recipe

Healthy Dessert Time

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I just got back from an inspiring yoga retreat in Costa Rica! It felt so good to take the time to practice yoga and meditation with a group of amazing women while soaking up the sun and local culture. Now that I’m back in chilly Boston, with yet another storm snowing me in, I’m enjoying spending a couple of days cooking, cleaning and grounding myself.

We were particularly blessed on this journey to have an amazing team of personal chefs who kept us cleaning our plates with a healthy and creative diet. My hands-down favorite this trip was a dessert of avocado pudding on an almond crust. I immediately had to recreate it at home. If you have never had avocado pudding before you are missing out!! It’s all the joy and flavor of eating a rich chocolate pudding and it’s healthy!

Avocado pudding

Now, there are many ways to make avocado pudding. I went the simple and delicious route using minimal ingredients. This turned out beautifully and was made in less than 10 minutes, including cleanup!

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1.5 cups walnuts, almonds or pecans (I used a mix of walnuts and pecans because that’s what I had at home)
  • 2 tbsp Grade B/Dark Amber maple syrup (Fancy will do if you can’t find Dark Amber)
  • A pinch of sea salt

Pudding:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 4 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (regular cocoa powder works fine too and might be more mellow if you’re not used to raw cocoa)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add nuts to your food processor and grind until they break into rice-sized chunks.
  2. Gradually add the maple syrup and sea salt and combine until ingredients stick together. Be careful not to over-process. It’s nice when there’s a good texture to the nut-combination.
  3. Press mixture into the vessel of your choice. I used an 8″ square pyrex dish. Individual ramekins also work well.
  4. Wipe your food processor clean, then add in all of the pudding ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
  5. Top the crust with the avocado pudding.
  6. For best cutting results (and the best favor in my opinion) chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Tip: If you chill the avocados before making the pudding that will cut down on the chilling time…and make licking the spoon more enjoyable. 😉

It should be noted this is not just a dessert. It’s an excellent source of rich omega 3’s, antioxidants and protein and I’m just as happy to eat it for breakfast as I am to eat it as an afternoon snack or dessert. Om nom nom!

The Thanksgiving Post

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My partner and I are hosting Thanksgiving for our families for the first time this year. I’ve hosted one Thanksgiving before, but it was about six or seven years ago so it’s been a while. The one thing my Mom instilled on me when it comes to making a large meal like this is doing as much prep ahead of time so I can actually enjoy the day.

I’ve opted to go with a fairly traditional Thanksgiving. This is mostly so I don’t stress about testing out a ton of new recipes ahead of time, and I also feel it gives a neutral playing field for getting our families together: a little familiar, a little new. That said, I had to go the extra mile with a few recipes to add some of my values: using organic ingredients, local ingredients when available and altering some ingredients to make dishes healthier and I believe tastier. I thought I’d share my menu and prep work with you in the hopes it may inspire you this Thanksgiving.

You will notice that this is not a paleo menu. Despite my mostly cooking paleo at home, I wasn’t ready to force this on a crowd at our first Thanksgiving. Plus, deep down inside I really love me some gluten. You will, however, notice this menu is dairy-free (aside from the appetizers and mashed potatoes guests are bringing). I highly suspect no one will even notice the missing dairy thanks to some exceptional substitutes! Check it out!

Make as much in advance and freeze it! You're looking at Carrot Cardamom Soup, Apple Pie Filling, Maple Pumpkin Pie filling, Paleo Mushroom Soup (for Green Bean Casserole), and Sweet Potato Casserole.
Make as much in advance and freeze it! You’re looking at Carrot Cardamom Soup, Apple Pie Filling, Maple Pumpkin Pie filling, Paleo Mushroom Soup (for Green Bean Casserole), and Sweet Potato Casserole.

The Menu

Key: P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, GF=Gluten Free, V=Vegan

  • Appetizers: I can’t help you here, guests are bringing these.
  • Carrot Cardamom Soup, P/DF/GF, make in advance and freeze
  • Brined Spatchcocked Turkey, I’m using the William-Sonoma Brine, this might be a cop-out considering how easy brine is to make, but it’s tried-and-true in our family. I’m also stuffing the skin with ghee before roasting. This will be the first time in 5 years that we’re not having a bacon-wrapped turkey because my partner wanted to really taste just the turkey skin.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole, P/DF/GF/V, recipe below, make plain casserole in advance and freeze before cooking.
  • Green Bean CasseroleP/DF/GF, I used this soup recipe and blended it smooth with an immersion blender. I’ll be using the recipe for fried onions found here for the topping. Make the soup in advance and freeze. The casserole can be put together a day in advance, as can the fried onions. Then add the onions and cook on Thanksgiving day.
  • Homemade Gravy, recipe below
  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce, I add chopped pecans and orange zest to this recipe. It can also be done with maple syrup but I’m doing maple in the pumpkin pie and didn’t want maple-overload. Make up to a week in advance and refrigerate.
  • Sausage Stuffing, if you follow the recipe as written this is P/DF/GF. I’m using Whole Foods’ stuffing bread though so mine will not be GF. I’m also omitting the pepper.
  • Mashed Potatoes (provided by a guest)
  • Apple Pie, DF I use my Mom’s very traditional recipe for this.
  • Maple Pumpkin Pie, DF, recipe below

Sweet Potato Casserole (P/DF/GF/V)

Ingredients:

  • 6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil the sweet potatoes in a pot of salted water for ~20 minutes, until they become soft. Drain.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and use an immersion blender to blend smooth (or put in a food processor or blender to blend).
  3. At this point you can put this in a casserole dish or ziplock and freeze until the day before Thanksgiving. If you want to proceed…
  4. Add to casserole dish and bake for ~20 minutes at 350ºF. If you’d like a paleo topping check out the pecan topping found here. I’m personally cheating here and topping with marshmallows because…well, marshmallows.

Homemade Gravy

Full disclosure: I found this recipe at Whole Foods but it’s too good to not share! I did make a couple minor adjustments.

Ingredients:

  • Pan drippings and brown bits at the bottom of the pan
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup turkey stock (see recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tbsp of water
  • 2 tsp porcini mushroom dust (I bought dried porcini mushrooms and will be grinding them)
  • salt, pepper and fresh parsley to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove turkey from roasting pan and set aside to rest.
  2. Deglaze pan with the wine and stock, making sure to scrape off all the brown bits.
  3. Your choice to pour this into a saucepan or continue by making the gravy in the roasting pan.
  4. Add arrowroot powder mixture and stir until thick.
  5. Add butter, mushroom dust, parsley and spices. Serve hot.

Stock Ingredients:

  • Neck, giblets (not the liver as it can make the stock bitter) and backbone (if spatchcocking) from the turkey
  • Water
  • 1-2 stalks celery, halved
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt + pepper

Stock Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, add giblets and cover with water.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil and let it cook away until it’s about half of the amount you started with.
  4. Let cool, remove fat layer, and reduce again until rich and golden. Strain.
  5. This can be made ahead of time and frozen. I’ll be doing it day-of since that’s when I’ll be cutting out the backbone.

Maple Pumpkin Pie (DF)

A good portion of this recipe was taken from this recipe (and you can find a Paleo crust there if you’d like), but I doctored it up a bit. The filling is VERY easy to make and can be made ahead and frozen. If you’d like to make the whole pie in one shot start with the directions for the crust.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 15oz can of puréed pumpkin (you can also make your own, but from what I’ve read it’s very hard to get the right consistency when you roast your own and it’s often too wet)
  • 2/3 cups raw walnut halves
  • 1/3 cup raw or roasted unsalted cashews
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp maple extract

Filling Directions:

  1. Blend nuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Add eggs, honey and maple syrup and blend for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth (you could also add some of the coconut milk if it’s too thick for your food processor or blender to puree well). It is very important to blend until completely smooth, otherwise your custard will be watery.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  3. At this point you can put this in a ziplock bag and freeze it until the day before you want to make the pie. Then just defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  4. If you’d like to continue, add the filling to a pre-baked pie crust and cook for ~40 minutes at 350ºF.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • ½ cup leaf lard
  • ¼ cup butter or coconut oil if you’re going for dairy-free
  • 3-4 tbsp very cold water
  • zest from a small orange
  • 1/8 cup pecan meal (grind pecans)
  • 1 egg white, beaten

Crust Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF
  2. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, pecan meal, orange-zest, and sugar.
  3. Cut in lard and butter until pea-sized beads are formed.
  4. Add water 1tbsp at a time and knead into the batter until it is smooth enough to roll into a ball without pieces flaking off–if it becomes sticky and thin add more flour.
  5. Grease a 9″ pie plate and dust with flour.
  6. Roll out the crust batter with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface until round. Place in the pie plate and lightly pat down to form into the pie plate. Press edges with a fork.
  7. If you have them, add pie weights to help the crust keep it’s shape while cooking. If you don’t have pie weights, pierce the crust with a fork every ¼” or so to stop the shell from bubbling up while it bakes.
  8. Bake for ~20 minutes, until the crust is just starting to brown.
  9. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before adding filling.

I’ll add pictures once the meal is cooked. 🙂 What are your favorite Thanksgiving treats? What tricks do you have for prep work?

Let’s Do Brunch!

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Oh gosh, I’m so behind in posts so let’s start with something tasty! First, a quick update on fitness. I had a BLAST climbing in Central Rock Gym’s The Heist bouldering competition at the end of September. My knee has been doing great and it didn’t bug me at all during the comp. If you’d like to see highlights from my climbs check out my video below (note, I was climbing in the Beginner’s Division as I’m still a n00b in the climbing world).
Tonight I’m taking a lead climbing class and am thrilled to enter the next level of climbing! But, climbing aside, let’s talk about food!

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Paleo Pancakes with Raspberry Maple Syrup and Sausage!

You are in for a treat! This easy-to-make meal is paleo, gluten and dairy free, high in protein and absolutely delicious! I did not invent the pancake recipe. It’s been floating around the internet for at least a year now, but they’re so good!

Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Bananas
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 2 servings protein powder (optional, I personally skip this)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend briefly until smooth and just a little frothy.
  2. Preheat a skillet, if it’s not non-stick add an oil of your choosing (I used coconut oil).
  3. Cook just like pancakes. A few minutes on each side. I recommend keeping the pancakes small. It sounds like this recipe is just too simple to work, but the pancakes actually hold together very easily and are easy to flip. They come out light and fluffy with just a mild banana flavor.
  4. Makes 2 servings (~8 medium pancakes)

Raspberry Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender.
  2. Heat before serving. Yes, it’s that easy.

Breakfast Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage or 1 tsp fresh minced sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh minced thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary or 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil and mix well.
  2. Preheat a skillet over medium with 1 tbsp coconut oil.
  3. Form pork mixture into small patties and place in pan.
  4. Fry over medium about 3-4 minutes per side, until nice and golden on the outside and fully cooked on the inside.
  5. Makes ~12 sausage. Freeze any extras to easily reheat for next time!

Let me know what you think of these recipes! I was particularly pleased with the breakfast sausage. It has a TON of flavor without being spicy. Perfect for a breakfast sausage. I was a big fan!

Steak and Exercise

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I got a good cardio workout in today, plus those evil PT exercises:

Time: 1:15

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 30 mins cycling, using Random intervals, average level 8.
  3. 30 mins swimming laps.

I was feeling all that cardio today, more-so than earlier in the week. I greatly enjoyed a little nap afterwards. 🙂

As always, exercise needs to be paired with a good diet to be effective. Last night I made a stellar carne asada and baby kale salad (if I do say so myself) and I thought you might appreciate the recipe. Paleo and delicious!

Paleo Carne Asada and Baby Kale Salad
Paleo Carne Asada and Baby Kale Salad

Paleo Carne Asada

Ingredients (for 2-3 people):

Note: Sauce ingredients make enough for up to 9lbs of meat.

  • 3lbs Grassfed Skirt Steak, tenderized (the more you tenderize, the more it will soak in the sauce)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1/3 cup lime juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Bragg’s amino acids or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Optional: 1 dried chipotle pepper finely ground (this will really make the dish spicy, without it the sauce isn’t too hot, I didn’t add it personally)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and whisk until well-mixed. Remove one cup of the mixture and reserve it for later.
  2. Add the steak to the marinade and marinate covered in the fridge anywhere from 5-24 hours. Skirt steak is traditionally a tougher cut so the longer it marinates the more tender it is, though some skirt steak (like the Boyden Farm one I purchased from Vermont) is already quite tender so 5 hours is enough time. If it’s particularly tough you can let it marinate for up to 48 hours.
  3. Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat.
  4. Grill ~5 mins each side for medium rare.
  5. Slice the meat across the grain. Pour the rest of the marinade over the meat and serve.

Baby Kale Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large handfuls of baby kale
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 medium-sized lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix kale, cilantro, avocado and tomatoes.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss with lime juice.

The salad and steak really compliment each other. I love mixing warm meat with cool veggies this time of year. For the salad, definitely feel free to add whatever fresh vegetables you have around. I grabbed a zucchini from my garden and forgot to use it but thankfully I have more kale and will be recreating this salad again tonight. It’s been a staple in my lunches as well as it’s a very easy salad to through together at work and lime + cilantro is basically like crack. So tasty!! Enjoy!

All About The Juice, Part 1

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Back in January I made a large post on cleansing. Spring is often a valuable time to cleanse to help the body make the transition from winter hibernation mode, which often involves indulging in comfort foods and drink, to the Spring Cleaning mode of enjoying more light and activity. As I mentioned in my post, there are several types of cleanses. Since I keep a fairly “clean” diet due to my food allergies, I decided to go with one of the more intense cleanses and try a three day juice cleanse. Fresh homemade juice is extremely nutrient-dense and a great way to load up your body on nutrients and give your digestive organs a little break by only processing liquid. Even if you have no interest in cleansing, this post will include several tips on juicing and the juice recipes can be used any time in addition to your regular diet.

For any new readers, I want to be very clear that I am not a nutritionist. I have personally learned quite a bit about nutrition over the years from a combination of working with healthcare professionals and dealing with my own food allergies, but by no means do I claim to be a professional. This is all my personal educated opinions.

I’ve been making fresh juices for several years now, but this is the first time I’ve done an actual juice cleanse. I’m doing a very short juice cleanse, just three days, but I began the dietary changes to prepare for the cleanse about 1.5 weeks ago and once I’m done juicing it will still be at least a few days of easing out of it. So if you’d like to do a juice cleanse I recommend thinking of it as a 2.5-3 week process, not just three days. By taking the time to do the prep and post work it’s a smoother transition for the body and I believe it helps make the results longer-lasting instead of just using this as a quick crash diet and going back to eating crap afterwards.

It was particularly important for me to try the juice cleanse right now because since moving back to the Boston area I’ve been cheating on my food allergy diet ~2-3 times/wk and I was really feeling my symptoms coming back. By just going back on my food allergy diet (which is not calorie restrictive) for a week I literally lost 5 lbs and my seasonal allergies (congestion) went away . That’s just a hint of how much bloating and inflammation I get when I’m eating foods I’m allergic to. My hope is that this juice cleanse helps me reset things further by giving me a big boost of nutrients and letting my digestive organs rest a bit.

Pre Cleanse Checklist:

  • Most healthy adults have no trouble with a short juice cleanse. That said, if you have chronic health issues or have not had a physical in a while I recommend checking with your doctor before starting any cleanse. It’s also important to understand that these juices often contain a lot of sugar (albeit fast-processing sugars) so those who are diabetic or prone to yeast may need to alter recipes and be careful to monitor sugar levels.
  • About a week before the cleanse (I did 1.5 weeks) cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods. I personally also cut out dairy and gluten (among other things) due to food allergies. You can wean yourself off things like caffeine to make the transition easier, but I really encourage you to get off it before juicing.
  • Pick a time for the juice cleanse when you can take it easy. There really isn’t much protein or fat in the juice diet so it’s recommended to stop any intense physical activity for the three days that you’re cleansing.
  • Consider taking supplements to support digestion while cleansing. There are several options and you may want to check with a nutritionist to see what’s best for you. I take milk thistle, chlorella, acidophilus, and pancreatic enzymes for digestion, and I also take flax seed oil because my body really doesn’t do well without a healthy fat intake. For those of you doing a juice cleanse in prep for a liver cleanse you would want to skip all fats.
  • Budget. As you can see below in the “Shopping” section, this involves buying A TON of fresh fruits and veggies. Depending on the time of year and where you’re located, this is most likely very expensive. Save up! My partner and I chose to go all organic and I’m a little embarrassed to admit it cost about $150 per person, not including suppliments.

Cleansing

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with my cleanse, so after reviewing several options I decided to go with “The Weekend Juice Cleanse” from Dr. Oz and Joe Cross. For those who don’t know Joe Cross, he’s the guy who did “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead“, a great documentary on the benefits of juicing. Now, I’m not a huge follower of Dr. Oz, but I will say that after reviewing the recipes and trying the cleanse (I’m on day 2 right now) they are quite nutrient-dense, they don’t all overload on sugar, and there’s a lot of variety to the juices. Again, these could be used as just really great every-day recipes. The only thing I’m noticing is that the quantity of juice seems like it might be too much for me, but I’ll post again once I’ve completed the cleanse and have a better handle on it. I will say this, I haven’t been hungry on this cleanse yet. It’s SO MUCH JUICE!!

You can grab all recipes and a great shopping list here. I’ll also include each recipe in this post.

Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!
Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!

Shopping List

For 1 Person for Three Days of Cleansing:

  • 12 Carrots
  • 12 Granny Smith Apples
  • 6 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 large Ginger Root (at least 6″)
  • 9 Cucumbers
  • 18 Celery Stalks
  • 42 Kale Stalks
  • 3 Lemons
  • 3 Limes
  • 12 Plum Tomatoes
  • 6 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 6 Cups Fresh Parsley
  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 Large Red Beets
  • 3 Oranges (optional, skip if you have sugar issues)
  • 24 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 18 Clementines, Mandarins or Tangerines

That is A TON of fruits and veggies!

General Veggie Handling Rules

  • Buy organic fruits and veggies when possible.
  • Keeping your fruits and veggies refrigerated will mean your juice comes out nice and cool so there’s no need for ice!
  • Always wash your fruits and veggies before juicing! Juice is raw so it’s important to cold rinse all fruits and veggies and for the root vegetables (i.e. beets) you may want to scrub them.
  • Most veggies do not need to be peeled before putting them in the juicer. It’s really only citrus fruit that need to have the peel removed because it’s bitter.
  • Apples can be put in to the juicer whole (if they fit, I had to quarter mine), though some prefer to core them first since the seeds technically contain amygdalin, which is a cyanide and sugar compound. In small amounts this isn’t a big deal (and you’re not really eating the seeds since the juicer keeps them, but traces could be in the juice), but if you’re juicing daily I would recommend coring first.
  • For peppers, I recommend removing the stem, seeds and ribs as they’re bitter.
  • For lemons and limes I use a hand juicer to squeeze the juice out. If you have an electric citrus juicer that’s an even better option. I just find it’s more of a hassle to peel them and throw them in the juicer than it is to juice the separately.
  • Oranges and clementines/mandarines/tangerines should be peeled before adding them to the juicer. Again, if you have a separate citrus juicer that’s a great option too.
  • The red onion should be peeled before juicing.
  • When adding the leafy greens to the juicer use small batches to not overload the blade and get the juice pusher on fast so you don’t end up with leaves blowing around your kitchen. 😉

Choosing a Juicer

I’m not affiliated with any products, but I can give you my personal opinion that after researching juicers I went with a Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain which has proven to be a good personal juicer (I’ve had it since 1/2012 and it’s still going strong). The benefit is it doesn’t take up a ton of counter space, it’s very easy to clean and it’s powerful. The biggest con I’ve found comes when making large quantities of juice. It stores the pulp in the juicer, so if I’m making a lot of juice I sometimes have to stop and clean it out before I move on. This has made making juice for my partner and myself during this cleanse a little more tedious. Breville does have beefier models (i.e. JE98XL Juice Fountain PlusBJE510XL Juice Fountain Multi-Speed, 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite)  that excrete the pulp to a separate container which makes it easier to make large quantities of juice. I’d really recommend those if you’re making juice for your family.

DITL (Day in The Life) of Juicing

  • Start each day with hot water with lemon and ginger.
  • Breakfast Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Mid Morning Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Lunch Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Afternoon Snack
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Pre Dinner Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Small dinner of just fruits and veggies (I’ll include recipes in my next post)
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Drink a glass of hot water before going to bed.

Notes:

  • Yes, you will have to pee all day 🙂
  • You can make all of the juices ahead of time in the morning but give yourself a good hour to do so. It takes a long time to prep the foods and clean out the juicer. I wouldn’t make juices more than a day in advance.
  • It’s common to feel cold when doing a juice cleanse. It’s always ok to drink hot water in between juices to keep warm. You can also have hot dinners, recipe ideas will be in my next post.

Recipes

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice (Breakfast)

  • 3 Carrots
  • 2 Apples
  • 1″ Ginger
Mean Green Juice
Mean Green Juice

Mean Green Juice (Mid Morning)

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Celery Stalks
  • 2 Apples
  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1″ Ginger
Gazpacho Juice
Gazpacho Juice

Gazpacho Juice (Lunch)

This one really does taste like gazpacho. It’s delicious, and when not cleansing if you add some vodka or gin it’d make a mean Bloody Mary. 😉

  • 4 Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 lg Cucumber
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 sm Red Onion
  • 2 cups Parsley*
  • 1 Lime

*I suggest greatly cutting down the parsley if you’re pregnant. Parsley in large quantities is used to stimulate the shedding of the uterine lining (e.g. inducing periods). This is usually done via drinking parley tea so in raw form I’m not sure it would have the same effect but if it were me I’d skip it.

Citrus Inspired Green Juice
Citrus Inspired Green Juice

Citrus Inspired Green Juice (Afternoon Snack)

  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 8 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 6 Clementines (I used mandarines since clementines aren’t in season this time of year)
Sunset Blend Juice
Sunset Blend Juice

Sunset Blend Juice (Pre Dinner Juice)

  • 1 lg Sweet Potato
  • 1 med Carrot
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 lg Red Beets
  • 2 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 Orange (optional, skip if you’re sensitive to sugar, it’s sweet without the orange)

Post-Cleanse

It’s important to be mindful of what you eat when you’re breaking your cleanse. If you run out and get a pizza as soon as your three days are up you will probably get sick. Even if you don’t feel sick, you’re shocking your body and basically undoing what you just worked hard to clean out. It’s recommended to stick with small meals of just fruits and veggies for the first 1-2 days off the cleanse and continue to have at least 1 juice per day. Then I recommend adding foods back slowly and notice how they effect your body. For example, if you stopped eating dairy add that back in, see how it effects you, and wait at least two days before adding back another food group.

The overall hope here is that cravings for unhealthy food (food filled with fat, sugar, and salt) will diminish and with the added nutrients from the juice your body will be healthier and digest food faster thanks to speeding up your metabolism. It’s recommended to continue having at least one glass of fresh juice each day to keep your nutrient level up and your cravings for junk food away.

I’m finishing up my cleanse and my next post will include my personal reactions to it along with recipes for dinners during the cleanse. If you try this I’d really love to know about your experience!

My (Paleo) Meatloaf Brings All The Boys To The Yard

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When I was a child I thought that meatloaf was a a gross hunk of meat loaded with fat, carbs and cholesterol and covered in ketchup; gross. As an adult, I’ve learned that meatloaf is one of the easiest dishes to make and be creative with. It can also be an excellent source of protein AND veggies. Oh, and did I mention it’s comforting and delicious?

In all the meatloaves I’ve made, I’ve somehow managed to never make the same one twice. Partly because I never write down my recipe, and mostly because I tend to take the kitchen-sink approach and use whatever I have around the house. In my more recent experiments I’ve also found that slow-cooking meatloaf results in the most tender melt-in-your-mouth experience ever, and is really a “set it and forget it” meal. Yesterday’s meatloaf was no exception.

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Paleo GF Slow-Cooker Veggie Meatloaf

Paleo Gluten Free Slow-Cooker Veggie Meatloaf (or just “Awesome” for short)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs grass-fed beef
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 3-4 medium-sized carrots, shredded*
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, shredded*
  • 2 cups baby or regular spinach, shredded*
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup almond meal/flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or dice a whole sweet onion, I just didn’t have one handy)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
  • 3-4 large dashes of coconut aminos (or if not strict paleo Worcester Sauce still has the best flavor)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp leaf lard, melted, OR 6 strips of bacon (which I was unfortunately out of)
  • 1 jar Paleo GF tomato sauce of your choosing (this is obviously the easy way, you can also make your own tomato paste concoction.

*I throw all of the veggies into a food processor with a shredding attachment to make it quick and easy.

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix the veggies with the spices and almond flour until thoroughly coated.
  2. Add eggs, coconut aminos or Worcester sauce, 2 tbsp of the tomato sauce and lard (if you’re using it); mix well.
  3. Add meat and mix it all together with your hands. Form into a loaf-shape.
  4. If you’re using bacon, cut the 6 strips in half and line the bottom of the slow cooker with half. Lay the other half on top of the loaf in strips.
  5. Place in slow cooker and cook on low 5-6 hours or until middle reads at 160ºF.
  6. Warm the remaining tomato sauce and top each slice with a spoonful. Enjoy!

I was so happy with how this came out. It just melted together perfectly! My partner went back for seconds and had to stop himself from grabbing thirds. He also had no idea that almost half of the mixture was veggies. Score! Did I mention it’s only 400 calories with 29 grams of protein per serving? Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you eat more than one serving per meal. 😉

Some additional tips:

  • If you don’t own a slow cooker, don’t worry! You can either still slow-cook it by placing the loaf in a dutch oven or other oven-safe deep covered dish and placing it in the oven on 200-250ºF until it comes to temperature. Or if you’re in a hurry just throw it in a loaf pan and cook at 350ºF for an hour. If you go for the latter, I recommend coating the top with tomato sauce so it doesn’t dry out.
  • This is a perfect freezer meal for work. This recipe makes ~8 servings (unless you go back for seconds and thirds)!
  • Missing an ingredient? Improvise! That’s what meatloaf is all about. I especially encourage you to try different veggies. Zucchini, summer squash and mushrooms are a few suggestions.
  • Why lard? It might seem silly to buy grass fed beef and lean pork and then add leaf lard to it. Well, aside from adding amazing flavor, leaf lard is actually one of the most healthy oils out there, especially when you’re careful about where you get it (I only buy from small farms, preferably local, who feed their pigs a healthy non-GMO/non-antibiotic diet). This article does a good job of explaining the benefits of leaf lard but I encourage you to do some Googling because there’s a lot of great information out there on why leaf lard is an awesome ingredient. It’s become a staple in my home.

Have your own favorite healthy meatloaf recipe? Share it! Thanks for reading!

Recipe-A-Rama

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Since coming back from the Lomilomi retreat, I’ve been trying to cook more vegetarian meals for dinner.  My goal is eating vegetarian 3-4 times per week.  This is challenging since I really enjoy getting a lot of protein and don’t enjoy the gassiness from most legumes but I’m giving it a go.  Since I’m also dairy-free, most of my veg meals are vegan, though I do use ghee or eggs in some of my dishes.  It is not my intent to become vegetarian or vegan, both due to how my system does well with meat and that I have access to local meats from small farms that I trust.  BUT, the American diet has definitely become a meat-fest and I think I’ll both be healthier and will eat more sustainably for our planet if don’t eat meat in every meal and eat it in smaller portions when I do.

Last night I was particularly pleased with the concoction I made up.  I bought some great organic veggies at Sweet Pea in Waitsfield, VT, which included tomatillos, a veggie I’ve had in Mexican dishes but hadn’t really cooked with.  I decided to see if they worked in a Coconut Curry, and holy crap I think tomatillos might be a perfect pairing for Indian food.  I can’t wait to try them in my bhindi masala once my okra is ready to pick!  This is an easy recipe with a lot of warmth and a good mix of tart and sweet.

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Tomatillo Coconut Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard seed
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-7 sliced baby bella mushrooms (or 3 portobello mushrooms)
  • 6-7 tomatillos, sliced thin
  • 1 handful of snap peas
  • 3/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1.5 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp. red curry powder
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • dash of cardamom powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: toasted coconut flake (throw some coconut flake under the broiler or in the toaster oven for just a few minutes, watch it, it burns fast!)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the flax and mustard seeds, once they are starting to pop add the chopped onion and cook for just a minute or two.
  3. Before the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms (this is if you like your mushrooms well done, like I do, otherwise wait until the onions are translucent).
  4. Cook mushrooms to desired doneness, then add tomatillos, garlic and all spices.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until tomatillos have softened and there’s some juice in the pan.
  5. Add snap peas and broccoli, cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add coconut milk and stir well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring, then reduce heat to low.  Adjust spices as desired.  Simmer covered on low 5-7 minutes or until veggies have softened a bit but snap peas still have some crunch to them.
  7. Serve over rice or quinoa, optionally top with coconut flake.  Enjoy!

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This morning I finally tried making almond milk from scratch.  It was not only incredibly creamy and delicious, but it was also SUPER easy!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked 8-12 hours and rinsed (optional: remove skins by pinching then after they’ve soaked*)
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp. honey (or sweetener of your choice, or 3-4 large dates)
  1. Toss all ingredients in a Vitamix or high-powered blender.  Blend on high for two-minutes (if you’re not using a Vitamix you may need to blend longer and also may need to strain the final result for optimum creaminess).  
  2. Enjoy!  

Now, wasn’t that easy?  Why have I been buying pre-made almond milk with preservatives and cane sugar?!  Well, now I know. 😉  I also have to brag and say that I’ve found many store-bought brands are watery and either too sweet or flavorless.  This was a nice mild nuttiness, very rich and creamy, and for me it was just the right sweetness.  

Next up, making my own coconut milk!  Now that I know how easy it is, the sky’s the limit!