Monday, November 29, 2010

5 Favorite Paleo Recipes So Far, Part 5: Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups

I'm not sure if you hard core Paleo Cross Fitters out there ever feel this way, but occasionally I really miss certain foods. Now of course, I can blame it on cravings ;) . Either way, it's nice to eat new foods, and it's also nice to enjoy old favorites.

One of those indulgences from my non-Paleo days (as in, 2 months ago!) was Buffalo Chicken Anything. Sandwich, Pizza, Boneless "Wings," Yum times 3. My first attempt at Paleo Buffalo Chicken was soup. Sounded good. But without roux or relying too heavily on dairy, it was just a little weird. Then, I had some leftover chicken from making Enchiladas, and came up with a version of Buffalo Chicken so delicious that I can hardly justify missing it anymore. It might be stretching it to call it a recipe; perhaps it's more of an idea, but it's a yummy one.

Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups
1 serving

4 slices Deli Chicken (I'm still using Hormel Natural Choice...any other suggestions?)
1 slice Provolone
2 t Crumbled Blue Cheese
Texas Pete or Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste

Anybody else out there in love with their George Foreman? I'd nearly forgot I owned one before starting Paleo, but wow, what an option-giver. This recipe capitalizes on the nice double sided heat of the George, but a skillet would work fine. All I do is take two slices of deli-chicken and fill it with half a slice of provolone, 1 teaspoon blue cheese, and several good shakes of salsa. Repeat, then throw your Roll-Ups on the grill until heated. Yes, it oozes. No, it doesn't bother me. I just use a silicone spatula and scrape the yum on top. Alternately (and perhaps more neatly), just heat the roll-ups in a pan turning once. These are nice with celery, of course. ;)

Did Paleo Help Me Get Pregnant?

I guess you might say my husband and I are dinosaurs of a sort: we love big families. We love calling kids a blessing (it's a mindset!), love raising future adults who will contribute to their communities (yes, in spite of their "carbon footprint"), and, well, love babies. After years of struggling with miscarriage and "secondary infertility," we were thrilled to find out a few days ago that we are expecting Baby G.4.0!

Upon receiving the news, one of the first things I did was google "Pregnancy AND Paleo." What I was really looking for was information on how this way of eating might affect my pregnancy and if I needed to make any changes. What I found was a very interesting article pointing to the fact that Paleo might have actually helped me get pregnant. How exciting. One more evidence that Paleo is healing my body.

I plan on continuing Paleo throughout the pregnancy, and I'd love to hear other's experiences about how it worked for them. Did you make any adjustments to your eating? Did you supplement with prenatals or folic acid or calcium? For those who've had a Paleo and a non-Paleo pregnancy, how can you compare weight gain/post-delivery weight loss between pregnancies? I'm still about 15 pounds from goal weight, so I'm wondering if Paleo might give me that awesome basketball tummy instead of feeling whale-like putting on a full 30 pounds, distributed everywhere! I feel a bit overwhelmed being a newbie Paleo non cavegirl and embarking on a stage in life where diet is of utmost importance. I'd love any help I can get!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

5 Favorite Paleo Recipes So Far, Part 4: Daddy's TexMex Enchiladas

I live in the South. Mexican food is weird here. I'm from Texas. We know Mexican Food. And Tex-Mex, which is it's own delicious genre! My dad was a Fire Captain...which means when he wasn't busy saving lives, he was cooking for a crew of hungry men. Thankfully, that trickled over to the home front and he kept us well-fed!

These are my daddy's enchiladas...Paleo Style. I do dairy, but these are grain and legume free. I'm just going to give the basic recipe, but of course, use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on. Our bodies and taste buds thank us!

Captain Jack's TexMex Enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce

3-4 Dried Ancho Chiles (pictured above), stems removed (you'll find these in the Hispanic foods section of the grocery)
About 1 cup Tomato Sauce (If you're not going to use organic or homemade, try Del Fuerte which is BPA free. It's in a little TetraPak in the same section with the chiles)
2 cups Water
1/3 - 1/2 Yellow Onion chopped
1 T Minced Garlic
Salt to taste (about 1/2 t)

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly and puree and strain, or VitaMix the sauce when done cooking and skip the straining.

2 cups Chili Without Beans (Check the label if you're tempted to use canned, lots of it has grain and soy)
1 pound Ground Beef or Venison, cooked and seasoned to taste
2 -3 cups Finely Grated Cheese (Colby, Cheddar or "Mexican Blend")
Finely chopped onion

Here's the trick: Deli-Sliced chicken breast.
I've seen some Paleo-tortilla recipes online, but none looked like they could stand up to the filling and the baking, so here's my Paleo-friendly substitute. It may take some time to find a grain free version. Hormel Natural Choice Chicken Breast is nitrite, preservative, MSG and gluten free. The label says 0 carbs, but the ingredients list rice starch. Since I'm still eating (and blogging!) Paleo For the Rest of Us, that's gonna do today. I'm curious to see if I can find an even better version at Earthfare. The chicken has a mild flavor, but is sturdy enough to stand up to the enchilada goodness filling the inside.

Assembly and Cooking
Use 2-3 slices of chicken overlapped as your "tortilla." Spread 1 T of Enchilada Sauce and then 1 tablespoon chili on the sliced chicken. Sprinkle equal parts cooked ground beef/venison, and shredded cheese, about 1 tablespoon each. You can add the onions now, or sprinkle them on top at the end. Roll up in "enchilada fashion" and place seam down in a glass baking dish. I actually assemble mine in the baking dish, even though it gets crowded at the end. When your dish is full, mix the rest of the chili and enchilada sauce together and pour over the enchiladas, adding a little water if needed. Add remaining cheese, sprinkled on top. This makes 12-14 enchiladas, depending on how thick you make them. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes (if you started with warm ingredients) until bubbly. These can be pre-assembled and refrigerated or frozen. No soggy tortillas! Don't you just love Paleo?

But what about the rice and beans? Well, what about them, right? Serve these with guacamole, sour cream and shredded lettuce tossed with lemon juice. That is a good meal. ¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5 Favorite Paleo Recipes So Far, Part Three: Stewed Apples with Greek Yogurt

Here again, living up to my blog title. As hoped, I have found a nice alternative to eggs for breakfast. With the weather turning cooler (well, sort of), I have been missing a nice bowl of oatmeal, so I came up with an alternative that's not so low carb, but has a decent protein profile. And, well, it's yummy.

Stewed Apples with Greek Yogurt

2 small apples, large dice (Gala, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, and Fuji are all nice)
2 t butter or coconut oil
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1-2 t sweetener of your choice (Hate to say it, but brown sugar is my favorite. Stevia in the Raw, Maple syrup, or honey work too)
1/2 c Greek Yogurt (Oikos is my favorite)

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat and add apples directly to pan as you wait for butter to melt. Turn down heat to medium low/low depending on your range. Add vanilla and spices and cover. You don't want to pan fry these babies. What you're looking for is a slow stewing so that the apples release their juice and caramelize. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I serve the apples over the yogurt in a teacup and enjoy these with coffee once a week or so.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weight Loss and Paleo, Revisited

I fell off the Paleo Wagon for a few days. But, I enjoyed it. Better, I figure, than doing so mindlessly and not enjoying it. Even so, for most meals, I still ate Paleo because I really wanted to. That huge white flour bun with the hamburger was not the least bit tempting. But the Chimichanga with cheese sauce? Now that's another story.

Interestingly enough, I definitely had what Dr. Sears calls "Yuck Tummy" after every foray into my former grain-based diet. In reality, I didn't even eat that much grain, but given the way I felt afterwards, it will probably be a while before I "cheat" again.

In other news, despite my venturing off path for a few days, my weight loss is steady. In about a month, I'm down at least 10 pounds. My jeans are beginning to be uncomfortable because THEY'RE TOO LOOSE. Oh, yeah, baby. My kind of discomfort. I'm not saying I'm busting out the "Skinny Clothes" box that's packed in the closet, maybe not even my "Medium Skinny Clothes" box, but I'm well on my way and enjoying nearly every moment of it.

I am tired of eggs in the morning. And find it impossible to eat salad greens with breakfast, though that was so intriguing my first couple weeks. It's not that I want bread (though oatmeal does sound nice); I just don't want eggs. Need to browse a bit and be creative. Here's to hoping "Part 3" of my Favorite Paleo Recipes will be breakfast related.

5 Favorite Paleo Recipes So far, Part Two: Ratatouille Inspired Chicken Soup

Today it's finally cold. Finally. The South's not been good to me this year. But I digress. We celebrated with a pot of soup. Very Paleo-Friendly. And very yum. Enjoy. As with all things Paleo, use the best quality ingredients possible. Organic, cage-free, local, in-season, all-of-the above, whenever possible. For us today, it was none-of-the-above, but it was good, and we were thankful, nonetheless.

Ratatouille Inspired Chicken Soup

3 chicken breasts
4 plum tomatoes, quartered
2 zuchinni, sliced into 1/4 in. rounds
1/2 onion, very roughly chopped
3/4 cup whole baby carrots
1 T minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional ratatouille-like ingredients I didn't happen to have on hand: roughly chopped bell pepper and cubed eggplant

Add all ingredients to pot, cover with water (or part brewed black tea for a richer broth), and boil until the chicken is tender and able to be cut with a fork. That simple. If the chicken breasts are frozen to start with, bring them to a boil with the water on their own for at least 30 min.

We garnished with lemon juice, crushed red pepper and Provencal (or Italian seasoning), because we're Mexican and that's the way we eat soup. I also strained the broth and added the chicken back in for The Littles. They love their veggies. RAW. Thank you very much. But at least they got some of the nutrients, and a lot of the delicious flavor. It was delightful and we ate with the doors open just to feel the fall breeze. Very nice. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 Favorite Paleo Recipes So far, Part One: Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Disclaimer: This is a Paleo for the Rest of Us Recipe. Which means it's not for the hard-core. Which means, it's fine for me. Sometimes my desire for something sweet (besides fruit) gets the best of me. This version of pumpkin pie fits under the category of Not For Everyday, but is still a whole heck of lot better than a package of cookies split between me and the fam for dinner.

Vita-Mix Paleo Pumpkin Pie

1 pie pumpkin, cooked
1 cup organic whipping cream
1/2 cup raw milk
3 cage- free chicken eggs
1 - 2 t ginger
1 - 2 t nutmeg
1 - 2 t cinnamon
2 t vanilla
1/2 to 1 cup sugar and/or your choice equivalent sweetener (maple syrup is great, but takes longer to bake and half Stevia in the Raw/half sugar is good too).

I just scooped out the pumpkin after cooking it, and threw it straight into the Vita-Mix. (Food processor owners could just process the pumpkin separately.) The first time I made it, I blended it first, and then added the other ingredients. I noticed no difference the second time when I just threw it all in and blended it with the stick. If you use less sugar/sweetener, I'd suggest using the upper range of spices. I poured this in a rather large buttered glass casserole and baked on 375 for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness. Alternately, if you want a traditionally shaped pie, this mixture will fill two pie plates. The pie should be soft, but not wet in the center when done, and should not brown. Another good hint for doneness is when it pulls away from the sides of the baking dish.

I've never been a fan of soggy pie crust anyway, so I probably prefer this version to the original. We eat it with homemade whipped cream, since we do dairy on special occasions and, after all, pumpkin pie is a special occasion.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Converting the Family to Paleo (Without Convincing Them)

As the Primary Preparer of Meals around here, I've been making changes in what I cook for everyone. As planned, I did not convert the family to Paleo cold-turkey (though I did myself). Even so, I'm thrilled with the changes I've made so far. For example....
• Everyone is eating A LOT less sugar. Dessert is generally of a healthy variety (ie. pumpkin custard or a piece of dark chocolate) and at most once a day. In the past, my love language was baking decadently, so this is significant change.

• Everyone is eating A LOT less grain. With the exception of a couple requests for oatmeal, I've prepared no grain-centered meals. This is HUGE progress for me, the former bakery owner, lover of bread, maker of homemade tortillas with nearly every meal!

• Everyone is eating A LOT more protein from meat and fish and eggs. And, of course, they're thrilled about this.

So, we still have a ways to go, and I'm not even sure what my end-goal is for the family regarding paleo, but I know the changes I've made with/for them are several steps in the right direction. The best part? Not a single protest. Kind of like a great hair-cut. The best kind is the one no one notices.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weight Loss and Paleo

Yes, I'm only two weeks in. But whatever "water weight" I was going to lose is lost by now and I'm still going down.


Is it that my body is healing itself without the presence of grain and sugars in the diet?


Is it because I plain and simple find it nearly impossible to overeat meat, fruit, and veggies?

Maybe both. But either way (or both) I'm very happy with Paleo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2 Paleo Surprises

So, I've been logging my food in on Daily Burn. I switched to that site so I could input on-the-go with my iPhone, only to find that the app is for iPhone 4. Bummer. I've used FitDay off and on for years and certainly would have gone that route had I known the app would be useless to me. That said, the user shared database of Daily Burn is incredible and it really is much, much faster to use, though less detailed than Fit Day unless you upgrade. I don't really want to log every day; I tend to be a little to anal and I worry too much about the numbers. Not really the Paleo mindset. However, I did find a few surprises.

First of all, it's been really tough for me to get in enough protein.
I'm aiming for 91-130 grams based on Robb Wolf's recommendation and my ideal (not current) weight. I am eating MUCH more meat than I used to, but I still have to really try hard to make that range on a daily basis. Though it seems "unnatural" I've started adding egg whites to my omelets to help. I think my frugal grocery ways have probably sabotaged my health (and worse, probably that of my darling, auto-immunilogically challenged daughter). I cooked 2 1/2 pound of chicken breasts last night. We had left overs, but in the past I would have stretched that bag of chicken over several meals for a family of five with beans, rice and tortillas. I'm not quite sure how I'll balance the numbers, but I am sure that what I always considered "healthy and frugal" in the past was really unintentional carbohydrate loading in the name of saving money.

Secondly, I've been shocked at how easy it is to stay within the an ideal calorie range when grains, sugars and legumes are out of the picture. That may seem obvious to some. I was surprised. Being as full as I am after meals (though, lately quite hungry between them), I was shocked to see my calorie numbers hover under 1200. Without limiting my food intake at all. 3 squares and snacks when hungry. This is nice.

I'm going to back off of weighing everyday and food journaling for a while and enjoy the ride. Wild Salmon, cole slaw and green salad for dinner. Still loving Paleo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 Paleo Side effects

  1. Diarrhea like crazy the first two days.
  2. Not irritable (unlike my former 25 mile a week, 1,000 calorie days).
  3. Have eaten some of my favorite things I haven't had in a long time (like spaghetti squash and mushrooms!).
  4. Haven't really enjoyed my coffee. Hmmmmm.
  5. Been in the bathroom peeing constantly. All day. All night.
  6. Feel energetic.
  7. A little bit of difficulty staying asleep (probably related to #6).
  8. Really enjoyed my food.
  9. Lost 4 pounds in under a week.
  10. Thankfulness!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Starting Paleo: What it Will Look Like for Me and my Family

My biggest reason for wanting to go paleo is to see if we can deal with some stubborn chronic health conditions. I have many symptoms of Celiac Disease. My daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when she was three and has had several other immune system disorders. My spouse deals with digestion problems regularly. My daughter with JRA and I also both have weight issues. I don't know what mine are related to (and it's not overeating, btw, but that's another post); my daughter's stem from over-exposure to steroids to manage the arthritis.

That's the big picture, but I'm still wondering how the family will react. Will we really never eat tortillas? (Somos mexicanos.) Not bake anymore? (I used to run a small bakery.) Leave Nutella sandwiches on wholewheat behind? (It's my go-to substitute for dessert.)

So, while I think paleo is probably the easiest "handle" to put on this lifestyle choice, like many who practice it, I think we'll see it as something of a continuum. Personally, I plan on limiting dairy a lot. Live-culture yogurt, a little cream with coffee once in a while, and maybe cheese on a special occasion? The kids already drink as much almond milk as cow's milk, and I'll probably keep them headed in that general direction. Sugar? We fairly regularly fast from sugar anyway, but it's definitely feast or famine. I'll be happy to leave it behind for good. Vegetables: check. Tubers: they're not good for RA anyway, so we'll stay away. Legumes? Still researching. Grain? I plan on avoiding it nearly entirely myself and weaning the family off as far as I can get away with it. Meat/Poultry/Fish? Yes, as high a quality as I can afford, as a bare minimum, avoiding growth hormone and nitrites, and grass-fed/free-range as often as possible.

As far as a timeline is concerned, I plan on making a clean break from my current diet and starting fresh. I had bread for breakfast, rice noodles with lunch and pasta salad for dinner. I'm done and ready to turn the page and see how this will work for me. As far as the fam is concerned, I think it will be prudent to be sneaky. I'll ease them into it while I learn more about shopping and cooking paleo. I'd like to get them used to it in practice before I let them in on it. Since I do all the food prep and they're used to eating what's put before them (for the most part), I think I can pull it off.

I'm Not a Caveman (And Neither are You)

I want to "go" paleo. But I don't believe in cavemen. Or in millions of years of evolution. Nor do I believe the Bible-thumpers who say milk and honey were negatives or that Adam and Eve weren't vegetarians. I also think it's safe to assume that it's stretching exegesis to the breaking point to say that the reason God wasn't happy with Cain's offering was because it was grain.

However, from the little research I've done so far on the subject, it is very believable to me that bread was a very different animal than it is now. (Food Inc. anyone?) And our lives are certainly very different. So, I'm past the point where I feel I can't be anti-bread in practice and still pro Jesus the Bread of Life. Maybe He's the only Bread we need! ;)

So what else could I call it? "Meat and Veggies and Fruit and Eggs with a Smidgen of Dairy" isn't very catchy. Besides, my blog title's already too long. Maybe an acronym is in order? Umm....better not.

Maybe the catchphrase "Paleo" isn't so bad after all. Minus the stuff about the evolving cave dwellers.