Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Whole30 Day 3

I woke up this morning feeling rested and ready for some action on the slopes!  I blended some french pressed coffee with the usual butter and coconut milk with cinnamon and I have to say, it's starting to grow on me.

I did sweet potato hash take 2 (added some dino kale to it and it was delicious) with a ghee fried egg and half of an avocado with lime and salt. Sorry, I remembered to take a photo AFTER I had eaten half of it.  Thats the hard part of doing this! Remembering to take photos because I'm usually so darned hungry and amped up when a meal is ready. 

I've been making some really delicious smoothies for the kids each morning.  I'll have a sip or two but don't really want to start my day with a sweet concoction even if it's 'ok' technically.  The kids aren't expected to abide by the rules of this but I have removed almost all sugar from their diets and they eat the meals I prepare for dinner.  

Eno has been helping with the smoothies every morning and he's so good at it!  I've decided to treat them to a 'smoothie of the week' throughout this because it's such a good way to get some important stuff in their bellies right at the start of the day (along with an egg or two).  The smoothie of week 1 is: The Sunshine Smoothie
1/2 cup frozen mango
3/4 cup frozen pineapple
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup of coconut milk
juice from 1/2 of an orange (I ate the other half)
Blend until smooth. ENJOY! 

We went skiing today which meant I needed to pack lunches.  I quickly put together a kale salad with grilled chicken that I prepped on Sunday, carrots and tomatoes in basalmic vinegar and olive oil. I made a big enough salad for us to share.  I actually brought a larabar for us to share but it was too sweet and I couldn't eat more than a few bites. 

Dinner was the dumbest, easiest and most satisfying meal of the day.  I fried slices of plantains in ghee, kevin made some guacamole and we ate beef hotdogs with franks original hot sauce. This is the only photo I took. HA!  Plantain chips are my new obsession. 

I felt amazing today.  My energy level was through the roof.  Ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  (I think this is the first New Years Eve in a decade that I've been 100% sober :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I wrote a really long, mellow dramatic post yesterday about the Whole30 challenge I've officially started. Then I erased it. I did it because I don't want this to be a 'thing' in my life. I don't want it to be a big deal. I HATE extreme thinking and feel like if I adopt an extreme attitude about this challenge, it will be a failure from the beginning. I want this to be simple. To do: 1. Make meal plan and grocery list every Saturday 2. Go grocery shopping on Sunday 3. Prep food for the week on Sunday 4. Eat when hungry 5. Feel better 6. Life continues the same wether I'm eating sugar & gluten or not.

I really like food and have a pretty healthy relationship with it. I don't claim to be gluten intolerant or anything super tricky like that. For me, once again, It's simple. I've suffered from debilitating pain in my digestive tract for half of my life. I've left countless fun evenings with friends to go home and curl up in pain on my bed and I know certain foods do this to me I just don't know which ones. So here I am doing something about it. Hopefully I'll feel great at the end of this and will be able to test out certain foods to get to the bottom of the drama.

It's day two now. Day one was great, I felt great too. I'll try to post photos of some of the meals I make for us. Yesterday I had two eggs for breakfast because we had nothing else in the house (I hadn't shopped yet). For lunch I wrapped shredded carrots, cucumber and avocado in sliced roasted turkey and drizzled a little Franks Original on top. For a snack I had half of an apple with almond butter. Dinner was This cracklin chicken from nomnompaleo with steamed baby broccoli, roasted sweet potato fries and this REALLY tasty BBQ sauce!

Last night I really wanted something sweet before bed but had a cup of tea and called it a night.

Today I woke up feeling rested and made myself a cup of coffee with a tablespoon of grassfed irish butter, a dash of cinnamon and a little coconut milk (I know, it sounds disgusting but its actually quite good...ish).  Wanna know why the hell I'm drinking my coffee like this now? read this

I made smoothies for the kids while I drank my coffee and then started on this gem of a breakfast:

1lb Chorizo (I used Boulder brand)
1 large sweet potato diced
1 tbsp Olive Oil (for roasting sweet potatoes)
1-2 avocados
juice of half a lime
a few cilantro leaves torn
salt and pepper (for the sweet potatoes)
1-2 farm fresh eggs

This is a chorizo and sweet potato hash topped with a ghee fried farm fresh egg with a side of guacamole.  It kept me full until 1pm (and we eat breakfast early).  Dice and roast sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven at 400 for about 20-30 minutes (I did this while making the sweet potato fries last night.  Who wants to roast anything at 8am?).  In a skillet, cook a pound of chorizo (I use Boulder doesn't have any sugar in it) and if you want the chorizo to be a little broken up, do so in a food processor once it's cooked through.  Warm and crisp up the potatoes in a little ghee or olive oil in the same skillet after you remove the cooked chorizo.  Once potatoes are hot, add your chorizo and mix together.  Fry an egg how you like it in a separate pan with some ghee or butter.  (btw I made my own ghee and its freakin amazing.  Recipe here)

For the guacamole I diced up 1.5 avocados and squeezed half a lime, tore some cilantro and added salt and gave it a quick, easy mash/stir.  I like my guac chunky.

Thats it.  Enjoy!

For lunch, We had some leftover pieces of the cracklin chicken, a hard boiled farm egg and an apple 'sandwich' (basically two slices of apple with almond butter smeared between them).

For dinner I grilled a hangar steak and roasted some green beans with tomatoes and fried up some plantain chips in ghee as a little pre-dinner snack.  We ate that amazing bbq sauce with the steak too (the one that I linked to earlier in this dreadfully long post ;)!

Today I felt like I was going to punch someone in the face after breakfast (it was an obvious result of this little adventure I'm embarking on).  I needed to get OUT of the house and rage on a trail somewhere.  Thats exactly what the doctor ordered.  I feel like if I'm going to push through the grumpiness of cleaning up my food act for the next 28 days, exercise is going to be my trick.  If I have negative energy happening, it will serve a far better purpose on a snowy trail somewhere in the mountains rather than me stewing around my house being a bitch to everybody.  So we went for a 3 mile hike in the glorious mountains of Crested Butte.  I was in my head for 2 hours and it re-centered me.

Now it's 7:30pm, we've had dinner and I've had a cup of fennel tea to curb my after dinner cookie craving.  I feel like it's still too soon to offer any tips or real insight.  I'm just finding my rhythm.

Til tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kale, Tofu & Sun Dried Tomato Skillet

The hubs' triathlon is just around the corner (in a few days) and I've been cooking some seriously healthy stuff during his training. I wanted to keep things light tonight for after his mountain bike ride and stick with some super healthy kale and tofu.

This is a delicious one! So here is the recipe:

Kale, Tofu & Sun dried Tomato skillet

one bunch of red or green kale trimmed and washed well
diced extra firm tofu
a handful or so of sun dried tomatoes that have been marinating in olive oil
1 red pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
olive oil
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

In a large non stick pan, drizzle in some olive oil (not too much) and sauté the tofu on medium high heat until its golden on all sides. Lower the heat to medium and add your garlic, peppers and sun dried tomatoes. Cook for just a few minutes and then add your kale and a few good pinches of salt and pepper. Bump your heat back up to medium high once you've added the kale and stir everything together. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and then add your liquids. Water & lemon juice. Give it a few more minutes to marry and cook on medium high until the kale is cooked to your liking. I like mine not too wilted and still bright green.

You can serve this over healthy brown rice or pasta...whatevah you love!

num num

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas with a Simple Mexican Salad

I made these for the second time last night for dinner and have decided that this is another weeknight 'go to' dinner for our family.
Its so delicious and quick and easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.

Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas with a Simple Mexican Salad

1 can of black beans (pureed in a food processor OR already pureed in the can)
1 small yellow spanish onion (diced)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 red bell pepper (diced very small)
1 cup frozen sweet corn
Drizzle of sunflower or other neutral oil
Salt to taste
i package of yellow CORN tortillas (Don't use flour tortillas. Ew)
2 cans of enchilada sauce of your choice
shredded mexican cheese (any brand/variety)

For the Mexican Salad:
1 bag of pre made iceberg or romaine salad mix of your choice (even a head of iceberg works great for this salad)
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1 avocado
2 ripe tomatoes
1 lime
2 tablespoons of neutral oil
salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 375

In a large sauce pan, drizzle a bit of oil over medium high heat and add onions, garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes before adding your peppers, corn and cumin. Cook all veggies until tender and add your pureed black beans and a few good pinches of salt. Stir well together (you can add a little bit of water-no more than a tablespoon or so if your filling seems to be way too thick. Thick is good though!).

In a large baking dish (I used a big glass dish that I often use for casseroles), dump one of your two cans of enchilada sauce in the bottom and then microwave your corn tortillas for about 20 seconds (wrap them in a damp paper towel before microwaving so they don't dry out). This will make them warm and pliable so they don't break when you roll them (it's no big deal if they do break a little bit, however). Bring your bean mixture over to your enchilada making station and get rolling!

Dip each tortilla in the sauce that is on the bottom of the baking dish to coat lightly, spoon about 2 tablespoons of your bean mixture into the tortilla and gently roll and place seam down in the pan (yes, your hands will be messy from this process so make sure they are clean before your begin). Line them up into a pretty row until the entire pan is full (It doesn't have to be perfectly uniform. This is a rustic dish). Open your second can of sauce and pour evenly over the top of the enchiladas and then sprinkle them with a very generous amount of cheese.

Cover with foil and bake about 20 minutes until bubbling and then for 5 more minutes uncovered to get the cheese a little bit golden if you prefer.

When you take the enchiladas out, let them sit and cool for a few minutes (we CANNOT do this because we must eat them immediately even though they don't keep their shape when you scoop them out of the pan right from the oven :)

While you are waiting for your enchiladas to cool, make your delicious, simple salad. In a large bowl add your bag of lettuce, handful of chopped cilantro, diced tomato, diced avocado (we love big pieces) juice from half of the lime, oil and a few pinches of salt. Toss together until it tastes delicious. Add more salt if necessary (I will taste, add what I think it needs, toss some more, taste, add again if necessary and repeat this process until the salad is perfect).

WIth a spatula, scoop your enchiladas from the baking dish onto a plate and top with a big heaping pile of mexican salad. The combo is DELICIOSO!! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Shortly after the New Year, the hubs announced to me that he would be training for the Denver Triathalon starting, um, NOW and we needed to put our heads together and come up with a plan to get him on the road to uber hotness, er, I mean health. It actually has turned out to be the absolute perfect time to switch up our eating habits because of my pregnancy and feeling like I needed to really up my nutrient intake and also introduce some very nutritious foods to Phaedra.

Now the shopping bill is mainly fresh organic fruits and vegetables with whole grains from the bulk section and very few items from the 'middle of the store' such as canned tomatoes and coconut milk, chicken broth, and a few healthy items for Phae's school lunches. We are already feeling great and Kevin is making huge strides in his training while I'm making huge strides with maintaining my energy level throughout the day and only packing on a few pounds when needed to support this little baby in my belly instead of gaining weight from that mid-afternoon cupcake craving :) (although, I give in every now and then...)

This is a recipe that I made yesterday and it was super delicious and filling without giving us that heavy feeling. I've been cooking mostly gluten free meals also to see if it helps to relieve my digestive issues that I've lived with for most of my life. I must say that cutting out bread has really kept me from crashing after I eat.

An added bonus? This recipe is super kid-friendly. Phae loved scooping the turkey into the lettuce cups. Just prepare for a bit of a mess (Lou dog is our cleanup crew for meals like this).

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper (diced)
1 large garlic clove (minced)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 carrot (diced)
1 lb ground turkey
a pinch of red chili flake
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-1.5 tablespoons honey
3 scallions (chopped finely)
small bunch of cilantro (chopped)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/2 cup frozen, shelled edamame
lime wedges
1 large heart of romaine or a rinsed head of butter lettuce
a few drizzles of neutral oil (I used sunflower oil)

In a large saucepan, drizzle some oil and heat to medium low. Add garlic, ginger, chili flake, carrot, pepper and cook until tender and very fragrant. Add the turkey to the pan and bump your heat up to medium high and break the turkey into small pieces while cooking. You don't want really large chunks of meat. I sprinkled the meat with just a little salt but don't go overboard with this because the soy sauce will really boost salt content in the dish. Once the meat is looking like it's close to being cooked through, add your sesame oil and frozen edamame. Put your soy sauce and honey in a microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave for about 15 seconds. When it's heated, stir to combine and then pour add it to the meat mixture and mix well. Taste to see if the dish needs to have more of a balance of sweet/salty and if so, you can add more soy sauce or honey accordingly.

Place the finished meat and veggies in a bowl and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with your lettuce wraps and lime wedges. I also served it with sriracha hot sauce (god's gift to the universe) and a side of regular jasmine rice to add to the wraps if we so desired. Enjoy this fun meal together around your table! Yummy!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Humble Beginnings for a Beautiful 2012

When I was a little girl, my mother would often make very simple dishes with only a few ingredients from the cupboard to fill our bellies and keep us happy. We did not have a lot of money but did have many blessings. A roof over our heads, a big, grassy yard with mature trees to play in, a mother and father who made sure we never went hungry and always felt loved. Sometimes I crave the types of food that my mother would make for us. Beans with cornbread, a simple Sunday pot roast with potatoes and canned green beans with bacon, the occasional glorious steak dinner (most likely my dad would pick those steaks up on payday to celebrate his hard work with his family around the table). All of these dishes weren't fussy and we wouldn't have known either way. Now that I'm older, I like to 'fuss' in the kitchen with new recipes and ingredients as often as possible but sometimes, you just want to feel at home...

Today is December 31st. In just a few hours, we will ring in a new year as a family and I had an urge to start the year with a very basic, affordable, flavorful split pea soup and cornbread supper in homage to my childhood and all of the lovely things that came along with being a kid in the Walker household. We've got another little one coming along in a few months and though we are blessed enough to not have to pinch penny's for our mealtime budget, I will be sure that my kids know a good home cooked humble kind of meal because often times they just have more heart in them. Kids don't know filet and lobster...they know love in a bowl though. Phae got so excited when I told her I was making split pea soup for our new years eve supper. LIttle does she know or care for that matter that it costs about $10 to make a huge pot of it (and that's if you go organic on the ingredients) along with the Jiffy cornbread mix that I grew up on.

So here's to a beautiful new year with lots and lots of memories around the kitchen table with family. Sharing anything from a humble split pea soup and cornbread to filet mignon and fine wine. Home cooked is love. Always.

Smokey Split Pea Soup

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 carrots (diced)
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
3 celery stalks (diced)
2 bay leaves
1 lb dried split peas
1 ham hock
2 32 fl oz containers of low sodium chicken broth
Salt & Pepper to your taste

a dash of hot sauce to taste for garnish

This is a low and slow soup. Start cooking it in the morning and let it go low and slow all day long. The hubs earned some serious brownie points this year for Christmas by purchasing this beauty for me:

You can use any soup pot you have on hand with a tight fitting cover.

Start with a little oil in the bottom of your soup pot. Dice up all of your veggies and get them started over medium high heat with a good few pinches of salt and pepper until they are just getting tender. Add your ham hock and bay leaves at any time you wish to start cooking with your veggies. Once your vegetables are tender and you've got your ham hock in there with them, add your split peas to the mix and stir around to mix everything up. After about a minute, add your chicken stock. Bring the whole thing to a boil by bumping the heat up to high and covering. Once it's boiling, give it a stir and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for the afternoon stirring once or twice an hour. If you need to leave the house, no biggie. Transfer your soup into a crock pot and cook on low for the day so you don't have to babysit it.

For a classic creamy texture to your soup, after many hours of cook time, remove the ham hock and bay leaves from the pot and put aside. If you have an immersion blender, it works really well for this part. You want to blend your soup with the immersion blender for a few minutes until it's creamy OR you can let it cool slightly and then blend it in a regular blender in batches for a few seconds per batch.

The ham should easily separate from the bone and you'll want to dice it up before adding it back into the pot with the creamy soup. Bring it all back to a simmer as it's probably in need of reheating before serving.

Jiffy cornbread mix is a great friend to bring along to this party. A box of Jiffy will cost you about $1. I make my cornbread just like mom used to. In a cast iron skillet with a sprinkle of sugar on top and served with a generous pat of butter and some honey if the mood strikes you.

Serve the soup family style and don't forget to put a delicious hot sauce on the table to add a little kick to the soup. I love the Smoked Serrano hot sauce pictured below (it's made here in Colorado). Oh and, just an FYI, Mom would put raw onions on her soup along with the hot sauce. Just saying... :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pregnant Kitchen = Game Changer

I'm at about 26 weeks pregnant and I'll just say that it's greatly affected my desire to cook until pretty other words, I've been making pretty stupid simple meals with one motive in mind, to fill the bellies of the hubs and my sweet little girl while being able to hopefully stomach it myself and feel nourished.

It's actually been a pretty awesome adventure to see how quickly and simply I can come up with a dinner when time isn't on my side and there are several ingredients which would trigger my gag reflux immediately (garlic was an inconvenient ingredient to have an aversion to. We're friends again though, garlic and I :)...

So I want to brag about my recipe for 'Organic Hamburger Helper' real quick. The idea of buying a good ol' box of Hamburger Helper with that nasty powdered whatchamacallit was so, so tempting but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I had to come up with a way to make what I was craving (simplicity but also actual hamburger helper) healthy and quick. If you have kids you can go ahead and thank me now because this is some really, REALLY good grub on the cheap and Phae went totally nuts for it.

Organic Hamburger Helper

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I buy the double concentrated kind in a tube. Very convenient)
1 can stewed italian style tomatoes (Phaedra requested that I chop them roughly in the food processor so there weren't big chunks of stewed tomato in the dish. Either way is fine, really)
1 box of macaroni pasta or bow shapes are fun
Salt and Pepper to taste
shredded parmesan cheese

Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta and put a large saucepan over medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil.

Add the meat to the saucepan to brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once your water is boiling, add your pasta and give a stir. When the meat is almost cooked through, add your tomato paste and stir into the meat. Then add your stewed tomatoes. lower your heat to medium-low and continue to simmer the meat with the tomatoes. When the pasta is al dente, add it to the saucepan and toss everything together. Sprinkle the dish with a generous, yummy amount of cheese (I liked Parmesan but you can use any kind you and your kids like). This meal is yummy and well balanced with a nice green salad! Happy easy eating!