Thursday, January 31, 2013

Roasted Beets or Warm Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Anyone?

Why didn't anyone ever tell me roasted beets taste like CANDY? Yum. Okay - haven't had any candy for some time now so I'm getting a little more sensitive to sweet tastes. But seriously, they taste good.  Until recently I thought beets were only good for borscht. But, one of the first times I went out for lunch after "going clean and wheat-free" I quickly realized I was going to have to try some new menu items that I wouldn't normally give a second thought. There often aren't many wheat-free options on the lunch menu. So a warm beet and goat cheese salad with shrimp it was. And I loved it!

I tried replicating that salad at home a few weeks back by steaming them - wow - those are hard little bundles of nutrients that don't cook quickly. It was a failed attempt. So today I gave it another shot by roasting them. And I got it right - success!

Warm beet salad - spring mix with roasted beets, goat cheese, orange wedges, roasted pistachios and an orange vinaigrette. 

If you are trying to go clean its a good idea to try and expand your palette and try some new vegetables to keep things interesting. Beets are a good choice since they are a good source of iron and have shown to boost immunity and guard against cancer. Plus they are available year-round and have a good shelf life so you can have them on hand and use them when you run out of "fresh" stuff. And they taste like candy - oh yeah I already mentioned that!

A little distracted as I'm trying to "let baby learn the critical skill of falling asleep on his own". That's the politically correct term for "cry it out". He thinks I'm his very warm, very large human pacifier. Last night he was up for the second time by 10. I was really worried that something was seriously wrong since he appeared to be having some sort of seizure (planking and throwing back his head). Turns out he was just pissed I didn't immediately offer my breast. Yes - I've let it go too far. I hate sleep training. 

Anyway, back to the salad. This actually ended up as two recipes because the roasted beets were so good on their own I will be making these as a standalone side dish in the future. 

Paleo Roasted Beets
4 medium sized beets - peeled and slices into wedges 
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (I'm sure EVOO would work too)
fine sea salt
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel beets with a potato peeler or knife and cut into wedges (I did them fairly thin - see pic). Spread them out on a 9 x 13 casserole. Drizzle with melted coconut oil and lightly season with sea salt and garlic powder. Garlic is optional - you'll notice I put it in everything. Bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender. I turned them once. Serve as is or use in warm beet salad. 
Beets roasted in coconut oil. Wheat-free veggie deliciousness!

Wheat Free Warm Beet salad (2 large salads)
4 cups organic spring mix (lettuce)
1/3 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 orange, peeled and sliced into rings
1/3 cup goat cheese (I used soft unripened goat cheese - Blue Menu item from Super Store)

Put the pistachios in the oven (in a separate baking dish) with the beets for the last 5 minutes to roast them. Split all the ingredients, spring mix, pistachios, onion, orange sliced and goat cheese, between two large salad plates and drizzle with orange vinaigrette. You can serve with some grilled shrimp or chicken if you are eating as your main entree. Enjoy!

Orange Vinaigrette
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice - I squeezed an orange as we don't have juice - juice would be fine though
1 tbsp dried parsley.

Whisk all ingredients together. Drizzle on your beet salad. Save the extra for another day - yay - you now have unprocessed salad dressing in your fridge. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Protein Power- Vega One Nutritional Shake Review

Vega One all-in-one nutritional shake - this mornings breakfast!

I'm probably a broken record but I need protein, preferably within one hour of waking up, or I'm a hot mess for the rest of the day. My blood sugar gets messed up, I'm starving all day and inevitably I get really grumpy between 10 and 1 and then just want to nap from 1 till 3.  But eating protein within one hour of waking up is nearly impossible with 3 kids (especially if one little adorable 6 month old decides 5:30 is a good time to wake up). So although it isn't unprocessed I have to rely on protein shakes for breakfast lots of days if I am going to get my protein before we leave the house (it literally took me nearly 2 1/2 hours to drink my shake this morning but at least I "started" within an hour of waking up).

 If you're like me and never had a protein shake  in your life you probably don't really have the first clue on what to buy, where to get it, etc. So I decided one day in the fall I was going to start using protein shakes and went into Popeye's supplements. OMG - had no idea there were THAT MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROTEIN. Hundreds of them. I felt like a complete idiot. The guy says "What are you looking for?" and I dumbly reply "I have no idea". He immediately got off his chair and probably realized this was going to take a few minutes. Ya-da, ya-da, ya-da, I ended up leaving with Vega one all-in-one nutritional shake - French Vanilla flavor. Poor guy - I talk lots when I'm uncomfortable and I said way to much about breastfeeding to a complete male stranger.

Anyway, Vega One all-in-one is a plant based protein that is dairy, gluten and soy free with no sugar added. All positives (especially the no gluten or sugar part). In addition to protein, it also has Omega 3, probiotics, antioxidants, fiber and the equivalent of 3 servings of greens. This is definitely more than your normal protein powder - it is more like protein powder, omega 3, probiotics and a multi-vitamin all wrapped into one (with only 135 calories and 5 net grams of carbs). So although its a bit expensive (works out to about $2.50 per serving) you get a bunch of benefits and feel good that you got your serving of veggies out of the way (especially if you have a day where you already know your lunch and dinner are going to be pretty bad). So its a great product and is very convenient (just mix with juice, ice, milk - whatever) for moms on the run.

The only downsides for me (other than the price) have been that 1) it only has 15 grams of protein in a serving which isn't enough for me for a meal, especially breakfast, and 2) I'm undecided on the taste. The first time I tasted it I didn't love it. But in an attempt to boost the amount of protein I added some high protein Greek yogurt, soy milk and ice (see picture)  and I actually thought it tasted alright.

So overall I will be saving this protein powder for either mid-afternoon snacks or breakfasts on days when I know I won't be getting much "real clean" food for my other meals.  On other days I use Whey Isolate Protein (Vanilla or Chocolate) that I get at Costco (got it on sale for about $.90 per serving). My hubby uses the Whey Protein from Costco (got it on sale for about $.50 per serving) because he is not lactose intolerant. Watch for a post on that coming soon. Hope that helps if you are looking for a protein option.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carrot Ginger Soup and Food for Thought

When I first read this I was shocked, upset and frankly a little sad...........ready for it.................between 70%-80% of our ability to lose excess fat is based on our diet and only 20-30% is determined by exercise, lifestyle and genetics. Shit. Shit. Shit.* That threw my whole plan out the window. The plan: rely on good genes/high metabolism from my Dad and start exercising again when my kids get a bit older and I have "more time". No problem - keep eating whatever I want because I LOVE eating and I'll be skinny again as soon as I have the time and energy to exercise.

Well, with one short sentence and a very stretched out belly that really didn't give a damn about how many crunches I was doing (thanks baby #3) and my whole plan was out the window. But guess what...its okay - I still get to eat awesome (different) food and I feel better, I have energy and I do like my kids. There was a bit of a grieving process but I am over it now and can move on. Exercise is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle but unfortunately ladies (and maybe a couple gents) we have to deal with this food thing..................sigh.

So here is another clean recipe for you that tastes so yummy delicious you won't realize your whole life has been derailed. Clean eating doesn't have to feel like deprivation. This is an easy-peasy recipe, for some reason its really filling and really good if you like ginger. I love ginger and it has huge health benefits - too many to mention. Chinese medicine has been using it for over 2000 years for all sorts of ailments - and those dudes know what they are doing. But given the time of year and the outbreak of influenza I think the fact that it can be used to prevent and treat flu's and colds and it strengthens immunity should be reason enough to try this.

Pureed carrot and ginger soup - it will help fight that cold and/or flu.

Carrot and Ginger Soup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbps coconut oil or butter (don't be scared of good fat)
3 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 tbsps finely chopped fresh ginger (adjust to your preference)
fine sea salt and pepper to taste
1 cup full fat coconut milk (Again - don't be scared of good fat - it will fill you up)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (organic/gluten-free if possible)
A little dried parsley for colour (if you blog or want to impress someone)

In a heavy pot, fry the garlic and onion over medium heat in the oil or butter until softened. Add the carrots, ginger, salt and pepper. Let it cook for about 3 to 5 minutes (b/c I like it better when the ginger is cooked a bit). Add the coconut milk and stock and let it simmer on a low boil until the carrots are softened - about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool or if you are crazy and don't mind the risk of 2nd degree burns go ahead and puree it with a hand blender. Warm and serve! 

* I don't normally swear but seriously this was really upsetting to me. Plus, my Baba Teenie taught me that shit is not actually a swear so it doesn't really count anyway.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Paleo Almond Breaded Sole - for all you working moms!

Okay - just to be clear - I'm not sharing my recipes/experience to make anyone feel bad about what they are eating or not eating. I probably ate much worse (especially chocolate) than most people I know. I have a huge appetite and a rarely under control sugar addiction. I also realize I am pretty lucky to be home on my third maternity leave - getting a year off work is SO wonderful - and following a clean diet when I go back to work is going to be extremely challenging. I sure hope I can keep it up. 

Paleo friendly, Mom friendly and Kid friendly - Almond crusted breaded Sole. Another awesome Wheat -free meal for Mom's on the go.
So I'm really excited with today's concoction because it is completely "working mom friendly". You don't need a ton of special ingredients to make it, you can prep the night before (take the fish out of the freezer and make the breading) and you can cook it up quickly. And it should be "kid-friendly" for all but the pickiest eaters. Yeah - that would be my girls but I think I might actually be able to get them to eat this if I call it "chicken fingers".  To make it more kid friendly I would cut their fillets into small pieces before breading and frying since they like small bites/fingers best.

Almond Breaded Sole (serves 4)

8-10 Sole Fillets - I bought mine in the frozen section at Costco (they are nicely individually packaged). Cod or any other mild white fish would be fine as well

1 cup blanched almond flour (almond meal would likely work as well)
1/4 cup ground golden flax seed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp parsley flakes
Or whatever spices you feel like

2 eggs well beaten

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Rinse the sole fillets with water and then pat them dry with paper towel. Mix the flour/flax/spices to make the breading. Make sure they are really dry as that will make the egg stick better. Heat your frying pan/griddle to medium heat. I used a griddle so I could cook them all at once and it worked awesome. Melt you oil/butter on the griddle (you could just use butter, olive oil or coconut oil if you want but I for some reason like the combination of the olive oil and butter together). Dip each sole fillet in the egg wash (both sides) and then in the breading mix (both sides). I fried each side of the fillet for about 2 to 3 minutes. Done. I served with lemon wedges and a zucchini salad!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Almond Meal Experiment

Today was a great day – we made it to church, went to a birthday party, and I took the girls tobogganing (two days in a row). And I REALLY enjoyed it both days. For those of you that know me I normally hate being cold and avoid the outdoors at all costs. But this -10 degree weather feels almost balmy after the cold spell we've had. And it’s another testament to the fact that this new clean lifestyle has given me energy I never had in years. The old me would have dreaded trudging up and down the hill ………….but I was having a blast. Went head over tea kettle a couple of times and may have broken my arm but it is all good. I love not feeling tired all the time – what a concept.  
Test Batch #1 - Wheat Belly Basic Biscuit made with Home-made Almond Meal. Delish!

Test Batch #2 - Wheat Belly Basic Biscuit made with blanched almond flour. Also Delish!

We were so busy that I didn't really make a proper meal so no new recipes but I did do a test batch of biscuits as a follow up on my almond meal/flour post yesterday. Saturday I made my first fresh batch of almond meal so I thought I better test it out today. I made the same batch of Basic Wheat belly biscuits (the recipe is in the Wheat Belly Cookbook - at Costco for $14.99 - get it): one time with bought blanched almond flour from Bulk Barn and again with home-made (half the price) almond meal. The result – they look almost identical other than the almond meal version being a little darker, they taste almost exactly the same (the blanched might taste a wee bit lighter) and they are both really delicious. Okay - this is really a good wheat-free/sugar-free biscuit. OMG - yummy.  So the verdict - at half the price I think I will be using almond meal as much as I can unless the recipe specifically asks for "blanched almond flour". 

And to answer the question of what do you eat for breakfast if you don't eat's an example!

Mama eats a delicious wheat-free egg Mc Muffin. So good, so clean. That's a Wheat Belly Basic Biscuit, a free run egg, nitrate & gluten free turkey bacon and cheddar cheese.  High protein, low carbs!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mama makes Almond Meal

Almond Meal made from grinding raw almonds with skins on. 

I decided today to try and make some almond meal and it seems to have turned out just fine. At least it looks fine - I'll do some baking with it tomorrow to test it out.  

There are basically two kinds of almond flour that you might come across in many gluten-free recipes: almond meal or blanched almond flour. Almond meal is basically just raw almonds finely ground with the skins on - I haven't actually seen this in the store but I made my own (see above). Almond flour is generally the kind you would buy in the store and it is made from blanched (skins removed) almonds. They do some further processing to it so it is a lighter flour to use in baking - not sure if you make your own  flour from blanched almonds if it will work in all recipes but feel free to give it a shot. You can get blanched almond flour in bulk at Bulk Barn or order it online. 

Blanched almond flour from Bulk Barn.  Skins are removed.
Almond flour/meal is a great alternative to wheat flour in cooking and baking because not only is it gluten/wheat-free, but it is high in fiber and protein and low in carbohydrates (which is what makes it really stand out from other gluten replacements which are generally high in carbohydrates). Also, it is moist, flavorful and easy to work with. The big downside is that it is significantly more expensive than wheat flour. That's why you should use almond meal (which is significantly cheaper to make from bulk almonds - I like Costco ones best) when you can.  I should have some recipes made with Almond meal coming soon since I have a fresh batch.

Mama makes Almond Meal
To make almond meal I just put 1 cup of raw almonds in my food processor (I have a very basic Black and Decker model but you could also try a coffee grinder). I pulsed the almonds until they were like fine sand. It took a couple of minutes. I stopped it every so often to check on how fine it was getting to make sure I didn't over process it and end up with almond butter. It should still look like dry sand. If it starts getting gummy you are grinding too much. If your food processor isn't getting it fine enough for your liking you might want to put it through a flour sifter and put the larger particles back through the processor until they are fine enough. Like I said I have a pretty basic food processor and I didn't have to do this so hopefully you won't. Voila - almond meal. 

Impress the In-laws Paleo Ribs with Wheat Belly BBQ sauce

Delicious gluten free ribs - okay - maybe not a "lean" protein but its not like we eat them everyday!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paleo Friendly Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Even the kids will eat a strawberry dipped in dark chocolate. 
paleo, grain-free
Red Ripe Strawberries dipped in 70% cacao chocolate. Brings colour to a tray of Grain free "dainties".

Had the girls over for a ladies night and had to put out some treats. Thought I would try dipping strawberries in dark chocolate because who doesn't like that and I needed some colour on the tray (I went a little chocolate crazy so it was a sea of brown). Even the kids liked it. I will work on getting them a bit fancier next time but they looked okay for my first shot. They would also look great rolled in some nuts, coconut or drizzled with a bit of white chocolate.  

And remember dark chocolate and cocoa are rich in cell protecting antioxidants - naturals compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They can play a role in fighting cardiovascular disease, premature aging and cancer. It also has a low glycemic index so it won't send your blood sugar soaring. Just eat in moderation and try to buy dark chocolate that is a least 70% cacao.

What I did (for about 12 strawberries and 4 dried apricots)

2 squares - Baker's brand premium 70% cacao baking squares

I cut the chocolate into small pieces and put in a small microwave safe glass bowl.  I washed the strawberries leaving the stems on and made sure they were very dry. I microwaved the chocolate for 30 seconds, stirred it, put it in the microwave for another 30 seconds, stirred again, and microwaved for 20 more seconds. You will have to adjust this for your microwave/chocolate but basically just put it in for 20 or 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between and making sure you take it out as soon as it is all melted. Next dip each strawberry and place on a piece of waxed or parchment paper and place in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Low Carb Shirataki Noodles

Macaroni Tofu Shirataki Noodles from Safeway. Grain free and low carb!
I was able to find these Shirataki Noodles at my local Safeway. They have next to no calories (20 per half a package) and only 3 grams of carbs. Compared to regular pasta that could have up to 300 calories and 60 grams of carbs per serving. That's crazy. I haven't looked in the Asian markets yet but they likely carry them there as well. 

Shiratake noodles are made from the root of a plant (Amorphophallus Konjac) found in Asia. They add tofu to the noodles to improve the texture.  They contain a fiber known as glucomannan which can play a role in blood sugar control. Most importantly it can replace other starchy noodles such as wheat, brown rice and corn noodles.

These noodles come packed in liquid and will be found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. You need to rinse them thoroughly and I cook them in olive oil to warm them up. They don't have much flavour on their own so they can be seasoned/sauced like you would regular pasta.  When contemplating going Wheat-free and/or low carbohydrate most people panic at the thought of not having pasta - especially those with kids that have spaghetti and meat sauce as a staple meal. These noodles offer an awesome alternative so you don't feel like you are missing out and maybe even your kids will enjoy. My husband and daughter both enjoyed these with a stir fry - and they can be a tough crowd.  

Yay - Costco Winnipeg gets Organic Coconut Oil

Virgin Coconut Oil arrives at Winnipeg Costco!
My hubby officially thinks I'm weird. At Costco today I spotted organic coconut oil and squealed - I knew they would get it soon. The price is awesome - about $5 per lb. You can also buy it at most grocery stores (although it can be tricky to find as its not necessarily with the other oils), health stores and bulk barn for about $8 per pound. The Costco one is a big jar but if you start using it as much as I do you will go through it or you can share it with someone. 

Why do I cook and bake with coconut oil? 

Coconut oil is made of medium chain fatty acids that are easily digested and converted to energy versus the long-chain fatty acids in polyunsaturated oils which are stored as fat. It significantly improves metabolism, slows digestion, prevents blood sugar fluctuations, and detoxifies your body. Basically it can help you lose weight, control your cravings and improve immunity. Apparently it has other uses as well - skin care, etc but I have yet to try it out. 

Now - if only they would get some Almond Flour at Costco I would be happy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wheat Belly Walnut Bread (with Apricots)

Calling for Butter........................

Golden brown and beautiful

I tried out both the quick breads in the Wheatbelly Cookbook and was really happy with the result. Keep in mind these are grain free breads with no sugar so my expectations were not high (some of my other almond flour baking has been getting mixed reviews). The one shown is the walnut/raisin bread. I didn't have raisins so I made it with chopped dried apricots instead. A bit of a cheat but I ate it with some marmalade (once its gone I'm not buying any more so I savored it) and it was really good. The kids didn't like this one but they actually really liked the pecan/date version - I think I preferred that one as well.

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Heat

Ready to go in the oven

Hot and Saucy and ready to eat!

Paleo Pork Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles

Sesame Oil is the magic ingredient

Muffin Faced Magic

Last Nights bedtime snack

Perfect Parsnips

A natural sweetness that is oh so good!

Here's what they look like in the store - the front ones has been peeled!

Holy Guacamole!!

A view from the top
Fresh and tasty!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Open Faced Beef Taco's

Wheat Belly Tortilla's sprinkled with taco seasoning
Topped with Taco Hamburger meat, cheese, lettuce and tomotoes.

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes - Wheat Belly Cookbook

Served with Butter and Real Maple Syrup

Oven Roasted Fennel - Licoricious Deliciousness

Here's what it looks like at the store - if you want to try it out and have no idea what you are looking for!

Out of the oven and ready to eat.
I'm on a perpetual hunt for new veggies to try now that we aren't eating our usual side dish of white potatoes/rice/pasta . A lady at superstore told me I should try roasted fennel so I decided to go for it. I've never eaten fennel in my life and had no idea what it looked like. I bought a bunch at extra foods (the cashier did not know the code - he was a scary dude - I hated to set him off).  It has a bit of a sweetness to it and a slight licorice flavour (Uncle Tom this would go great with your black licorice candies and Zambuca). Hubby wished he had some Zambuca to wash it down but I enjoyed it and would make it again if Hubby will agree to eat it.

Oven Roasted Fennel

1 bunch fennel
2 tbsp olive oil
fine sea salt - to taste
ground black pepper  - to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice fennel into quarters. I sliced off the top and bottom and then cut down the middle. I then quartered it.  Eat the bulb not the stalk (I think). Place in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper. Mix to cover. Roast in oven for about 40 minutes (until tender), turning occasionally. Easy. Done!

Pecan Apricot Dark Chocolate Bites - Delicious

apricot, pecan, choc, coconut, paleo, wheat-free, gluten-free
Rolled in unsweetened medium shredded organic coconut - Optional.
Yum Yum - no sugar, no grains - just good!
Beware - these are addicting! If you are looking for something chocolaty (dark chocolate of course - full of antioxidants) and sweet with NO SUGAR this is the dessert for you.  Unfortunately the kids didn't take to these................I really can't understand why but I will keep trying. I love the sweetness of the apricots without the guilt of sugar. They are best kept in the fridge but also freeze well. I took these on our trip to Grand Forks and it satisfied my sweet tooth so I wasn't tempted by wheat filled treats or milk chocolate - which is tougher when you don't have access to your own kitchen.

Pecan Apricot Dark Chocolate Bites

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (health wise its best if they are >70% cacao)
1 cup apricots
1 cup pecans
1 tbsp organic coconut oil, melted (in microwave is fine)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut - optional

Blend first three ingredients in food processor until if becomes the consistency of course sand. Transfer to a bowl and add melted coconut oil. Mix thoroughly. Roll into balls - about 1 tbsp per ball. Put shredded coconut on a plate. Roll each ball in shredded coconut. Put in an airtight container and store in fridge or freezer. Enjoy!