Yay! Another super easy meal! Here’s the deal you guys…I’m in waaaaaay over my head at school. I come home with my brain leaking out of my ears and have zero energy. I wish I could come up with fancy schmancy meals like I used to (remember this?)…but I can’t. At least not till the weekend, and this last weekend I had a wedding to be at in Boston. It was at the aquarium…how cool is that?! I wanted to be a marine biologist soooooo bad when I was younger. Still kinda do, actually. I mean, swim with the dolphins for a living? Um, yes please. Seriously, cocktail hour was INSIDE the aquarium…we could just walk around and geek out over fish with a bar set up around every corner. Total bliss.
OK so this meal. It was kind of invented on the fly because, like I can imagine happens in many a kitchen on many a weeknight, all I had was a package of ground beef. SO I was all like, “OMG I wish there was a Paleo Hamburger Helper sitting in the pantry!” …And then I was like, “Holy crap! That’s a great idea!”
Taking stock of all I had, I came up with this little concoction. I used palm syrup in this instance and I highly recommend you find a bottle–I think I got it at Natural Grocer but I’m sure Whole Foods has it. However, honey or molassas will work just as well…or just leave it out if you want to nix the sugar.
Serve over cauliflower rice or just on its own. Hint…mix it all up with some spaghetti squash and it’s like Chinese takeout
Super easy meals are awesome. Especially this one…it’s THREE ingredients, people. Well, four if you count salt. But some people don’t salt their food nearly as much as I do…and “three ingredients” just has a nice ring to it. So much less intimidating. Especially on a Tuesday night when you get home late from school and the gym and still have calc homework and you’re just beat. Seriously…I prepped these while I was in the shower and baked them while I finished homework/watched Arrested Development.
I know like, everyone has already finished the new season…please don’t spoil it for me. We only got the Roku working a few days ago so I’m SO far behind. Pathetic, just pathetic. Know what else is pathetic? Realizing my undergraduate education…AND my master’s degree are worthless. Utterly. I’ve been sitting in math class for the last 2 weeks with the dumbest looks on my face. Seriously, no clue what’s going on. I guess that’s what happens when you’re an Art, Philosophy, and Literature major and decide to be a doctor. Totally makes sense, right? …Right…?
I’ve made like a hundred different banana breads. (This, this, this, and this). I mean, I love it and it’s easy and makes good meals and snack on the go and is the best possible air freshener for the kitchen. Duh. But now my basic recipe has been revised. Again.
Why? Well, last time you’ll recall I had a change of heart about the excessive use of nut flours in baking, especially in something that had become a breakfast staple of mine. This time, it’s the flax. I have decided to quit using flax meal in my recipes since, well, it doesn’t agree with me. By process of elimination I realized it irritates my system, makes me gassy, and all that jazz.
I did a little reading, and it turns out that flax oil is really unstable (like many nut and seed oils). When you grind up the seeds, it goes rancid when exposed to heat or if not properly stored. If you want to use raw flax, you’re good as long as you buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself. If you’re like me and buy the packs or flax meal and store and use them like any other flour, then you’re doing way more harm than good. Oops.
Thankfully, the recipe was easy to fix and the result is just a nice, tender, rich flavored banana bread that is lovely on its own or slathered with raw almond butter and honey. Bonus that it’s oil and sugar free, so it’s cool for daily consumption
Right now it’s saving breakfast for me since I can just toss a few slices into a baggie and take them to class. Next step is to start making some serious Banana Bread French Toast…
I’ll be completely honest…I totally forgot how hard being a student really is. I haven’t been in college full time for…a lot of years and jumping right back into it has been a rather rude awakening. The summer term is especially brutal–it’s only a couple classes but it’s the fast and furious version…I’m in class from 8 to 4:30 with only one break for lunch. There hasn’t been a day this week when I didn’t feel like my brain had been liquified.
On top of all that, we’re on a really tight budget. This gives me a new appreciation for “budget eating,” since this is the first time in my life I haven’t had disposable income. I mean, my undergrad was free and I was making money from the Army all through that (not to mention they fed me three times a day anyway) and when I was working, I was making decent money…at least I realize now that it was decent
Now, even though the GI Bill is picking up a good part of this med school deal, I’m at a private school this year and it’s only paying about half. Oh, and then there’s the bureaucratic part of it…meaning I’m relying on federal and private loans until the GI Bill actually kicks in. Long story. Oh, red tape.
ANYWAY…we’re eating on a budget. And on severe time constraints. So this is the first of many meals I came up with that was ready in about a half hour, start to finish, with minimal ingredients. As an added bonus, it tastes really good. I’m obsessed with chipotle pepper lately and put it in everything. And they don’t have to be bison…they can be whatever ground meat you have on hand. I’m starting to realize just how pricey beef in general can be, so for this coming week I actually bought a bunch of ground pork and sausage, for example!
In an attempt to avoid protein powders after workouts, my standard PWO snack is often just 2 hard-boiled eggs and a spotty banana. Buuuuuut that gets old after a while. I’ve tried the egg and banana pancake idea before (well, like once) and it was a disaster…so I kinda gave up. They are a little tricky and I’ve seen different ratios of egg to banana…like one egg to one banana, two to one, one to two, whatever…but the fact that there’s no dry binding agent means that you need to cook them at a pretty low temperature. And low temps mean a longer cooking time. And I’m inpatient.
I decided to give them another go as I started getting sick of bananas and hard-boiled eggs. Don’t ask me why it took so long, but it finally occurred to me to mash them all together and make pancakes out of them. Best part? They’re great cold, too, so I can toss them in a baggie into my cooler and take them to class.
Like I said, they take a little time and love to make, so my preferred method is to make a ton at the beginning of the week and freeze them. They heat up very nicely in the toaster oven and make a good breakfast on the go (which I’m eating way more of since I have early classes). Make sure you use plenty of fat in cooking…these babies stick easily…and besides, fat is good for you, remember? Duh. Plus a lot of coconut oil makes them all crispy around the edges…OMG. SO GOOD.
There’s something to be said for a rich, hearty, tomato-saucey, meaty, Italian meal on a cold night in late spring. Obviously a nice Chianti makes it even better.
The secret to success with these babies is the triple meat combo. You get the juiciness and richness of the beef, fattiness of the pork, and a nice kick of flavor from the veal. The texture is unmatched by your run-of-the mill beef meatballs and this combination of seasonings is pretty much my go-to for Italian-inspired dishes. It’s also a very easy meal that can be prepped ahead of time if need be. I made this batch in the morning and cooked them shortly after I got home after work.
Ah, work…I don’t miss it. I’m functionally unemployed now that I’m officially out of the Army for good. It’s…liberating. Class starts in a week and a half but until then I’m catching up with family and friends. I love living so close to loved ones for the first time since I left home. Don’t get me wrong, I got to visit and live in some great places the last 8 years and I have so many experiences that have made me who I am, but I guess its’s time to reconnect with my inner homebody.
I will say, however, that I most definitely did NOT miss this East Coast humidity. I walked outside yesterday morning and felt like I got body-slammed with a wall of moist heat. Ugh. I already miss the crisp Colorado mountain mornings…but then again I don’t miss the snot rocks. Those are pretty painful in case you didn’t know.
Good. I know real Texas Toast is only available in a plastic bag and is probably made of sawdust, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the perfect ingredient for grilled cheese, french toast, or…well…anything that needs bread. I did a quick Wikipedia search, though, and found that traditionally, a” “Texas Toast” really is is thick slices of white bread slathered in garlic butter and grilled. Um, ok. I can do that.
So who’s in the mood for a giant hunk o’ meat? No wussie pork chops here…even though they’re showing their sweeter side.
Oh, and as an added bonus this meal only takes 30 minutes…probably less. And there’s only six ingredients, counting the salt. How cool is that? I was debating whether or not to post this since it’s not exactly Whole30 or 21DSD friendly and I know a lot of people are detoxing before summer rolls around, but I couldn’t resist. If nothing else I think this would make a KILLER meal for your first day after you’re done. Much better than destroying your decade old twinkie stash, no? I mean, it’s a big juicy pork chop, slathered with maple syrup that carmelizes all over in the oven. You get some sweet, some salty, some savory…and just trust me, you’ll want some sweet potatoes on the side. All the drippings from te pork and syrup just get soaked up by the potatoes like a sponge. You’ll thank me, I promise you.
I can’t believe how hard it is to find pork belly–the only place I can find it in the Springs is at the commissary. This is problematic because in a couple weeks, we’re moving back east where there won’t be a commissary…thus stripping me of my sole source of offal and other fun cuts. That’s…really depressing. Somebody hold me.
Also, I’d like to bitch for a second on how hard it is to find chipotles. I mean, they’re so popular, but the only form they’re in 99.99% of the time is canned with adobo sauce and like a bazillion other wacked out ingredients like sugar and sulfites. Ew. But lucky for you today, I found a bag of plain old dried chipotles and was able to kick out this dish. It’s so damned good–pork belly is way too underrated…and all the fat haters out there just ruin it for everyone. It’s a giant, fatty, hunk of bacon. What’s not to love?
Another note, though. There are a bunch of different ways to prep a pork belly, all equally delicious but it comes down to personal preference and frankly, time (for me at least). Melissa summed up a few methods here. but I almost always use the sear-and-crockpot method.
I hate that bit of conventional dieting wisdom that says you should “go to bed hungry.” Look, if I’m hungry, then as far as I’m concerned, relaxing enough to get to sleep is the last thing I’m going to be able to do–when I’m hungry, my eyes glaze over and I want to kill everyone and everything withing reach. So, yeah, Bob Harper? Go to bed hungry? Not on your life.
Getting back into the “competitive” routine, though, means that once again I’m eating more frequent and smaller meals. During the day this is great, since I’m always full and my workouts are better, I’m more awake, yadda yadda. But around bedtime? The 3-4 ounces of protein at Meal 5, aka “Dinner” is all gone and my tummy is rumbling. Last week I made a quick habit of these (Vanilla Maple? F**K YES!)…buuuuuut even I can’t delude myself into thinking that this is a sustainable addiction. Maybe just every other day…?
These muffins, besides being super convenient as a single-serve recipe deal, are super filling (thanks to the coconut flour!) and HUGE. Honestly, half with a schmear of almond butter is enough. Well, it should be, but I eat with my eyes, so I need the whole thing. But it fills me up without making me feel like I ate a brick the next morning. If you wanna get meathead-y like me, you can also take note of the protein content…perfect for overnight recovery! Add into the mix a very high fiber source of carbs and healthy monounsaturated fat from all that coconut. What’s not to like?