What I Ate Wednesday

I have officially been gluten and dairy free (per doctor’s orders not because of some new fad) since July.  Most people assume that it is time consuming and quite difficult to eat this kind of diet, but in fact it really isn’t.  For those of you who are new to the gluten and dairy free ways, I hope that this post inspires you or gives you comfort in knowing that eating this way is not as difficult or overwhelming as it may initially seem.

So what exactly did I eat today?  Well – I woke up and made myself a Tervis Tumbler full of coffee (about 2 cups or 16 oz.) with some International Delight York Peppermint Pattie creamer.  I had made some gluten free Bisquick biscuits last night for dinner, so I had half a biscuit for breakfast with a smidge of Earth Balance vegan buttery spread.  (I chose to sleep in until 6:15 AM this morning so my standard breakfast of eggs was out the window).

Obviously this little breakfast didn’t keep me full for long so around 10:00 AM I had a snack that consisted of a cranberry almond KIND bar and some water.  This held me over until lunch (which is scheduled at noon every day).  For lunch I had brought leftovers from dinner last night.  I had made Paleo sawmill gravy with biscuits.  (I had made the biscuits larger than usual so one biscuit was actually more like 2 small biscuits in terms of serving size.)  I also had a small piece of paleo banana cake for dessert and a clementine with water to drink.

By the time school let out, I was dragging so I stopped by Starbucks and grabbed a grande soy cinnamon dolce latte with no whip and ate a banana as an after school snack.  By now it is roughly 4:00 PM.

Once I got home from tutoring (6:00 PM), I quick changed and headed to the gym for a workout which consisted of 12 minutes on the elliptical completing the “Rolling Hills” program on level 1 to warm up my muscles.  Then I headed over the the row machine and completed a 2000m workout on level 6 which took me another 12 minutes.  Finally I headed over to the Roman chair and completed a circuit of lower back and abdominal exercises which consisted of 100 Roman chair moves and 30 lower back raises with a 25 pound weight.  After some stretching it was time to head home to heat up dinner.

By now it is 7:45 PM and luckily I had meal prepped enough food on Sunday so dinner consisted of real mashed potatoes (made with vegan butter and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream), one good-sized piece of meatloaf, mushroom gravy, green beans, and roasted carrots and another small piece of banana cake for dessert.

My husband jokes and says that I eat like a professional athlete.  But the truth is, I don’t count calories.  I just eat until I’m full.  Sure I splurge and have a latte or some non-dairy creamer in my coffee but the rest of the stuff I’m eating is real food and I don’t feel bad about eating it in the slightest.

Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Let’s face it – chocolate covered strawberries can be expensive.  You order a bouquet from Edible Arrangements and you’re looking at a minimum of $29.oo for 1 dozen strawberries.  $29.00?!  WTF!  And that is just for the strawberries and the box it comes in, it doesn’t include delivery charges.  If you want them to be delivered, tack on an extra $12.00.  So one dozen strawberries covered in chocolate (no sprinkles) will cost you an upwards of $40.00 when everything is all said and done.  If you buy them from the bakery aisle at the grocery store, 1 single strawberry can cost you almost $2.00 a strawberry, or $5.99 for a 4 count with your Kroger Shopper Reward Card.  Anyway you look at it, for a dozen chocolate covered strawberries you are still spending around $20.00.  Ridiculous if you ask me.

There is a simple budget friendly solution.  Make them yourself.  Even making an allergy-friendly version of these decadent treats are cheaper than buying them already made.  Today, this very minute, Kroger has 16 oz. containers of strawberries 2 for $4.00.  So you can potentially get 24+ strawberries for $4.00.  In addition to the strawberries, all you need is 1 package of Enjoy Life chocolate chips.  These cost anywhere from $4.59 – $4.99 depending on where you shop.  Sometimes you can get a really good buy 1 get 1 free deal from Earth Fare or $3.99 at Kroger when they are on sale.  I tend to stock up when I can so I always have a bag on hand.  Then you need a splash of whatever milk or milk substitute you drink at home.  I drink unsweetened almond milk, but soy milk can work just fine and if you don’t have a dairy allergy – regular chocolate chips and milk work fine too.

Really – that’s all you need.  $9.00 and a little bit of time and you’ve got yourself the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert, surprise, gift, etc.

Ingredients
1-2 16 oz. containers (depending on how many strawberries you want)
1 bag Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Splash of Almond Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla but you can use whatever you have on hand)
Parchment Paper to prevent sticking

Directions

  1. Wash strawberries and pat dry, remember to leave stems as they allow easy gripping for dipping into the chocolate.
  2. Place 2 cups of water in a pot and top with a glass bowl.
  3. On medium high heat, add all of the chocolate chips to the glass bowl.  Stir gently with a spatula until chocolate is smooth.  You can add your almond milk at this time until you get achieve your desired thickness.  I found the Enjoy Life chips tend to have a thicker consistency when they are melted than regular chocolate chips.
  4. Remove the chocolate from the heat to avoid burning (no one wants burnt chocolate for Valentine’s Day).  Dip the strawberries into the chocolate and place onto your parchment paper.
  5. Allow them to cool for 45 minutes.  The strawberries will get a nice hard shell.
  6. The strawberries will keep for 3 days covered in the refrigerator.
Row upon row of chocolate-y strawberry goodness and for under $10!

Row upon row of chocolatey strawberry goodness and for under $10!

My Latest Kitchen Gadget

Since my last few attempts at making spaghetti squash have been absolute fails (I’m still figuring out my new antiquated oven), my latest thing has been zucchini noodles. A few months ago I purchased a julienne peeler to make my noodles. While it does the job, it takes FOREVER and it wastes a lot of the zucchini. I feel bad wasting any food so I went a bought a mandolin slicer that has a julienne blade. Well, the worked too but I still couldn’t use most of the zucchini for fear of slicing my fingers off. The nifty finger guard only works of you are slicing it like chips and not like noodles. So that was kind of a bust (however it does work well for making sweet potato home fries but that’s another blog). Then I saw a picture in my new cookbook Against All Grains of a spiralizer. I had to have it.

I busted it out for the first time tonight to make some real zucchini noodles and let me tell you, my life is now complete. I spiralized 4 large zucchini in roughly 5 minutes! And out came these long beautiful noodles. I cooked them in some olive oil and dumped some pasta sauce on top. It was magnificent. I could twirl my zucchini noodles like real noodles. It was awesome! I will probably never julienne my zucchini or squash ever again. It’s the spiralizer all the way.

20140122-211723.jpg

Tom Yam Gung (Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup)

Do you ever have those days where you simply crave something from your childhood?  That is exactly what happened to me.  Most of the time people crave some type of comfort food like mom’s mac & cheese or meatloaf or even an apple pie.  But today, that wasn’t the case.  Today I was seriously craving something Asian and not your average run of the mill Chinese takeout (which is completely Americanized).  I wasn’t something that you really can’t get at a restaurant.  You can only get it from someone’s house who knows how to cook authentic Asian cuisine.  Since my mom lives in Pennsylvania and I live in Indiana, my only solution was to call her up on the phone, ask her what I needed, and take a trip to the local Asia Mart.

The freshness from the lemongrass make this probably one of the most popular Thai soups out there.  And if you really want to eat it authentically, you pour a little on your jasmine rice as flavoring.  But if you don’t eat grains, you can eat a big bowl of this broth-y soup either with your meal or as a light meal by itself.  Due to the pungent flavor of the lime leaves and lemongrass, this soup is perfect for all seasons.  It’s a refreshing summer soup but since it’s hot it makes a great winter treat too!  I’ve made it with shrimp but my mom said you can also make it with chicken if you’d prefer.

For any of you who do Whole30 or follow the Paleo diet, I’ve made sure that this recipe is 100% compliant.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
4-inch piece of tender lemongrass, roughly chopped (you don’t want to eat this)
1-2 limes, freshly squeezed to taste
6 tablespoons fish sauce (I use Red Boat which doesn’t have sugar)
1-2 small fresh red or green chilies, roughly chopped (optional – I don’t like the heat so I don’t use them)
16 straw mushrooms, cut in half (canned mushrooms will do)
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Directions
1. In a pot, heat the stock and add the lime leaves, lemongrass, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and chilies (if you are using them).  At this point I would taste the broth to determine if it has enough lemon/lime flavor to the broth.  If not – add more lime juice.   Bring it to a boil and simmer for two minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms and shrimp and cook for a further two to three minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through.  Be sure not to overcook your shrimp!

2. Pour into soup bowls and serve.

A little taste of home

A little taste of home

Beef & Lamb Meatballs

Well Fed is probably one of my favorite paleo cookbooks out there right now.  If I’m in a pinch, I will grab this cookbook and see what I have on hand in my pantry, freezer, and fridge. Usually I can scramble something decent enough to make for dinner.  I have made her Czech meatballs before and there were awesome but I didn’t have any ground pork in my freezer.  So I decided to start substituting and I made these delicious little gems.

Ingredients
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
3 teaspoons Lawhorne’s Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 large egg

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix in Lawhorne’s seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, parsley, mustard, and egg with a fork until combined.  With your hands, crumble the ground lamb and ground beef into the bowl and knead until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Using a cookie scoop (roughly a tablespoon or 2), scoop out your meatball mix and place into a glass baking dish.  I recommend doing this all at once before rolling them into balls with your hands to keep the messiness to a minimum.  Moisten your hands with water and shake to remove excess.  Roll the preformed meatball into a ball and line them up about 1/2 inch apart in your baking dish.
  4. Slide the meatballs into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.

20140110-165732.jpg

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Biscuits and Gravy

My husband has been begging me to make biscuits and gravy for him for who knows how long.  I have resisted making them because I can’t eat biscuits and I can’t eat the gravy that goes on them.  So really, why would I waste all that precious prep and cook time in the kitchen to make something that smells delicious but then I can’t eat it.  Exactly – you see my point.

Enter in gluten free Bisquick.  Normally a large box of Bisquick is pretty cheap but as most of you know, nothing gluten free is ever cheap.  A small box of gluten free Bisquick runs about $4.59 at Walmart.  Now, could I make homemade gluten free biscuits on my own?  Sure.  Do I want to?  Not particularly.  So in this instance, I completely justified using a pre-made box mix to help me out and save me some time.  Can you blame me?

To make the biscuits, all you have to do is follow the directions on the box.  It really is that simple.  Now that we have gotten over that part, it is time to move onto the delicious sausage gravy that you generously dump all over the biscuits.  My mouth is literally watering just thinking about it.

Ingredients
1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 tablespoon almond flour/meal
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 can coconut milk
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chicken stock (if needed)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Saute the sausage in a large skillet until completely cooked.  Remove sausage from the pan, saving about 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the sausage.  Keep these drippings in the pan.
  2. Add the almond flour and arrowroot powder to the skillet and whisk with the sausage fat over medium-low heat, until a paste is formed, working to scrape up some of the sausage drippings.  Be careful not to burn this.  Patience is a virtue in this case.
  3. Pour in about 1/4 of the coconut milk, the sage, and paprika at this time and bring it up to medium heat, stirring often.  It is key to get all of those delicious browned sausage bits into your gravy.
  4. Add the remaining coconut milk, stirring as you go to avoid lumps, and bring to a light simmer.  Add your sausage back in, and simmer until gravy reaches your desired thickness.  If your gravy becomes too thick for your liking, add some chicken stock to thin it out.
  5. Generously pour over your sliced biscuits and serve.
Perfect for a cold winter morning or your Sunday brunch!

Perfect for a cold winter morning or your Sunday brunch!

2013 A Year in Review

As I say goodbye to 2013, it’s nice to take a look down memory lane and remind myself that although there were some of the rough goes that each year brings, there were also some high points too.  It is so important to keep these high points in your memory to remind you that life isn’t that bad and when you are feeling down and out, you can always pull on your best memories to keep yourself in check.

So more as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling bad about my nutrition (or lack thereof), how I’ve fallen off the workout wagon (I will get back on soon, I promise), or how I continuously make excuses why I’m not making it to the gym (it’s freaking cold outside!) – I can take a look back at my 2013 and know that if I did it once, I can do it again, and if I stick to it I can probably do it better.

Without further ado – my top 10 2013  fitness highlights…

1. I climbed 36 flights of stairs.  That’s 780 steps and 500 feet straight up in 7 minutes and 6 seconds coming in 3rd place in my age group and 206th out of 1,068 people.  Not bad for my first try and not training.

2. I hit a new personal record for my 2nd half marathon.  I ran the OneAmerica 500 half marathon in exactly 2 hours, which of course was my goal.  I’m so proud of that number and I’m hoping to maybe hit a new PR in 2014.

3. I placed 3rd in my age division at the KeyBank 8K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend.  This put me in the running for the Triple Crown Series.

4.  I placed 3rd in my age division along with my husband at the Geist 5K this year and we ran the 5 miles back to the car in the rain.  It was definitely a memorable race.

5. I won 1st place in my age division in the Triple Crown Series 8K events (KeyBank 8K, Eagle Creek 8K, Hoosier Park 8K).  The first time I’ve ever placed 1st in anything!

6. I placed 1st in my age division at the Noblesville Fit Fest 5K.  The second time I’ve placed 1st in a race and it was in the same year!

7.  With the support of a few friends, I completed my first Whole30 program without any cheats or having to start over.  Through this program (and a lot of testing and doctor visits) I was able to determine that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that was causing some undesirable effects on my body.  I have now since remedied those and I am feeling WAY better.

8. I was able to help a friend run in her first half marathon and ensure that she reached her goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less.  There were times where she wanted to stop but together we pushed through and we ended up beating her goal by a few minutes.  I am truly blessed to have been able to be a part of that experience with her.

9. I tried many new fitness activities in 2013 including CrossFit, SkyZone Skyrobics (trampoline exercises), Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Boxing to name a few.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to realize that there are some activities that I really enjoy that I never thought I would and others that just aren’t the right fit for me and that is COMPLETELY okay.

10.  I had a 2013 goal to run 12 races in 12 months and I met my goal.  I used to be that person who said, “The only way I would run is if someone was chasing me,” or “Look at those people running outside.   They look miserable.”  I never thought I would have enjoyed running as much as I do and I look forward to keeping up with this fitness adventure in 2014.  Perhaps 14 races in 2014 should be my next goal.  What do you think?

Happy New Year!