Sunday, September 29, 2013

Paleo Bagels (What!?!)

I made these.
I smushed them a little too much on the baking sheet. Don't do that. 

Then I turned one into this.

Yes, that's double ham. Thanks for noticing!
I used this recipe (but substituted sesame seeds).


Whole30's over.




Friday, September 27, 2013

Caramelized-Onion Cauliflower Mash

You guys know our routine: CaveBoy works his shifts and I work all the time. So we rarely get to see each other at dinner-time. When we do share a meal, it feels like such special occasion that we usually go out to eat, often to a local burger joint or Thai restaurant.

Sometimes, however, I have my shush together well enough in advance that we can cook dinner for ourselves. This scenario is especially rare because it requires me to know on Saturday that we'll be together sometime in the week, remember that fact when I grocery shop, and buy one meal worth of food to cook (instead of my normal 4 to 5 meals-per-person bulk shopping).

Recently, that became much easier to plan and execute. I loaded up the freezer with on-sale steaks and individually wrapped salmon steaks. Now, I only have to know one day in advance that we're going to have a cook-at-the-Cave date, and I can pull out the right protein to thaw. We're saving money and avoiding that-much-more vegetable oil (double-whammy!).

Grilled steaks and baked salmon take no time to cook, tho, so my side veggie can't take all day. My favorite Roasted Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash takes almost an hour (no bueno). Tangy Shaved Brussels Sprouts are awesome with steak but disgusting with salmon, so that recipe is disqualified despite the short cook-time. Cauliflower, on the other hand, goes with everything. And frozen cauliflower keeps forever. So I added a few bags to my beef and seafood stockpile, and now we're in business.

I pulled this recipe together on the fly. I was preheating the oven for our salmon steaks and needed to move fast to get the veggie done before the fish was ready. I always have onions, garlic, and chicken stock in the pantry (because those three ingredients go with everything). Add a few tablespoons of grass fed butter et voilĂ : dinner is served.

Caramelized-Onion Cauliflower Mash


This was so good, CaveBoy and I ate the whole batch by ourselves.

Ingredients

1 bag frozen cauliflower florets 
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons grass fed butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Place a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add frozen cauliflower florets and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking until cauliflower is tender. Increase heat and boil until all the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.

While the cauliflower is cooking. Add olive oil and onion to a medium skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook onion until it begins to brown. Add garlic and continue cooking until garlic begins to brown and onion is caramelized.

Once the onions are caramelized, mash cauliflower using a potato masher. Add butter to the onion skillet and stir continuously until it melts. Add mashed cauliflower to the skillet and stir to combine. Re-season with salt and pepper. Serves 2 to 4 (depending how many of the diners are CaveBoy).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jamaican Beef Patty Pie

You've probably noticed by now that I thrive on routine. I like my life to be structured, organized, and predictable. I plan my work schedule weeks-to-months in advance. And I structure my home-life around fulfilling my basic needs: sleep, food, and fitness. On the food front, I traditionally meal plan sometime during the week, with my final decisions made on Saturday morning. I shop on Saturday evening (after the stores are mostly cleared-out of crazies). And I cook on Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes, though, my secondary needs (fun with friends, activities outside on beautiful Fall days, dates with CaveBoy, etc - not necessarily in that order) interfere with my routine. Take today for example: I'm headed to play outside with friends this afternoon, right in the middle of my normal cooking-block. But you know what? I have a plan for that, too!

On days like today, I plan meals that have only a few steps and require little babysitting. This helps me multi-task and still get everything done for the week in a compressed timeframe. I also split my cooking-block in half, starting the make-ahead steps (like baking sweet potatoes and chicken thighs) while I cook breakfast. I let them cool while I'm away (having fun) and then turn them into dinner when I get home.

Even though I am willing to skimp on time, I can't cut corners on flavor or creativity. Our cook-on-Sunday-eat-all-week plan only works if the food can hold our interest over multiple meals. Otherwise we end up in the drive-thru seeking bun-less burgers. And that's a waste of everything.

This Jamaican Beef Patty Pie recipe was born out of my need for a simple, flavorful, babysitting-free, paleo (actually Whole30-approved) casserole that I can whip up in a flash on days like today. It's a pie in the sense of Shepherd's Pie or my recently invented Drover's Pie.

The flavors are based on a Jamaican Beef Patty recipe I found on Martha Stewart's website. And the cooking method for the Mashed Plantain also comes from Ms. Martha (hey - use your resources, right?). But make no mistake, the execution is all Silly Little CaveGirl.

This recipe was such a mega-hit with CaveBoy that I know I've created an instant classic!

Jamaican Beef Patty Pie

Guaranteed* to wow everyone at your next pot-luck!

Ingredients

3 lbs ground beef
6 ripe plantains
3 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 scotch bonnet peppers, finely chopped
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 table spoon
1/4 cup grass fed butter or ghee
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon potato starch (optional)
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peal and slice each plantain in half lengthwise. Toss sliced plantains with 1 tablespoon olive oil and arrange cut-side down on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn plantains over. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Mash plantains with a potato masher until they become a chunky purée. Add butter (or ghee) and 1 tablespoon curry powder, and stir to combine until butter is melted.

While the plantains are cooking, add 1/4 cup olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add diced veggies and ground beef and cook until beef is browned. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder, thyme, and beef stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

If you're not on the Whole30, consider thickening it with 1 tablespoon potato starch mixed into a half cup of cold water. Add the potato starch slurry and stir continuously until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. If you are on the Whole30, or are just keeping your diet super strict, simmer an additional 5 minutes to let more of the liquid evaporate. 

Grease a medium baking dish with coconut oil spray. Pour beef mixture into the baking dish and smooth into an even layer. Spoon mashed plantains on top, ensuring that meat mixture is evenly covered. Bake at 375 degrees until plantains begin to caramelize. About 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Our peppers weren't very hot (nature!) so we served ours with extra hot sauce on the side.

*Note: I don't actually guarantee anything.






Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

This recipe was inspired by my Grandfather's farm (and the Trader Joe's produce section).

Throughout the summer, I've been confronted with beautifully-stacked zucchini during my weekly grocery run. But I never brought any home because I know how much CaveBoy detests the fruit (how do you like that proper use of the definition?). But then last week while I was shopping, as I passed the zucchini pile, I recalled my mother's stuffed zucchini recipe, and I was sold.

When I was growing up, my GrandpaG lived on a farm (the same farm my mother grew-up on, but that's a story for another day). GrandpaG kept cows, a lake stocked with fish, a giant pear tree, and a huge garden. He grew corn, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini, watermelon, and all sorts of other things. He also had rows and rows of raspberry bushes. It was a produce paradise (he also had a batting cage, a swing set, and a huge barn. So it actually was a multi-genre paradise.).

Unlike the zucchini you normally find in the grocery store, GrandpaG's zucchini was HUGE. One stuffed zucchini (two halves) could feed our whole family. This recipe is a modified version of my childhood memory. First because I don't have access to gigantor-zucchini, and second because my mom's recipe was not Whole30-approved.

And just incase you're worried, CaveBoy (grudgingly) ate the stuffed zucchini with me. He complimented the filling (so that's good!) and requested that next time I stuff it into a pepper instead. But he also agreed that if I am willing to eat broccoli with him, then eating zucchini once a year isn't all that bad. On that note: I say this recipe still counts as a success!

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini

Like a smile on a plate.

Ingredients

8 medium zucchini
4 lb Italian sausage
4 eggs, beaten
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 red onion, finely diced
1 head garlic, cloves finely diced
2 cups pork rinds, crushed (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Remove stems from zucchini and slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds from each zucchini half (I used a melon baller).* Make sure to leave enough zucchini to have a sturdy zucchini-boat. Arrange on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook onion until it becomes translucent. Add garlic and cook until it becomes aromatic. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine sausage, onion mixture, and egg. Mix well. Divide into 16 evenly-sized meatballs. Press each meatball into a zucchini boat, filling the space. Shape the meatball so that it is evenly distributed along the zucchini-boat, for more even cooking. Bake at 400 degrees until pork is fully cooked. About 45 minutes. If desired (and I recommend it!), remove the stuffed zucchini from the oven and sprinkle crushed pork rinds on top. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Makes 16 4 oz portions (or 5 servings each for CaveBoy and CaveGril).


*Note: Don't throw the zucchini centers away! I put mine in a Ziplock bag and stashed them in the freezer. I plan to use them to make zucchini bread once the Whole30 is over (and share it with someone other than CaveBoy).



Monday, September 16, 2013

Tomato-Bacon Yellow Squash "Pasta"

This recipe was so beyond-expectations delicious that I almost made it two weeks in a row!

At first, I wasn't sure how it would turn out. When I conceptualized this recipe, I wanted to make it with spaghetti squash. But I wasn't willing to wait a few more weeks for it to come back in season. Luckily for me (and CaveBoy) there was a huge pile of yellow squash at Trader Joe's, and I have a julienne peeler. Dinner was saved!

Now that I've experimented a little bit, I think I prefer the yellow squash. Spaghetti squash can hold a lot of water, which works just fine when combined with a red sauce (or made into a soup). The extra water boils off when I re-heat my portion each night, and prevents the whole dish from becoming dry.

BUT for an oil-based sauce, too much moisture could be catastrophic. Roasting the squash-noodles (instead of steaming or boiling them) kept them from becoming soggy or mushy and helped them stand-up to the tomatoes and bacon.

Now, I can't wait to try my hand at a yellow squash-noodle carbonara (dairy free, of course).

Tomato-Bacon Yellow Squash "Pasta"

It's a pretty substantial side dish.
Serve with something simple and light like grilled chicken.


Ingredients

8 medium-large yellow squash
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb thick-cut bacon, diced
1 red onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
4 oz arugula
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Julienne the yellow squash into the longest squash-noodles possible (I use a julienne peeler in long motions covering the full length of the squash). Once the narrow neck becomes too thin to continue julienning, continue peeling the thicker part of the squash until you hit the seeds (You will have noodles of different lengths, but they will still cook evenly. And this way you don't waste any food).

In a large bowl combine squash-noodles and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix with your hands to ensure even coverage. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease a large baking sheet. Distribute squash-noodles onto baking sheet in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir and redistribute squash into an even layer. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes. You want the squash to be cooked, but not mushy. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the squash-noodles cook, add bacon to a large skillet and render out the fat. Once the bacon is fully-cooked, remove from pan a set aside. Pour off 3/4 of the bacon grease. Return pan to heat and add onion. Cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add garlic and cook until it starts to brown.

Pour in the white wine and stir with a wooden spoon. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to deglaze. Add the chicken stock and cherry tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are warmed through. Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Return cooked bacon to the pan. Add squash-noodles and toss with tongs to ensure everything is evenly distributed. Remove squash-pasta mixture from pan.

Quickly, while the pan is still hot, add arugula and a pinch of salt. Toss arugula with tongs until it is heated and just begins to wilt. Remove from pan. Serve squash-pasta in large bowls with arugula on top. Makes 6 servings (I set out to make 8 servings, but it didn't last that long. It was just too delicious!).




Sunday, September 15, 2013

GuestBlogger: Grilled Flank Steak With Whole30 Sides

Congratulations! We're half-way though the Whole30. To celebrate our continued success, another amazing woman has agreed to GuestBlog about her experience with the protocol.

DrLindsey and I go waaaaayyyyy back (back before I met CaveBoy). It would be an understatement to say that we grew up together. Even though we were technically adults when we met, we developed into the women that we are today in each others' company. Sometimes pushing each other (and letting ourselves be pushed by the other) to overcome our self-doubt and youthful selfishness.

And we're still growing-up together! Supporting each other though the multi-year-gut-punch of higher education, the stress-filled-joy of our weddings, the pleasure of building our little families, and the hard-work of opening a medical practice (DrLindsey-obviously) and climbing out of a basement cubicle (me).

Throughout the (many) years, we've also supported each others' health and fitness goals. And you have Dr.Lindsey to thank for inspiring this month's Whole30.

Now, here's DrLindsey...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Hi folks! 

I’m Lindsey Mansueto DC, a chiropractor who usually focuses on hands on techniques to treat people with musculoskeletal pain. However, taking many hours of nutrition classes has taught me that if people are eating the wrong foods it will lead to aches and pains regardless of structural integrity. So when CaveGirl asked me to do a guest blog, I was thrilled to oblige.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I love food. I mean LOVE food. Growing up with a father who is a chef, it was standard to have five courses at dinnertime. Now that I am a mom, I want to instill a love of food to my daughter but also ensure that she loves the right foods: a ripe pear, sweet cantaloupe, freshly scrambled eggs, and of course green veggies.

CaveGirl asked me to do the Whole30 with her almost a year ago and my initial reaction was pure terror. You mean no creamer in my coffee? No dark chocolate before bed? No bagels with butter in the morning? But as the year went by and I did more research, I felt more comfortable with eliminating dairy, grains, beans, and processed foods from my diet. 

So I started the Whole30 on September 1st and it took 4 days for me to get used to my new eating style. The amazing thing is that during that transition I started to sleep better, poop better, think clearly, and have more fun during the day. 

Don’t get me wrong, it does take a great deal of planning. But when you are planning ahead for your meals, it gives you more time to think about the important things: playing with your kids, getting more done at work, and of course showing your spouse a little affection (hubba hubba).

So today I want to share with you one of my favorite meals from my first week of the Whole30:

Grilled Flank Steak With Whole30 Sides



CaveGirl: You can tell that cooking is in here genes!

Ingredients

For the Flank Steak

Grass fed local flank steak
Shallots
Ginger
Garlic
Onion Powder
Coconut Aminos
Pink Himalayan Salt
Pepper

For the Whole30 Sides

Green beans
Sweet potato
Arugula
Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar
Tomato
Red onion
Cilantro
Carrots
Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients* in a shallow dish or Ziploc bag. Allow the steak to marinate overnight for intense flavor.

Start the baked potato.. I usually do 350 degrees for 1 hour depending on the size (you can do this in advance and just reheat the day of). Because these sweet potatoes were big, I just used two and gave family members slices. 

Preheat the grill to get it nice and hot. Wash and steam the green beans. Put the marinated steak on the grill. Cook for 7-10 minutes per side (I had a huge flank steak). While the steak is cooking, go throw the arugula salad together. Once the steak is done, allow it to rest so it soaks up all the juices and you have time to finish up the rest of the meal. 

It is a healthy Whole30-approved meal that the whole family can enjoy!


*Note: CaveGirl: DrLindsey is creative in the kitchen and doesn't often measure. Use this recipe as inspiration and just make enough marinade to cover the flank steak. Judge your portions for the other ingredients based on how many people you plan to feed.






Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chicken "Tortilla" Soup

The weather has turned cool(er), Starbucks brought back the PSL (not paleo), and the most anticipated college football game of the season is only 5 hours away.... it must be Fall!

And with Fall comes soups and stews. Foods that are easy to make, taste great, and feed a crowd of athletic-enthusiasts without requiring a whole lot of time slaving over the stove. Chili is a natural choice. It's basically a three step dish (brown beef, put all ingredients in a pot, simmer). Everyone loves it. It scoops up great with a chip (if you're in to that sort of thing). Heck, it's practically expected at a football-watch party.

But what if you want something a little different? What if you're looking for a Chili that tastes like a taco? What if all you really want is a vehicle for avocado? I've got your back! You probably have all the makings for this recipe in your kitchen right now. And if you don't you can easily get them purchased, prep'd, and prepared before kick-off.

Have fun! Let me know what your guests think about the soup. And Gig 'em Aggies!


Chicken "Tortilla" Soup
Mmmmm. Avocado!

Ingredients

3 lbs chicken (breast or thighs)
2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 yellow onions, diced
1 head celery, diced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 4 oz cans sliced black olives
6 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 envelopes taco seasoning*
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken in a baking dish and season with salt, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, and a few shakes of black pepper. Bake unit chicken is fully cooked. 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to touch.

At the same time, grease a large baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange cauliflower florets in an even layer. Drizzle with an additional tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a few shakes of salt and pepper. Cook in 400 degree oven until cauliflower becomes tender and begins to brown. About 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to touch.

While the cauliflower and chicken cook, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and celery and cook until onion becomes translucent. Add tomatoes, olives, taco seasoning, and chicken stock and stir to combine. Cover and let simmer until the chicken is ready.

Once chicken is cool enough to touch, shred the meat (using two forks or your KitchenAid stand mixer) and add it to the simmering soup. Stir to combine. Continue simmering another 15 minutes.

Once the cauliflower is cool enough to touch, run a knife through it to chop it into rice-sized pieces. 

To serve, place a scoop of cauliflower rice in the bottom of a large bowl. Then ladle chicken soup overtop. Garnish with sliced avocado and a lime wedge (if desired). Makes 8 servings.



*Note: OK. You caught me. I admit this recipe isn't strictly Whole30 because I used McCormick taco seasoning, which contains whey (and sugar). Dairy is not Whole30-approved. But that's fine because A) The whey and sugar are so far down on the ingredients list I'm sure their super-diluted once the get into my soup, and B) If you're keeping it super-strict, you could always make your own taco seasoning mix. It might take you some time to perfect the right ratios but McCormick shares their secrets right on the website:

www.mccormick.com



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Classic Pot Roast

This probably is the simplest recipe I've posted. But it's also a close contender for most comforting. There is something very wholesome about pot roast. And I am nostalgic for the meaty, peppery flavor. Besides spaghetti, it's probably the meal we ate the most throughout my childhood.

When I was a kid, my parents  both worked full-time, and neither one of them kept regular 8 hour days. My mother was in the medical field and my father worked and taught at the local university. So their workdays sometimes extended into the evenings. On top of that, my siblings and I played sports from a young age. So our evenings often were full, too. Needless to say, there wasn't much time in the evenings to cook (the need for simple nutritious food is like the theme of my life...).

Two or three times a month, my mother would put a large roast in a deep baking dish with a little water, cover it with foil, and bake it low-and-slow all day while we were at school and work. The first family member home was responsible for peeling potatoes (or on occasion we'd resort to potato buds) and warming up a frozen vegetable. Then when mom or dad got home, they'd use the pan drippings to make a peppery gravy. Dinner was on the table in no time. And it tasted like Sunday-after-church-cooked-all-day-for-the-family even though we didn't.

This recipe is just as simple and equally delicious, but doesn't require me to leave my gas oven on while I'm away (God bless my super-huge Crock-Pot!) and doesn't quite take all day. There is plenty of juice left after the roast is fully cooked to make a quick gravy and practically any vegetable will taste great as a side dish. I don't make this recipe quite as frequently as my parents did (mostly because I only cook once for the whole week, instead of making a different dinner each night) but it does come up in the rotation quite often. More frequently when I miss my family.

Classic Pot Roast


I served the roast with mashed squash and wilted spinach.

Ingredients

4 lbs beef chuck roast
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
1 head celery, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves pealed and smashed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Pepper

Instructions

Place chuck roast in your Crock-Pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add veggies and water. Cover and turn on high heat. Let cook on high until meat is fork-tender. About 5 hours. 

Remove meat from liquid. Scoop out veggies with a slotted spoon. Reserve liquid.* Cut roast beef into portions. Spoon a few tablespoons of cooking liquid over each serving of beef. Serve veggies as a side.

*Note: If you choose not to make a gravy, the cooking liquid can be boiled and used as a flavorful blanching or braising liquid for diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Or use the liquid in place of stock to whip up a cauliflower mash. This will carry the meaty flavors over to the side dish and better unite the meal.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nutrition and Exercise (CaveBoy Edition)

You've seen What the World Eats (and Part II) and I've shown you what I eat, but after a few weeks of watching the likes tic up on my Facebook page (thank you!), I'm willing to bet that at least 24% of you are more interested in seeing what I cook for CaveBoy.

Did I mention that I love data?

Since I last described our opposite fitness goals (more than a year ago), things haven't changed very much. I'm no longer looking to lose 10 lbs (done and done) but I'm still looking to keep my body-fat low. CaveBoy would love nothing more than to continue adding lean mass (and strength) everyday. To infinity. But even though our goals haven't changed, our nutrition and exercise routine has been a moving target.  

CaveBoy hit a wall a few months back, and although he looked amazing, he wasn't consistently posting strength gains. He started to become (understandably) frustrated when he considered how much work he was putting in to achieve such little result. He re-read all the strength training books and spent many late nights on the computer looking for answers.

When he finally selected a high(er) intensity workout routine, we learned quickly that his nutrition would have to change just as dramatically. The first week on his new schedule, he was zapped. He wasn't eating nearly enough (or enough of the right things).

When you change one, you have to change the other.
So we sat down to discuss what he was eating, when in the day he felt the best and worst, and how we could add the right type of calories to promote muscle growth and recovery (and keep him alert and focused while on duty). It wasn't an easy task, and it took a few weeks of trial-and-error to get it right.

One Day of CaveFeeding

And this is just what goes into his lunchbox.

On a normal day, CaveBoy wakes up and makes a cup of coffee, then fries five eggs to eat with a (pre-cooked) baked sweet potato. On the days he coaches (at zero-dark-thirty) he'll take a cup of Bulletproof Coffee with him to the gym, and then eat a real breakfast after his stomach wakes up.

At this point, I can't be sure of the order of operations. And I'm fairly certain that it changes from day-to-day depending on what time he works out, his appetite after the workout, what's going on at shift-change, and how many bad guys he has to deter, dissuade, or arrest.

In any case, at some point during his shift he'll consume 8 oz of Curry Chicken Salad with apple slices and almond butter, his lunch (in this example: 8 oz of Buffalo-Chicken Meatloaf with Sweet Potato Mash), one serving of Crustless Sweet Potato Quiche, and 4 oz of polish sausage in BBQ sauce with veggies.

When he gets home, he'll eat dinner (for example: paleo reuben bowls, with about 8 oz of meat). Then depending on how hungry he gets while winding down for the evening, he'll snack on plantain chips with salsa or nut butter.

CaveBoy eats 3600 - 4000 calories every day.

Our recently-developed combination of nutrition and exercise seems to be working. CaveBoy is PR-ing again! And he's much more energetic when he gets home from a long shift. We plan to keep this routine until he hits another plateau (it's inevitable!) and we have to re-adjust. 






Friday, September 6, 2013

Crustless Sweet Potato Quiche

I've been on a brunch kick lately (if you haven't noticed). But I don't see anyone complaining! And why would they? Brunch is like brinner with day-drinking.

One of my favorite brunch recipes is crustless quiche. It's simple. It tastes amazing. And it feeds a whole crew without you having to slave over the stove for hours. It's also super-versatile. Once you have the base recipe down, the possibilities are endless.

I'd been making the original version of this recipe for months - changing up the toppings week-to-week - to rave reviews from CaveBoy. But when he asked me to make the meal heartier, so it would stick around longer while he worked a long shift, I had to go back to the drawing board. After a few iterations, I developed this new sweet potato version. He loves it! And I know you will too.

Crustless Sweet Potato Quiche

This week I added chorizo and spinach.

Ingredients

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 dozen eggs
1 1/2 cans coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper

Toppings

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until potato pulls away from the skin (they should be self-mashing as my aunt would say). 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to touch.

Remove skin and place potato in the bowl of your stand mixer (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer). Using the whisk attachment, mash the sweet potato. Add coconut milk and continue mixing until it makes a creamy sweet potato slurry. Crack your eggs into a separate bowl (to avoid dropping shucks into the batter) and add to the mixer. Mix on progressively higher settings until the batter is fully whipped and airy. Season with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper right at the end. 

Grease a large baking dish with coconut oil spray. Pour batter into the baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until a layer of cooked quiche forms on the bottom.

While the batter bakes, cook your toppings. I like to cook diced bacon or breakfast sausage in a large skillet until the fat starts to render out, add veggies like onion, green pepper, spinach, or tomato (basically anything I'm in the mood for that day), and then continue cooking until the meat is fully cooked.

Once the batter has baked for 20 minutes, you're no longer in danger of all your toppings sinking to the bottom and burning. Remove (carefully!!) from the oven. Spoon the toppings on and evenly distribute. Return to oven and bake until fully cooked (the quiche will puff up like a giant muffin - don't worry it will sink back down as it cools - and should pass the knife test). 25 to 35 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Buffalo-Chicken Meatloaf

Happy Whole30 everybody!

Even though my school days are long over, I still think of my year in terms of semesters. I guess that's the penalty of spending 8 years in college (and grad school). So, with the Labor Day holiday weekend coming to a close, it's time to get "back to school" (aka get my life back to some approximation of normal). And it couldn't come soon enough.

Don't get me wrong! This summer has been amazing. I had a blast on our family vacation. I spent many Saturday mornings working out and then laying out by the pool with the girls. I stayed up late. I partied with our CrossFit friends. I drank too much tequila (to say the least). But even though my calendar is still in grad school, my body is all grown up. And I am ready for a detox.

I am not, however, ready for it to get cold. I will happily detox in the heat!

If you're unfamiliar with the Whole30 protocol, it is a 30 day period of avoiding inflammatory food and drink. That means no grains (not even a little bit of rice), no sweetener (especially artificial sweetener), no white potato, and no alcohol. Just high-quality meats, vegetables, and fats. And I can't wait! This time I am also avoiding plantain chips (they're a paleo gateway drug!).

This is my third Whole30, and I've pretty-much gotten it down to a science. The last one was so easy I was surprised when the month came to an end! And that's kind-of the point right? Why avoid inflammatory foods if the whole process is overly stressful? Spoiler alert: stress causes inflammation, too!

Tips for a Stress-Free Whole30

1) Plan ahead. Have the ingredients for your meals bought, prep'd, and ready to go, so that you don't get frustrated when you realize you can't order take-out on a busy workday evening. 
2) Stockpile snacks. Have Whole30-approved snack foods at your finger tips. This will help you manage mid-afternoon cravings and prevent you from chewing your own arm off while you heat up dinner (trust me, this tip will save a marriage).
3) Be creative. Plan zesty, tangy, spicy, and unique meals. Nothing will make you yearn for Chinese take-out more than eating the same-old blah omelet night after night. Visit stalkerville.net for inspiration. There is a Whole30 category full of great recipes (and you might even recognize a few).

This Buffalo-Chicken Meatloaf fits all 3 stress-free criteria. It's a make-ahead recipe that heats up in a flash (and even tastes great cold - in a pinch). It is full of flavor and reminiscent of my favorite bar food. I has all the major components of wing night: chicken, celery, ranch-dressing-seasoning, and Buffalo sauce. It hits the spot when a craving comes on, but without any of the puffy-bloaty-why-did-I-drink-Diet-Coke-again consequences.

Like I said, I can't wait to start!


Buffalo-Chicken Meatloaf
I recommend serving it with sweet potato mash.

Ingredients

3 lbs ground chicken
3 eggs, beaten
2 yellow onions, diced
1 head celery, diced
1 1/2 cups buffalo sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Instructions

In a large skillet, heat olive oil then add diced onion and celery. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until onion becomes translucent, then remove from heat and set aside to let cool enough to touch.

While the celery and onion cools, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine (just use your hands, it's easier!) ground chicken, egg, lemon juice, parsley, chives, garlic powder, and a few healthy shakes of salt and pepper. Add celery and onion and combine. 

Press chicken mixture into a medium baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees until fully cooked (juices should be clear). 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and pour off excess grease. Spread buffalo sauce in an even layer on top of the meatloaf. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings.