Pumpkin Waffles

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If I had the money, I would gladly give someone upwards of $500,000 to get the Frozen soundtrack out of my head for good.  It’s a great movie, really.  I appreciate the story line, with the lukewarm female empowerment and the warnings about hasty romances and all that. That’s great.  Disney’s really come a long way.  But at 2 in the morning, when one of my children has woken me up for the third time and I’m lying there watching the scant minutes I get to actually sleep tick away…I just want to kill that Elsa.  You can let it go, just leave me alone!

Clearly, we’ve been watching Frozen.  A lot.  My daughter has been sick twice since starting preschool two weeks ago.  The infirm get to pick the movies, those are just the rules. I guess that stellar immune system of hers I was so proud of was just the result of being virtual shut-ins.  I knew we never should have left the house!  And what is it about being sick that makes kids act so crazy?  Do you think its the fevers, aching, throwing up and general feeling of crappiness?  Could be.  Anyway, I get that it isn’t fun. I’ve been sick like a million times!  Just stop yelling at me already, kid!  I remember when sick days used to mean a literal day off, spending some quality time with bad TV whilst relaxing on the couch. That is no longer the case.  For now, I just try to dodge flying fluids so I can avoid being a sickie while taking care of one.

And on that note, waffles!  We have traded the peach for the pumpkin, friends.  Don’t look back, you’ll only make it worse.  These pumpkin waffles are grand!  They have a great texture and crisp up nicely.  I like to make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for easy breakfasts during the week.  You should try it, you’ll be so proud of yourself!

Makes 4 waffles.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c tapioca flour
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 c almond milk
  • 1/4 c pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

1. Turn on waffle iron.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.

3. Separate the eggs, putting the yolks in with the dry ingredients and the whites into a separate small bowl.

4. Add milk and pumpkin to dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

5. Add honey, coconut oil, vanilla and spices to flour mixture and whisk until combined.  Don’t melt the coconut oil or the batter will be too runny.  It might be a little lumpy, but it will all work out in the end!

6. In the small bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy, or about 3 minutes.

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7. Gently fold egg whites into batter until barely combined.

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8. Pour 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the batter into the center of the waffle iron.  Cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions.

Then, eat them.

Paleo Caesar Dressing

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All hail Caesar!  Or at least give him a nod of recognition for his delicious dressing.  Did you know the Caesar salad has nothing to do with dear old Julius?  Am I the only one who was a little fuzzy about the origin?  Apparently the creator was Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant living nowhere near the Roman empire.  The creation is not quite as epic as I assumed it would be.  Lucky for us, you can’t tell by the taste.

I am a dipper by nature.  If there is a food that traditionally comes with any sort of sauce, I would rather have said sauce than the actual food it smothers.  Sushi without soy sauce?  Unthinkable.  Ribs without BBQ sauce?  No thank you.  Don’t even get me started on Mexican food sans salsa.  Which brings me to this Paleo version of the afore mentioned Caesar dressing.  It’s Whole30 compliant as well, which will really dress up those veggies you’ll be eating by the truckload.  I make this at the beginning of the week when I’m doing my food prep, and use it all week long on just about everything.  Here are some uses I’ve really enjoyed:

Tuna Burgers

Salad (duh)

Raw or cooked zucchini noodles

Caesar chicken wraps

In/on Hamburgers

As a dip for virtually everything: sweet potato fries, raw veggies, breaded zucchini, plantain chips, my fingers…

You’ll be using a raw egg, so I would advise getting the freshest egg you can get.  Direct from the hen’s undercarriage would work nicely.  I was a little iffy about using raw eggs the first time I tried it. But I eat them almost every day in some form now, and I feel just great about it!  An immersion blender would also be very helpful.  If you don’t have one of these, make your life easier and purchase one.  Especially if you have a small kitchen.  The clean up is a breeze!  If you’re squeamish about using anchovies, being that they have spines and all, just close your eyes until it’s blended.  The taste is worth it, I promise!

Ingredients:

  • 4 anchovies
  • 1 raw egg
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp Cholulua

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except the oil in a wide mouth Mason jar or similar receptacle.  You want to have enough room for the ingredients to mix without spilling, and a wide enough opening to fit the immersion blender.
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Add olive oil.  Blend for another minute or so, or until all oil is incorporated into the mixture.

Enjoy your dressing.  Let me know what you use it for!

Buttered Chai Latte

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Last week we had some unseasonably cold weather here in Salt Lake.  If only it would’ve lasted a wee bit longer!  Like maybe for the rest of the summer?  I enjoy the activities summer brings, but could we turn down the heat a little?  I don’t enjoy sweating unless I’m burning some serious calories.  I don’t think loading the kids into the car technically counts as cardio, but on a hot day it sure feels like it.  Louis CK has a bit about white people not being from Earth because we’re not comfortable here.  He explains that if we really belonged here we would be comfortable with the temperatures we’re always complaining about.  I totally agree and am simply waiting for my mothership to return me to my completely temperate planet.

Anyway.  On those rare and lovely cool summer days, a hot beverage sounds so refreshing.  That, and watching Harry Potter.  There can be one itty bitty rain cloud in the sky and instantly my thoughts turn to horcruxes and Diagon Alley.  Nerd alert!  When it comes to hot drinks, I generally drink my coffee with butter and coconut oil.  Have you tried this yet?  It sounds wrong at first, I remember feeling that way too.  But now that I’m used to it, it tastes so much better than creamer!  And it’s better for you too, in my opinion.  For more information about the health benefits of butter in your coffee, go here: https://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-make-your-coffee-bulletproof-and-your-morning-too/

In this vein, I have created buttered Chai.  It’s so heavenly I find myself craving it even on hot days.  You still have the wonderful creamy taste of butter and coconut oil, all the healthy fat benefits, but with the sweet spiciness of Chai.  If Chai isn’t your thing, Earl Grey makes a delicious substitute.  Any tea you want, really.  Get crazy.

I know the moderate temperatures won’t be back any time soon.  I would have to live somewhere lovely and insanely expensive to expect that (sigh, San Diego).  And now that the temps are in the high 90’s once again, I’m drinking this iced.  Take that, sun!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Chai tea bag
  • 1 c filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or unsalted pasture butter
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp canned light coconut milk

Steep tea bag in the boiled filtered water for five minutes.  Place tea in blender, or wide mouth mason jar if using an immersion blender.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend for 1 minute.  Allow to cool first if adding ice.

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Cranberry Apple Cider Vinegar Detox

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Does blogging in your workout gear count as exercise?  I kind of feel like it does.  The intent is there, isn’t that what matters?  Plus strong fingers are extremely important these days!  How else am I going to ‘like’ my neighbor from third grade’s Facebook review of The Expendables 3?  Just recently, while complaining about my slooooow progress in the weight loss department, it occurred to me I haven’t really been…exercising much…at all.  I guess I was just kind of hoping a burning desire and a healthy diet would be enough.  My regular brain knows better, of course.  But my seemingly permanent post-baby brain fog sometimes hides the facts from me.  So I’ve started exercising daily (or as close to that as I can get).  It isn’t always easy to find the time with two kids, but I sneak it in whenever I can.  Luckily, babies enjoy napping at least occasionally and preschoolers can be distracted by a little QT with Jake and his Neverland pirates.  I must say I feel much better since I’ve been exercising.  I feel stronger.  I feel like I’m doing something for myself.  That can do wonders for your mood!  My kids deserve a happy mom, and I deserve some sweaty ‘me time’.  I’ll remind myself of that the next time I’m cursing Tracy Anderson, damn her eyes!

So let’s talk about detoxing, shall we?  It seems to be a popular enough concept.  While at a visit to a Naturopath recently, it was suggested that I do some liver detoxing.  I don’t have a lot of intimate personal knowledge of my liver, but I appreciate its efforts and will gladly do what I can to increase its efficacy.  The Naturopath suggested I drink a mix of apple cider vinegar and cranberry juice.  I already drink apple cider vinegar on a pretty regular basis, so all that was needed was a little tweaking of the recipe.  Organic raw apple cider vinegar is said to have many health benefits, including; weight control, immune system support, muscle pain relief, maintaining healthy skin, soothing dry throats, removing body toxins, etc.  Personally, I’ve found it to be extremely helpful with acid reflux.  I started drinking it during my recent pregnancy for that reason and haven’t had any reason to stop.  I make a large drink in the morning, and drink it throughout the day.  I’ve found it inhibits hunger if I drink it before meals.  It’s on the sour side, but I don’t mind it.  You can add some Stevia or honey if you simply must have it sweeter.  I’m not sure what effects my liver is experiencing, but it’s worth a shot!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c Pineapple juice
  • 1/4 c pure cranberry juice
  • 2 Tbsp organic raw apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • Filtered water

Put the juices, vinegar and cinnamon in a quart sized mason jar, then fill to the top with filtered water.  Put the lid on, give it a good shake, and it’s ready to go.  It can be sipped with a straw or transferred to a more portable receptacle.

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Here’s to your liver!

 

Sweet Potato Curry

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Today is day 29 of my Whole30 experience.  I can see the finish line from here!   You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself during the 30 days because that ‘defeats the purpose’ of what you’re trying to achieve.  Something like that anyway.  Out of curiosity (and because I’m a big time rebel who doesn’t care about the rules, man!), I stepped on the scale a few days ago and let me tell you…the numbers were not encouraging!  A paltry ONE pound lost after three and a half weeks of turning down many offers of desserts and all other manners of deliciousness.  Well, for the most part.  I may have had a very mini piece of my most favorite chocolate rum cake on my birthday.  But on my birthday!  When your age begins with any number higher than a 2, you deserve cake when that number creeps up yet another digit.  I wasn’t perfect.  Mistakes were made.  Overall, I feel pretty great about my choices.  I did not start over after my very infrequent indiscretions, so let it be said that I completed Whole30ish.  I’m comfortable with that.

I will say that my fat pants button up now.  Progress!  Just not in the realm of numbers I suppose.  Oh well, I’ll take it!  I feel my body may be hanging on to this layer of pudge as a reserve in case I decide to stop eating and starve my child.  As if not eating were a possibility!  (Also, starving my child.)  Even though I am almost done with Whole30, I don’t feel any sudden desire to dive into vats of chocolate and melted cheese.  Melted cheese simply does not have the right viscosity for swimming.  (Ooh, viscosity!  Somewhere out there my high school Science teacher is dabbing a single tear from his eye.)  I’ve felt really good during the last 30 days.  My energy level has been really consistent, and my digestion has been more than cooperative.  The only banned substances I feel like dabbling with are the occasional natural sweetener (raw honey, I’m looking directly at you) and a SWYPO here and there.  Paleo pancakes, to be specific.  It’s been really nice to kick the dessert habit, if only temporarily.

Here is a last-minute dish I threw together.  I love making Indian food, it just has a way of stinking up the place.  All those spices!  So delicious, yet so odoriferous. No matter.  Open your windows and whip this sucker up.  I decided to try celery root for the ‘rice’.  I had no experience with it previously.  The only thing I’d heard about celery root is that it helps in balancing your PH levels.  Who couldn’t use a little of  that?  It tastes like…well, it tastes like celery.  Listen, I was shocked too. But the flavor is a little milder than the stalks, so it’s perfect for use as rice.  The flavor won’t distract from anything you’re eating it with.

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I peeled this ugly thing and spiral-cut it with my spiralizer.  If you don’t have a spiral cutting device, I strongly recommend getting one.  It’s the easiest way to replace rice and noodles with yummy and wonderful vegetables.  You might also find yourself experimenting with veggies you’ve never heard of.  What fun!  After spiral cutting the celery root, I pulsed it in my blender until it reached the size and shape of grains of rice.

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Next, I put the celery root rice in a saucepan with some olive oil, and sautéed until soft.  I added a little salt too.  It should cook between 5-10 minutes, depending on how much you have in your pan.  Once the rice was ready, I set it to the side to concentrate on the sweet potato.  I cooked mine in the microwave for 7 minutes, after poking some steam vents into it with a knife.  If you are microwave averse, you can definitely cook it in the oven ahead of time. I will take the bad microwave mojo for the sake of time management.

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World’s largest sweet potato.

After the sweet potato was cooked, I scooped out the flesh and put it in my blender.  Next I added the coconut milk and some beef bone broth I had on hand.  You can use chicken broth, or if you like your curry pretty sweet just use water.  I blended until it reached a smooth consistency.  I put the sweet potato mixture in a  large sauce pan with some chopped up cauliflower and chicken thighs.  I would recommend chopping the cauliflower into very small pieces.  You can also use chicken breast or whatever meat floats your boat.  Chicken thighs are kind of a pain, but the meat is so much more moist and flavorful than breast meat.  But that’s just me. Add the lime juice and spices.

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The sweet potato mixture will thicken as it cooks.  If it gets too thick for your liking, add water to thin it out.  I ended up adding a few tablespoons of water by the time it was done.  Cook on medium-low heat until the meat is cooked through and the cauliflower is tender.  Serve over celery root rice, or actual rice of your choosing.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 celery root
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/2 c canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 c water or broth
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

This recipe serves 4.

Plantain Bread with Raw Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

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Continuing on with my recent rhubarb prescription…

Today I adapted two recipes, and together they are super ultra delicious.  The plantain bread is an adaptation of zenbellyblog’s Plantain Tortillas.  I had ripe plantains, but wanted something fluffier than a tortilla.  I added a few more ingredients to make the finished product the consistency of corn bread.  The plantain makes this a little on the sweet side, so I whipped up something sour to go on top.  I’d been meaning to try Thankful Expressions’ Strawberry-Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam after a wild rhubarb search on Pinterest.  I added more rhubarb and strawberries, and swapped out the honey for dates.  The refrigerator jam is meant to set up overnight, which a patient person could definitely do.  I ate mine immediately, and see no reason to subject yourself to that amount of waiting.  Especially if you are hungry, and want your jam right this instant.

I think this might technically be SWYPO.  If you’re not familiar with Whole30, SWYPO (Sex With Your Pants On.  No, really.) is a term for making healthy dishes that mimic junk food.  The idea is that the healthy imitation isn’t as good as the real thing, so eventually you’ll just eat the real thing.  I decided to take it easy on myself though, and made it anyway.  Hey, someone has to look out for your best interest right?  And today my best interest was using up the rhubarb in my fridge, and eating something that tasted good when I ate it.  Easy decision as far as I’m concerned.

Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe plantain
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil (olive or coconut oil would also work)

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Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Spread evenly on greased baking sheet.  You could also bake this in a 8×8 baking dish to make it thicker, in that case I would double the recipe.  Bake at 350 for between 15-20 minutes or until the bottom starts browning. This serves 4.  I only wish I had more plantains at the moment so I could make more!  I ate 2 servings back to back.  That’s probably why you shouldn’t SWYPO.  Very rarely am I like, ‘GIVE ME SEVERAL HELPINGS OF THAT RAW VEGETABLE!’  But that’s just me.

The jam is very easy to make.  You can do it while the bread is baking.  Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  And that’s it!  Slather over the plantain bread with some pasture butter or ghee, and try to contain yourself.

Jam Ingredients:

  • 1 c chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/3 c strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 dates

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Beets

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There’s nothing like going on the Paleo or Whole30 diet to make you appreciate sweet potatoes.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t see a sweet potato outside the confines of Thanksgiving dinner. You know the dish I’m talking about.  The one in which our no-nonsense tuber gets all dolled up in butter and brown sugar and is then smothered with ooey gooey marshmallows?

Yum.

But maybe not the best thing to be eating on a regular basis.  Plus the sweet potato is capable of so much more!  Since I’ve been doing Whole30, sweet potatoes have almost become a treat to me.  Does that make you feel sad for me?  I can see why it might. However, since I started the diet I’ve noticed desserts have become less tempting for me.  ‘Junk’ food in general seems to be losing its appeal.  If something unhealthy ever does sound good, I can usually think of how I’ll feel after and it immediately sounds less appealing.  I think that might be the point of the diet!  Hooray!

Back to our sweet potato discussion.  I’ve found myself cooking them with just about everything, even eating them for breakfast.  Thus, this super simple and ultra delicious recipe. The tart apples go very well with the sweetness of the beets and sweet potatoes  It’s also an easy way to sneak beets into your diet.  Don’t get me wrong, I love beets…in theory.  I love them in the sense that I know they’re good for me, but I kind of have to talk myself into eating them.  Beet lovers, please don’t take offense!

I peeled the beet but left the skin on the apples and sweet potatoes.  You can peel those too if you want.  Chop everything into uniform sizes.

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Pretty, no?

Place everything in a medium-sized bowl.  Add pecans.  Drizzle with enough balsamic vinegar to lightly coat ingredients.  Add cinnamon, rosemary, and salt and pepper.  Stir to distribute seasonings evenly.  Transfer to an unlined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tart apples (like Granny Smith or Pink Lady)
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 beet
  • 3/4 c pecans
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • pepper

These seasoning measurements are approximate.  I don’t usually measure when I cook…so feel free to adjust according to your taste!

 

Cholula Burgers

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So it’s been a month since I gave birth to my sweet, adorable daughter. One month. I know in the reality based portion of my brain that a month isn’t long enough for one’s body to recover from the previous nine months it took to look so terrible. But still! I long for my ‘fat pants’ to button up.  I long for the end of slimming undergarments. I long for them now. I don’t want to wait several more months to wear my normal clothes. I am sick of my fat lady uniform of stretchy pants and flowy tops.
Enter:Whole30. It sounded a little harsh when I first read about it. Now it’s sounding downright reasonable. As long as I see some solid results, I don’t care what I have to do! Bring on the restrictions! No honey? No problem! Just take my muffin top. Please. I also have some thyroid/skin issues I’d like to see improved.  Whole30 has promised me as much.  So what have I got to lose?  (Answer: my muffin top.  Pay attention!)
If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 program, it’s like a stricter version of the Paleo diet.  Not only do you forgo gluten, dairy, legumes and the like…you also cut out all sweeteners.  That’s right-no agave, honey…nothing!  You’re not supposed to snack, or cook up those wonderful Paleo recipes that try to mimic junk food.  No almond flour muffins or banana pancakes.  I love those!  And here is the real kicker.  If you falter…if you have one tiny taste of something on the forbidden list… You. Start. Over.  Oh, you were on day 29 of your 30 day commitment? Too bad!  Start over!  This diet is like the Soup Nazi of the nutrition world.  And that’s exactly what I need right now.  I need some borderline unreasonable guidelines to get things moving in the right direction.  Here is the official website for both the nitty and the gritty: http://whole30.com/ 
I’m only on day 4, but it actually hasn’t been that bad so far.  One thing it’s made me realize is how much I crave sweets. I don’t eat refined sugar often, so I didn’t think I had a problem. But apparently I eat honey and other natural sweeteners quite a bit!  I’m really feeling their absence.  I’ve also had a hard time with the no snacking thing. Apparently I’m used to eating basically all day long.  Grazing, some might call it.  Part of it might be the fact that I’m breast-feeding and hungrier than normal. Who knows.  So I do my best. If I feel legitimately hungry, I eat a little something. I don’t want to mess with my milk supply. (Yeah I know…I graze and I produce milk.  Moo.)
One good thing Whole30 has done for me so far is to make me focus on using healthier ingredients. I’ve found myself trying to fit as many vegetables as I can into my meals. Not a bad habit for anyone to be forming, yes? I think that’s the point of undertaking something like this. Focus on the things you should be eating more of instead of what you can’t eat.   So for the next month or so I’ll be sharing some of my Whole30 creations.  And here’s the best part, you don’t have to commit to the diet to eat them!
This burger recipe is a simple way to amp up the flavor quotient on your bun-less burger. Honestly, I never miss the bun. Who needs it!  You can use a lettuce wrap or just dig in with a fork. Don’t forget to pile on as many veggies as you can. Cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, jalapenos, sprouts… Get crazy.  I chose Cholula because it’s on the Whole30 approved list.  Plus, have you tasted it?  Duh.
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. Cholula
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Form into patties.  Cook as desired.  I cooked mine with bacon grease in a skillet.  Top with any yummy thing you can think of.  I topped mine with a fried egg, avocado, cilantro and onion.
Whole30 never tasted so good!