Monday, June 30, 2014

Heirloom Tomato Sauce


So my posting comes in waves, I post a lot, then I take a break and so on and so forth.  Last week I got caught up in my job, and I had a nasty fever virus that went around - that put me on my butt for a few days - and just resorting to some quick soup (not so paleo since I didn't have HM broth. oops!).  We went to a fabulous wedding this weekend - and for the first time in a while - I was happy with how I looked in a picture. Yes - us girls are very hard on ourselves - and honestly I probably looked fine before, but we are our own worst critics.  My weight has been fluctuating as I get used to and continue to experiment with Paleo and make the crossover, but this weekend - I was happy with the end result (despite the hives I broke out in on Saturday morning - what the heck is wrong with me!?) - so cheers to liking yourself =) something we all need to do a little bit more.
Anyway - when I was feeling myself last week, I made a delicious HM Heirloom Tomato sauce, to go along with some HM meatballs & Zoodles (my new favorite thing).  It was DELICIOUS. I feel like Kyle and my love of pasta has allowed me to experiment with a lot of recipes, therefore I know the 'general' guidelines for how to make a sauce.  Well my new secret? Heirloom tomatoes - juicy & thick - and honestly I don't even like tomatoes very much - but these are killer (in a good way).  Here is my sloppy - non measured recipe! Sorry in advance for the guesses at amounts - I really did not measure much while I made this.

HM Paleo Meatballs
1 lb Ground Beef (preferably organic grass-fed to really make it paleo - don't worry, I don't always do it either - oops!)
1 Large Egg
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Onion Powder/minced onion (Kyle HATES onion - so I have to substitute- If you used real onion I would recommend 1/2 of a small onion chopped)
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder (i LOVE garlic)
1/2 tbsp Dried Parsley
1/2 tbsp Dried Basil
Dash of Oregano

-Mix all ingredients together well.  Form into 1 inch balls (approx) and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. If you are making these alone you may want to cook them for up to 20 minutes. If you are making them with sauce - take them out at 10/15 minutes and plop them in the hot sauce to let them finish cooking!

HM Paleo Zoodles (as soon in the Zoodles not Noodles previous blog)
- I like to start by peeling off the outer peel.  Julienne peel zucchini until you get to the seeds.  1 zucchini yields a small portion for 1.  Typically I will peel 6 so that we have some leftovers.  It's okay to indulge - it's a veggie! Boil for approx 2-5 minutes - this is a large range because it depends on how 'al dente' you like your Zoodles! I like mine nice and soft.

HM Heirloom Tomato Sauce - This is where it gets a bit gray - but I believe good cooking is all about the flavor and experimenting! And that's what I did with this 'recipe' if you even want to call it that. HAh!  -This portion will make approx. 4 servings.  Tonight I am making a LOT more of it so I can freeze some- it's all about adjusting the portions of ingredients, people!
- 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes - diced - make sure you save all the juices.
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 large cloves of Garlic
- Minced Onion (dried)
- 2 cups of water
- Fresh Basil
- Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pot or skillet heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic & minced onion. After about a minute, add the heirloom tomatoes. Make sure you preserve all of the juice that comes from them (I just scrape off the cutting board into the pan).  Add the water & mix well.  Let this mixture simmer for approx 1/2 hr occasionally stirring.  If you made meatballs - these can be added throughout the simmering time as well.  When it seems like the water & tomatoes have married well & the sauce is a consistency that you like - add salt & pepper to taste as well as a few leaves of fresh basil.  Let this warm while you cook the zoodles.  Then finish off with a few more leaves of fresh basil. Serve over Zoodles & enjoy your deliciously Paleo dinner.
Meatballs simmering in the delectable sauce
Voila! So pretty!
I know I have become a lot more casual in my recipes - but a lot of these are just "experiments" that I am doing to explore the Paleo way of eating.  I also really hate measuring while cooking, so I rarely measure things that I make - this is more-so for me to share my journey with all of you, and share fun things that i discover. If you want to make something - I hope my directions are clear enough for you to - if not feel free to ask. =)

To Finish: I also have to say my inspiration from using Heirloom Tomatoes came from a former employer.  She was wonderfully creative, and LOVED using her heirloom tomatoes. I remember she made an heirloom tomato lasagna and it was one of the best things I've ever had. I also remember asking her what did she add to the sauce to make it so good? And like most of the other things she cooked or baked, she said next to nothing. Why cover up delicious ingredients with flavoring, when they are just as good by themselves? PREACH.

Happy Monday!
Love always - Jack =)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Zoodles not Noodles!

My life currently revolves around ZOODLES.  Not noodles, ZOODLES.  The wonderful gorgeous creation of peeled/julienned zucchini, boiled or steamed, and served as pasta.  You can boil them so that they become soft like pasta.  You can eat them with shrimp, you can eat them with meat, you can eat them in your house, you could eat them on your porch. You can eat them ANYWHERE!

Here is how I enjoyed my Zoodles today:
For a personal size:
1 large zucchini/squash - julienne and place in boiling water.  Boil for approx 3-5 minutes (stirring around occasionally).  When you are happy with their consistency drain, and let drain for about 10 minutes (encouraging occasionally).
- Peel a handful of shrimp, and mix them with parsley, sea salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder.  Add about a 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil (does not matter melted vs. hard).
- Saute the shrimp until cooked through.  Toss the shrimp and zoodles together, adding a splash of organic grassfed butter, salt & pepp.


Also - here are a few more 'successes' from this past week:
Paleo Pizza! find the delicious pizza crust recipe we used here!  Then I top the pizza with simple tomato sauce, fresh whole fat mozz cheese, olives, sausage, bacon, & peppers. Yum!
Coconut Pancakes! Kyle's new favorite
Coconut pancakes with baked bacon Find the recipe for coconut pancakes here!
Kudos to Mom for this one! She made Diane's "Practical Paleo" pumpkin pancakes (which are DELICIOUS). she used them as a 'crepe' and rolled up bananas & organic maple syrup  accompanied by baked bacon. BRAVO, mom, bravo!
So before I finish, I just have to say that in almost 2 weeks I am already seeing a transformation. Not necessarily just in weight, but also in my body.  Of course everything is "working well".  I am eating SO MANY vegetables that I feel like I am getting more than enough fiber.  Also - last night I 'cheated' a bit since we had friends over.  I drank more wine than usual, and decided to splurge a little at dinner.  I have to say I am not feeling so hot AT ALL today.  No, I did not drink so much wine that I'm hungover, but it's more like a food hangover. My stomach just feels unsettled, and not happy. Meanwhile, the past 2 weeks, my body has felt great! I couldn't remember the last time I had a stomach ache - I think my body likes clean eating, for sure.

All of that being said, I am almost happy that I am feeling this way today. It's a reminder that my body is changing, and it is responding to new ways of eating and things are happening.  Changes take a long time, but it is always nice to have a positive response.  I think it will be a long time before I 'cheat' again and go non-paleo!

Happy Sunday!

=) Jack

Friday, June 20, 2014

Paleo Friendly Breakfast Bowl

Ahhhh Summer... I totally agree, Leo.
So this week being summer, I am trying a lot of different breakfast options. I created some "egg muffins" with various veggies & meat in them, we've had a few veggie filled omelets, and I've also made some of Diane's various muffins.  For some reason every day, I still feel a struggle with what to have for breakfast. I think before I just always grabbed cereal, or a nutri grain waffle (not healthy like you think it is!!), and I was good to go. Now I have to sit down and think "okay, what will be filling, paleo friendly, and easy for breakfast".  I'm sure this will get easier, but I am not at the point in my "paleo journey" to start having steak & vegetable leftovers for breakfast.

So this morning, after a quick Wegmans trip to stock up on some more paleo essentials - tapioco flour, arrowroot flour (what?!) and almond flour, it was time to cook breakfast. I REALLY wanted some grits with eggs and bacon on top, but hmmm can't do that. So I snagged the leftover Cauli-Mashers from last night (mashed cauliflower - see below), heated them up with a handful of spinach leaves.  Then I crumbled some of my Baked Bacon (recipe from Practical Paleo) on top.  Then I made 2 over easy eggs to go on top. YUM.  The cauli-mashers were so creamy, and between the cauli & the spinach I felt like I was doing myself some good with adding veggies to my breakfast.   Success! I wish I had some better pictures, but frankly, I was starving, so this is the best I could do!

Excuse the gross nature of the picture... There really was no good angle down in my little bowl

Before we finish - let's give 3 cheers to Kyle! Last night Kyle cooked his first paleo meal! Go Kyle!!  He made chicken breasts (non-organic, but they were in the freezer so I'm going to use them!) with the Practical Paleo "Savory Chicken" recipe.  These are baked in the oven.  He also made what I call "Cauli-Mashers", I think Diane calls them "Faux-taters" or something like that, but cauli-mashers just sounds more fun.  They were delicious and creamy, no added almond milk or anything.  We just seasoned them up to taste, added some grass-fed butter and enjoyed! Lastly I made our favorite sautéed brussel sprouts in coconut oil vs. olive oil. They were crispy and lovely. So 3 cheers for Kyle!!
Yum! Kudos to Kyle!
Those 'mashers were delicious!
Leo wants IN on those cauli-mashers

Happy FRIDAY!!
Love always - Jack =)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Cake

Everyone needs to go make this right now if you are having a sweet tooth craving!!

I made this the other night to accompany some very NON-Paleo champagne kyle and I finally enjoyed for the end of the school year.  Either way, it's delicious!  Very chocolate, and moist (I added a bit more almond milk than it called for based on reviews).  Honestly - you could share this with someone, it makes enough.  I also recommend making it in a larger mug (vs a small teacup type of mug or cup), it really fills it all up.
I added a sprinkling of dark choc. morsels on top
Down another lb today!  I think my body is in shock. As I said before, I am never an advocate for an unhealthy lifestyle to lose weight, but I think right now my body is carb & dairy "deprived" if you want to say it that way, and I am losing a lot of extra weight that I have to use that was packed on from the carbs & the ice cream (not that I ever indulged in ice cream and wine and pizza and fries when I was stressed.....).

Happy Summer!

Love Always - Jack =)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

These are a few of my Favorite (paleo) things!

Before I begin - I need to say Sorry I'm Not Sorry for blowing up Instagram and Facebook with food pictures.  I know that a lot of people "can't stand seeing food" on social media, but you know what? It's motivating to me.  I find it very motivating to be proud of healthy, beautiful food that I am making, and sharing it with people that do enjoy it makes me feel good and positive. So if someone needs to unfriend or un-follow me, no offense taken! Because I am simple choosing to not stop posting pictures of my beautiful paleo food =).

I am well into week two, and still loving my Paleo lifestyle.  Down another lb or 2 from the weekend, woo hoo! I know what you're thinking, week 2? Big deal!  Well guess what, when you make a lifestyle change like this and you have not caved and stuffed your face with ice cream, or french fries, or tons of junk food, then you should be proud of yourself!  I read a few articles, and through Diane Sanfilippo's wise words in Practical Paleo, I have taken the mind set of "it's not that I can't have the food, I am choosing not to eat it".  So I am CHOOSING to live paleo... I am CHOOSING to not eat dairy, because I don't want to, it's not because I can't.  Mental games are insane, aren't they? They have such a huge impact.

Well I thought I would post a few of the favorite things that we've had so far on Paleo. All but maybe one or two things are recipes from Practical Paleo book, so I cannot claim these as my own, and I wasn't planning on it. I highly commend Diane on putting together an accessible, relatable book with truly delicious recipes. Clean eating is delicious! And it's not weird "fat free with fat free healthy substitutes". It's real ingredients without all of the factory do-up before it reaches your mouth.

So here are a few of Kyle and my Faaaaavorite things we've had so far!
Practical Paleo Savory Chicken Legs - EASY and finger-lickin' good
Practical Paleo Stir Fry 
One of my typical lunches - An Egg/Pepp/Mush/Sausage Muffin I made myself - and a hearty salad with grilled chicken, bacon, egg, peppers, lettuce & cucumber (I have been using a non-paleo dressing for now since I am not going to waste until I run out)
Practical Paleo Bison Burger using Diane's Curry Spice Blend on a Portobello 
Practical Paleo stuffed peppers (our absolute favorite)

Practical Paleo ZOODLES (without Diane's delicious combos - but just some grass-fed butter & sea salt/pepp)
"Cauli-Rice" with Green Beans & Salmon Cooked in EVOO with Herbs
Despite fruit containing a lot of sugar and carbs, I still love my berries! And of course their adorable containers that I found at Relish Decor downtown.
We have made many other things, and loved them all, but these are some of the highlights that we've had on our paleo journey thus far.

Also - Check out Diane's Blog :

Happy Wednesday!

Love always - Jack =)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Paleo Life


Well I guess you could call me just about the least-consistent person to ever walk the planet, but I am assuming that there are many others WAY more inconsistent than I am, so it makes me feel better.

Well, Weight Watchers has officially been cancelled. It's embarrassing, and it makes me mad, and I'm not saying that "I failed" because if I do I'll feel mad at myself, instead I'm taking the approach that it just didn't work for me this second time around.  Last spring everything clicked and I lost like crazy. This spring? I just couldn't handle the tracking, having to "eyeball" everything, I got lazy AND I allowed myself too many "cheats".

I fell into the typical female "why me?.. why do I have to go through this weight struggle", and then I realize that my problems are petty and nothing compared to life that other people have to go through. I can overcome this. My mom reminded me, I'm a go-getter.  If I set goals for myself I thrive while trying to achieve them. Academically? check. Trying to get a job, or earn a position somewhere? Check!  I really can motivate myself. Eating healthy and working out? No check. The motivation is a struggle for me, and I can't figure out why. But again, moms being awesome, she reminded me it's there, I just need to PUSH myself, and FIGHT for what I want, and how I want to feel.

Over the past few months I've heard more and more about the "Caveman" diet or the Paleo diet.  It sounded completely ridiculous, and nothing I would ever be disciplined enough to try, and my mom agreed.  Well, a few weeks ago, my mom and dad started it. My mom was unhappy with how she felt, and somehow while recovering from a stomach virus, it all clicked, and she knew she needed a change. Over that whole week I was amazed at the drastic change her and my dad made to their daily diets, and began working out again.  I was feeling motivated by her choice, to workout, to do something... did I do anything? NO!

Well that Saturday my mom sent me my very own "Practical Paleo" book by Diane Sanfilippo.  It was one of the best 'gifts' she's ever given me.  I feel refreshed and motivated.  It came at a great time as school was ending, and I am able to dive in full force to trying new recipes, and new styles of eating.

So here is what I've learned so far: Paleo diet is NOT the caveman diet (there actually is a caveman diet, that I COULD NOT do).  Paleo is all about eating fresh, whole foods. No processed crap (to put it lightly).  It is all about eating a ton of vegetables, protein, and some fruit.  Embrace the good fats for you.  Carbs? gone. Dairy? Gone. Is it difficult? SURE... I love some pasta and some ice cream (mmmm Turkey Hill).  However I've learned that Paleo is a lifestyle choice, you are choosing to eat organic and to eat foods that are good for your body, NOT just your waistline.  I am eating more veggies than I think I've ever eaten, not being a natural veggie-lover.  I also have learned that it's OK if you need to cheat every once and a while, but not like in weight watchers where I OK'd the constant cheating.

I do have to say, I refused to give up wine. I love my wine. Do I drink 5 glasses a night? No. Some nights I don't even have any, but I told myself, I have decided not to eat (not given up) so many other things, that I am deciding to continue to drink wine.

If you are feeling in a rut, and feeling adventurous I highly encourage exploring the Paleo lifestyle. Diane Sanfilippo does a beautiful job of being relatable and realistic.  Do I buy everything organic? no. Am I moving in that direction? Kind of.  But so far after only a week I am already feeling successful and proud of myself.

I will try to stay on top of this blog, as I still find it motivating and kind of a 'release'.  I still recognize my inability to write in a 'good' way, and frankly I'm not very interesting, but again, I like doing this for myself.

Now I need to go check on my Paleo Sausage-Egg-Veggie cups for breakfast!

I will still periodically try to post recipes, and things that I have created to compliment the Paleo lifestyle.

For now, Happy Summer!

Love Always - Jack