Tomorrow

Last Friday I wrote about my decision to do another Whole30 this summer was motivated by my most recent bout of insomnia.  I’m glad to report that I’ve been sleeping more soundly since that post.  Not as soundly as I’d like, but it’s better – no anxiety attacks, which is always a good thing.  In fact, the anxiety attack was more worrisome to me than the insomnia; I used to suffer from anxiety quite a bit until we changed our diet.  It was the first attack in a very long time, and it was NOT welcome.

This morning, I’m suffering from menopausal brain fog, something else of which I’d like to see the end.  Why this has lingered when the irritability and mood swings have lessened in frequency and severity over the last year is beyond me, but I really, really hate it.  Hopefully clean eating for 30 days will help a bit with that, too.

Also, I’d like to apologize for the lack of blogging about optimal diet for menopause.  It hasn’t been because I don’t want to, but I simply have not had the time to do the kind of research and experimentation needed to do write with any sort of authority, and I’m not the type to go just throw junk out there because it sounds good.  It is one thing to advise that women of a certain age exercise and avoid alcohol (and plastic) as much as possible, or why it’s not a lack of estrogen that’s the problem but a lack of progesterone, but it’s something else all together to explain the science behind those claims.

Time is my problem and will continue to be, as our busy canning season is rushing towards us with the speed of light, I work to get The Young One settled in college and my workload at the office does nothing but increase.  I do plan, however, to give frequent reports about how I feel over the next 30 days, and what I believe are the causes, so there’s that.  I may also add a page to this site where I document what I eat every day – it will be interesting to see how what I eat affects how I feel (and vice versa).

Anyhoo, in anticipation of a month of grain-dairy-soy-sugar-free meals, here are some of my best Whole30 recipes.  I’ll be making them over the course of the month, and hope you do too.

Gluten-Free Crab Cakes

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Melon Salad

Melon Salad

Chili Dogs

Chili Dogs

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Okra Stir-Fry

Okra Stir-Fry

Birria

Birria

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche. Gluten-free, dairy-free and low carb, this crustless quiche is unbelievably delicious.

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak. Nothing compares to a perfectly grilled Flank Steak, especially when flavored with citrus and chili!

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, Revisited

If you’re in the least bit fat-phobic, don’t even read this recipe.

I posted a recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf a few years ago, and for a long time it was my most popular recipe, especially among my family and friends.  I make it myself fairly often and, as with many recipes, it’s evolved a bit.  These days, I use more bacon and substitute the glaze with some of my fabulous Maple Barbecue Sauce, and have, overall, made the process a little more streamlined.  It’s still a damn fine meatloaf.

Like many meatloaves made with grass-fed beef and minus the added fillers of milk and breadcrumbs or the like, it can be a little on the dry side.  The bacon mitigates that somewhat, but not completely.  When I made it last week, I spied the big hunk of butter from local, grass-fed cows sitting on my counter, and tossed in about 1/4 cup, just to see what would happen.

What happened was a wonderfully moist, intensely flavorful meatloaf of which The Young One devoured half in one sitting.

And that, my friends, is a good meatloaf.

Note:  This will be my last non-Whole30 recipe for awhile, since I will be joining in the annual August “official” drive again this year.  Since I know what to expect this time around, my expectations are a bit different, but I will still have plenty of tasty recipes every week.  In fact, the first couple are quite good. 😉

 Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf. Butter-infused meatloaf is wrapped with bacon strips for a decadent twist on a traditional favorite.

Click on the image to enlarge

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, Revisited
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 ounces bacon, sliced
  • 1/2 cup [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/print/Maple%20Barbecue%20Sauce.pdf” target=”_blank”]Maple Barbecue Sauce[/url]
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using your hands, mix together the ground beef, butter, egg, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder in a large bowl. Place the mixture on the vented lid of a broiler pan and shape into an oblong loaf.
  3. Drape the bacon slices over the top of the meatloaf and tuck the ends underneath until the meatloaf is completely encased in bacon. Spread the barbecue sauce over the top of the bacon.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 160 F on an instant read thermometer. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 434 calories, 35.9g total fat, 124.6mg cholesterol, 878mg sodium, 404.3mg potassium, 7.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 5.1g sugar, 20.9g protein

Click on the image to enlarge

Another Whole30

I had a recipe for you today but, well…you’ll get it next week.

I’m a bit wonky today.  If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time you know I suffer from periodic bouts of insomnia.  Most of the time it’s a night or two (occasionally three) where I have a hard time either falling asleep or staying asleep.  The staying asleep nights are usually sinus-related, and I can find some relief simply by sleeping semi-upright – either propped up on what Beloved refers to as “Mount Pillowmanjaro” or, more successfully, in my recliner.  If that’s not enough, then I have other strategies I employ, and I’m usually back to something resembling normal sleeping patterns in a day or two.

Three years ago, though, I went through a severe period of insomnia that lasted over six weeks.  Yes – SIX WEEKS.  It started out sinus-related and was so bad I began to have nightmares that I was choking, which brought on horrible anxiety attacks about sleeping in general and just made the whole thing worse.  I was a miserable zombie before it was all over, and have dreaded a repeat.

The last two nights?  Have not been good, and this morning I had to talk myself down from what was a potentially major anxiety attack.  Two nights and one bad anxiety attack was enough for me to decide to nip this right in the bud, and since I know my sinus problems are at least partly diet-related (things have been getting a little lax here at the Sushi Bar in regards to grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, etc), I am going to join the big Whole30 push this August.

I know I was disappointed in the results from last year’s Whole30, mainly because it did little to alleviate the worst of my menopause symptoms.  Over the course of the last year, those have abated somewhat; not from anything particular that I’m doing, I’m sure – I’m still over-worked, over-scheduled and over-stressed.  Perhaps I’m just getting to the point in this menopausal journey where the symptoms are, if not disappearing, just becoming naturally less severe (I know regular exercise is helping quite a bit).  Right now I’m looking for a way to nip this particularly nasty and tenacious insomnia in the bud, and I could also use an excuse to clean up my eating act somewhat (like not being able to sleep isn’t excuse enough).

So just get ready for another month of Whole30 recipes, beginning the first of the month.  My enthusiasm for blogging has also been waning lately; maybe this will help with that, too.

Have a great, restful weekend, y’all.

Cauliflower Puree with Onions,Garlic and Goat Cheese

I’ve had this recipe hanging around forever, and I’ve never posted it although it did make an appearance on my friend Margaret’s blog, Nanny Goats In Panties, a couple of years ago.

I guess it just never occurred to me to post it here, and I’m not sure why – it’s one of my favorite cauliflower preparations.  The sauteed onions and garlic give it a mellow, slightly sweet flavor that balances the strong flavor of the cauliflower and the tangyness of the goat cheese quite well.  It makes a great base for braised meats, and a really nice side for hearty meat dishes like tomorrow’s recipe.

Cauliflower Puree with Onions, Garlic and Goat Cheese. A company-worthy side dish that is just delicious - you'll never miss potatoes!

Click on the image to enlarge

Cauliflower Puree with Onions,Garlic and Goat Cheese
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or ghee
  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Chevre
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish (a deep-dish pie plate will work as well).
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a large sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, melt the bacon fat or ghee in a small skillet over medium-low heat; add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft and translucent but not brown, about 7 – 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another minute or two. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Drain the cauliflower well and place it in a food processor or blender with the goat cheese; process to a smooth purée. Add the onion/garlic mixture and pulse a few times to blend it in with the cauliflower – don’t over-mix. Taste; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the prepared dish; bake for 15 minutes, or until and the top is beginning to brown slightly.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 117 calories, 7.7g total fat, 10.6mg cholesterol, 101.2mg sodium, 439.7mg potassium, 8.3g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 5.5g protein

 

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry-Red Wine Reduction

I am SO thrilled – I pretty much have all of The Young One’s college finances wrapped up.  We’ll meet the deadline for payment, with time to spare (thank goodness), and then all I’ll have to worry about is getting everything together he needs to take with him by his move-in date.

And then things will be very quiet in our house.

I don’t know how much I’m looking forward to that.  I’ve been a Mom for 30 years, and the whole “empty nest” thing is going to require some adjustment.  (The dog may not survive all the attention.)

If there’s anything I am looking forward to when it’s just me and Beloved, it’s that I won’t have to worry – too often, anyway – about accommodating the palate of a very picky eater.  For the time being, the only time this isn’t an issue is when The Young One is out and about with his friends; yes, that’s been more often than not the last six months, but the last few weeks he’s been kind of sticking close to home.  Separation anxiety, maybe?  At any rate, when he’s avoiding the National Guard safely ensconced in the hallowed halls of Kent State University, I’ll have more time for cooking things, well, like this.

With the exception of a couple of roasts, this is the last of Bambi’s Mom the deer we were gifted last autumn.  Like beef and pork tenderloin, venison tenderloin is quite tender (duh) and very lean, requiring it be cooked on the medium-rare side.  Searing it, then finishing in the oven, is the best way to accomplish this, and the use of an instant-read thermometer is almost mandatory.

Because an overcooked deer is a dry, tough deer.

The blueberry-red wine reduction came about because it is blueberry season and they’re dirt cheap right now.  (Okay, yes, they’re delicious, too.)  Honestly, though, they pair really well with a good quality, dry red wine (I believe I used a red zinfandel) and fresh thyme; the sauce was just lovely and complemented the rich, slightly gamey flavor of the venison really well.

The recipe is not only delicious, but also quite easy – the hardest thing about the dish is the reduction, and it takes all of about 15 minutes.  It would also go quite well with beef or pork tenderloin, if you don’t have the venison.

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry-Red Wine Reduction. In this classically styled dish, flavorful venison is paired with a sweet-tart blueberry sauce.

Click on the image to enlarge

Venison Tenderloin with Blueberry-Red Wine Reduction
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 venison tenderloins (about 2 inches thick and 4 inches long), patted dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Generously season the tenderloins with the salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 thyme sprigs and 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Place the venison in the skillet and sear 2 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven for 7 minutes, or until the venison is medium rare, or has reached an internal temperature of 135 F. Remove from the oven; tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a wide, shallow sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and remaining thyme and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the wine and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by half.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and honey and cook on medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring and lightly mashing the berries with the back of a large wooden spoon. Pass the blueberry sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids, and set aside.
  6. Cut the tenderloins into 1/4″ slices and plate, fanned out across the surface. Spoon the sauce over the venison and serve.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 433 calories, 21.9g total fat, 42.7mg cholesterol, 156.4mg sodium, 555.5mg potassium, 26.1g carbohydrates, 2.4g fiber, 17.8g sugar, 18.7g protein