07/09 Lasagna

I think I’ve posted this before, but I had a couple more requests for it – so here y’all go :-)

Zucchini and eggplant are in season now, so it’s a perfect time to make this lasagna. As an added bonus, it usually makes enough for 3 meals so you have leftovers for a couple of days!!

Lasagna
Primal Lasagna.

Ingredients.
Zucchini/Eggplant – 2-3, cut the ends and skin off
1 container (160z) organic cottage cheese
1 lb ground beef, turkey, chicken – your choice
1 lb italian sausage, casing removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3-6 cloves of garlic, minced - IMO, the more garlic the better!
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
1 6 0z can of tomato paste
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp parsley
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
photo 2
Directions.
1) In a large sauce pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the diced onions.
2) Once the onions have cooked to almost translucent, add the garlic (do not let it burn) only cook 2 minutes or so.
3) Add the ground meat and italian sausage. Cook until browned through.
4) Drain the meat, then add back to the pan.
5) Once the meat is added back to the pan, on low heat - add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. As well, add the spices and mix everything well. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes. Stir 2-3 times.
6) As the sauce is cooking, slice the zucchini/eggplant – I use a mandolin, but you can just slice them thin. If they break, it’s no big deal – just overlap the pieces a little.
7) Grease the pan with a little olive oil on the bottom, then layer the zucchini slices, a thin layer of cottage cheese and a layer of meat sauce in a 9×13 pan. I usually get two layers in my pan, if you have a super deep pan you will get 3 layers.
8) Top with slices of fresh mozzarella and bake on 350 for about 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy :-)
~M
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06/04 It’s Cheaper to Kefir

A couple weeks ago my husband traveled up to Northern Virginia to coach one of our athletes at the mid-Atlantic regionals while I headed home to Virginia Beach. The first night he stayed with some friends at their house. A very cool couple we met while living in NC – because people from NC kinda rule the school!!! Ian and his wife are pretty awesome people, very into natural and healthy living, making homemade kraut, kefir and the sorts.

In the past I bought kefir from Whole Foods and at $9 per jar, it was heck-a expensive and something I splurged on only once a month or so. That Saturday while at the beach with my daughter, I received a text from my husband saying, “Ian gave me some kefir grains for you.” I was beyond excited! Homemade kefir baby!!!

Now, as a one who eats predominantly paleo (75-80%), kefir is not traditionally considered paleo as it is traditionally a dairy product. Although research suggests, “our genes have been infused with real dairy products for tens of thousands of years. Recent geologic and climatologic research reveals that between 100,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Sahara was a lush paradise of grassland” (Raw Milk. 2013). However, you can make kefir with coconut milk, almond milk or goats milk. If you prefer a non-cow milk version. To each their own :-)

If you choose to make kefir with milk, raw milk from grass-fed cows is the optimal choice. Here, in Georgia, you can purchase raw milk….it is always labeled as ‘pet-milk’ due to current regulations. If you are not in Georgia, check out this website – it is a great source for not only local, raw milk but also local produce, meats, and cheeses.
http://www.localharvest.org/raw-milk.jsp

Now you may be asking, why raw milk? Well quite simply, raw milk is far superior to any store bought milk.

“Raw milk is an incredibly complex whole food, complete with digestive enzymes and its own antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic mechanisms conveniently built into a neat package. It is chock-full of both fat and water soluble vitamins, a wide range of minerals and trace elements, all eight essential amino acids, more than 60 enzymes, and CLA – an omega-6 fatty acid with impressive effects on everything from insulin resistance to cancer to cardiovascular disease.” (Gordon, D. 2013).

I can understand your hesitation with it being unpasteurized, however, currently only 1 in every 6 million people have reported some sort of illness after consuming raw milk. In fact, in the last 20 years no one has died from consuming raw milk. However , each day nine people die from asthma attacks (Gumpert, D. 2012). Are you still wondering about consuming raw milk??? Well, raw milk has shown to help with allergies, ear infections, asthma, and eczema. In addition, for all you guys out there concerned with getting your swole on, your body absorbs proteins and amino acids (for muscle repair/growth) from dairy better than any other protein source available!

Store bought milk, on the other hand, has to go through many processes (pasteurization and homogenization) because the cattle are raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). Cattle that are raised this way are highly susceptible to disease and infection. When the milking process occurs, the cattle are hooked up to electronic milking machines several times per day inflicting shock, lesions (blood and pus), as well as infections (Conventional Milk. 2012). Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?!?!

If you absolutely have no access to raw milk, make sure you are purchasing organic, whole fat milk. It is the best store bought option for making homemade kefir.

Now on to the KEFIR!
So kefir grains are not actually grains. They look similar to pieces of cauliflower.
kefir grains

Similar to kombucha, you can ‘chain’ make kefir. It is actually incredibly quick and easy to make as well. Once you have the kefir grains, each time you make a batch the grains grow/reproduce a wealth of probiotic awesomeness! And it usually only take 24-48 hours for the finished product.

Steps to Kefir.

1) Decide the type of kefir you plan on making. Milk kefir – dairy, goat, coconut, etc. Or water kefir – with water…obviously. If you are nervous to make traditional cow milk kefir, note that most people with lactose intollerance can tolerate kefir as the fermentation process breaks down the milk sugars. However, if you have a true milk protein allergy, I suggest you use coconut milk as it still has plenty of healthy fats.

2) Acquire kefir grains. If you find someone locally, great! If not, check out this website – they seem to be pretty reputable.
http://www.culturesforhealth.com/starter-cultures/kefir-cultures.html

3) If using milk kefir grains. Obtain the type of milk you desire to use and for every 1 tbsp of kefir grains, add 1 cup of milk. Combine in a glass jar (mason jars work well), cover with a cloth and set to the side.
Kefir* As you can see the jar on the right is the kefir that is currently fermenting. I put cheese cloth on top and secure with a rubberband. The kefir on the left has been strained and will go in the fridge. As you start accumulating kefir (and it will happen quickly) write the date on the jar with a sharpie.

4) Once the grains have fermented in the milk – 24-48 hours on average. The warmer and more humid the climate, the faster the fermentation occurs. There will come a point when it ferments and separates into curds and whey. Don’t worry you can still use the kefir – it is not the end of the world. It will be a little more sour than usual, but I tend to use mine in a smoothie at that point. Put a lid on the jar and shake it well to mix the curds and whey back together. If you decide to stir it, use a wooden or plastic spoon, metal can react badly with the kefir.

5) Once the fermentation is complete. Strain the product (in a plastic strainer) the kefir grains will stay in the strainer and the actual kefir will drain into a bowl.

6) Place the kefir grains back into the same jar. There is no need to wash the jar, and add more milk. If you are making too much kefir, put milk in the jar and place the jar in the refrigerator until you are ready to make more. It should keep at least two weeks in the fridge. I have even read some people store theirs in the freezer for months, although I am not sure how well that would work.
*It may take a little longer for the fermentation process to complete once they have been stored in the fridge. But after the first batch they will be back to normal.

7) Pour the ready to drink kefir in a different mason jar and store in the fridge between uses.

Drink plain, use it as a base to a smoothie, or with paleo granola (although I’m not strict paleo, I am not a fan of GMO grains – what is used in most store bought cereals/granola)
Kefir granola* Here I used my kefir as a base to ‘granola’ aka hemp seeds with strawberries and blackberries. A great breakfast alternative to eggs.

Kefir is quickly becoming known as a superfood as it has many health benefits. Below are just a few I have seen.
- strongest natural remedy against any allergy
- improves digestion
- improves the immune system
- treats eczema and psoriasis
- helps with sleep disorders as it contains tryptophan
- treats asthma

For a full list - http://www.yourkefirsource.com/known-kefir-health-benefits/

If you have any doubts on kefir’s amazing benefits – look at Klokov, that guy loves kefir and drinks it everyday….and he’s pretty much stronger than anyone….so yeah, just drink it!

If you need any further info on kefir or have questions – do not hesitate to leave a comment :-)

Enjoy.
~M
#Blacklist

References.

Conventional milk: The everyday drink that may contain blood, pus and drugs.      (2012). Mercola. Retrieved          from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/15/inhumane-treatment-on-dairy-cows.aspx

Gordon, D. (2013). Health benefits of raw milk. Retrieved from http://www.drdeborahmd.com/health-benefits-raw-milk

Gumpert, D. (2013). NY Times explores huge raw milk benefits, but hesitates on that final leap. Retrieved from http://thecompletepatient.com/article/2013/november/10/ny-times-explores-huge-raw-milk-health-benefits-hesitates-final-leap

Shanahan, C. (2013). Raw milk: Why mess with udder perfection? Retrieved from http://primaldocs.com/opinion/raw-milk-why-mess-with-udder-perfection/

 

5/28 Liebster, because you know I ain’t into the Biebster!

Shouting out Amanda over at Fit and Fab Life for nominating me for the Liebster award! Thanks girl :-)

http://fitandfablife.wordpress.com/

Liebster award

This award is given to bloggers by fellow bloggers. It is a pretty creative way to go out and find other like minded blogs to read, learn and enjoy.

The rules are as follows:
1) Each nominee must link back to the person that nominated them.
2) Answer 10 questions that are given by the nominator.
3) Nominate 10 other bloggers.
4) Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5) Let your nominees know by going to their blog and informing them.

Here are the questions given to me:

How did you start blogging?
I started blogging as a way to get information out to people in order to help them succeed. I’ve learned a lot through reading, school, and trial and error. If I can simplify that and help others, then I have succeeded!

If you could do/be anything, what would it be?
If I could do/be anything – well if we are talking super hero stuff, I would choose the power of invisiblity. If we are talking life in general, I would go back to my high school days and concentrate harder on my grades in order to become a practitioner of general medicine with an emphasis on holistic healing.

What inspires you?
People that work hard and are positive in difficult situations inspire me. Oh and good music, I like to dance and sing in my car…. a lot – it makes me happy :-)

Fun hobbies I like:
Paddle boarding, CrossFit, mountain biking, trail running, surfing, laying on the beach, gardening and eating. Basically anything active :-)

Cat or Dog Person?
Definitely a dog person, I would have about 10 of them on a huge farm if it was up to me! We had a cat growing up and she was a jerk.

Favorite Food:
Chocolate, duh!

What would you do with a million dollars?
Pay off student loans, pay off our mortgage, and go on a vacation with my husband somewhere tropical for a week –  where we could also surf by day and eat fresh seafood by night! The rest would go in the bank.

If you could meet anyone famous or not, who would it be?
There is not a famous person I really care to meet, but if it were possible, I’d have dinner with my grandma one more time. She was an amazing cook and awesome person. I miss her everyday.

Favorite book?
Picking just one is hard….Time Travelers Wife, The Secret Garden, and The Outsiders are some favorites.

Favorite Music?
My music selection changes constantly and I have noticed it tends to depend on the season. In the fall and winter I listen to jazz and punk, in the spring and summer I tend to listen to country, alternative, rap and reggae.

Blogs I am nominating: *Disclaimer, some have more than 200 followers, but they provide great info and ideas – so they are worth reading!

Pretty, Pretty Paleo http://prettyprettypaleo.weebly.com/

Thug Kitchen http://thugkitchen.com/

Finding Fit http://annafindingfit.blogspot.com/

Modern Alternative
Health http://www.modernalternativehealth.com/

Naturally Savvy http://naturallysavvy.com/

Ancestralize Me http://www.ancestralizeme.com/

The Rising Spoon http://www.therisingspoon.com/

Jules’ Fuel http://julesfuel.com/

Primally Inspired http://www.primallyinspired.com/

Proving Grounds, DGA – You didn’t really think I’d leave out the best programmer did you!!!  http://provinggroundsdga.com/

Questions for nominees:
1) Why did you start blogging?
2) If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
3) What would you do if you won one million dollars?
4) What is your favorite type of music?
5) What is your favorite food?
6) What is your favorite quote, and why?
7) What is your most prized possession?
8) Describe your personal style in three words.
9) What is your biggest challenge?
10) If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be and why?

~M
#BlackList

 

 

 

 

05/05 Protein Pancakes

Happy Cinco de Mayo.

This post is the opposite of anything related to Mexico, but Cinco de Mayo is about celebrating victory over French troops in the state of Puebla. And pancakes are the Americanized version of French crepes….so we’ll go with – yay for protein pancakes today.

Plus, who does not love breakfast for dinner every once in a while! And these protein pancakes are quick and easy to make after an evening workout :-)

Protein Pancakes
Protein Pancakes
- 1.5 C almond flour (sub coconut flour if allergic to nuts)
- 1 scoop of protein powder (we prefer SFH)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 3 tsp of baking powder
- 2 eggs (add an additional egg if using coconut flour)
- 1.5 C almond milk (1 3/4 – 2 c if using coconut flour)
- 3 tbsp of grass-fed butter or coconut oil

1) Mix all ingredients together (if using coconut flour, mix in first 1 3/4 of almond milk) if mixture is still too thick, add another 1/4 cup of almond milk.
* Remember, if your mixture is too thin, add a touch of almond/coconut flour
* If it is too thick, add a little more milk
2) Heat skillet with coconut oil or bacon grease. I prefer bacon grease, for the flavor and because my food ALWAYS sticks with coconut oil.
3) Once pan is heated, pour in batter until you reach the desired pancakes size – remember the batter spreads as you pour it.
4) Cook until the center begins to get bubbles
5) Flip and cook 1-2 minutes. Lift the edges to check for browning.

Once they turn a golden brown they are done. Usually the very first batch you put in the pan is not going to look as pretty and golden as each additional batch. Don’t worry about it.

Serve with fresh fruit and ham, sausage, or bacon.
Add in your favorite dark chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, etc.

Enjoy.
~M
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05/01 A Plan for Success

Planning for the week is essential. When you are new to Paleo or any type of meal prep, it is hard to know where to begin.

So I decided to show you what a week of meal prep in our house looks like – I tend to cook a couple extra things (regular potatoes/rice) because my husband is not paleo, nor does he need to be…I swear he could drink a glass of water and lose 2 lbs. A week of working out and clean eating and his abs are already breaking through – 6 pack for days. I know, believe me….it’s ANNOYING! Definitely hoping our daughter gets his genes in that department!

So here we go – a little chart of my planned food.
Weekly Meal PrepIf this is hard for you to read, click the picture and make it bigger – I’m still learning the in’s and out’s of blogging and adding features…..

Just in case you have questions, coconut kefir is a fermented product. Excellent for digestion and keeping your immune system up. When you first try it, only try a little. As in 2 tablespoons or so, otherwise you may end up with a stomach ache and a blown up toilet…Just keepin’ it real!
After you get used to it though, it can be a great replacement for yogurt if you do not consume dairy products :-)

If y’all have any questions about prepping, recipes, etc. – Leave a comment and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.

Good luck to all the regionals competitors in the coming weekends! Castro stirred the pot this year and flipped it up like nobody’s business.

Take it easy.
~M
#BlackList

 

04/06 My big fat Greek Keeeenwahhhh

It’s finally getting warmer in GA. We are able to open the garage doors and workout, and actually sweat!
We also just got these bad boys for the summer.

20140406-100224.jpg

I’m super stoked to get out on the water and use them!

About 5-6 years ago before I started becoming more mindful of GMO wheat and corn, I made pasta salad in the summer. It was my go to for lunch during the week or if we had a busy evening of running around doing errands and sporting events.

Last week I decided to try a similar version with quinoa (keen-wah). Many people think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually more closely related to spinach and beet roots. It also lacks gluten, is high in protein, and contains small amounts of omega-3′s – making it an excellent addition to anyone’s diet.

Quinoa can be used in many different dishes but I’m going to focus today on using it as a pasta alternative.

20140406-101608.jpg

Greek Quinoa.

Cooking quinoa -
1 cup uncooked quinoa: 2 cups water
bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until all the water has cooked out. Approximately 10-12 minutes.

Making it Greek -
12-14 kalamata olives (pitted) and chopped – more if you really like olives, like myself :-)
1, 12 oz jar of artichoke hearts
8 stalks of lacinato kale, I can only find it at Whole Foods
2 grilled chicken breasts or 4 grilled thighs (boneless/skinless)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Putting it all together -
I’m going to give you two options here, because some of you follow a more zone approach to eating.
1) Zone people (ZP), measure your quinoa and set aside in your individual containers – everyone else, empty the quinoa into a large bowl.
2) ZP – dice up the chicken, measure and place in each container – everyone else, dice the chicken and add to the quinoa.
3) ZP – chop all olives, artichoke hearts, and kale – mix well and add to individual containers. Everyone else, chop olives, artichoke hearts, and kale and add to quinoa/chicken bowl.
4) In a glass bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar and olive oil together. ZP – measure and add to containers, then stir all ingredients together and set aside.
Everyone else, whisk vinegar and olive oil together, drizzle over ingredients and mix well.
- This should make 4 large containers worth of lunch/dinner for the week. You can easily double or triple this recipe for a larger family.

Congrats to all the PG’ers that made Regionals – there are quite a few of you :-)
Happy Monday.
~M
#BlackList

03/14 Ready, Set, Goooooo.

The ability to eat well is mainly dependent on planning ahead. Everyone plans slightly different. You need to do what works best for you and/or your family.

Here is a little glimpse inside how our family plans for the week. Hopefully you can gain a few tips or tricks to incorporate in your weekly routine!

- Our main prep time is Sunday afternoons and we tend to make it a family event. My daughter and I prep a lot of the food, and put all the meat to the side. My husband lights the charcoal and then we grill – like massive amounts of meat!!! This is only round one of usually three to four rounds on the grill.
Brined and Grilled pork chops
We prep the eggs, these eggs last the week for my daughter and I – my husband eats fried eggs every morning. *side note, these are similar to the egg muffins but faster and easier! She requested plain eggs this week and it pretty much turns out like scrambled eggs but in a perfectly squared casserole shape. I usually put chopped spinach and tomatoes with goat cheese in there.

egg caserole for the week
My husband however, loves hash in the morning. And the chopping and cooking of sausage, etc. was annoying. So I came up with chopping everything really quick, including the sausage links, throwing it in a pan and baking it at 350 for 45 minutes to 1hr 15. It’s WAY easier and I can do tons of other stuff while the egg casserole and hash cook at the same time.

easy hashThis hash has red potatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions (chopped really small) and sausage links chopped up (I did not remove the casing).

We usually put asparagus on the grill as well as zucchini and I will usually make some kind of vegetable for myself inside (salad, kale, etc).
After all the cooking is done and cooled. We bag it up or put it in containers…depending on the item.
It looks similar to this -
Whats in the basket picAsparagus on the bottom left, followed by grilled chicken, hamburgers and porkchops, and on the bottom right are sweet potatoes cut in half.
Top left is bags of grapes, that is one of my daughters jobs – and if you have kids 5 or over, they can certainly do this as well. Rinse the grapes for them, and have them pick the grapes off the vine and put them in a bowl. Afterwards ask them to count grapes out and put ten in each bag (or however many you choose) – it not only allows them to participate, but they are also using their math skills to count out each bag of grapes.
Top right is kale salad.

To keep things organized so everyone knows what is or is not theirs for the week, I bought different colored baskets at the dollar store. Each person in the family gets a different color and their breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week are in their basket.
I keep left over meat in one of the drawers and that is the dinner drawer. There is also a vegetable and carb in each drawer for each night of the week.

fridge pic - use
At the end of the week, all the baskets are stacked within each other and the fridge is restocked and we do it all over again.

If you have a larger family and cannot fit everything in the fridge at once – try planning through Wednesday. On Tuesday or Wednesday you can put one meal in the crockpot and cook one on the stove or in the oven to make it through the rest of the week. If you have a family of four and are fixing porkchops, always plan on making 8-10 porkchops. If you have boys, plan on making 15-16. That way you have lunch for a day or two as well.
Finally, yes, organic and grass-fed is the best. But feeding a large family can be a huge expense. I would much rather see everyone eating meals cooked at home that are NOT organic or grass-fed, than eating drive-thru meals 3 times a week. Do what you can and keep moving forward :-)

Happy Friday.
~M
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