December 2011 archive

Yes, We Catan

With just one day left before my Whole30, I broke in to a bag of Paleonola I bought a couple of weeks ago.  Hopefully it keeps well in the fridge because it was D-E-L-I-S-H!  I had the “Original” flavor with blueberries and almond milk:
It’s the perfect mix of sweet, salty, chewy, and crunchy with just a hint of sweet from honey (which, incidentally, is what bans it from the Whole30…sadness).
We took a lazy day today and watched some movies, read, and went for a nice slow run with the Husky this afternoon.  She loves to run, and I love what happens after a run:
Lunch was a couple of “burritos” on coconut crepes with mustard, tomatoes, spinach, and eggs fried in olive oil.
Tonight we’re headed to our friends’ house to ring in the New Year in style…they’re laying out a great Paleo finger food buffet inspired by the Everyday Paleo cookbook, and we’re bringing the Prosecco and Settlers of Catan. 
Yes, we are that nerdy.

I’ll see you all tomorrow with a fancy-schmancy New Years’ dinner, but for now I leave you with the Quote of the Day:
“There’s respectable Fail-eo, like eating at Revel…there’s lame Fail-eo, like eating at Outback…and then there’s showering yourself in King Cobra, which is the lowest of the low.”

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New Years Resolutions

Good morning!I should probably be getting a little nostalgic at the end of this year (the world is supposed to end sometime next December, right?) but the whirlwind that was 2011 I’m more excited than ever at the prospect of a fresh start.  I spent nine months of last year in Iraq, then came home and had to hit the ground running in pretty much every way imaginable–at work, at home, for my health, and to keep my sanity.  Nobody really thinks or wants to believe that coming home is so hard, and for some people it’s the hardest part.I’m not the most patient person in the world, which is why I had such a hard time at first when everything wasn’t perfect the second I stepped off the plane, but life is slowly returning to “normal” one day at a time.  With that being said, this New Years’ is more important to me at a personal level than ever before because I can officially put a lot of not-so-happy memories behind me and move forward into a very busy and exciting time with the ones I love the most.  (I won’t get into the details right now, but The Man and I have a lot of Big Thingson our plates this year!)I didn’t make any Resolutions last year because of where I was and the fact that I really didn’t have enough control over anything that was going on to make any substantial “changes.”  (Also, I was so bitter that I refused to either celebrate or acknowledge any holidays the entire year…don’t judge).  So this year, I have a list of goals for the coming year…some of which are probably a long time coming:

-Finish my Master’s degree
-Run another Spartan Race
-Take steps to live cleaner and more sustainably
-Take a real vacation
-Increase strength and meet my fitness goals
-Improve quality of recovery periods (PWO nutrition, stretching, etc)
-Expand my recipe collection and culinary repertoire
-Redecorate the house
-Unplug…make a point to read more, play more games, and have “family meals” and “quiet time”
-Spend more time with family

**The Man’s only resolution is to be less awesome because that’s the only thing he does to excess.

How about you?  Are you making any New Years’ Resolutions?

On that note, tomorrow is the first day of my Whole30!  Whether you’re going all out or are just trying to eat healthier in general, here is a quick roundup of Whole30-approved recipes to inspire this week’s meal plan:

Lemon Dill Salmon
Tasty Breakfast Egg Loaves
Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potato Fries
Paleo Sausage Spaghetti Squash Bake
Sundried Tomato Pesto Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Rounds
Bacon-Crusted Quiche (from yours truly!)
Fried Eggplant and Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

As if it weren’t enough with a vast majority of the Paleo blogoshpere taking part in or sponsoring some kind of New Years’ Paleo challenge or Whole30, Chowstalker is only accepting Whole30-approved recipes this month.  Get excited!  There are some extremely talented chefs out there, so a Whole30 might just be an excuse to get cooking and eat better than you every have before!

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Rosemary Lamb Chops w/ Red Wine Reduction

Happy New Years’ Eve Eve!

As I mentioned earlier, I was brainstorming over some grass-fed lamb chops I picked up at Sprouts this morning.  Lamb is one of our favorites and it’s been a while…too long, if you ask me.  Yes, it’s a little on the pricey side, but so worth it.  It’s so flavorful and fatty all on it’s own and it’s no work at all to make a fantastic meal.

I’ve done lamb chops a million and one ways before, and if you’re totally at a loss you can’t go wrong pan-searing them in olive oil with salt and pepper.  However, given the fact that we’re still technically in the holiday season, I felt like going all out.  Although Julia Child doesn’t do it with lamb, she does a great deal of wine reduction sauces with other meats, so I figured why not?  In true Julia Child form, I opted to go the simple route and use plenty of butter and wine.  It came out absolutely delicious…melt-in-your-mouth tender and some terrific flavor in the sauce.  (There is a wonderful looking Cooked Wine Marinade on page 341 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking especially for lamb, but the methods I used for this recipe are loosely adapted from her Bercy Sauce on page 294)

2 Lamb Chops, about 8 oz each
3 T Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 T Rosemary
About 1 c. Dry Red Wine

Allow the lamb chops to come to room temperature and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Melt 2 T butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Sear the chops on the skillet for about 3 minutes per side (I like mine rare, so 4 minutes would work for a more medium-rare to medium quality).  Remove the lamb and cover with foil.

For the sauce, add 1 T butter to the drippings.  When the butter has melted, add the red wine and allow it to reduce and thicken slightly.  Remove from heat and serve with the lamb.

On the side, I made some Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Today has been a busy one.  The Man and I got the car unpacked, gifts put away, Goodwill boxes filled, and more wedding invites out.  The house almost looks like grown-ups live here ;)

I also took The Husky on a well-deserved run for both of us.  Poor baby was cooped up with us on the long car ride to and from Virginia, and for a pup who was literally born to run, it was pure torture.  For me, it definitely shook some rust off.  I got two workouts in over the eight days we were gone, and even though I like to take vacations like this as a natural rest period, I needed it in a bad way.  We only went about 3.5 miles at a pretty slow pace–about 8:30/mi–but we both felt wonderful afterwards.

Sleepy puppy…and a kitty who thinks her tail is a toy…
See you tomorrow with some New Years Eve party ideas!

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Thank God for Yoga Pants

Finally home after a wonderful Christmas and great time with my family.  The drive back was a little rough because we were hung-the-f**k-overreally tired after all the festivities, but we both had to be back at work to sign in by today.It’s good to be home, though, and we’re steadily getting back into a good routine.  The Man and I both had a relatively healthy holiday, but even for those in Paleo circles it’s entirely possible to put on a few pounds and veer off track.  While I feel infinitely better than I have after Christmases past, I still had my share of chocolate, nuts/nut butter/nut flour, sweeteners, and a little more than my fair share of wine and certainly didn’t work out much at all.  Thank God for yoga pants.We had almost nothing in the fridge or pantry when we got home, so this morning The Man and I went to The Monument for breakfast–eggs, bacon, and fruit for me and eggs Benedict (minus English muffin) and fruit for him–and then to Sprouts where we stocked up on all of our staples and some extra goodies to prep for our New Years’ Whole30.

This week’s grocery total:


Not too bad if you consider we had nothing in the fridge except for half a head of garlic, a jar of applesauce, and 2 eggs.

Tonight I’ve got a great meal planned around some lamb chops and I’m still working on something good for New Years’ Day.  I wanted to come up with something rich and delicious but still Whole30-friendly.  Originally I had a great recipe for roast goose with a sausage and chestnut stuffing from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but quickly decided against it when I realized that the geese at Sprouts were upwards of $70 each.  Soooo…I need a little more time on that one ;)

During the Whole30, I’ll be posting all of my meals as a way to not only keep myself accountable, but also to provide some good meal ideas for anyone who’s joining me.  I’ve got some good recipes in the queue as well, and please, please, please feel free to offer up any of yours!  This is a great chance to not only make yourself feel better physically, but a way to reinforce nutritional habits that are better for you and more sustainable in the long run.

Luckily, the only things we eat regularly that are forbidden during the Whole30 are some dairy and red wine.  I’m also guilty of “Paleo-fying” a lot of dishes, so if I achieve nothing else next month I hope I’ll have a good chance to plan and execute some unique meals that aren’t built around my former unhealthy favorites.

Is anyone else doing a Whole30 to help ring in the New Year?

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Brunch of Champions

This morning my Mom laid out a pretty terrific array of food to snack on throughout the day as we get ready for Kucios dinner.  I had gone for a run earlier, so I was starving and loaded up on a single large bowl of roast turkey…my sister brought up a bunch from a free range crop down south…so, so good.

Mom laughed out lout as she remarked, “Wow, you like all that skin and dark meat, huh?  I guess that’s good…no one else eats it!”

“Yes, Mom, yes I do…it’s the best part!”

My parents are still a little suspect of this whole “Caveman Diet,” but they let me do my thing (probably because it’s easier than having to listen to me try to explain why grains/legumes/vegetable oils are the devil).  When it comes to holidays and family meals, no one seems to object to my eating off a plate piled high with nice, fatty cuts of meat…my parents are clean-your-plate kinds of folks who never give me a hard time unless they think I’m not eating.  Mom was completely scandalized when I told her I no longer ate bread but seems to have accepted it when she realized that she didn’t have to change up her menus much if I was coming home–Lithuanian cuisine is replete with fatty cuts of meat, root vegetables, sausage, butter, nuts and berries, leafy greens, and full-fat dairy.  Seriously, all I have to do at family functions is pass up the bread basket and the occasional side of macaroni salad.  Unless I actually open my yap and try to explain or get preachy (intentionally or not)–which in my humble opinion is NOT something to do at a holiday gathering–nobody will notice.

Obviously, everyone’s situation is going to be a little bit different.  If I had an Italian mother who put out a spread of pastas, for example, I’d probably be under a little more scrutiny for the choices I made at the table.  Unfortunately with all the inherent stress of the holiday season, too many people just add to it with anxiety over diet and body image.  That’s why I’d say if there was ever a time to cut yourself a break, it’s now.  Instead of beating yourself up for weeks for having a slice of pie or fresh poppy seed roll (*drool*), just chill.  You’ll probably be back home this time next week living your life, getting your Paleo and Crossfit on, and have some great memories that make you smile–or thankful that you made it out alive, depending.

Sit back, have a glass (or five) of wine, and remember that this only comes once a year.

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