark chocolate, which I think may have set me up for immune weakness in the first place. Thankfully, my husband and I are merely stuffed up, but still operational.

Last winter, when my husband got sick, I had brought home lots of comfort junk foods to get us through the week - mini muffins, Gatorade, etc.

But now that I've gone down the MDA rabbit hole, my recovery objective when sick is the same as when healthy - lots of real food, minimal processed items. Fortunately for me, at the first sign my family was headed downhill this weekend, I was able to reconstitute a bag of frozen slow cooked pork and veggies, using some added chicken broth on the stovetop.

Today, I have a whole chicken in the crockpot to cook with water, chopped onions, crushed garlic cloves, diced ginger, carrots, and some salt, and in the oven I've roasted separate pans of cauliflower and butternut squash with butter and seasonings - truly nourishing comfort food. Not only will the chicken and carrots serve as a no-stress dinner tonight, but I'll be able to salvage lots of nourishing broth out of the deal. I'll also boil some eggs tonight to have at the ready in the fridge in case my bout with the illness isn't over and my family finds itself without the head chef on her feet.

Besides fresh fruit and veggies, I did pick up a few prepackaged items for us - mainly dried fruit and crystallized ginger (to aid with nausea).

Here's the menu plan for this week:

Workout: Kettlebellin'
Breakfast - Boiled eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Leftover chicken soup, romaine salad
Dinner - Crock pot pork ribs with tamari and seasoning, broccoli stir-fry

Workout: Swimmin'
Breakfast - Strawberries with creme fraiche
Lunch - Pureed vegetable soup, using whatever's left from Sunday (broth + roasted veggies), plus a bit of Kerrygold
Dinner - Coconut lime salmon filets, brussels sprouts, romaine salad

Workout: Rest/play day
Breakfast - Cottage cheese drizzled lightly with honey
Lunch - Romaine "big-ass" salad
Dinner - Bacon and eggs

Workout: My first attempt at Turkish getups with Veronica; going to take this VERY slowly (so it may not count as high intensity anything)
Breakfast - Baked apples topped with chopped nuts
Lunch - Quiche of some kind
Dinner - Eggplant lasagna with a meat sauce

Workout: Need something very quick and intense, so may do kettlebell swings
Breakfast - Curried egg salad (may try D-I-Y mayo!)
Lunch - Leftover eggplant lasagna
Dinner - Leftovers

Ideas for preschool lunches:
Lunch #9 - Leftover roasted cauliflower with dip, cottage cheese, fresh pomegranate seeds (pomegranates are also coming into season!)
Lunch #10 - Egg salad, leftover brussels sprouts, dates, trail mix
Lunch #11 - Maybe some kind of finger sandwiches made with coconut/egg pancakes (?), strawberries, zucchini sticks

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Earlier this week I took my 9 month old to the community pool while my oldest was in preschool. It was my baby's first time in a pool, and she ate up every second. Our pool has a great low incline "walk into the pool" ramp part, ideal for those holding little ones, and after that I could walk us over to 3 ft. and 4 ft. depth sections for the open swim.

I was on swim team throughout my younger school years, and once I got to college, I did do a single season of water polo. Today, I realized that it might just have longer-term implications than me realizing that I probably wasn't cut out for collegiate athletics. Back in my water polo days, the very first thing that the coach taught the newbs to do was the egg beater kick. Simply put - if you couldn't tread water this way, you were not going to survive a game of water polo! Once we got the basic element down, we were soon doing all manner of drills, often leaving our arms out of the equation. Makes me wonder - how did Grok tread water? Something similar?

Anyway, with both arms full of 26 lb. of baby (she's 97th+ percentile), I was wondering to myself, How am I going to get any kind of exercise holding her the entire time? Then I remembered the eggbeater. Soon we were going in spurts across the pool, me eggbeating while holding her in the air. It may not be HIIT, but it sure worked muscles that weren't used to being worked!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - Joyful Abode, Including Grain-Free Granola Bars!

Joyful Abode's blog is such a breath of fresh air - real, grain-free food - and a lot of "real life" foods. Recipes that may enable me to keep my husband and 3-year-old willing to continue eating this way.

After intending to make this for a couple of weeks, I finally got around to cranking out a batch of Joyful Abode's Grain-Free Granola Bars. All I can say is: YUM. I will definitely be integrating this into rotation. Author Emily Chapelle is right; it requires a certain amount of muscle to press the bars together (and I will be pressing even harder next time), but the results are so worth it! Lightly sweet, but full-bodied with a chewy, nutty taste. All I could ask for! You'll probably see these popping up in my preschooler's lunchboxes.

Recipes like this are the reason Joyful Abode is this week's Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt. Other Joyful Abode grain-free recipes I'll be doing in the future:
Mmmmm freezable comfort foods...mmmm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lunchbox #8 - Fig Season!

September is fresh fig season, dontcha know?

You can prepare figs lots of ways, but the most time-efficient
is just to wash and munch on them like any other raw fruit!

Enjoy them while they last, which is only for a couple of weeks, really.

We were availing ourselves to some figs last night while we were waiting for dinner to be ready.

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

Shrimp and Asparagus over Spaghetti Squash with White Wine Reduction

Ohhh, yum. I tried spaghetti squash again last night to go with our shrimp and asparagus. (Did you know asparagus is on sale this week at Giant for $1.88/lb.?!)

This time, I quartered the two squash (rather than halving them) and sprinkled kosher salt liberally over the rind and pulp area. Within 15 or 20 minutes it was sweating. See? :

After the squash had wept its juice out a while, rather than rinse off the juice and risk making it wet again, I used a paper towel to soak out the moisture. Then I set it in the oven to bake.

In a small saucepan, I added 2 cups of chicken broth, 2 tbsp. butter, 4 tbsps. of vinegar (I used 2 tarragon, 2 white wine vinegar), the cream from a can of coconut milk, and 1/4 c. white cooking wine. I had it on medium low, simmering to reduce.

While the squash was baking and the sauce was reducing, I removed the tails from, shelled, and butterflied my shrimp (you can also buy them preshelled/tails off). I tossed them in a pan with the fresh asparagus (cut into thirds and quarters) and a bit of butter and salt, and sauteed for about 7 minutes.

By this point the sauce had reduced by about half, and the squash was nearly done. (I took the asparagus and shrimp off the burner so that they wouldn't overcook.)

Once the squash was done, the middle was scooped out and the meat was fluffed into those spaghetti strands we know and love. I topped the spaghetti squash with the shrimp and asparagus and drizzled the white wine reduction over. Mmmm! That's a sauce I'll definitely be making again.

(But - anybody with tips on primal / paleo friendly ways to thicken sauces and reductions? I have some arrowroot starch but I haven't yet had the time to research whether it's 'acceptable'.)

Here's the same recipe in a more all-in-one standard format:

Shrimp and Asparagus over Spaghetti Squash with White Wine Reduction
Serves 4

2 small spaghetti squash, quartered
2 lbs. raw shrimp (fresh or thawed), peeled, tails off, deveined, and butterflied
2 lbs. fresh asparagus, washed and cut into 2-3 inch long pieces(I use kitchen shears for this), bottom inch or so discarded
2 tablespoons butter, for sauteeing the shrimp and asparagus
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, for sauteeing the shrimp and asparagus
2 tablespoons butter, for the sauce
2 c. chicken (or other) broth
2-4 tablespoons vinegar(s) of choice
1/4 c. white cooking wine (or other white wine that you have laying around)
Cream from one can of coconut milk (do not include or mix in the watery excess)

Prepare your reduction: Add butter, chicken broth, coconut cream, vinegar(s), and white wine to a small saucepan, and allow to simmer at low-medium heat until half-reduced (45 min. - 1 hr., likely).

Heavily salt the quartered spaghetti squash and allow to weep for at least 20 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel, then set in 400 degree oven to bake for ~45 minutes.

After the spaghetti squash has been baking and sauce has been reducing for about 30 or 40 minutes, prepare the shrimp and asparagus, and sautee with butter and garlic powder in large pan on high heat, for about 7 minutes. Remember, it's hard to "overcook" the spaghetti squash, and also hard to "overcook" the reduction, but overcooking asparagus and shrimp is quite easy! So when in doubt, check your squash by gently shredding the meat with a fork to see if it is ready or near-ready, and then you'll know that you're good to start cooking the shrimp and asparagus.

After asparagus and shrimp have cooked, remove from the heat of the burner and take the spaghetti squash out of the oven. Scoop the seeds and pulp out of the spaghetti squash and then use a couple of forks to shred the spaghetti strands away from the interior. Put spaghetti strands at bottom of a shallow bowl, top with shrimp and asparagus, and then pour the white wine reduction over. Garnish with cheese if desired.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lunchbox #7

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Spinach salad with carrots and green peppers - tahini dressing on the side. To make the spinach more kid-friendly, I tear off the stems and break the leave into more bite-sized pieces
  • Red potato home fries (yes, our family still occasionally eats potatoes)
  • Bruschetta cheese - we got this at Sam's Club; so tasty!
  • Leftover baked chicken, drizzled with balsamic vinegar
  • A homemade primal peppermint patty (= a lot less sugar!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lunchbox #6

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover Meaty Marinara (tomato sauce with ground beef, onions, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes)
  • Chilled banana pudding topped with a handful of semisweet mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life, which are gluten, dairy, and soy-free and - oh, yeah - delicious. They suddenly went on clearance on Amazon earlier this spring - my theory is because Amazon doesn't like to ship chocolate during hot spring and summer months. I snagged'em at $0.64/bag, shipped!)
  • A slice of sharp cheddar cheese
  • Trail mix, consisting of pecans, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), dried blueberries, raisins, and chopped dates
  • Baby carrots and green pepper slices, with a dip (sour cream + wasabi powder)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Meaty Marinara

We did our first go-around on spaghetti squash as a stand-in for spaghetti on Sunday night. (Yes, this had been the plan for later this week, but when I saw little mouldy spots developing on the outside of the squash's rind, I figured better last night than later!) I'll admit that I'm usually reluctant to deal in "substitutes" for carby grain-based fare, as normally I'd prefer to focus on what tastes better from the myriad choices of meats, poultry, seafood, veg, fruits, etc. - on their own merits. But I was willing to give spaghetti squash a go because my preschooler had been such a pasta fan in our past preprimal life - and it pleasantly surprised me!

After reading a few renditions on how to go about cooking the squash, I did sort of an amalgam - basically halved the squash at the equator, then drizzled the 1-inch rim of the squash meat with butter melted with garlic powder. (I used 4 halves, aka 2 squashes for our family, which was also enough for one leftover Pyrex container for my husband's lunch, pictured above.) I then placed the squash halves cut-side-down in two baking pans, and baked for one hour at 400. After removing from the oven, the seeds and inner pulp removed quite easily. I used a fork to gently separate the squash meat from the inside of the rind, using a "fluffing" motion.

The squash was tender, but not too tender, and with a delicate flavor, and just a bit sweet. A great combination with a meaty marinara sauce! My preschooler announced her approval more than once during dinner, and my husband said that it stood on its own as a very tasty dish - rather than evaluate it as a pasta concept. Hey, what do you know? Some stand-ins, it seems, are worthwhile. And at 10 g carbohydrates in a 1 cup serving along with Vitamin C and other nutrients, spaghetti squash far bests standard spaghetti (43 g of carbohydrates per cup cooked!) in terms of nutritional value. Bonus: My 9-month-old loved eating the squash by the handful - perfect texture for a finger food.

The only thing that I might try to change for future renditions is that it was a bit "soggy", and I think, based on what I have read, that this could be easily solved by salting it before baking and allowing it to sit cut-side-down to drain much of the juices for half an hour or more. I'd also remove the cooked spaghetti strands into a strainer and allow to drain as long as possible before they cooled too much for serving.

As for the sauce, here we go:

Meaty Marinara
Serves 4 adults, along with the "spaghetti" of two squash, or in a large pan of eggplant lasagna

1 large can (~28 oz.) crushed tomatoes (I picked a variety with basil)*
1 standard-sized jar pasta sauce with no added sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, etc.(I used Amy's this time)
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 large white onion, sliced into thin 1" strips or smaller
2 standard tomatoes, diced into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons butter
Mixed dried Italian spices (My mix had rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, etc.)
Salt, to taste
2 lb. grass fed ground beef

If serving with spaghetti squash, place spaghetti squash in the oven to bake first. If serving as part of eggplant lasagna, brown eggplant and layer the eggplant with cheese first.

Open can of crushed tomatoes and pour into crockpot or deep pot on stove on low setting to warm.

Place onions, mushrooms, and butter in large pan, and sautee for 5 minutes on high, or until onions begin to brown. Add diced tomatoes and stir, cooking an additional 2 minutes. Add this veggie mix to the pot with the crushed tomatoes. Using the same large pan, brown ground beef until almost cooked through, add salt and Italian spices to taste, then add the almost-cooked beef to the veggie/sauce mix in the pot (it will finish cooking here, and since it is easy to over-cook grass-fed beef the beef should still be pink in some places when added). Add in jar of selected pasta sauce to the pot, and stir to combine. Serve piping hot, and garnish with freshly-grated parmesan if desired.


*Yes, I'm aware of the concerns over toxic BPA in can linings. For that reason, I rarely involve canned products in my cooking. I'm working on getting a good source for tomato products (crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, etc.) sold in glass jars.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menu Plan

Consider yourself warned: if you're ever at my place watching a movie alongside myself and Mr. Grok, you should be prepared for irreverent running commentary fit for the likes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. We love time loop series (Back to the Future, the Terminator series, Crichton's Timeline, etc.) or historical epics, wherein we continuously critique the timeline inconsistencies.

As it turns out, last night my husband and I watched the movie 10,000 B.C. on TNT. Definitely not an Oscar contender, and more to the point: I was suspicious of Camilla Belle's immaculately plucked eyebrows - pretty anachronistic for the era, if you ask me. (*Ahem*) Anywhoo, you know you've been eating primally for a while when you watch the final scene of this movie, when the following transpires (*SPOILER ALERT*):

{...the strapping hero and his blushing bride - who belong to a tribe that subsists entirely on mastadon hunting - receive from another tribe's leader a few small bags of corn and beans to put to seed - the hailed and very romanticized beginning of agriculture...}

"No!" I said, "Don't do it!" My husband may have been snickering at me.

Here's the lineup for this week's menu:

Working out - Kettlebellin'
Breakfast - Spinach mushroom omelettes
Lunch - Asparagus taragon soup (didn't get to make this last week, hopefully this time!)
Dinner - Crock pot pineapple/tamari-marinated pork chops, spinach salads

Working out - May check out the community pool for the first time
Breakfast - Bruschetta cheese, pluots
Lunch - Banamandeln smoothie
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with a tomato and grass fed ground beef sauce - my first time making spaghetti squash as a pasta stand-in! Tips, anyone? See the spaghetti squash post - had to make it Sunday because the squash was going south! Likely will do some kind of eggs and veggies for dinner.

Workout - rest/play day
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs
Lunch - Cocoa blueberry smoothie
Dinner - Baked chicken thighs, spinach salad

Workout  - Wii Fit Plus arms rotation - pushups, planks, and side planks
Breakfast - Custards
Lunch - Loaded "big-ass" salad with leftover chicken
Dinner - Grilled skewered shrimp, baby carrots, salads

Workout - Kettlebellin'
Breakfast - Yoghurt with a bit of honey
Lunch - Picnic-ing! Probably hard boiled eggs, berries, nuts, cheese, etc. Easy finger foods. :)
Dinner - Leftovers

Ideas for preschool lunches:
Lunch #6: Banana pudding (chilled), trail mix, aged cheddar, baby carrots
Lunch #7: Bruschetta cheese tossed with tomatoes, sliced pluot, sliced green pepper with dip
Lunch #8: Custard, chicken salad from leftover chicken, broccoli with dip, peppermint patties

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bacon Zucchini Quiche

This came together very quickly, which is all you can hope for when it's the witching hour and you've got a hungry family ready to pounce, am I right? The mix takes about 10 minutes to assemble, and once it's in the oven, you can concentrate on other things, like
feeding the baby
assembling the salad.

The original plan was to use yellow summer squash, but that got used up making the Crackeroni and Cheese, and the zucchini added a much-needed punch of color to the quiche, I thought. But, you could still sub the yellow squash easily!

Bacon Zucchini Quiche
Serves 4 as a main course

2 tablespoons butter (I used salted Kerrygold)
1 small green zucchini squash
6 eggs
1/2 cup half & half (could sub heavy cream)
1/2 cup full fat cottage cheese
1 heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard
Generous dash nutmeg
3 handfuls crumbled bacon (6 strips cooked and crumbled, or cheat like I did and use precooked precrumbled)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a 9"x13" pan, and place in oven to melt while the rest of the quiche mix comes together.

Shred zucchini (I used the smallest shred setting on my box shredder) into large bowl. In smaller bowl, scramble the eggs, and then mix in half & half, cottage cheese, mustard, nutmeg, and bacon - in that order.

Pull pan with melted butter from the oven, and ensure that the butter has spread over all of the bottom of the pan. Pour quiche mix into pan, and bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until edges brown. I like to finish off the baking with about 2-3 minutes under a 550 degree broil to further brown the top of the quiche, 'cause that's how I roll.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ah, the weekend is on the horizon, and it's time for Primal Kitchen's Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt. I don't care if the blog is paleo, primal, vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist, fruitarian, or what; if you have some yummy-looking and primal / paleo -compatible recipes on your blog or site, you've piqued my curiosity, and I just might end up posting links to those recipes in my weekly hunt. I'm all for ecumenism. :)

This week's hunt turned up the Pioneer Woman. I'm not naive to think I've 'discovered' Ree and you haven't -  Ree Drummond runs one of the most popular domestic-life-themed blogs to grace the web. There's a reason she's so appealing - her love of cooking is infectious. Here are some of her primal / paleo friendly recipes:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Progress Report - September Primal Challenge

Even though the September Primal Challenge officially started on September 7 (to allow for Labor Day indulgences), I have lost 4 lbs. since September 1. That's 4 lbs. in two weeks - 2 lb./week, which for me is more than a comfortable rate of weight loss. I even had a few days' pleateau due to the weekend trip with my inlaws, but that's to be expected when on holiday.

I've been fairly consistent - the only hiccups being my sprained ankle and the occasional dark chocolate detour, but that doesn't seem to have inordinately stalled me. Thank goodness primal lifestyle is 80% about what's at the end of my fork!

Though he has a few nonprimal vices - the odd sandwich or lunch out at work, the occasional "throwback" Dr. Pepper (contains sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup), etc., my husband lost 10 (now he tells me:) 13 lbs. over the summer without even trying - he was just generally eating what I was preparing. It goes to show how much of an influence the household's primary cook has even when other family members aren't directly involved (well, except for all the grilling my honey does - GrillMeister!).

How's your September Primal Challenge going?

Lunchbox #5


Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Organic whole milk yoghurt with frozen wild blueberries mixed in
  • 2 squares Green & Blacks 85%, 2 massive strawberries
  • Cherry tomatoes and baby carrots, with a mustard/sour cream dipping sauce
  • 3 miniquiches with bacon, cottage cheese, carrots, and zucchini

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lunchbox #4

As you can see, the shrimp cocktail didn't materialize. There's a good reason for that: I had a lot of leftover boiled eggs in the fridge, and the frozen (uncooked) shrimp could wait til another time. So here are the goods:

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Two boiled, peeled eggs
  • Chopped dates - aka "dessert". My preschooler asked me what was going to be her dessert and she seemed perfectly content with the dates as her option. She also, however, regaled me with stories about what the other kids had for dessert in their lunchboxes. Oy.
  • Baby carrots and sliced green peppers
  • Sliced wedge of brie
  • Wasabi asparagus 
What's that, you say? You've never heard of asparagus with wasabi? Well, you're in for a treat. I originally got the flavor combo idea from Fat Free Vegan's SusanV, having made asparagus with wasabi many, many times since. Tonight, I did it up simply, sauteeing the asparagus in a couple of pinches of powdered wasabi and a largish pat of salted Kerrygold until just crisp-tender, enough for flavor and just the tiniest hint of heat. Halving the asparagus spears before sauteeing made them just the right size to fit into the purple box. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lunchbox #3

Today's lunch for my preschooler featured (clockwise):
  • Cubed honeydew melon
  • Last night's "Crackeroni and Cheese"
  • Leftover pieces of grilled steak with a balsamic vinegar/sour cream dip
  • 2 almond meal/unsweetened coconut chocolate chip cookies - about half chocolate chips/half cocoa nibs. Sweetened the dough a tiny bit with palm sugar, because I thought of honey, and realized that they will pretty much digest the same way, and I didn't want the cookies to taste like honey.
  • Fresh green pepper sticks
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crackeroni and Cheese

I'll be honest: for me, the elbow macaroni in macaroni and cheese had, in the past, really just served as a vector for the melted cheesy goodness. Tonight, craving that same warm cheesy goodness, I took one look at the yellow squash in my fridge, and tossed caution to the wind. This was a hit with my preschooler, so I packed some in her lunchbox for tomorrow. (My husband still had the steak and salad written up in the menu plan.)

You could cook the squash even less if you are looking for a more "al dente" texture - the below recipe, which comes together in about 10 minutes, results in very tender pieces.

Oh, and adding bacon? Resulted in the crack-like addictive taste.

Crackeroni and Cheese
Serves 2 very generously

2 tablespoons butter (I used salted Kerrygold)
2 small yellow squashes, diced into thin 1 inch long slices (about elbow macaroni size)
1" wedge brie, trimmed of rind, cubed into small 1/2" pieces
1/4 c. crumbled gorgonzola
2 tablespoons crumbled bacon (= 2-4 cooked strips' worth, depending on your desired baconishness)

Melt butter on medium high heat, and add squash. Sautee for 5 minutes, or until squash pieces start to turn translucent. Stir in pieces of brie and crumbled gorgonzola, and stir vigorously until cheese is well-melted throughout. Add bacon pieces and serve immediately.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Menu Plan

We're fortunate to enjoy some leftovers from this past weekend spent with my inlaws. Got in some good Primal laws fulfillment - lots of walking, time in the sun on the beach (after which, a little sunscreen application), playing and relaxing with family.

My ankle is still swollen and, if moved the wrong direction, twinges with pain, though walking normally is stiff but relatively pain free. I'll keep with weights only work these next few weeks (no sprinting) - mostly arms, maybe some slow squats or lunges. Not risking anything, though - following Mark's advice to take it easy when injured lest ye reinjure!

Breakfast - Boiled eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Creamy tarragon asparagus soup (recipe hopefully to come), leftover brussels sprouts
Dinner - Steak slices on salad greens with gorgonzola, and balsamic vinaigrette, sliced melon

Breakfast - Fried eggs, cubed melon for the girls
Lunch - Broiled brie and a salad
Dinner - Sauteed butter-glazed shrimp and summer squash, "big-ass" salads

Breakfast - Custards
Lunch - Leftover shrimp on salads
Dinner - Bacon summer squash quiche (recipe hopefully to come), baby carrots

Breakfast - Fruit smoothies
Lunch - Leftover quiche
Dinner - Crock pot chili with ground grass-fed beef, queso fresco to top, salads

Breakfast - Fat guacamole devils
Lunch - Leftover chili
Dinner - Roast whole chicken, salads

Ideas for This Week's Preschool Lunch Menu:
Lunchbox #3: Thin strips of grilled steak, dipping sauce, baby carrots, custard
Lunchbox #4: Shrimp cocktail (or something like it), sliced raw green pepper, whole milk yoghurt mixed with blueberries
Lunchbox #5: Bacon summer squash quicheJoyful Abode's grain-free granola bars

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Coconut Curry Chicken & Spinach Soup

When that nip in the air starts to come back, I get really excited. I love cold weather, and I love cold weather comfort foods. This fall will prove a new challenge as I try to Primalize some of my longstanding fall/winter treats, but I'm up for it.

Soups, though, aren't that hard to conquer in terms of Primalizing. This one is super simple, warming, and comes together in less than 15 minutes. Great for a nourishing lunch!

Coconut Curry Chicken & Spinach Soup
Serves 4

2 c. small pieces of leftover roasted chicken
2 c. organic baby spinach
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil

Warming spices, any/all to your liking:

garlic powder
onion powder
curry powder

Melt oil in medium-sized pot on medium. Add spices to your liking and let them simmer in the oil for a minute or two. Add chicken pieces, and stir to coat with oil and spices. Add coconut milk, and stir to combine. Let simmer for just a few minutes so that flavors blend and the coconut milk is warmed through. Just 3-5 minutes before serving, add the baby spinach. Serve while spinach is bright green and just barely wilted for maximum flavor.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - Weelicious

This may be the start of a new feature here at Primal Kitchen - the Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt. It is a hunt, analogous to Grok sizing up his newest environs to see what looks tasty and edible.

Though Catherine McCord isn't paleo / primal, she is all about real-ingredient clean eating. My Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt this week turned up McCord's blog She notes in her "About" page:

"When I had my kids, Kenya and Chloe, I realized that I wanted them to be exposed to seasonal, organic food that’s as pure as possible. I want them to know that food shouldn’t have to be pumped with sugar, salt and preservatives to be delicious."

What can I say? I like her style. :) Here are some paleo / primal friendly recipes that I turned up in just a short time while browsing her site. I will definitely be trying some of these out in the near future. Try her gluten free tags page for some ideas, too.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lunchbox #2

Today's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Chicken salad (Last night's dinner - chicken baked with garam masala and coconut oil - cooled, diced, tossed with crème fraiche...YUM.)
    Note: I actually had my preschooler try several bites of this to make sure that she enjoyed it so that I knew that she would be familiar with it when she opened her lunchbox.
  • About 3 tablespoons of trail mix: Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins, hazlenuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios
  • Two dark chocolate covered almonds (same container as the trail mix)
  • Crudités - yellow squash, carrots, green peppers
  • Apple slices, with almond butter for dipping in the mini blue container

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lunch Box #1

As you can see, today's lunch for my preschooler doesn't exactly match what was listed in the menu plan:

Actually, my menu plan is more a general idea of what ingredients we'll be using up - a good way for me to know what meats, seafood, fruits, and veggies I'll be purchasing and preparing for our family over the week. Sometimes I get the menu 100% for all three meals in one day - other days (many other days) it's more like a facsimile of what was planned. So in the words of the inimitable Captain Barbosa: "...more like, guidelines."

Documenting a preschooler's lunch is definitely the kind of culinary navel-gazing that could send readers into a snorefest, except I have this nagging suspicion that there are others out there who are also trying to give their kids packed lunches that feature real food - and could maybe use some of my ideas in their own quotidien lunchbox making (?). I'm sniffing out other primal / paleo blogs in the hopes of some that feature lunchbox prep, too. Comment if you know of any!

Today's lunch for my preschooler featured (clockwise):
  • Organic halved cherry tomatoes and cubed rBGH-free mozzarella
  • Chopped macadamia nuts, dates, and a piece of dark chocolate (yes, nuts are allowed at her preschool!! woo hoo!)
  • Cucumbers slices, halved with a garlic organic whole milk yoghurt dip
  • Strawberries and nectarines, cubed
This accompanied by a stainless steel canteen of (drumroll) fresh cold water.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Workout of the Week - 'Not'

This morning, in the excitement and rush to get out the door for my daughter's first day of preschool, I managed to royally twist my ankle on our front step - one of those seeing-stars kind of pain. Great. So now my ankle is swollen and tender. Guess no Workout of the Week this week. :-\ I will do some arm work and watch my carbs in the meantime until the pain and swelling are gone. Phooey!

Monday, September 6, 2010

What to Do With All This Ground Beef?

My mom is now my patron saint of grass-finished ground beef acquisition; she did an evening run to the Whole Foods near her house on Friday and acquired a LOT of the on sale grass-finished ground beef at $3.99/lb., just for our family. She convinced the butcher to make some more for her as the bin was almost empty when she arrived. I will be making some eggplant lasagna in the near future for sure. :) THANKS, Mom!

Trying to think up some other ground beef recipes to apply - anybody with suggestions for primal ground beef recipes? Meatloaf didn't really fly at our dinner table a while back, though I'm open to recipes for primal mini meatballs, say for a primal adaptation of wedding soup?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Menu Plan - Labor Day Edition

Like many on the Twittersphere under hash tag #SPC2010 (as in: September Primal Challenge!), I experimented with some intermittent fasting last week a couple of times by skipping breakfast. (Just me; the rest of my family ate breakfast!) It is shocking to realize how steady your tummy can be if you're not OD'ing on sugar or carbs all the time - both fasts, I was able to keep myself busy without that distracting, violent urge to locate a Fiber One bar stat - the urge that enslaved my days in my life before Grok. When your body is used to burning ingested fat for fuel, making the switch to burning stored body fat while fasting is hardly a blip on the radar.

I have read on many blogs that folks experience the best metabolic boost when they work out just at the end of a fast - and then fasting an hour or two more. So if I have an early dinner and wait until midday the next day to eat - while getting in a morning workout - I'm supposedly maxing the effects of the fast. Hope to test this out a bit more in the future.

ALSO - this week marks the start of packing lunches for preschool! More coverage to come.

Workout - Workout of the Week - though I may switch this with Wednesday's workout if needed
Breakfast - Eggs scrambled with butter, add honeydew melon (on sale this week at Giant) for the girls
Lunch - Leftover crock pot ribs from Monday, baby carrots
Dinner - Leftover browned ground beef with salsa and organic sour cream over salad

Workout - Tabata sprints
Breakfast - Whole milk yoghurt / blueberry smoothies, add bananas for the girls
Lunch - Veggie omelettes
Dinner - Masala chicken thighs, salads

Workout - Rest/play day
Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs, add bananas for the girls
Lunch - Guacamole curried chicken salad on greens (recipe to come, hopefully)
Dinner - Snow crab clusters, with butter for dipping, and a salad

Workout - Kettlebellin'
Breakfast - Apple slices with almond butter, cottage cheese
Lunch - Out with relatives
Dinner - Crock pot ribs with family, salads

Planned preschool lunch ideas:
Lunch #1: Guacamole curried chicken salad, baby carrots, apple, nuts (if permitted by the preschool), and maybe a little piece of dark chocolate. :)
Lunch #2: Hard boiled eggs, cubed honeydew melon and strawberries, cottage cheese, summer squash sticks with yoghurt dip.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Naming the Kettlebell

I did my third kettlebell workout this morning. In addition to the 6 minute tabata-style basic double-handed swings, I did some bicep curls, and some rows on each arm.

I'm starting to grow fond of my bell. I've the inclination to do with the bell what I do with inanimate objects that routinely improve my quality of life: give it (him/her?) a name. For example, my college vehicle, a Ford Focus, was Jerry. My beloved Canon SLR is Miriam. My 1970s-era workhorse crockpot is named Betsy, and my crockpot gifted to me only last year is named Suze.

I'm thinking "Veronica". :)

G7 Stories - Veronica Garza from G7 Athletics on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shrimp, Sausage, and Summer Squash Casserole

Earlier this week, I gave a whirl to doing Mark's listed recipe from last Saturday: Shrimp, Sausage, and Summer Squash Casserole. A few adaptations (since it seems I can't resist tinkering) were made.

Here's the casserole pre-oven time.

And after baking:

  • I added about 3 handfuls of kale, ripped up into smaller bites, right at the end of the "pot cooking" phase. I also added just a little bit of blackstrap molasses and a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar, which added a depth of flavor.
  • This was very tasty. My 3.5-year-old pronounced it "Very yummy," so I could definitely give this a go again some time. I thought that it actually tasted even better the day after, cold from the fridge (and this saves the microwave from rubberizing the shrimp in your leftovers).
  • Mine was a big soggier than what I had envisioned. I suppose this could be remedied by crisping the bacon seperately, removing, sauteeing the squash in the rendered fat, and then adding the bacon back in on top at the last minute. (?) Suggestions, anyone?
  • I used a whole pound of shrimp, a whole pound of sausage, and 12 oz. of uncured bacon - which was cut into little pieces with my kitchen shears to cook faster. This produced a massive dish of casserole - enough to feed us easily for two meals.
  • Since my sausage was (horrors!) conventional, I precooked it and drained the fat, allowing the uncured no antibiotic no hormone bacon's fat to take center stage. (Yes, I realize still excess Omega-6's from grain-fed pork, but what am I to do with no pastured or fully organic pork products sold by my nearest grocery store?) From our current stage in life, there's still probably going to be a lot of conventionally raised animals - it's a budget thing and a logistics thing; I simply haven't yet found access to quality, affordable pastured animal products. So, with any conventionally raised meats we eat, I'll usually be trimming or draining the not-really-that-great-for-us fat (it's usually too Omega-6 heavy due to being grain-raised). With any grass-fed/pastured stuff we can find, we'll eat it up! This reminds me: I should really find us a quality fish oil to offset our excess Omega-6 consumption stat.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mashed Boiled Eggs

The idea for these came to me by a 11/16/2009 comment by Danish (I think) commenter Budzinksi left on Dr. Harris' PaNu site . The basic idea: boil eggs. Mash'em with butter and salt, he said. Mmm! This was a winner with my husband and preschooler. Here's how I tackled it:

Mashed Hard-Boiled Eggs
"Alas, Poor Yolk! I knew him well."

Serves 1


Four eggs
2 tablespoons butter, or to taste (I used salted Kerrygold)
Pepper (I used freshly ground)

Boil eggs in a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into bowl of ice water (this turns your yolks the pretty yellow instead of sulfuric grey). Shell the eggs while they are still warm, place in a bowl, mash with butter, garnish with pepper, and serve. This goes well alongside the parsnip hashbrowns.

Copyright © 2010 Primal Kitchen
Do not copy this blog's content without my express written permission. See "Contact" tab at Primal Kitchen's home page for contact information.

Whole Foods Has Grass-Finished Ground Beef at $3.99/lb., Friday, September 3 Only!

Whole Foods has a notice on its website that the store is doing $3.99/lb. GRASS-FINISHED (woo!) ground beef on Friday, September 03, 2010 only. A Whole Foods employee verifies in the comments section that this grass-fed beef is indeed grass-FINISHED beef. Remember, "Grass-fed and grass-finished are not synonymous."

Since Trader Joe's (my nearest grass-fed source, 45 minutes away) sells grass-finished ground beef at $5.99/lb., this looks like a pretty good deal.

Jump on it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Workout of the Week

Man, I am turning out to be quite a wienie on these Workouts of the Week. This week's workout, which Mark deviously calls "Easy as 1-2-3":

1 pullup (or adaptation, based on your level of fitness)
2 pushups
3 full squats (getting your hips below your knees' standing level) many times as you can, in 20 minutes. Mark noted in the comments that a very fit male should be able to do around 50 cycles of this (!!) in that time frame.

Me? 20 cycles after 16:10, at which point I stopped before I passed out underneath the pullup bar, leaving my 3.5 year old and 8 month old to fend for themselves on a public playground. I was sweating like an iced tea in the sun on the Fourth of July. My palms are slighly worse for wear - not blistered, but definitely victims of friction.

I have never - that I can recall - done a full body unassisted pullup in my life, even during my years of swimming in high school swim team. So - if Primal Blueprint Fitness ever gets me to a point of doing one Grade A genuine pullup, I might literally burst into tears of joy. But getting there requires both strength building and weight loss. For now, I'm doing Mark's suggested adaptation of "from one foot propped below, then pulled up as high as possible".

All this said, if you don't have a pullup bar at your disposal, check out one of your local playgrounds - odds are very good that even if there's no "official" pullup bar, there are enough high-up horizontal poles to serve the purpose. Go early in the morning for a vacated playground and lowest temps, but bring a towel in case you need to wipe the morning dew off the bars. Also carefully test the bar for sturdiness with respect to your body weight.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...