Whole30 – We’re In The Homestretch

I was going to write a long post about all the drama going on in the “paleosphere” recently but I just don’t have it in me today.  I question whether I have it in me at all, quite frankly – my life is busy and stressful enough without keeping up with who said/did what and their motivations behind it.  It makes me glad, though, that I’ve distanced myself from the “paleo label” from the beginning (which is also kind of sad, once you think about it).  Beloved stated it quite well the other night when he said, “What is with all this hostility lately?  It’s such a turn-off; you have to wade through ten tons of high school bullshit to get to anything of value.  It’s not exactly conducive to learning.”

Amen to that.

Honestly, people, don’t we all have the same goal here – a healthy, optimal diet?  So mine isn’t just like yours.  Who cares?  They work for us individually, don’t they?  We’ve all cut the crap out, haven’t we?  Can’t we just leave it at that, and, if we can’t work together, at least not cloud the issues with pettiness and childish posturing?  Admit when you’re wrong, accept the apologies that come your way, ignore those who insist on being pot-stirring idiots and JUST GET ON WITH IT, ALREADY.

Sheesh.

Okay, moving forward.

I am on the last week of the Whole30, and if I’m going to be honest here, I’m quite relieved.  Which is not to say that there haven’t been benefits from eating extremely cleanly for 30 days – I’m going to do a recap of the benefits and what I’ve learned over the course of the month next Friday – but the biggest drawback, as far as I’m concerned, is that I’m beginning to feel a tad stifled in the kitchen.  Oh, I’ve gotten a couple of recipes out of this that are just humdingers, sure, but I’ve got this backlog of recipes in my brain that I haven’t been able to prepare because they use ingredients that aren’t Whole30 compliant (i.e. small amounts of white potatoes, natural sweeteners or organic gluten-free soy sauce (I’m sorry, coconut aminos are great and all, but it’s NOT the same)), or the cooking methods/end results are something that would be frowned upon (and I feel I’ve already pushed that envelope enough).

Somehow I feel paleo-friendly Chicken and Dumplings or Hush Puppies is NOT Whole30 compliant.

And I still want a waffle, damn it.  I don’t know why I’m fixated on that particular thing, but I am.  And, as a Facebook friend pointed out when I posted about this very vexing issue, it probably won’t taste as good as I think, but you know what?  That’s okay, because I’ll eat it and the obsession will go away.

At any rate, breakfast yesterday was 3 eggs, scrambled in coconut oil and coffee with coconut milk (yes, I’m beginning to sound a broken breakfast record, but hey – we like eggs and I’m not tired of them yet).  Lunch was a stir-fry I threw together with chicken, sweet potatoes, green beans, zucchini, carrots, okra, onions, a slivered poblano pepper and red pepper flakes (and how I discovered coconut aminos are a rather poor substitute for organic gluten-free soy sauce), and dinner was  grass-fed chuck roast, roasted carrots and a variation of the Melon Salad I posted last week (one of those “humdinger” recipes) with red grapes and yellow watermelon instead of cantaloupe.

It was all delicious, but the roast would have benefited greatly from a Bearnaise sauce, which I can’t have during this Whole30 because it requires a small amount of white wine.  Or at least a nice steak sauce (although, I must admit, a good one could be made Whole30 – I’d just have to buy some raisins).

I’m still exercising, too, although I’ve kind of slacked off the last couple of days; instead of walking 1+ miles or swimming, I’ve been doing a few situps, pushups and squats and calling it good.  I did walk some last night – about 10 minutes on the treadmill – and got on the Bowflex for about 10 minutes of upper-body work, then 25 situps on our AbLounge.  The pants I bought recently are all feeling really loose – another reason I am looking forward to the end of the Whole30 is I’m interested to know how much, if any, weight I’ve lost.

And that’s all for this week, my Real Food Friends.  We’ve got The G Man this weekend, relatives coming in from out of town tomorrow, and it looks like we’ll be canning a bushel of tomatoes on Sunday.  I hope your weekend will be pleasant, if not restful, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Could I interest anyone in something called the “I Just Want To Be Healthy and Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact” diet?

Apple Mustard Pork Chops

Not too long ago, we decided to buy a FoodSaver vacuum system – mainly because our pastured chickens just come to us in plastic bags.  This is mostly an issue because our poultry farmer only raises broilers during the summer – we buy the chickens six at a time and keep them in the freezer to have all year long (he processes the birds six times over the course of the summer months, so that’s 36 chickens, all told).  Buy the time spring rolled around earlier this year, the last couple of chickens were showing signs of minor freezer burn.

So, we got the FoodSaver.  What we didn’t realize when we bought it (via Amazon) was that it came with several plastic containers along with the bags.  One is specifically for marinating; faced with a small pork loin roast with which I had no idea what to do, I cut it into chops and decided to use the marinating container to, well, marinate.

There was apple juice leftover from the company picnic, spicy brown mustard in the fridge and fresh rosemary in the herb garden.  I whisked it all together, seasoned the chops with salt and pepper, popped them in the container, poured in the marinade, slapped on the lid, attached the hose, and sucked all the air out for 20 minutes.  (Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea).  Then I pan-fried those puppies up to a nice medium – and you know what?  They were really good.  Both Beloved and The Young One went back for seconds.

Winner, winner, pork chop dinner.

Note:  I realize not everyone has access to a vacuum thingie, so the recipe gives a more standard marinade instruction.  If you don’t eat pork, this would be really nice with chicken.

Apple Mustard Pork Chops
Apple Mustard Pork Chops
Apple Mustard Pork Chops
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 boneless pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lard or other cooking fat
Instructions
  1. Rub the pork chops with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the apple juice, mustard and rosemary until well-blended. Place the pork chops in a heavy, re-sealable gallon plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and seal; marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.
  3. Bring the pork chops to room temperature. Melt the lard in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Remove the chops from the bag; discard the marinade.
  4. Sear the pork chops until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Lower the temperature to medium-low; cover and continue to cook until the pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145 F, about 7 minutes. Remove the chops from the skillet; cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 238 calories, 12.5g total fat, 80mg cholesterol, 107.3mg sodium, 473.6mg potassium, 5.1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 4g sugar, 24.8g protein

 

Crab Deviled Eggs

It’s Day 22 of the Whole30 – the end is in sight!  The end is in sight!

Actually, it hasn’t been that hard.  In fact, it really hasn’t been hard at all.  Yesterday I had 3 eggs scrambled in coconut oil and 3 mugs of coffee with coconut milk for breakfast, leftovers for lunch (pork meatballs and kale cooked in a red curry-coconut sauce) and for dinner we had stuffed bell peppers, summer squash sauteed in ghee and a salad of fresh tomatoes from our garden and watermelon.  It was all pretty delicious, actually.

At any rate, today’s recipe is one of the dishes I took to our company picnic last Saturday.  I made two kinds – standard deviled eggs, and these – and these were by far one of the most popular dishes of the picnic.  We had a few of the regular deviled eggs left over; I think one of these was left.

As deviled egg recipes go, this one is pretty good, and there is plenty of filling; if I remember correctly, I had some left over, which Beloved devoured with a spoon.  Make sure and buy the best quality of canned crab you can find; it will just taste better.  However, if you find the crab has a bit of a “fishy” smell, rinse it thoroughly with cold water and pat dry before mixing it into the egg yolk mixture.

Crab Deviled Eggs
Crab Deviled Eggs
Crab Deviled Eggs
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 12 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup lump crab meat, picked over
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise; reserve both the yolks and the whites.
  2. Mashing with a fork, combine the yolks with the mayonnaise, pickle, celery, onion and Old Bay seasoning until well blended. Stir in the crab; taste and season as needed with salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon the crab mixture into the reserved egg whites and arrange on a platter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 188 calories, 16.3g total fat, 212.4mg cholesterol, 156.8mg sodium, 107.4mg potassium, 1.6g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.3g sugar, 8.6g protein

RTT – 3 Weeks In, Politics, and Back To School Blasphemy

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Well, here it is – Tuesday again.  Menopause seems to have stolen my brain this morning, so I’ll just do some Random rather than try to write something coherent.

You’re welcome.

(And bless you, Stacy.)

~~~~~~

Today is Day 21 of the Whole30.  I have to admit, at the beginning I was more than a little dubious about my ability to see it through (having failed miserably twice before), but I am confident that I’ll make it through the next week without a problem.  Even exercising every day is not as hard as I thought it would be; the day before yesterday as we were getting ready for bed, Beloved said, “Hey – you haven’t exercised today!”  So I dropped to the floor and did 40 crunches before my abdomen gave out.  The above mentioned brain fog began last night – I’m just so darn tired and am having a lot of trouble concentrating – and I was not in the least bit motivated to take my usual mile+ evening walk, so I did three sets of 10 squats and 10 pushups.

Ouch.

At any rate, I’m glad I subscribed to the daily motivational emails; they’ve been great at informing me about what to expect over the 30 days.  For instance, today’s email talks about forming habits, and a curious effect called “extinction burst.”  Simply put, “Any time you quit something cold turkey, your brain will make a last-ditch effort to return you to your habit.”

Which probably explains why I’ve been craving a damn waffle like mad for the last 3 days.

~~~~~~

I’m sorry, Mr. Akin – apologize all you want.  You’re still a douche bag.

And people wonder why I don’t view my Libertarian vote as a wasted vote.  Just about anyone would be better than the clowns in office, or those running for it, in either of the “major” parties.

~~~~~~

We hit another milestone at the Sushi Bar tomorrow:  The Young One begins his obscenely expensive senior year in high school.  As he’s the youngest of five, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that 1) after 23 years, I’m almost done with public school and B) good gawd, I really am THAT old.

~~~~~~

Yesterday, while we were out and about, engaging in our annual tradition of waiting until the last possible moment to go school shopping, I noticed the arthritis in my hands twitching.  Since changing our diet over two years ago it has almost completely disappeared, but once in a while I’ll notice it.  I commented on it, and The Young One asked me why it was bothering me.

“See those rain clouds on the horizon?  It’s probably going to rain, and for some reason, cold or damp weather can make your arthritis act up.”

“Why?”

“I really don’t know,” I replied, “but it probably has something to do with the barometric pressure.  It drops when it rains.”

“Well, why don’t you Google it and find out?” he asked (and quite reasonably, I might add.)  “You can find out anything on Google…”

“I guess I should,” I said.  “Does that, like, make Google a god?”

“It might as well be!”

That does it.  I’m going to spend every Sunday morning henceforth as the Church of the Almighty Search Engine.  Does that make Larry Page and Sergey Brin Co-Popes?

Crab Cake Benedict

Happy Monday, y’all!  The weekend was busy, as ususal – we had our company picnic Saturday.  As usual, the company provides the meat (traditionally hot dogs and hamburgers), drinks and condiments, while employees are encouraged to bring a side dish and/or dessert.  We bought 5 pounds of grass-fed ground beef for the burgers from our friends at Whitefeather Meats and several packages of Applegate Farms Great Organic Beef Hot Dogs from our local natural foods store, plus sprouted whole wheat buns for those who wanted bread.

I took deviled eggs (more on that later this week), Sweet Potato Salad (made Whole30 compliant – I subbed home-canned garlic dill pickles for the bread and butter) and a Melon Salad.  Our employees, bless their hearts, kept our diet in mind and brought, by and large, healthy side dishes; some Whole30 compliant, some not, and there wasn’t a single dessert in sight.  No one seemed to miss it, and when it was all said and done, we’d largely destroyed the paleo food, and left the less-than-desirable stuff pretty much alone.

I’d call that a win.

I spent Sunday pressure-canning 21 pints of beef bone broth; other than that we were pretty lazy and mostly ate leftovers from the picnic.  I did make brunch, though – we had some lump crab in the refrigerator I needed to use, so I thought crab cakes for breakfast sounded interesting.  It wasn’t much of a leap to think that topping it with an over-easy egg might be nice and before I knew it I was contemplating Hollandaise Sauce.  My standard Hollandaise recipe calls for butter, a no-no on Whole30, so I decided to try to make the sauce with ghee.

The result was this dish.  I really enjoyed it, and I’m generally not overly fond of Eggs Benedict; Beloved devoured two huge helpings (he loves all things Benedict, so I wasn’t surprised).  Crab cakes are now officially breakfast food in our home.

In the interest of transparency, my Hollandaise sauce “broke” – I added the melted ghee to the egg yolks too quickly, I think – but a quick blitz with an immersion blender took care of that quite nicely.  You can also poach the eggs, if you like, but I just wasn’t up to that; an over easy egg works just as well and is far less work.  The finely chopped tarragon added a lovely note to the dish, too – I just love having an herb garden.

Note:  You’ll notice from the calorie and fat content this is NOT “diet food.”  It’s not meant to be; it’s certainly not something you’ll eat every day, no matter how delicious (and delicious it is).  However, both are probably overstated – it’s highly unlikely you will use all of the Hollandaise sauce.

Crab Cake Benedict
Crab Cake Benedict
Crab Cake Benedict
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/?p=14069″ target=”_blank”]Gluten-Free Crab Cakes[/url]
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 3 teaspoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • 1 cup clarified butter or ghee, melted
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • kosher salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare the Gluten-Free Crab Cakes per the recipe instructions; set aside and keep warm.
  2. Bring two inches of water to a simmer in the bottom half of a double boiler. Whisk the eggs with the cold water in the top half until light and foamy. Add a few drops of lemon juice and continue whisking over the simmering water until the egg yolks have begun to thicken.
  3. Begin whisking the clarified butter into the egg yolks slowly – just a few drops at a time. As an emulsion forms, begin adding the butter in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Once the butter has been completely incorporated into the egg yolks and the sauce is smooth and thickened, add the remaining lemon juice and Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.
  4. Melt the tablespoon of ghee in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Crack the 3 eggs carefully into the pan and cook until the egg whites have set. With a large, thin, flexible spatula carefully flip the eggs, taking care not to break the yolks. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Place each crab cake on a plate and top with one over-easy egg. Drizzle with some Hollandaise Sauce and top with 1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon each.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 689 calories, 62.6g total fat, 519.1mg cholesterol, 1031.3mg sodium, 404.7mg potassium, 10.4g carbohydrates, 4.1g fiber, 2.4g sugar, 23.3g protein