Bacon fat, avocado and Dijon egg salad

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if that doesn’t get your attention, I’m not sure what will. Apparently my crowning achievement in dinner preparation came last night with 30 minutes to prepare dinner and an odd assortment of ingredients on hand. Let’s be honest, it was a Thursday, usually a day we are skidding into home plate on fumes.

I had 3 hard boiled eggs, 4 raw ones, an avocado and a pack of bacon. My one tip to all, never run out of bacon. It can turn a dinner around in no time! Anyhow, I knew the quickest way to cook the bacon would be to chop it up. Through trial and error, our current bacon cooking method is on a baking sheet lined with foil, in its own fat. Mmmmm. It’s usually going at 350 in the oven so that I can get the other items in place, and then I end it with the broiler when I’m ready for it. Keep an eye out when broiling, it can quickly go south!

Once the chopped bacon was in the oven, I decided to hard boil the remaining 4 eggs. Throw (read place gently) in a pan, cover with water and put the lid on. Bring to a boil, then shut off and let sit for 12 minutes. Drain the water and run cool water over it to stop the cooking. I then quickly and painfully peeled the very hot eggs. I don’t recommend this as a normal practice, but I was desperate!

Put the now 7 boiled eggs in a bowl. Stir in 3 T Dijon mustard, 2 T lemon juice, an avocado, salt and pepper. Mash well. Then the gloriousness (aka bacon) is ready to come out of the oven. Scoop all of the bits into the bowl as well as the bacon fat. Fold in and serve!!! 

       We served this with mixed greens, pepper jack cheese and Jilz gluten-free crackers!

Weeknight Rush

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I love preparing challenging dishes with layers of flavors now that I have some cooking experience under my belt. But let’s be honest, one of the reasons so many people DON’T cook anymore is time. The others are likely money and lack of skill.

Who has time now that there are baseball practices, PTA meetings, travel for work, cello lessons, etc.?? A whole other discussion is how busy and scheduled we are, but today we are focusing on how to feed your family for less time and cheaper than takeout! What?! And it’s not a frozen pizza or popcorn for dinner.

Yesterday’s meal (and one of my favorites of late), is one dish and goes in the oven. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Even better, with foil on the pan, there’s one less dish to wash! Here we go…

Preheat your oven to 350. Grab a package of smoked sausage. We prefer Pederson’s German sweet sausage. Chop it up, I do slices of semi circles. Chop up a bunch of vegetables (even easier if this was done on Sunday prep day). Throw a variety of veggies on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the sausage over the top (that way the fat leaks out of the sausage and covers the veggies as it cooks). Place in the oven for around 30 minutes and voila! This combo included yellow onions, green pepper and radishes. We love it with broccoli or sliced green cabbage, too!

The time in the oven allows us to walk the dog, work on homework, bathe the kids, or enjoy Wheel of Fortune.  Even better, the whole meal is under $10. You can’t hit the dollar menu with a family of four and beat $10, let alone feel energetic after! 

 

This even works to cook in larger batches and have on hand for lunch the next day. You can make it your own by sprinkling shredded cheese or a honey mustard over the top. 

My pretty pantry

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So, Pinterest got me again. I am not a ‘project’ person. If it requires work and transformation, I keep right on going when it comes to furniture. I’d rather spend that time cooking, training, playing with kids, basically anything else.

But, my house came with a beautiful chandelier in the pantry, but a monochrome cream motif. Bleh. With as much time we spend in our pantry, it deserves to be as pretty as the chandelier. Luckily, my hubby rolled with it.

I do recommend completely clearing out your pantry once in a while. You may find things that expired 3 years ago, or just be able to clean the surface your food sits on.

I painted the walls with the shelves a gray-blue, while the other walls got a light gray. I repainted the ceiling and shelves a bright white to clean up the look. I’m very excited with the results!





I moved my cook books to a more prominent position. I have great friends that support my healthy cookbook habit by giving them to me as gifts. We have started really enjoying mason jars for everything from shakes to salad dressing to marinara. You can get them for a steal if you hit a Hobby Lobby sale for 50% off. Above is my trusty new programmable crock pot. 



We go through a lot of olive oil and coconut oil. We love this olive oil because it comes with a spigot for easy pouring. You can catch it on sale and during a owner’s appreciation week for about $17/bottle. The coconut oil is from Costco and I stock up! $15/tub and I use it to cook, lotion, Chapstick, hair goo, you name it.



Above is my collection of herbs and spices. We are gradually shifting towards organic and non-irradiated versions. The chemicals they hide in a simple spice is astounding. The shelf avove my spices are for our supplements. I still shake my head that I’m taking organ pills, but it beats having to prepare liver and glands! The collagen and MCT oil (behind one of the Organ Delights bottles) go into our Bulletproof coffee. Yum and a brain boost!



I made a snack shelf for the kids, stocked with kale chips, Gather bars, Jilz crackers, Nick’s Sticks and Jackson’s Honest potato chips. There are nuts and raisins above those, keeping healthy options at eye level. Key to healthy snacking. 

Enjoy!

The remaining pics…will detail later!





Scrambled

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Since we have started receiving our weekly delivery from Johnson’s Backyard Organic, our vegetable consumption has increased dramatically. I’ve heard it can be stressful to figure out how to prepare them all or having them piled up in your fridge. For me, knowing what has gone into providing this box makes me value it more and want to eat those foods rather than reaching for something less than ideal. ! Some of the veggies can be intimidating, some I’ve never seen or heard of. Then there’s fennel, whose taste to me makes me so angry I can’t stand the sight of it. Thanks, Whitney, for taking it off my hands!

I digress…most odd veggies can be utilized in a shake (that’s you, daikon radish) or completely transformed by roasting (cheers…rutabaga, kohlrabi, cabbage and turnips). Then there is just the plethora of the goodies that there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for. Who comes to the rescue, but a scramble. They are delicious, easy and get everyone to try a wide variety of new veggies and flavors! And, these are budget friendly!

Basic formula…pick the 3-4 veggies you need to get rid of and dice them up. Add an onion and chopped garlic and some sort of ground meat. Sauté until thoroughly cooked. Toss on some cracked eggs and voila!

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Tuesday’s scramble involved bulk chorizo from Whole Foods (1 pound), onion, rutabaga, yellow bell pepper and red potatoes. Sauté, add salt, pepper and turmeric. Then crack 4-5 eggs in a bowl to beat, or have your hubby ready to stir and crack them directly into pan with meat. Delish!

Tonight was egg Scramble…9 eggs cracked and beaten in a dish, throw in half of a diced red onion, a chopped sweet potato, garlic, salt, pepper and sage. Mix and toss in a 350 degree oven for 30 mins. I then topped with grass-fed buffalo mozzarella, grated parm from my new Magic Bullet, an avocado and salsa. Wow!

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I also served this with a side of bacon, because what goes better with anything, but bacon! To top it off, we each had mugs of mushroom sherry beef broth to keep our immune systems up during flu season. What a perfect comforting and nourishing meal!

Oatmeal!

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I have very fond memories of making maple brown sugar oatmeal growing up. I experimented with water in before or after microwaving, how much water and a skim milk topper before eating. It’s really comical now that I look back on it, but I LOVED that oatmeal.

Going Paleo put a damper on my love affair with oatmeal, until the glorious day came that I happened on this recipe! What, could it be?? A tasty alternative that met the mouth feel requirements as well as the dietary ones. It was like the chupacabra! You’re welcome! This has now become our Sunday morning ritual. Change the quantities based on how many family members are home, or based on what ingredients you have on hand. I’ve had less bananas or less eggs and it’s still managed to work!

Sidebar: enlisting your children makes the process that much easier on you and gets them in the kitchen!

Paleo Oatmeal
Serves 4

You need:
4 bananas
8 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 c coconut milk
Berries
2 Tbsp butter, coconut oil, ghee or cooking fat of your choice

Peel and break 4 bananas into pieces and place in a medium bowl. Crack 8 eggs into the mixing bowl. Add vanilla, cinnamon, coconut milk and 3/4 pint berries. IMG_3241.JPG

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Take a masher and mush it all together. In a medium skillet, melt your cooking fat over medium high heat. Pour in the mixture. Keep stirring, often scraping the bottom of the skillet to ensure minimal sticking. In about 5-8 minutes, it will suddenly start thickening and looking like oatmeal.

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Cook until your desired consistency. Divvy out into bowls, being sure to give yourself the most. Add a splash of coconut milk and fresh berries to the top.

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Welcome to the world of Paleo

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Dear Sis-

Congratulations, you just made the big decision to give Paleo a go. I’m so proud that you are taking control of your health. It can take several months to think, hear, learn about and consider. You have conquered a huge step. Of course step two can easily be a daunting task, as first thoughts immediately go to all of the items you can no longer eat. Then you wonder what’s left!? Are you stuck with turkey legs and celery? Of course not! Once you peek into the recipes on this blog, on Pinterest or from any of the many cookbooks out there, you will see a whole new world opening up.

You don’t have to spend a ton or go to far extremes of investing in alternative flours in the first several months. Dip your toe into the Paleo pool and see what happens. Start with bacon, because you can. It is the most delicious way to take any dish up a notch. The next secret key is avocados. Use them liberally in tuna, egg or chicken salad. Then sprinkle bacon on top. You won’t miss the bread or crackers you used to serve tuna salad on.

Seriously.

You will get lots of questions, weird looks and curious amazement. Don’t look at this lifestyle change as restrictive, but actually liberating to your body. Hold on to the hope and promise of positive changes, more energy and being an encouraging influence to those around you.

Embrace fat. Growing up in the 90’s meant subsisting on pretzels and other low-fat fare. That also meant we were always hungry. Eating paleo means you’ll be satisfied for the bulk of your day, also so liberating! Going to an all day soccer tournament? Pack easy snacks such as nuts, raisins, Tanka bars and other things you like.

That’s right, you can eat food you actually like! Don’t force yourself to eat things you hate, there are so many choices! The road to failure starts with eating terrible tasting food. Make it fun, experiment, ask questions and seek out support.

Sugar is your enemy, I know this because it is mine to. The only way to keep a leg up on sugar is to not let it win. Don’t let it pass your lips until you are stronger. There is a reason your brain reacts to it like heroin, it is so highly addictive. Give yourself a fighting chance and steer clear.

I know you can do this!!

Real Snacks for kids sports

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My kids have entered the world of organized sports. I have been amazed at the array of snacks and drinks parents choose to bring as the post-game nourishment. Back in the day, it was oranges and your water bottle, surely enough for the amount of work exerted and still a ‘treat.’

Now, I’ve seen personalized cookies, cupcakes, cake balls, Pop Tarts (the entire silver bag for each kid), chips, Gatorade and more. Or the time a parent forgot it was their day and handed each kid $1 instead. Really?! What happened to playing for the love of the game and maybe rounding out healthy activity with a healthy snack?

Is it really easier to buy a bunch of pre-packaged cookies than to grab a bunch of bananas? And is it any cheaper? Is it serving the intent of the snack?

Or, is the true goal to out-snack the other parents?

I was initially worried about the snacks I would bring in case the kids wouldn’t eat it. I literally had kids turn down my box of raisins and cheese stick or be disappointed that I only had bottled water. What happened to being grateful for a snack and what do these kids get for snacks when it’s not sports season?

People get so worried that eating real food results in a limited array of food choices and that it’s boring and inconvenient. With such simple things as cheese sticks, apples, oranges (any fruit, really), nuts, jerky, Bearded Brothers bars, kale chips, super cookies, etc readily available at your neighborhood grocery, it’s just a matter of hanging your mindset. What or to whom are you trying to prove?

As a result, when I am coaching my son’s basketball team this season, I have instituted a ‘bring your own post-game snack for your own kid policy.’ It eliminates the worry of allergies, remembering to order pre-decorated cookies in the shapes of your team mascot (ours is the Dragons), or pay anything extra! What a novel idea!

Let’s all take a big breath and some pressure off of ourselves. If you choose to provide snacks for the team, let’s bring it back to the basics, provide some guidelines for parents and keep our kids’ focus on having fun rather than playing for a ‘treat.’