Thursday, August 21, 2014

Short on ribs, long on flavor!


I love short ribs.  I'm a real sucker for meat that falls off the bone, and then practically into my mouth.  I made these beautiful babies on a Sunday and could hardly wait to get to Sunday dinner!

What you'll need:
  • 4 short ribs (or 2-3 per person)
  • 1/4 cups corn starch
  • 2 pieces of bacon, diced
  • 1 T cooking oil 
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cups stock
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 t rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Pat your short ribs dry with a paper towel and season them generously with salt and pepper. Coat lightly with corn starch.

Over medium-high heat, brown your bacon pieces. Remove to a piece of paper towel.

If there's not enough bacon fat, add 1T of cooking oil to the pan and brown your short ribs. Once they are brown, remove from pan and set aside.

Chop your onion, carrots and shallots.  Then add to your pan once the short ribs are brown.

Cook vegetables until translucent, add salt and pepper to taste.

Add your wine, rosemary and your stock and bring to a simmer.

Add your ribs back to the pot.

Cover and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.  The meat will have pulled away from the bone once you're ready.

A lot of my liquid cooked away, but the flavors were divine! 

I mashed up a sweet potato, made a side salad and went to town.  This was a great meal!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Whole30 Riff on Pork Saltimbocca

In Italian, saltimbocca translates to "jumps in the mouth," which could either mean flavorful, or really, really creepy.  I'm going to go with flavorful.

I was brainstorming at work today as to what to do with the pork chops I had defrosting in the fridge and I struck upon the idea of a pork chop saltimbocca.  Like so many ideas I have, the Internet was already way ahead of me.  I found a recipe from Michael Symon and then gave it my own twists to accommodate my diet and my laziness.  And it turned out to be AMAZINGLY delicious!

What you'll need:
  • cling wrap
  • 3 pork chops
  • 3 slices of Prosciutto
  • approximately 1 tsp. dried sage divided among the pork chops (or 1 fresh sage leaf per chop)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T grapeseed oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 4 cups arugula, divided
  • lemon slices for garnish

Dry the pork chops with a paper towel, then place on a piece of cling wrap.  Season the top of the chops with salt, pepper and sage.

 Then cover each chop with a piece of prosciutto.

Top the bunch with another piece of cling wrap and pound flat with your favorite utensil.  Me?  I used a rolling pin, because I don't have one of those fancy hammers. It works for me, especially on days when I need to relieve a little tension!

Preheat your pan to medium high, add your oil and your pork chops, prosciutto side down.  Season the other side with salt and pepper once it's in the pan.

Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes, and then removed the chops to a paper towel lined plate.

Add half your arugula to the hot pan and wilt (about 30 seconds).  Toss the wilted arugula with the raw arugula.

  Garnish with sliced lemon and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Whole30 Reflections and Non-Scale Victories

I got my labs back this week from the end of my Whole30 and I am happy to report that they look great!

  • My triglycerides are down 152 points from my labs in March (not a typo)!
  • My overall cholesterol is down 38 points!
  • My HDL went down a little, so I need to make sure I'm sticking with the healthy fats and get it back up.
  • My LDL is exactly the same, still a little high, but I'm going to keep working on it.
  • Also, I feel like my hair has been growing faster.  Could that be?  I'm not sure. 

These factors, along with a weight loss of about 14 pounds, I would call my Whole30 a success.  I don't know that I ever got the "tiger blood" feeling that others talk about. I still don't bound out of bed every morning to greet the day, but I never have, so 30 days is probably not enough time to change my entire personality. 

When you make a change like this to your life, it's hard not to ask for the moon.  In 30 days you want to be thinner, healthier, happier, better looking and also negotiate world peace!  
I think the lesson I came away with is that it doesn't happen that way.  Put away the scale (except for maybe once a month), and focus on how you feel.  I've learned a lot about how I use food as a coping mechanism and a social crutch.  I find it hard to plan events and socialize without food and drinks, this is still something I'm learning how to do.

I grew up in a family that feeds you out of love.  "You're sick?  What can I make you to eat?"  "You won the spelling bee?  You're getting a special dinner, young lady!"  "You're sad?  How about an ice cream?"  I'm pretty sure that's in my DNA, and it probably won't ever change, so I need to focus on offering up healthy and whole foods to my loved ones, rather than, you know, carbs and cheese mixed together in some format.  I think being aware of my tendency to use food (and cocktails) as a reward is also a big step forward for me.

Since finishing the Whole30, I've remained (mostly) faithful to the plan.  I have added back a little cheese from time to time, I've had about a glass of wine a week, out with friends and I've stopped worrying quite so much about small amounts of sugar in my sausage and bacon.  I also haven't been as strict when eating out, I don't make the chef come out and tell me exactly what's in the vinaigrette or whether they make their mayonnaise in-house. Oh, and I've had 1 Blizzard.  Frankly, it was disappointing.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Almost Whole30 Banana Whip

The Internet has been very interested in a 1 ingredient ice cream these past couple of weeks.  Sillies, all you need to make creamy and delicious ice cream is one ingredient: a banana.  Someone recommended banana whip to me when I was dreaming about Blizzards on my Whole30.  I decided not to indulge because it felt a little like SWYPO to me.  But now that I've begun reintroducing some of the things that weren't on my Whole30, I decided to give it a shot, but I wanted to use 3 ingredients.

What you'll need:

  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • 1 oz. square of dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup coconut (toasted)
  • food processor

The first thing I did was toast my coconut over low heat in a dry pan.  It actually toasts pretty quickly, so keep an eye on it!

Once your coconut is toasty, set it aside and let it cool.

Meanwhile, peel your banana and put it into your food processor.  Turn it on and let it go, it actually needed to go for longer than I thought it would. You can also pre-slice your bananas and put them in the freezer already peeled if you're freezing bananas specifically for this recipe.  Me?  I've got half a dozen bananas just waiting for inspiration to strike in my freezer.

Once your "ice cream" is smooth and fluffy, add any additional ingredients you'd like.

In this case, I added dark chocolate and coconut, the chocolate was pre-chipped before I added it (something I had to learn the hard way).

I threw my mix back in freezer for about 10-15 minutes and stirred it a couple times.  Then I scooped it up and ate it ALL!

No guilt here!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Whole30 Tom Kha, or Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup!

This recipe is delicious (if I do say so myself) and I made it several times during my Whole30 with both chicken and shrimp.  Let's face it, I love shrimp and I will always choose shrimp over chicken when I have the choice, unless I can have both!  And to be clear, you can totally have both, if you want to.

What you'll need:
  • 1 lb. shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 leek (or an onion if you don't have one), chopped.  It's important to discard the tough outer leaves and tops of leeks, slice them down the middle and wash thoroughly, because they tend to be sandy.
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 knob of ginger (about a 1 inch piece), minced.  
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • (optional) 2 cups green beans, cut into bite-size pieces.  Alternatively or additionally you can use zucchini, or yellow squash or even potatoes, whatever you like!  It's your soup!
  • 1 T coconut oil (for sauteing the veggies)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 - 6 cups stock (or water if you don't have any).  Use less stock if you want the soup to be thicker and heartier, more if you want to stretch it further.
  • salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
  • one lime (zest goes in the soup and then you can use slices for garnish)
  • cilantro for garnish
  • hot sauce of your choice for garnish
Looks like Michigan!

Start with your coconut oil over medium heat.  Add your leeks and saute until they begin to look translucent.

Add your mushrooms, ginger and jalapeno, saute until mushrooms release their moisture.

Add your coconut milk, stock, and salt/pepper/red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer.

Add your other veggies (in this case, green beans) and your lime zest.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are as cooked as you would like.

Add your shrimp the very last thing, they will cook in just a minute or so.  Once the shrimp have turned pink and are opaque, you're done!  Note: if you are adding raw chicken to the soup, put it in at the same time as the veggies, cut into bite-size pieces, it should all finish about the same time.  If you're adding cooked chicken, add it at the end when you put the shrimp in, you just want it to be hot!

Garnish with lime juice, cilantro and hot sauce (but check your spice level first, I don't want you dying from the heat)!

This soup keeps pretty nicely in the fridge for multiple meals, especially if you don't cook the heck out of the veggies the first time around, so be aware and stay on the undercooked side of things in terms of your vegetables!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Whole30 Sweet Potato and Kale Egg Bake Guest Post!

I'm a guest poster over at Paleo Demystified today!  How cool is that?  I'm so happy that I've connected with such a great group of people through the Whole30!

Check it out here:

Tell your friends ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Whole30 Experience, FINAL COUNTDOWN

Day 28:  Slow to wake up, ended up eating a brunch of leftover curry from last night.  Had a banana and almond butter for an afternoon snack and then zoodles with meat sauce and artichoke hearts for dinner (yes, I know I've eaten that about once a week).

Day 29: Woke up, had almond butter and a banana for breakfast, was too scared to open the last kombucha from last week's batch, for fear of an explosion, so stuck with seltzer (then opened the kombucha in my bathtub that night).  For lunch I ate a Whole30-friendly salad from Chipotle.  My understanding is the only Whole30 compliant meat is the pork, so I had lettuce, carnitas, pico de gallo, medium salsa and guacamole.  And holy heck!  It was delicious!  Leftover zoodles for dinner and then the last of the cherries (they're sooo good) and the semi-exploded kombucha.
Day 30: Made eggs last night, so I had hard boiled eggs, banana, almond butter and a new batch of kombucha (with no fear of explosions). Ended up not being able to go for lunch, so ate half an avocado and some melon.  When I got home, steak salad for dinner!  Is there anything better than a delicious, perfectly cooked steak?

Day 31:  I'm free!  Funnily enough, I ate almost completely compliantly today.  I did try to add a little dairy into the day, I had some cheese at a reception and my salad for dinner had some blue cheese dressing (the yogurt kind).
Then I ate a Larabar for dessert.  I didn't feel great after eating the dairy, and it definitely messed with my digestion, but it tasted pretty darn good, so I guess it will be a "sometimes food," as Cookie Monster says.

I also took the time to make Smitten Kitchen's Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles:

I think they're going to be great!
I've got lab work scheduled for Monday morning for my work's health insurance, so I'll be able to tell how the Whole30 has affected my cholesterol levels, blood sugar, etc.  I can tell you that I lost about 12 pounds, so that's pretty neat!  I think I'm going to devote a whole post to results and reflections after I've completed my blood work and my food reintroductions. In the meantime, happy eating!