Tuesday, April 30, 2013
So the weather this weekend was beautiful! We spent a lot of time outside working in the yard, bathing the dogs and enjoying the sun. Besides being a great reminder that I had vowed to be in perfect shorts-friendly shape by this time (whoops!) it is also the beginning of sandal season!
photo credit: pumpkincat210 via photopin cc
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Every Easter we host a dinner with lamb roast and homemade mint jelly. We didn't want to miss the opportunity to have the family over, but this year we wanted to try something different so we opted for a brunch instead. I made 2 frittatas, a beautiful fruit salad, some virgin mimosas and oven-cooked bacon (because everything is better with bacon).
All of these recipes were easy to put together and perfect for feeding a larger group. We kept it fairly Primal (grain & sugar free), but for those of you still loving your bread, this recipe for Stuffed French Toast would be a great addition as well.
Click below for each of the recipes.
Who doesn't love bacon? It is definitely a crowd pleaser, but can be tough to prepare in larger quantities. Last Christmas I tried preparing it in the oven and it worked beautifully, so I went with that method again for Easter. It is a lot less maintenance to prepare and much easier to make for a large group. Plus, when you are done, you can just discard the foil & grease. Easy clean up.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with foil and turn up edges slightly to help keep grease inside the pan. Lay bacon out flat on foil, not touching. Bake on middle rack for 18-25 minutes. Time will vary based on how thick your bacon is and how close together the pieces are. Just keep an eye on it. When it looks "done", it is. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Serve.
Simple way to liven up your orange juice for a party or gathering. Add berries for extra color and serve in champagne flutes.
2 (2-liter) bottles of Sprite Zero
1 gallon orange juice
2 cups pineapple juice
berries for garnish (optional)
Combine all ingredients in drink server or punch bowl. This was a fun way to have a special drink without too much fuss or extra sugar. If you make the Honey-Poppy Seed Fruit Salad, just use the pineapple juice you saved from draining the cans. We put blackberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries in this for color.
This delicious fruit salad makes for a beautiful presentation. Throw this together right before your next gathering. The colors and flavors are a great addition to any tablescape.
Honey-Drizzled Fruit Salad
2 (20 oz) cans pineapple chunks in real juice
7-8 ripe kiwi, peeled, sliced and cut in half (to make half-circles)
3 cans mandarin oranges, drained well
3 cups strawberries, quartered
Approx. 3-4 T raw natural honey
Drain pineapple chunks well (reserve the juice if you are planning on making "Mimosas"). Combine all fruit in large bowl. Lightly drizzle honey over fruit and stir to evenly coat. Sprinkle with poppy seeds as desired and stir again.
This salad stays beautiful for a couple hours, but then starts to "blend" colors. Best to make and serve immediately.
This is an easy recipe and perfect for customizing to whatever your tastes are as far as ingredients. Use this same basic recipe but try it with ham, bacon, cheddar, mozzarella, broccoli, peppers, etc. Simple and fast way to feed a larger group.
Sausage, Spinach & Pepperjack Frittata
1 lb spicy ground sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded pepperjack cheese
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1/2 cup milk
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pyrex baking dish.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook the onion and sausage until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in the drained spinach.
Spread 1 cup of cheese in the bottom of baking dish. Layer meat mixture over the cheese. In large bowl, scramble eggs and milk. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Pour eggs over meat mixture and cheese. Do not mix or stir contents of baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until eggs are no longer runny and top is lightly browned. Cut into squares.
For variety, just change your layers using any type of meat, cheese and veggies that you want. I also made a ham and cheddar frittata using diced ham and sharp cheddar cheese.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Let me introduce you to Grok. He is my Caveman companion. On this blog I make reference to eating Primally and realize that some people may not know what that means. The Primal Blueprint is a fantastic book by Mark Sisson about how to retrain your body to function like the strong, healthy, amazing machine that it is. I highly recommend reading this if you have not already. The cliffs notes version of the plan is this: while our civilization and food have changed dramatically over the last 10,000 years, our genes have not. So, essentially out bodies are not able to process a lot of the food we eat day to day, including grains and processed sugars. By returning to a hunter-gather lifestyle, like my friend the Caveman, we experience countless health benefits including weight loss, energy balance, and immune strength.
I won't go into all the science here. If you have an interest in learning more about this, I recommend you visit Mark Sisson's blog at www.marksdailyapple.com. It is a fountain of information and success stories. What I do want to share here is my experience. About 2 years ago, we decided to become Primal. This meant giving up all grains and processed sugars and focusing our diet on meat, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, and occasional dairy. If you can kill it or find it, you can eat it. No more pasta, rice, bread, etc. The first week is tough. Being a sugar lover, I discovered that my cravings were much more psychological and habitual than physical. I'm bored, I eat. I'm happy, I eat. I'm stressed, I eat. You get the point. In the afternoon, you find something sweet as a treat. After dinner, who doesn't want a treat? These habits were not due to needing or even wanting the food in question. They were much more based on what I had always done. The thing I noticed is that after embracing the new diet, there is a huge sense of power and freedom in choosing what I would eat. I remember the first time someone at work offered me a cupcake from the inevitable box of deliciousness that was left by a vendor and I simply said, "No thanks". I was amazed afterward at how easy it was. I didn't miss it. I didn't need it. And keeping my commitment to myself gave me power.
So what was the effect? I stopped having energy crashes throughout the day. No more fighting to keep my eyes open at my desk at 10:30 am and no more afternoon carb overloads after lunch. I would wake up, head to the gym and maintain a high energy level from morning until bedtime. I lost about 20 pounds. The weight loss wasn't hard or painful and my workouts were fairly simple; walking and occasional weight lifting. And, as you may have experienced, when you improve one area of your life, other areas are affected. Keeping your commitment to yourself creates self-confidence and I felt great!
Being someone who loves to cook, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to make anything fun anymore or anything delicious to others. While Roland gets excited about a big slab of steak on a plate, it doesn't do a whole lot for me. I soon discovered that there were countless blogs and even cookbooks with Primal and Paleo recipes. You can use cauliflower in place of rice, spaghetti squash in place of pasta, almond flour in place of white flour, honey in place of sugar, etc. This was a fun and new challenge for my skills in the kitchen.
After about a year, we got a little lazy. Our meals at home were still Primal, but we found ourselves eating out more and allowing too many "cheats". It was too easy to just grab a burger and fries when we hadn't planned ahead. The snowball took effect and we veered back to a mostly conventional diet. The pounds inevitably returned, and naturally brought a few friends with them.
So March 1st we re-committed to 30 days of eating Primally. While you can get strict on this, to us this meant no grains, no sugar. Today is day 35 for me. I feel great! I am down 4 pounds in a month and Roland is down 5. While it is less than I was hoping for, I realize my body is having to fight through all the crap I fed it. If your body doesn't believe you (say, because you have "dieted" for the last 20 years) it tends to hold on to its storage. Over time, the compound effect will take place and the results will speed up. I have no doubt.
More importantly, I kept my promise. I followed through on my commitment and took back my power over the foods that, in all honesty, have dictated my choices for years. Keeping your promises builds confidence and that allows you to make more and bigger promises. I have revived my schedule of getting up at 5:00 am and heading to the gym. I am planning on participating in a couple of 5Ks this summer, even if I am the last to cross the finish line. I have recommitted to this blog, which has been depressingly neglected. I am making efforts toward finishing books that are gathering dust on my nightstand and nurturing friendships with people who may not even remember my name at this point. Growth takes effort. But not as much as you'd think.
Just make one promise. Then keep it. Grok on!