Keep it Simple

The ironic thing about last night’s dinner is that is was simpler and took significantly less time than most of what I could have made, but it was probably classier than anything I could have made, too.It was a rough day at work and by the time I got home, I did not want to cook (or do anything, for that matter), so I asked The Man if he could figure out something for dinner…and oh, by the way, we had nothing in the fridge (at least nothing that was fully thawed).

He’s an absolute saint…he ran out to the store and came back with a couple of ribeyes.  While he walked The Husky, I pan-seared them in some olive oil, salt, and pepper–about 3 1/2 minutes on each side–and called it good.  So easy, but SO good:

 

Porky Plate

Dinner tonight was a plate full of pig…I threw together the last of the pork butt and the slow cooker carnitasinto a baking dish, rendered some fat and threw chunks of it on top, and re-heated in the oven (covered) at 200 degrees for about an hour while I took care of some things around the house.Foodgasmic.

*Drool*

Who needs a plate?

Meanwhile…a certain Kitty of the Corn made a mess.

I’m still working on perfecting the picture quality with my new camera, but they’re certainly better than before!  I must have done something right, because I just got my first recipe submitted to Chowstalker and the Foodee Project.  More to follow soon!

 

F**K it…Just do Some Tabatas

The Man and I were determined to bounce back from our weekend away.  Unfortunately, neither of us was up for much of a workout yesterday (he took another day off and I went for a leisurely 3-mile run at PT).  So we resolved to go to Crossfit tonight since the whole month of December is on a drop-in basis.Well, I got home and realized I didn’t feel like driving all the way down to Round Rock…I’m still recovering from having to be in an hour early yesterday.  So, we decided to go down to the park and get a good workout in on the public fitness equipment again.

Well, I didn’t feel like going all the way to the park (which is a whole mile from our house…don’t judge).  So, we compromised and just did some Tabatas instead.  Simple, fast, but oh, so schweaty…

1/2-mile run (around the block)
Tabata Push-ups
Tabata Squats
Tabata Sit-ups
Tabata Flutter Kicks
1/2-mile run

We were going to do burpees but I was in the mood for some abs-action (and let’s face it, burpees suck) so the flutter kicks were a last-minute addition.  I’m pretty sure the neighbors thing we have issues since we were working out on the front lawn and making some not-so-discrete lunk noises.

As for today’s eats…

I’ve been working on a little something in the kitchen this week…One of the blogs I frequent featured an Apple Omelet yesterday and I was intrigued.  If the thought of apples over eggs makes you want to dry-heave, never fear…the original recipe has an egg-and-flour base similar to a crepe, so what you get is basically a German apple pancake (staple of my childhood…oh, this was gonna happen).

I nixed the wheat flour, milk, and sugar and used coconut flour instead.

Only problem was, it didn’t hold together at all, so I had more of a coconut flour-apple “scramble”…
But it was so good, I knew there had to be a better way.  So this evening I tried the same ingredients but in a skillet (like my coconut crepes...the recipes are pretty similar):
It definitely turned out a little more solid, but not quite as clean as I’d like…I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve so I’ll give it another go tomorrow.  It’s delicious as is, but I’m not going to publish a recipe if it’s going to fall apart on the plate.
Stay tuned…the unfortunate part of Paleo cooking is that there’s a lot of trial-and-error involved!

Should I Rethink my “Panic Weight”?

I was inspired to write this post partially because of today’s post from The Great Fitness Experiment, but also because of the results of this morning’s weigh-in at work.  Yes…a weigh-in the Monday after Thanksgiving…and it was harsh.I’m a former scale enthusiast…as in, weigh-myself-twice-a-day-every-day kinda gal.  And when I say “former” I do so loosely because as much as I’d like to toss out my bathroom scale and never again give a flying f**k about the number it’s going to toss back at me, I still do.

I’ve gotten better over the last few months about not weighing myself every day and I’ve accepted the fact that, if I keep working out to get stronger instead of skinnier and eating to fuel my performance instead of to diminish it, I’m going to (gasp!) put on some weight.  It’s so painfully simple, but I like so many other women and girls was brought up in a world that put so much value in weighing so little.

Like anyone else, my weight has fluctuated almost daily though it managed to stay within the same 3-5 pound “window” for all of my adult life.  Or it did until I stopped spending hours at a time on the trou chariot or the treadmill and started doing Crossfit and eating Primal/Paleo.  Since then the scale has crept up about 5 pounds above my skinny-fat average, my quads are about a quarter of an inch bigger around, I have a four-pack (it’s a real six-pack, though, if I go about 48 hours without drinking any water…booyah!), and all of my clothes still fit just fine.  Many of the athletes I admire so much–and even my own coach–have a good deal more weight than I do yet look great…no wait, AMAZING.

So why should I care?  When I hopped on the scale this morning, I knew what the number would be!  What got me was two things…1) That I’m still uber-insecure about being not only weighed and measured in front of a room full of people and having that weight recorded and entered into my personal records for the quarter, and 2) I have officially met my “panic weight.”

My “panic weight” has remained unchanged since I was about 14.  It’s all of five pounds above my average weight (not a lot of wiggle room since I’m 5’8″), but was nevertheless the weight at which I would have officially considered myself “fat.”  I’ve been at this weight before, but in all my noodly skinny-fat glory I did not look like I do now.  I did not feel good.  I did not have any abdominal definition, no matter how dehydrated I was.  But then again,  none of these things were really true at my “happy weight,” either.

Because I was never at my happy weight.  My “happy weight” was always 5 pounds less than what I was, no matter how little.  I could have weighed less than 100 pounds and I’d still have wanted to be less.  Messed up?  Sure.  There’s nothing rational about my body image.  At no point in my life have I ever been happy about how I looked.

But I am happy about how I feel.  I’m proud of how much stronger I’ve gotten in such a short time.  I feel like a goddamn idiot that it took less than twenty seconds to make me forget all of that completely, to step on a scale and read a number that means so little when you consider that I look, feel, and perform better than I have…possibly ever.

So is my “panic weight” obsolete?  Should I actually be glad that I weigh more now despite being the same size?  (Muscle weighs more than fat, right?)  Even though I have a dramatically improved body composition, why does this number still mean so much to me?

Clearly my priorities need an update, but it’s hard.  Really hard.  Being able to stay on track without cutting and running from the gym (literally) and tossing every trace of dietary fat from my fridge is a daily struggle.  When I put on my jeans and feel some new tightness in the legs–even though my old muffin top is no more–my heart skips a beat and my inner skinny girl screams in protest.  Even taking a rest day involves planning and self-restraint.

But it’s further than I’ve ever gotten and even though I’m fighting a battle with my self-image and intuition, I’m still motivated by my recent success.  I’m still so proud of myself for taking responsibility for my health, for pushing myself past where I’ve felt comfortable and “safe,” for being able to do things I couldn’t when I was skinny and malnourished (my 2-mile is as fast now running 6-12 miles a week as when I was running 55-60, and I can do pull-ups!!!!).  So maybe my “panic weight” is a crock of sh*t, or maybe it’s not.  But what I can tell you is that even though I sulked in my office for a good hour after the weigh-in, I’m not writing out low-fat meal plans for the next month.  I didn’t take off on a marathon to sweat off the extra weight.  And I didn’t for a second wish I could trade in what I’ve accomplished for those extra 5 pounds.  I may not like this new number, but for once I’m going to give it a chance.

New and Improved Pork Carnitas

I needed something quick and easy tonight, but the only meat I had thawed out was a few pounds of pork shoulder.

The solution?  Carnitas…but instead of simmering and stirring in the stock pot for 3 hours, I wanted to see if it would work just as well in the slow cooker.  Not only did it work, but it was delightful…even more tender than the stock pot version:

Pork Carnitas

2 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
1 c. water
1/4 c. rendered animal fat or butter
1 T tomato paste
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t sea salt
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 t paprika
1 t cilantro
1 onion, chopped
Cut pork into 2-inch chunks.  Combine with all other ingredients in slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours.
Preheat oven to Broil setting.  Spoon meat into a baking dish.
Broil for 10 minutes.  Devour plain or with salsa and sour cream.

Let’s Talk Salad Dressing

The one piece of advice every single “diet” or “healthy lifestyle”–regardless of origin or pseudoscientific status–can agree on is that you must eat more vegetables to get healthy, lose weight, clear your skin, clear brain fog…whatever.  Like my Dad say, “Salad is the most important meal of the day.”OK.  Got it.

It’s too easy to start eating more veggies and salads at every meal.  I even eat salads for breakfast.  But what of the creamy/vinegar-y/tangy toppers we know and love?  Most commercial salad dressings are full of crap in all senses possible.  Let’s take Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, a rich and delicious staple of my childhood.  Oh, and they’ve got the cutest commercials…what’s not to love?

“Vegetable oil, egg yolk, sugar, salt, buttermilk, spices, garlic, onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, modified food starch, MSG, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate”


Um…yeah.

What’s more, even most “organic” or “all natural” dressings are full of some crazy sh*t, too.  For our first Whole30, The Man and I scoured the aisles of Whole Foods in search of an acceptable salad dressing.  Even the ones without ant crazy additives seemed to be canola or soy based…oy vey.

If you’re like The Man, you’d just throw your hands up and star eating your salads sans dressing and call it good.  Me?  I refuse to admit defeat.  I know the guys over at Whole9 would probably be utterly disgusted with my inability to give up something so Neolithic as salad dressing, but what can I say?  I just can’t palate raw greens without a little…something.

For the longest time, I would just toss some fresh-squeezed orange juice or balsamic (lemon juice is too sour for me) on my salads, then it was plain tahini or home-made baba ghanoush for a while…and they were all well and good but I’m the kind of person who appreciates options…which is why I’m sharing the next two recipes with you.

I may have mentioned The Man’s and my Sunday-yoga-followed-by-lunch-at-Whole-Foods habit.  Whole Foods, despite its vegan agenda, has a pretty legit salad bar and I haven’t had a dressing I didn’t like.  It kills me that you can’t buy their in-house dressings, but luckily they have all the ingredients right there on the labels for you to see.  I was inspired by two of my favorites, tweaked them a little to make them Paleo-friendly, then made about a gallon’s worth of each through trial and error before I found the perfect combo.

Tahini-Date Dressing

10-12 Pitted Dates, chopped
2 c. Boiling Water
1/3 c. Rice Vinegar
3 T Nutritional Yeast
1 Garlic Clove
1 t grated fresh ginger
1 t black pepper
1/2 c. Tahini

Soak dates in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Toss dates, 1 c. of the hot soaking liquid, and all other ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups of dressing.

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

10-12 Pitted Dates, chopped
2 c. Boiling Water
1 c. Balsamic Vinegar
3 T Nutritional Yeast
1 Garlic Clove

Soak dates in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Toss dates, 1/4 c. of the hot soaking liquid, and all other ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups of dressing.

*Note:  I save bottles and jars (from salsa, tomato sauce, etc) and keep my dressings in them.  Recycle!

Home Again…with a New Recipe (sorta) and This Week’s Grocery Bill

First of all, I caught wind of a chance between now and the New Year to catch some food science journal articles FOR FREE over at SpringerLink.  My next semester of classes doesn’t start till January, so I’ll be perusing the lot of them through the holiday season…you know you want to join me!…and cooking up a little crock pot mystery meat…

I’ll be posting a recipe later…it’s nothing special, just a new take on an old recipe, but I want to make sure this new version doesn’t suck before I publish it.

In the meantime, I cooked up some more chicken and eggs for the week, as well as some butternut squash.  It’s so perfect for the fall.  My breakfast for tomorrow is stupid with squash:

Mixed greens in date-balsamic dressing, 2 fried eggs, and about 1/4 large baked butternut squash.
Lunch is going to be another salad with baked chicken and hard-boiled eggs…it’s not too exciting, but it works!
No meal plan for the week yet, but I managed to get this week’s shopping done today without one.  We had a decent amount of food left over in the fridge but I needed to stock up on some staples like almond flour, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, etc that I like having around to use as I need them.
This week’s bill:
$84.05
I think I’m getting the hang of this!

 

Primal Kitty

I mentioned before we left for the Thanksgiving holiday that we left Ms. Snugglebottom home alone this weekend…alone, that is, with a dozen crickets.

We got the idea from one of Mark Sisson’s posts a while back called The Tale of the Cat and the Crickets.  I suppose it struck a chord with us because we do suffer the chronic guilt that comes with pet ownership whilst working the hours we do.  While The Husky, at least, gets her daily walks (still not enough, I’m sure, for a doggie so naturally inclined to RUN), the cat lives exclusively indoors and has made a habit of spending a good deal of her time on the windowsill crying in agony as birds and bugs and rabbits and squirrels hop past in the yard.

My cats growing up were always outdoors cats–a luxury I took for granted in my rural upbringing.  It turns out, though, that the “house cat” is a relatively new phenomenon.  Cats are natural hunters that are best adapted to roam free, not spend day after day cooped up indoors with no natural prey except for shoelaces and toes under blankets.  It doesn’t take a genius to know that poor Ms. Snugglebottom, like so many other cats, gets anxious and would so much rather be outside chasing those critters through the night like the wild little huntress she is.

The cat does get a fair amount of play time with The Husky…they’re a terrific pair and it never gets old watching a 7-pound tabby cat try to hamstring a dog almost 8 times her size.  Leaving the two alone at home is enough to mute my conscience during our days at work, but this holiday weekend we were leaving the dog at a kennel in town…so instead of leaving the poor little kitty all by her lonesome for four days and praying she wouldn’t get so frustrated she’d take down the whole house, The Man ran over to PetsMart, shelled out a whole dollar and change, and came home with a round dozen of crickets…

Mark’s post gave a pretty convincing testimonial to the benefit of giving the cat a chance to exercise her natural predatory habits in the safety of the house, so why not?  I hoped that our cat, too, could have a chance to release some tension…kinda like a kitty spa weekend, just with a lot more bug blood and guts than I’m generally into.  Worst case, she’s be completely indifferent, though I sincerely doubted that would be an issue since Ms. Snugglebottom tried to kill and eat pretty much anything that moves or has the potential to move if she can push it around with her little paws.
The result?  Complete success.  Even when The Man walked in the door and set the bag down, she knew something was up…we had to hide it from her in a kitchen cabinet until we were ready to leave, and she sat outside it whining to get in.  Finally, she got her chance…

Give them to meeeee!!!!

They’re…EVERYWHERE!!

We came home this afternoon and there wasn’t a trace of any crickets, living or dead, anywhere in the house. I’m assuming she ate them all, which would be great because I’m gonna be pissed if she just killed them all and hid them somewhere–like my bed–or if they just retreated somewhere hidden and started to breed…ick

I doubt it, though.  In the article, the author mentions that his cat could hunt and eat a couple dozen per day.  We’ll definitely be continuing the cricket hunts.  It took her a minute or two to get her wits about her when they all scattered from the bag, but in no time at all our little lioness was on the prowel, chasing some under the couch, others along the baseboards and even behind a row of books.

It’s not exactly a forest full of natural prey, but we got a little closer.  We made a happy kitty.

Counting The Blessings

I’d like to take a quick moment to send my thanks to all of our servicemen and women who find themselves in harm’s way this holiday season.  Your service will always be appreciated.Be safe and come home soon!

We got in safe and sound last night, headed to dinner with good times (and LOTS of food and wine) were had by all.  Today I didn’t need to buy a whole lot but did get to spend some quality time with my Mom and Sister out and about.

I am so thankful that I was able to be here and spend the holidays with my family this year.  Spending all last year away from my loved ones–and especially during the holidays–was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I am truly lucky to have these people in my life and I’ll never again take this time for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re just about done packing up this morning and are taking a little time to chill out before our whirlwind weekend of travel begins.  We’re flying straight into Baltimore to go to my aunt’s house for dinner…then driving back to VA tonight…spending the day at my parents’ house tomorrow…going to my bridal shower Saturday and leaving for Washington, DC…and finally flying back super early on Sunday.  Oh, and I have to be at work an hour earlier than normal on Monday morning for a weigh-in.  Who needs sleep?Last night was everything a good birthday should be…

Gluten-free pizza (not Paleo) and wine…
Cookie Cake!!! (TOTALLY not Paleo…)


The Man definitely knows how to make me melt on my feet ;)
This morning, I had some almond-flax bread for breakfast with some apple butter:
And used the last bit to make a sandwich for the plane.  Also in my bag: huge water bottle, bananas, and hard-boiled eggs.  I may have cheated for my birthday, but we don’t do nasty plane/airport food.
We’ve also released about a dozen crickets in the house for Ms. Snugglebottom to hunt while we’re gone.  I’ll discuss this in a later post, but we got the idea here.
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!