Whole 30, day 24

less than a week to go!

i’m missing gluten-free pretzels the most today, for some reason. i’m just craving them! at my finish, i will nominate one day per week to finish off the gluten-free snacks that remain in my pantry, then vow to never buy them again once they are finished. i will miss them, but my body will not.

breakfast: sweet potatoes, sausage, 2 eggs sunny-side-up. coffee with coconut cream.

lunch: big salad with chicken, avocado, strawberries, and sunnyseeds.

dinner: burger with onions, mushrooms, bacon. baked sweet potato fries.

results: today was what a standard day should feel like. i didn’t feel deprived of anything. i felt great all day. my energy levels are seriously sinking, but this is surely due to my work schedule. i sleep about 4 hours per night during the work week. i get up at 4am or earlier to feed juniper before i leave for work, then return home around 8-8:30pm. this is extremely unhealthy. it feels unhealthy every time i wake up, and every time i fight sleep at 9:00pm so i can get a few things done before bed… like, getting ready for work the following morning. ugh.. i can’t wait to start getting real sleep soon, after i’m done working outside of the home!

this baked chicken recipe saves us throughout the week. we bake 3 on sunday, then split them up for salads and such throughout the work week. so juicy and tasty. normally, i find chicken breast completely worthless. however, when prepared properly, i find it a delicious, inexpensive way to add some great protein do my lunches. i require tons of protein.

baked chicken breast

3 medium chicken breasts, free range and organic is preferable

1 cup orange juice, nothing added

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

method: combine all ingredients in a gallon size baggie. allow chicken to marinate for at least 3 hours, or over night.

preheat oven to 375f. drain marinade from chicken and coat in olive oil.

place in a glass baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, until chicken is browned on the outside just slightly and cooked through. you want the juice to run clear when you poke it. remove chicken from oven and allow to rest before slicing. this will keep the juices inside of the meat instead of running out and making the breast dry.

don’t over-bake. chicken is done when thermometer registers at 165f. people think that chicken is dry, and they don’t like it because they’ve always had it when the bejesus has been cooked out of it. don’t do that.

165f.

done.

big salad

your favorite greens

chicken breast, cut into strips

1/2 cup strawberries, chopped up

1/2 avocado, sliced

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1/3 cup olive oil

sprinkle of salt

sprinkle of pepper

method: whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. set aside.

build your salad.

dress your salad with oil and juice dressing. i use about 1/3 of this recipe per salad, and save the rest for lunches later in the week.

Whole 30, day 18

we’ll be skipping a few days again as we go into the weekend. sorry, but things are getting super busy for us!

i find that, since mindless snacking is no longer an option, i have lost a few pounds. i’m still unable to really whittle-the-middle due to most of my issue being a little postpartum stretchy skin. but wherever it is coming from, i’m keeping an eye on things out of caution that my milk supply could go down.

cutting out the crazy amount of fruit that i was eating has all at once:

a) helped with my bathroom visits

b) trimmed back a little midsection bloating that i usually have that i though was inherent with being a female above the age of 20. like i said, still a little fluff around the flagpole, but what a nice surprise! cutting down on fruit is just like cutting down on any sugar!

c) gotten rid of more sugar cravings. one piece of fruit would ALWAYS lead directly to another, until finally i would give in and eat a small handful of cashews to “protein crush” all that sugar. feels good to have that under control.

tonight i had a “dinner oops”. i made a roast pork from marks daily apple. when i initially planned dinner, i thought since our butt was a pound short of his, it would require less cooking time. well it’s 9:40p, and dinner is still in the oven. we will be having it on sunday night since we will be getting in from out-of-town so late.

i had breakfast for dinner, instead!

breakfast: 2 eggs sunny side up, sweet potato hashies, 2 strips bacon. coffee and coconut cream.

lunch: turkey, tomato, avocado, baby greens, 2 soft boiled eggs. a few cashews.

snack: pepitas, a peach.

dinner: 2 egg mushroom omlette. sausages.

results: YAY! i ate half a dozen eggs today!
YUMZ!

2 egg omlette

2 eggs

slices shrooms

basil

S & P

ghee

method: beat the living sin out of the eggs. stir in pepper.

saute sliced mushrooms dry. this makes it so they don’t get rubbery!

get a big skillet nice and hot on medium heat. add ghee. turn heat down and promptly add egg, covering whole surface of skillet. quickly sprinkle salt over egg. it will not take long for this to overlook. while the egg is still mostly wet, add cooked mushrooms and basil. roll egg into omelette and slide onto a plate to serve.

no, we don’t flip an omelette.

this whole dance must happen fast, or the egg will harden and you will have a rubbery, stiff egg on your hands. instead, you want a soft, cheesy texture. believe me.

scrambeled eggs to make a difference!

cheesy-cheeseless egg & bacon sandwich with tapioca flat bread

WHOLE 30 is still happening, so, no cheese for me. what is a scrambled egg without raw, sharp cheddar half melted and oozy all tucked into the egg’s folds?

hi, my name is liz, and i have a problem. i eat a lot of cheese. so much cheese, that i spend my free time thinking about the next time i get to eat it (23 days)!

how does a breakfast lover like myself cope? make scrambled eggs really well. it isn’t difficult at all.

here is a hint: eggs shouldn’t ever feel dry. there should be a little wet to them, and i’m not talking moisture. i’m talking goo. know the point when your eggs still have the orange/yellow gel on them during cooking? that’s when you are supposed to stop cooking them. ask any chef: a dry egg is a pathetic waste of perfectly good flavor and texture.

since dropping the cheese from my diet, i’ve found that the cheesyness of a perfectly cooked egg is enough to trick my tongue. the eggs have a cheese flavor, and a cheesy texture when they are cooked properly. this could gross people out, but don’t avoid it. give it a try. so long as your eggs are from a good clean source (get outta here, factory farm eggs), it is fine to consume a wet egg. not only is it fine, but many studies show that slightly undercooked eggs preserve available nutrients and biotin.

and no, you won’t get salmonella. if you are eating factory farm eggs, then yes. worry about disease. once you are done worrying, go out to the farmer’s market and spend 3$ on a dozen real eggs.

real scrambled eggs

2 cold eggs

s & p to taste

2 tbsp ghee (butter is fine if you are not doing WHOLE 30)

method: crack your cold eggs into a small cup or pyrex with a pour spout. using a fork (not a whisk!), beat the heck out of it until everything is one color in there. add pepper and whip again. do not add salt yet.

heat cast iron skillet over medium/high heat until skillet is hot. spread your ghee over the pan and turn heat to low or very low.

pour eggs onto hot ghee, and using fork, stir on the skillet for 15 seconds or so, until lumps begin to form. now sprinkle on your salt. stir again, remove from heat, and pile eggs into the center of pan in a tall stack. this should all be done before the eggs cook through. quickly transfer eggs to plate before the heat from skillet over cooks them.

the eggs continue to congeal off of the heat from the residual heat and steam that has already passed through them.

if you have done this right, the center of your eggs-pile will still be gooey, but not sloppy or runny.

the trick here is removing them from heat way before they are cooked. the other trick is adding the salt LAST. adding salt will make the eggs tough and dry. this is why you wait until they begin to set up before adding it.

our eggs are so bright yellow because our free-range, happy chickens eat so many bugs and protein sources in the back yard, instead of fortified feed. we do supplement their diet during dry seasons, though.

kale, bacon, and cheddar omelet

when life gives you kale, put it into everything. i have been putting kale into at least one meal a day. this makes me feel like i am eating light… with bacon and cheese.

my garden is putting a crazy amount of kale. like, crazy. it is even more delicious than spinach in an omelet. slightly more salty and sulfurous in flavor and a little more crunch, kale is a super-duper tasty plant, and mad tasty in breakfast applications. -and it grows like a weed. seriously, next year i am going to border my floral garden with it because it is tall, beautiful, and pretty independent.

kale always needs a little help with getting some awesome flavor out of it. adding salt and pepper is usually all it needs for morning treat, and for a great side to dinner, sauteing in garlic, salt, pepper, and zesting with lemon is simply delicious.

kale and bacon are practically a given., so breakfast is pretty straight forward in my house until my kale bounty dies down a little. add a little cheese, or a lot, for a really, really savory breakfast.

i am going to tell you a secret. you may disagree with this secret philosophy, but it is the truth. -yes, i know the definition of “philosophy” doesn’t allow “absolute truth”, but follow me in on this one.

don’t melt cheese. ever. no, i don’t mean you can’t heat it up a little to soften it, i mean don’t let it melt completely. you lose the textures that carry the salty flavors. i realize that you don’t believe me, and think melted cheese it just great. forget all that stuff. just try it. -don’t top your pizza or baked spaghetti with cheese until the very last-minute. -put room temperature cheese on your burrito. -toast your grilled cheese until the cheese JUST softens, not oozes.

try it. the flavor will surprise you.

i never fully melt the cheese in my omelet. in fact, i keep the cheese cold until i am ready to grate it on, then i let the fillings warm it as i fold it into the egg wrapper. this results in a sharp, salty filling with texture. no liquidy, drippy pool of “wtf is that?” left stagnating on the plate.

listen, unless you are making sauce:

trust me.

never.

melt.

cheese.

you are cooking that flavor right out of it. don’t do that!

another tidbit in conjunction with the way i make omelets: i don’t add stuff to the egg. -no milk or cream. i prefer a sturdy, intensely flavored egg, as opposed to the super soft and creamy variation that the french made famous. this is not to say that i like a dense, rubbery wrapper. keeping from adding salt to the egg until last-minute will keep your egg fluffy, but still let it crisp around the edges and remain sturdy. beating the crap out of the egg batter should also help to keep the egg from becoming dense without cream. add cream if you desire a super-soft omelet, or however you prefer.

this recipe is not a strict or set way of making an omelet, simply a guide for utilizing the produce you may be seeing an abundance of like i am, and to perhaps try something different, like kale, in your breakfast instead of maybe spinach. if you want to use feta cheese, use it. if you have sausage, use it. if you want to add garlic, hey, get crazy with it. play with what ‘cha got!

kale, bacon, and cheddar omelet

a few big leafs of kale, cleaned, cut into small pieces

3 strips of bacon

nice fancy cheddar that hasn’t been tainted by food coloring or other sad additives

2 eggs

salt and pepper

method: get the eggs at room temperature.

fry up and crisp the bacon, reserving the fat. once the bacon is cooked and grease is patted off of the meat, crunch bacon into bits. let skillet come back down a little in temperature.

add kale and a little pepper to bacon fat in skillet, and cook until just tender. you don’t want to over cook this. placing a lid on while cooking helps to get it tender without burning. wait to add salt until kale is finished cooking or it will release too much water.

while fillings cook, beat the heck out of your eggs and pepper in a small cup. heat up large cast iron skillet with a little butter or bacon grease spread on all cooking surfaces of skillet. once skillet is hot, but not smoking, add egg and tilt to coat pan with egg. allow to cook until center is just cooked and edges are crisped up a little. now is the time to sprinkle with salt. loosen edges, add kale and half the bacon. just before you fold your omelet, add your cheese and transfer to a plate. top with remaining bacon for crispy yummies.

smoky sweet potatoes on the grill with bbq chicken

smoky sweet potato

let me start off by saying this: chives are so pretty!

look at those colors! and so versatile, they can be put on all kinds of savory stuff. the flower is also edible, so don’t throw it to the chickens… brian…

ready for execution!

i am way into garden cooking right now. i’ve been using my lettuce, herbs and chives like crazy. i can’t wait until the rest of this stuff comes out of the ground. -carrots, beets, kale, spinach, and peppers are all just sprouting little leaves in the garden, and hopefully by mid-summer we will have a bounty. for now, we have lots of chives, and we are working on ways to gobble these beauties up!

so very green and purple

i have a special place in my heart for sweet potatoes. -like, really special. -as in a few years ago i ate them every day and my skin turned a little yellow. it’s harmless. it was like an irish tan.

anyhow, i still eat them almost daily. it occurred to me, though, that i had never eaten them with sour cream. -i know, right?! well since we had so many chives in the garden and cultured sour cream in the refrigerator, i decided to be crazy for once and change-up my usual oven roasted sweet potatoes for grilled sweet potatoes with sour cream and chives.

gorgeous. these were beautiful. they taste amazing, they were easy, and they taste amazing. oh did i say that twice? good. i mean it. these things are crazy good. this was a great method to use, parboiling the potatoes ahead of time, then throwing them on the grill to finish and get smoky-sweet. this would also be an awesome dish to bring to a bbq, parboiling the potatoes at home, then taking them, ready to throw on the grill, all wrapped in foil and seasoned. -and don’t forget about throwing the foiled packages of potatoes into a campfire this summer. delicious.

sweet potatoes are the perfect companion to bbq chicken. i always make my bbq sauce from scratch. don’t even think about using a bottle of bbq sauce from walmart. just don’t.

try to time this meal so you can parboil the potatoes while the grill warms up., then throw them on the grill and finish them with the chicken.

one at the lips, 2 at the hips. whatever that means.

bbq sauce

1 1/4 cup of natural ketchup

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp date paste, maple syrup, brown sugar, or sweetener of your choice

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

pinch of salt

1 or 2 tsp sriracha or hot sauce

method: dump all that stuff in a bowl and mix mix mix. come on, let’s get going here. those spices won’t dissolve on their own. taste it, add stuff as needed. let it set for a few minutes before using to let things gel together. the consistency will depend on what sweetener you choose, and also the brand of ketchup you use. i highly encourage you to add more or use less of the ingredients listed as you so wish. fool around with this recipe and make it yours!

this stuff keeps in the refrigerator for a long time… like, a year. trust me.

bbq chicken

for the chicken:

6-12 drumsticks, however many you can gobble up

1 cup cold water

3 tbsp salt

2 tbsp sriracha

1 tbsp garlic powder

method: whisk all ingredients together until the salt dissolves, soak chicken for 1 hour and up to 6 hours in brine.

while grill is heating up, make bbq sauce and boil potatoes.

to cook chicken, coat grill grates with oil and cook on indirect heat for about 20-40 minutes, depending on your grill.

brush with bbq sauce during the last 5 minutes of grilling.

smoky sweet potatoes

a few clean sweet potatoes

a big pot of boiling water

olive oil

foil

s & p

sour cream

chives

method: bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot of water for 20 minutes. set them on large pieces of foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper all over the place, then drizzle some oil in there.

wrap tightly in foil.

throw onto the grill while your other food cooks, about 20 minutes. remove from foil packet and set onto oiled grill for a few minutes to crisp and smoke skin. watch them to prevent burning. top halved potato with sour cream, chives, salt, and pepper.

don’t forget to make the table look nice!

go out to the yard and grab whatever your garden provides you with, stick it into a bottle, and call it a centerpiece. why let them waste away in the yard? we bring ours in and set them by the bedside.


fluffy peony

white beans dijon and chicken kebab

white beans dijon and chicken kebab

here is a really simple meal with some strong, basic flavors. have you ever sat down to a meal that you know was simply prepared well, and reminded how good simple foods can be when they are done well? this happens to me every once in a while, so i though i should share a recipe that did just that for me.

chicken thighs are perfect for the grill. their higher fat content keeps them from drying out in the smoky heat. plus, chicken thighs are totally delicious and super cheap. tomatoes get really sweet and a little smoky on the grill. the easy 2 ingredient marinade works perfectly and quickly to add tons of flavor.

unlike many on a modified primal diet, i am not afraid to include beans every so often into my diet. i will eat them once a week or so. eaten in moderation, beans are a healthy way of filling up on good plant-based protein and fiber.

great northern beans with dijon mustard, sun-dried tomatoes, and almond oil

my only stipulation is that i eat them only when properly prepared by soaking for at least 24 full hours, with 3 or 4 changes of water. this ensures digestibility, decreasing the chances for… ahem… intestinal distress. we all know that beans are famous for giving us excess amounts of gas, discomfort, even cramping and pain. this is typically because they have not been soaked, rendering the shell of the bean cooked, but the inside of the bean still raw and indigestible.

soak your beans. your intestines will thank me.

dijon mustard is the magical ingredient in most of our recipes lately, especially in this one. a little bit goes a long way, so you don’t need to add much else to the dish.

the second magical ingredient is almond oil. almond oil imparts toasty richness to the beans. the full flavored oil spreads nicely among the beans and keeps them from sticking together. if you do not have almond oil, i highly recommending dolling out the cash for a bottle. it costs the same as olive oil, and can be used in so many applications. if you really don’t feel like you want to buy it, a few substitution choices could be a fruity olive oil, butter, or bacon fat.

this recipe serves 2 fairly large portions.

cook the beans before you even start the grill, minding timing on this meal because the beans take over an hour, while the kebab take about 20 minutes once placed onto the grill.

white beans dijon with sun-dried tomatoes and almond oil

for the beans:

1/2 cup dry white beans (i like great northern)

several cups cold water

2 tbsp dijon mustard

3 tbsp almond oil

few tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

method: soak rinsed beans in clean water for at least 24 hours, changing water 2 times during that period.

place beans in a pot and cover them with 2 cups of water. do not salt the water. bring to a boil for 15 minutes.

turn heat down to medium. simmer for one hour or until beans are tender. add water if needed as it evaporates.

drain beans. stir in dijon mustard, oil, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt. keep warm over stove top.

smoky from the grill

chicken and tomato kebab

3 medium chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces

2 cups sweet, tiny tomatoes

3 tbsp dijon mustard

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

method: combine all ingredients and marinate. these can be marinated for up to 24 hours, but 1 hour is sufficient. place on skewers keeping them on separate skewers because they will get done at different rates.

get grill piping hot and grease grill grates. grill for 20-30 minutes, turning once. the tomatoes are super delicate once cooked, so be careful when moving them around the grill.

serve over beans and enjoy a smoky, comforting meal. a cold chardonnay would be awesome with this meal.

just sayin’.

chicken caesar salad

i tend to find chicken breasts useless, both in my diet and in my palate. i prefer the flavorful dark meat that chicken has to offer, and i am wild about the amount of healthy fats dark meat provides, even though it has a falsely attained bad reputation. breast meat is too lean for my taste and yields a dry texture that almost always lacks flavor. my prejudice against breast meat aside, i knew it would be a pretty poor decision to use thigh meat to top a salad with. so i sucked it up and bought some good quality chicken breasts to feat my caesar salad. i used a method praised by america’s test kitchen, and with good reason. this produced a juicy, flavorful meat that was practically slow-poached in a flavorful juice and finished by searing all the goodness in by using a skillet to crisp it at the end.

it does help, too, that the chicken was drizzled with an awesome caesar dressing. fresh caesar dressing is simple to make, inexpensive, and a nutritious way to add a ton of flavor to a healthy salad. -healthy fats from the egg yolk, anchovy, and olive oil, plus the obvious benefits of garlic and lemon juice, this dressing is practically a super-food. make a double batch and keep the leftover in the refrigerator to use later on roasted potatoes, cooked asparagus, or fancy up a burger a little.

this recipe serves 2

for the dressing:

2 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard

3 anchovy fillets

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp roasted minced garlic

1 egg yolk

S & P to taste

method: using mini food processor, blend all ingredients creating an emulsion, and a nice dressing forms. i like to keep some of the mustard seeds whole for a little added spice. this dressing tastes best served at room temperature.

chicken caesar salad

for the chicken:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

juice from 1 lemon

1 tbsp thyme leaves

S & P

method: preheat oven to 350f. marinate chicken in all ingredients for half an hour while oven preheats.

in a glass baking dish, bake chicken with a foil cover over it for about 20 minutes. while chicken is in oven, get an iron skillet hot over medium heat with some oil or bacon fat in it. add chicken once skillet is hot and cook for 5 minutes, without touching it, and allow meat to brown. flip it over to brown other side. once chicken is done cooking (thermometer should read 165f), let it rest on a plate for 5 minutes before slicing.

for the salad:

1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped

some cherry tomatoes, cut in half

shaved parmesan cheese

method: combine all ingredients in a large bowl. split between 2 bowls or plates and top with sliced chicken and drench in caesar dressing.

this is such a flavorful and fresh tasting salad, i feel really good after i eat salads like this. i’m sure i’ll be chowing on this a few times a week after my upcoming easter binge to jump-start my lighter spring diet!