Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finally.....Grain-Free Baking Success!

6 weeks on Paleo, and all things considered I'm feeling pretty good. Way more successes now than fails, so that's always a good thing. I even went to Red Robin, and altho I did order a burger with no cheese & no bun, I did indulge in the Red Robin non-gluten free (GF) fry seasoning. And it was totally worth it. Not worth it, however, was the delightful new Oktoberfest menu item of Pretzel Bites. Those things punished me all night long. I'll spare you the details. You're welcome.

Still seeing my numbers go down, and into a size smaller jeans, am sleeping better (mostly), and am still holding off on renewing any hormone replacement prescriptions. I'll see my doctor in November and check my levels, but if it's all good, I'm hoping that's one less RX co-pay to cover. I seem to have completely overcome my constant desire for bread, cheese, and iced tea. I really haven't missed them at all. (Well, except for pizza. I do indulge in a little dairy for that. It would be so, so, so wrong not to.)

Here are 2 successful recipes I made this weekend. Sorry, no pictures this time, so you'll  just have to take my word for it - they were pretty AND they tasted good. WIN WIN!

The pumpkin spice waffles were nothing short of amazing. Instead of almond flour, I used GF all purpose flour - which has a much less grainy texture than almond flour. I like it - alot. I left out the shredded coconut - I think it makes things too dry - and added a few pecans. And, I did whisk my eggs before adding them to the already mixed coconut oil & banana (wet) ingredients. I've noticed when baking that if you melt the coconut oil, then add something cold, like eggs right from the fridge, it rehardens the oil. And then your baked goods suck. Trust me. Also trust me when I tell you to just cook all of the waffle mix as waffles and don't think you can bake up the extra for muffins. Really...take my word for it.

These banana muffins were da'bomb! I did precious little to change them because they are practically perfect as is.

If my kids, husband, and coworkers will eat them and NOT ask if they are paleo, then you know it's the shizzle. I did combine the almond flour and coconut flour and I think it makes a big difference. Was trying to keep these purely paleo, so I skipped the all purpose GF flour on this one. I did use 1 TBSP raw honey and 1 TBSP maple syrup instead of the 2 TBSP honey - don't know why I did that, but I think it was a good move. And, of course, I added about 2 TBSP of broken up pecans, and non-dairy/non-sugar chocolate chips. Just barely more than a "few". I had enough batter for 11 out of 12 of the squares in my Pampered Chef Brownie Pan. Don't have one? You must have one because it's genius - every piece is a "corner" - so buy it here before my Pampered Chef demo on November 10thhttps://www.pamperedchef.biz/sboss

And, because I needed a treat that seemed more glutenous than healthy, I frosted them with chocolate "ganache" made with grapeseed oil, non-dairy/non-sugar chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. It was a little runny at first, but then I refrigerated it over night, remelted it in the microwave for 15 seconds, and it spread like buttah.

Seriously.......these are the BEST paleo baked goods I've made to date - and I've thrown ALOT away! Looking forward to later this week: M's 13th birthday, more fall-inspired baking, and a cauliflower crust pizza cooked on the Big Green Egg. If you care, I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

23 Days...75% "there"

Busy week, so this is the first time I've had to write my "Week 3 Paleo" review. I am finally seeing some noticeable results, which makes me feel like there might just be something to this whole primal thing. This week has contained some wins, some fails, and a couple of light bulb "ah-hah!" moments.

Friday night: typically Papa Murphy's Pizza night at our house. With only M, LoLo, and myself to cook for, I took the easy way out and bought the girls those cute little singles that they put together themselves. Big HIT...for them. For me, I made a gluten/grain-free pizza with sweet chili sauce and anything not nailed down in the veggie drawer. I did cheat with the tiniest amount of mozzarella cheese. Had I known prior to this that there was actually something called "dairy-free" cheese, I would have had that. But, alas, a girl does what she needs to do. All in all, it wasn't bad. The crust had a sweet, yet kind of grainy, taste and texture, but I couldn't get it rolled out as thin as I would have liked. But, it wasn't bad and definitely quenched my Friday Night Pizza craving.

I had so much hope for my Saturday "non-egg" breakfast of Apple Crisp Pancakes. The "candied" applies and the caramel sauce (made out of dates) were fantastic. I could have eaten just those 2 components. The pancakes......although not a complete fail, were just OK. Am still struggling with the texture of the almond flour. Surely, there has to be a non-grain flour mixture that tastes more like gluten and less like dried oatmeal. The next day I used the left over pancake batter, added a little coconut oil, and cooked them up as waffles. There's no picture, because they looked worse than terrible. But, they tasted better than they looked.

Saturday night, we hit CFA after a soccer game. M and LoLo got to choose. I ordered a lettuce wrapped grilled chicken filet with tomatoes and extra pickles and a water since the CFA carrot&raisin salad is full of sugar (according to the CFA manager). M got her usual; LoLo got fruit instead of waffle fries. I ate the fruit she didn't want, and somehow by the grace of God, I didn't arm wrestle M out of any of her waffle fries. It was weird to not be walking out of there with a large iced tea and a tummy full of deliciously fried fat food. 
Busy week with fundraising shows for the dance studio (oh, yes, you can still place your order... www.cookielee.biz/stacymalone), student-led conferences, and getting ready for the dance convention this weekend. Dinners this week consisted mostly of sliced apples with sunbutter for me. How have I not enjoyed this tasty confection before? It's delightful and I might just start licking it right out of the jar. Mikayla announced last night that she's had chili 3 nights in a row, and she'd probably enjoy something else tonight. Tonight's dinner  is cooking as we speak:  crockpot pulled pork with a rub that might just burn my family's tongues off and a home made BBQ sauce that I was simmering until after 10 PM last night.  The pork only called for 1/4 cup of liquid in the crockpot (1/2 of which was brandy which I didn't have), so I added 1/2 cup of water just to be safe. (Doesn't 1/4 cup of liquid seem ridiculous in something that cooks for 8-10 hours? The recipe agreed that it did, but swore it's all that was needed, so I'm trusting the recipe blogger.)  It had better be good. No baked yummies this week. But I am determined to find something to make my signature "everything-free" dessert. 

As I round out into my "last" week of my Whole30, I have to say that I'm quite glad I took the challenge and completed this experiment. I actually feel pretty good - which is saying something since I haven't had any hormone replacement and I've only been hit or miss on my regular fist-full of vitamins, supplements, and anti-bitch meds. So that's good, right? Although, my husband might debate that fact - you'd have to ask him.  All things considered, I haven't really missed the sugar/substitutes and grains, and I haven't yet tired of the protein/veggie meal plan yet. Actually, it's been quite fun to come up with substitutes, and whole food recipes, using ingredients I've never tried before. So, at 30 days, I'm just going to stop counting, keep looking for healthier, more whole-food recipes, and see if I can't lose instead of gain this winter. That'd be a first! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 14...Cookies, Anyone?

Yeah, it's Day 14. I have successfully survived a birthday (my own), a neighbor brunch, a freaking school bake sale in which I made my "nothing-short-of-amazing" chocolate chip cookies and worked the bake sale booth without wrestling some brat to the ground and stealing his 3-ticket baked goodie. I consider that a WIN for Week 2.

Actually, I am finally to a point where I am not feeling like I'm going without much. I do miss the iced-tea, but I haven't rubber necked at each McDee's I pass on my commute. But cookies....I am missing the semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies that a long day relieves. In an effort to bake something "healthy" for the bake sale, I also made a gluten, sugar, dairy & grain-free choc chip cookie. They looked like tiny little un-cooked cookie dough balls with a slightly burned bottom. I thought they tasted only a bit better than my chocolate cupcake FAIL of last week - but not much But, hey, I was just hoping that the gluten-free kids had forgotten what a real delicious cookie tastes like anyway. I even put a cute sticker on each individually wrapped cookie to indicate they were "FREE" of sugar, gluten & dairy. No less than 6 kids saw "FREE" and thought they were. Ummmmm....no, kid. You need to buy that with one carnival ticket. And then my little "all-free" cookie was put back on the table. Yeah, I wouldn't waste a ticket on those either. Some cute  little lady, who I'm confident could not speak English, pointed to the "all-free" cookies and said pointed "1". Then, within 10 minutes, she bought a dozen more. God love her......it was either those or a peanut butter bar that looked that it had quite possible already been eaten and regurgetated.

This week's recipe WIN was chicken fried "rice",  which was really cauliflower. Seriously...it was delicious and side by side, you can't tell the difference. Next time, all of us will be partaking of the "rice" and they will never know. See what I mean?? M couldn't even tell the difference. And when I packed up the leftovers, it took me a minute to figure it out. Can you see the difference?

 Another WIN, even more epic than the CFR was my Samoa brownies. Even I, who detest coconut in all forms, can't think of anything wrong with these puppies. Healthy caramel....yes, please! Those in attendance at MEH's Pampered Chef party will be so jealous.....they're gonna really wish these had been cooked in the covered baker! Take that!
I'm pretty excited to menu plan for next week. Any suggestions? Preferably free of most everything.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

7 Days In...Caveman Style

I have survived week one of my first Whole30/Paleo week. Surprisingly, one does not really die from iced-tea with Splenda withdrawal. Who knew?

I can, without exception, announce that I have stayed 100% true to the plan, despite a weekend birthday party (in which my own sisters were tempting me with goodness like homemade flat bread pizza with all manner of gooey-goodness & Reese's peanut butter cup cookies), a trip to Sam's Club with more tasty treat samples than usual, and shopping for almond butter which is located suspiciously close to the chocolate bark in the bulk section of WINCO. No iced tea; no Crystal Light; no late night noshing of chocolate chips from the pantry. Quite frankly, I'm more than shocked myself.

Finding and sharing recipes has actually been one of the most enjoyable parts of this 1st week of so many "firsts". I've read lots of blogs, bought a Paleo magazine, been to the organic health-food market, ground my own almond-butter (which is actually quite delicious), made homemade mayo, and even cooked a Paleo Sunday dinner for the fam (they were responsible for adding their own non-Paleo condiments of choice). I haven't felt any bitchier than usual, so that's a plus...right? Honestly, I feel pretty good. Placebo effect, you say? Don't know for sure, but I do know that I feel better, I haven't felt like going to bed by 6:30 pm, and have slept like a baby for the last few nights in a row.  My absolutely favorite part of the week, besides coming to the realization that I no longer have to feel guilty about eating an entire avocado myself, is that Whole30 recommends you rid yourself of the scale for the duration of the 30 days. Uh.......yes, please! I'm thinking about throwing that piece of #$%& out altogether!

Because I feel 100% committed to trying to reset my body (insulin & hormone levels) with this plan, I have been hesitant to go out, meet friends for lunch or dinner, or socialize in any capacity. Last night, prior to a business meeting, I felt like I had to scarf down a half of chicken breast, 1/2 of avocado, and a Ziplock of baby carrots, just in case there wasn't anything "allowed" being served on the menu. Yeah, there wasn't, so in retrospect I'm thankful I had another meal of tricks packed in my bag at work. But seriously......how am I supposed to handle a bowl of chili? Pick out the beans, skip the cheese & sour cream, put the kibosh on the amazing crusty artisan bread....yeah, I guess I could have done that. But I didn't.

This week I'm going to branch out with some more meals for the family: eggplant lasagna with sausage & olives; turkey burgers and roasted sweet potatoes & rosemary (which is now a new staple in my kitchen); and maybe some chicken lettuce wraps and cauliflower rice pilaf; and somewhere I need to fit in this amazing crab cake recipe (click here). Oh, and who can say "muffin" made without dairy or grains? I can - and they are going to be my birthday treat to celebrate 43 years of fabulousness on Friday. Who needs cake?

Yeah, I've got this.

Are you trying a new nutritional plan? What's working for you (or not)?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

30 days....Caveman Style

When I decide I've had enough, a switch triggers to the "on" position in my brain. Usually, it means, "Stand back....I'm making a change". It's that SAD time of year again, and I'm clearly in a funk. And by "funk", I mean I'm eating like crap, I'm not working out at all, and I'm generally irritable that my "fat" pants are slowing turning into my "not-as-fat" pants. So, similar to September of 2007 (was that seriously 5 years ago?), I'm throwing caution to the wind and jumping on the Paleo bandwagon. Haven't heard of it? It's the nutritional composition of the cavemen - only I don't actually have to kill my protein and drag it back to the cave. But, I do have to give up my beloved iced-tea with Splenda, which may just make me want to kill someone and drag them somewhere. My inner skeptic is saying, "Girl, what in the hell are you thinking? Really.....no iced tea??" while my formerly thinner goddess is saying, "Bring it on. I can do anything for 30 days. Maybe I'll feel so great I'll think it's worth it." That said, in the month of my 43rd birthday, I'm saying no to cake, carbs, sugars, dairy, anything made with or from wheat or bread of any kind, and my beloved iced-tea & cyrstal light. For a minimum of 30 days. No slips, cheats, cheat meals, or cheat days - or I have to start over. Birthday dinner may still consist of Flemings for steak & veggies.....but absolutely no hot lava cake! Huffle!

Said switch flipped yesterday after reading the book "It Starts With Food - Discover the Whole3", which had successfully piqued my curiosity and made me wonder if it might really be possible to fix any or all of my reasons (excuses) for weight gain and my lack of desire to go back to the gym. As I sucked down what would be my last (delicious) iced tea, and made a mental note of the 1/2 of avacodo, tomatoes & basil, and chicken breast in my work fridge, I decided there was no better time than the present, and began Day 1 Meal 2. No complaints. Until 3 pm when I was dying for more caffeine in any form I could get it, possibly even intravenously. But somehow, I kept myself both busy and hydrated with good ol' H2O, and kept plugging along through my day.

Day 1 (2 meals out of 3) ended with a perfectly grilled chicken breast, an onion and 2 peppers sea salted and grilled with the chicken, tomatoes & basil from my garden, and a dash of home-made salsa on the chicken. Satisfying, filling, and after the black grapes for a tiny little sweetness, I was ending Day 1 on a high note. I sent this pic to my one of my friends who is also eating this way for 30 days. She sent a pic of her meal back to me and aptly named our pics "Paleo Porn", which I found incredibly amusing.

Now, I'm looking for really healthy recipes and hoping to provide others out there in blogosphere my own recipes that aren't an epic fail. Which leads me right into my Day 2 breakfast: Baked Eggs in Tomato Cups. In theory, this seemed like a delicious start to the day. They were supposed to look something like this:

Mine weren't A) that pretty or B) even remotely appetizing as I overcooked the yolks to equal to hard-boiled. Again.....Epic fail! I had to resort to my old go-to breakfast of choice: 2 egg omelette with left over peppers and onions. No milk, no cheese. Nonetheless, not a bad backup plan. 

I am eagerly awaiting lunch. Which looks suspiciously identical to last nights dinner. Whatever will I make tonight? I'd better hit the store to buy some groceries that don't come in a box.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Just Say "NO"...and Push Away

It's official! After nearly 7 months, I'm nearly fixed.....

The SAD (seasonal affective disorder, which I PROMISE is a real medical abnormality) is leaving to make room for the longer, sunnier days of the never-ending-Utah-winter. Hubby has a job that he doesn't hate, thus improving the constant need for medication just to get me out of bed in the mornings, which in turn has come full circle with my GAD being miraculously mended thanks to iPhone apps that have helped me rock the 5 am workouts. All of my internal organs have seemed to settle back into their original placement pre-surgery, and I can almost feel my lower abs gaining some strength again and staying put instead of popping out of my abdomen like an alien baby. So, as it turns out, the brilliant doc was right. Also, as a tiny bit of frosting on my cake of life, I am cancelling next week's appointment with said doctor because I am only willing to pay a copay when I'm feeling suckish - not when I feel fabulous. And, I do....I really do. Apparently he knew what he was talking about when he literally ordered me back to the gym. It's my daily dose of happy, even when I hate it.

I am narcissistic enough to think that any of you actually care that I've conquered this year's bout of SAD before I tear away the February calendar page. I feel compelled to update because I don't want a blog that just bitches about how crappy I feel. It's all about the good, the bad, and the ugly here, so you're getting every ounce of all of it. I don't keep a journal...never really have. (Unless you count the spiral notebook with some sappy daisy-covered meadow with a litter of adorable, fluffy puppies on it that I finally shredded and disposed of in my mid 20's in an effort to remove the proof of my idiotic teen fantasies. Pathetic...)  So, this is the only journal I'm likely to keep with any kind of consistency until such time technology is available that can read my every thought and archive them for future reference. As I can hardly remember anything at all anymore, the "iMEMBERnow" should come in handy someday. Can't wait for Apple to invent it. (That is probably a gajillion dollar idea, by the way - think of me in 2020 when you see it on the market.)

Anyhoooooo...... I am setting some goals to keep the GAD in check and I'm selfishly using you to help keep me on track. So, here it goes......

1) I'm saying "NO" to anything containing the gooey goodness of caramel (which in my house is darn near anything really worth eating) - I can only promise this Monday - Friday; the weekends don't count
2) I'm pushing away from the table after dinner, served only on a small dinner plate and not rerounding, no matter how long it will be before it's on the menu again
3) I'm swapping Wednesday's AM school car pool with hubby so I can get my enlarged ass to spin class (ok, honey?)
4) I'm not skipping any more strength training workouts on the schedule just because I know I'll hurt so bad the following day that I cry out loud in pain while walking down the stairs; 4 days a week - minimum!
5) I'm hitting the open road on the bike on every sunny Saturday possible (well, except if it's too windy because I hate feeling like the wind is stronger than I am)
6) I'm doing a Century in June with sista and don't want to allow her to smoke me - it's embarrassing

There you have it.....what will you Just Say "No" to?

As a side note, I'm saying "YES, ABSOLUTELY YES!!" to having this girl's abs......even if I have to buy them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surprise #5

My fifth surprise arrived exactly one week before the surprise deadline. For a summary of the previous 4 surprises, you'll have to humor me and actually read the previous blog entries. I'd also LOVE for you to follow my blog so it looks like more than just me and Steven actually read it.

Surprise #5: whew, it's a doosie. One I've waited on for quite a while.  How can I say this politely.........there is no way to say it nicely and without sounding like a total beyotch, so I'm just gonna come out with it....I have neighbors who have successfully sold their home. Now this could mean alot of things. It could mean that I'm thrilled that they weren't a short sale or a foreclosure, thus further plummeting the fair market value of my own home. It could mean that I'm excited for them to move on to bigger and better residential opportunities. It could mean that they profited from the economic and housing market downturn and got a house twice as big for half the mortgage. It could mean that maybe they owe less on their home than the actual selling price and maybe even turned a little profit for themselves. All of those things would be great, and I hope for some or all of them for my sweet neighbors.

Or, hypothetically speaking, I might be happy that I won't hear the annoying, systematic, continual sound of a basketball hitting the pavement at 7:30 AM on a perfectly wonderful morning in which I might choose to sleep in. Or perhaps I might be thrilled that the kids can stop instigating a verbal confrontation with one another which inevitably involves their respective parents having to smooth things over before things get really ugly. It could quite possibly even be that I won't ever again come home only to see every single wood chip from my flower beds spread throughout my entire sidewalk, stairs, and landing leading up to the front door. And, I don't know, since we are talking hypotethicals, by the ending of said children (both mine and theirs) bringing out the absolute worst in each other by intentionally slinging dog crap at each other across the fence. Hypothetically.........