Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

I Need A Sammich! September 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 8:52 pm

I am way behind on posting a bunch of recipes, but I just have to share tonight’s dinner. My absolute favorite sandwich is a really great BLT … or should I say a BLAT (Bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato).  I am well known for making the best BLTs you have ever eaten.  The key is really good bacon, perfectly cooked, and used generously, along with very fresh lettuce, tomato, and avocado, and a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Of course, in a traditional BLT, the bread is also important, but that wouldn’t be very Paleo or Whole 30 compliant, now, would it? The other key ingredient in a great BLT is really good mayonnaise. I’ve always used Duke’s, but sadly, pretty much all store-bought mayo is made with soybean oil or some other non-compliant oil.

Thankfully, yesterday I found this recipe for fail-proof Paleo-friendly homemade mayonnaise.  I am happy to report that it is exactly as easy and as fail-proof as promised (I’m not even writing down my version of the recipe because I followed the one in the link exactly and it is perfect).  It also happens to be completely delicious!  All you need is a wide mouth pint jar, an immersion blender, and some light olive oil, lemon juice, egg, and a pinch of salt.  Seriously, try making this one time and you will NEVER buy mayonnaise again.  Here’s how mine turned out on the very first try:

 

MayoPic

 

Once I had the perfect mayo, I cooked up some Whole 30 compliant bacon (no nitrates or nitrites, no sugar, uncured – my favorite is Pederson’s).  I actually cook my bacon in the oven. I find that it cooks really evenly and is so much easier to clean up than pan frying it on the stove top.  Just put the bacon on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Transfer the slices to a paper towel to soak up the excess grease and voila! Perfectly cooked bacon.

I sliced up some very ripe organic tomatoes, and a nice, ripe avocado (I don’t worry too much about whether my avocados are organic or conventional as it doesn’t really matter the way it does with some other fruits and veggies).  I washed and dried some nice big romaine lettuce leaves.  And then The Husband and I used those Romaine leaves to make our own Whole 30 compliant, super-scrumptious, lettuce-wrapped BLATs!  Spread a slice or two of avocado on a Romaine leaf, add a little homemade mayo, a slice or two of bacon, a slice or two of tomato, and a little bit of salt & pepper … wrap it up and watch it disappear!

Oh yeah, I also made some delicious baked sweet potato “fries” to go with our “sandwiches.” Again, super easy and I make them all the time.  Peel a sweet potato and cut into french fry size pieces (how you cut them is really a matter of preference).  Toss with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings … I like to use pepper, cumin, cayenne, and garlic.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

It was all easy to make, easy to clean up, and especially easy to eat!

 

BLTDinner

 

Cool as a Cucumber August 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 8:49 pm

Sometimes I just don’t want a heavy meal.  This is especially true in the middle of summer.  When the weather heats up, I want something cooling and healthy, something light that won’t make me feel too full.  It also helps if I can make something that doesn’t require a lot of effort.  Tonight’s dinner fits the bill perfectly.  As a bonus, it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.

 

Baked Halibut with Watermelon Cucumber Salad

 

20130802-202207.jpg

 

You can use either fresh or frozen (and defrosted) halibut fillets, but try to get wild-caught if you can. It’s both more sustainable and better for you.  I buy ours at Costco (where they sell both fresh and frozen) because we eat so much fish it helps me to buy it in bulk.  You can just throw the fillets in the freezer, and then pull a couple out (or a few depending on how many people you cook for) and put them in the refrigerator the day before – they’ll be fully defrosted by the time you get home from work the next day.

I brushed the tops of the fish with a small amount of melted ghee, and then sprinkled on a seafood spice mix (the one I use is a mix of salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper, lemon, peel, and dill).  Bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

For the salad, cut the watermelon into 1/2 inch cubes.  Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and then cut each piece lengthwise again.  Chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Combine the cucumber and watermelon in a bowl, toss with a little balsamic vinegar and throw in a couple tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint.

That’s it!  Add a nice glass of crisp white wine and you’ve got a light refreshing dinner that’s perfect for a hot Friday night.

 

Dress It Up July 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 9:43 pm

I love a good salad.  For dinner, for lunch, and even on occasion for breakfast.  It’s such an easy and delicious way to get a great meal full of lean protein and veggies.  You can add nuts and seeds or fruit (and of course you can add less healthy things like bacon, cheese, croutons, etc.). There are basically endless variations.

For many of us, the only unhealthy part of a salad is the dressing.  Most store-bought salad dressings are loaded with unhealthy fats, not to mention soy, sugar, and preservatives.  And while olive oil and vinegar are fine, they may not give you quite the taste satisfaction you’re looking for.  That’s why for years now, I have been making my own salad dressing.  I can make an easy and delicious vinaigrette dressing in just a minute or two, and have fresh salad dressing every time I make a salad. All you need are a few basic ingredients, and you can whip up a homemade dressing that’s relatively healthy and has much better flavor than anything you’ll find in a bottle.

Start with a good extra-virgin olive oil. I use about a tablespoon per person.

Add in an equal amount of your vinegar of choice. I generally use either red wine vinegar or balsamic, but this is an area where you can definitely experiment. The Husband doesn’t always like his dressing as acidic, so I sometimes cut the vinegar a little bit.

Once you’ve got your oil and vinegar, you can pretty much go wild.  Toss in a little black pepper (I grind mine).  Press a clove of garlic (when I’m feeling lazy I just use a little garlic powder).

Add a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard.  I stay away from sugar but you could use honey mustard for a sweeter dressing.

You can try a little lemon or lime juice. Add a dash of worcestershire sauce. Really, there are endless options, but these ingredients are the basis of pretty much any vinaigrette.

It may seem like a little effort the first time or two, but pretty soon you will be so used to it – and so pleased with the results – that you won’t even be tempted to pull out those bottled dressings.

If creamy dressings are your thing, I’m probably the wrong person to come to for a recipe.  I find ranch dressing repellent, and in general I prefer vinaigrette dressings to anything else.

One of my favorite lunches these days is what I call Mason Jar Salad.  It is so easy, and I can make lunch for me and The Husband in about five minutes.  First, I make an easy vinaigrette dressing and pour it into a quart size Mason Jar. Next I put in protein, usually some grilled chicken breast (I cook up several at a time and refrigerate so that I have them on hand).  On top of that I add veggies like tomato, cucumber, peppers, whatever I feel like having that’s handy.  Lastly, I add lettuce or spinach or some sort of salad greens.  Put the top on the jar and keep it upright until you’re ready to eat, so that the lettuce doesn’t get soggy but the chicken or other protein gets really nicely marinated in the dressing.  Then just shake up the jar so that the dressing gets distributed, pour it out into a big bowl, and voila!

My favorite salad ever is from a recipe that a chef passed on to my mom when I was a little girl, and my mom passed on to me.  It’s a version of the original Caesar salad, and I can pretty much guarantee that once you make this, most restaurant Caesar salad will forevermore pale in comparison. I honestly can’t believe most restaurants get away with calling their salads Caesar.  Just to give you some idea of what I’m talking about, Caesar salad dressing should NOT be creamy, so that tells you just how many are inferior imposters.

 

Without further ado,

The Best Caesar Salad You Will Ever Eat (Serves 4)

 

Caesar Salad

 

Dressing Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

Juice of 1/2 a lime*

1 egg yolk

5-6 anchovy fillets, chopped and mashed**

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

 

To make a traditional Caesar salad, chop up a head of Romaine lettuce and put in a large salad bowl.  Just before serving, add some good quality croutons (or make your own!), then pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Grate some Parmesan cheese over the top, and serve.

Since I am currently avoiding dairy and grains (and I have yet to find or make a gluten free crouton), the photo above is my own variation.  I made tonight’s salad with grilled chicken breast, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber.  You can use this dressing with any salad ingredients you want, but I recommend that you make it the traditional way at least once.  It is just heaven in a bowl.

 

* Technically, my mother’s recipe called for lemon juice, but I use lime juice for two reasons. The first reason is that one time I was out of lemons so I grabbed a lime I had on hand, and I discovered that I preferred the lime juice.  The second reason is that in my research I learned that because the Spanish for lime is limon, the use of lemon in the recipe in the U.S. is essentially a mistake of translation, and some people think that it was supposed to be lime all along. Feel free to use lemon juice if you like, or try it both ways and see what you prefer.

 

** You may be tempted to leave out the anchovies. Many people are not big anchovy fans.  But here’s the thing. DON’T DO IT.  The anchovies are what make a Caesar salad distinctive. Without them it’s a just a very nice vinaigrette dressing.  I PROMISE you I know what I’m talking about. My dad is one of the pickiest and least adventurous eaters I know.  When I was a kid he loved my mom’s Caesar salad, but he still always made a face and was derisive about the anchovies.  So one time my mom left out the anchovies.  The results were underwhelming to say the least, and my dad never again complained about the anchovies.

 

Indian made easy: Chicken Tikka Masala July 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 9:49 am

I absolutely love Indian food. In 1990 I moved to England for a year to attend the University of Manchester, and I lived right down the road from Rusholme, the Indian section of the city. At the time, Manchester had the largest Indian population outside of India, and the restaurants were abundant and unbelievable delicious (the locals call the main road through this area The Curry Mile).  They were also seriously affordable for college students on a budget, and we “went out for a curry” the way many people in this country go to McDonald’s. It was our go-to cheap and easy food.

When I realized I needed to go gluten-free last year, I was so grateful that there were many Indian food options for me. Obviously, I can’t have naan bread or samosas, but most basic Indian dishes don’t contain gluten in the first place.  Doing the Whole 30 made things a bit more complicated, as the Whole 30 eliminates both grains and dairy, meaning no rice – a staple of many Indian dishes, including my favorite, vegetable biryani – and no yogurt, upon which many Indian sauces are based.

This recipe has been a lifesaver (or maybe a palate saver) for me.  I found the recipe upon which mine is based on Easy Eats, which has terrific gluten-free recipes. Mine has (of course) been modified a bit so that it’s Whole 30 compliant, with no dairy and no grains.  Instead of using heavy cream, I use canned coconut milk, and instead of serving it over rice, I serve it over cauliflower. If you’ve never tried using cauliflower in place of rice or pasta, I highly recommend it – you may never go back to the grains. I have a recipe for cauliflower mac n’ cheese that is so much better than any pasta I’ve ever had, but that’s a recipe for another day.

I’ve found other similar recipes, but this one is much easier, and so delicious. I make it at least every couple weeks now, and both The Husband and I can’t get enough of it.  If you like Indian food, or have always wanted to try making it yourself, this is a great place to start.

 

Chicken Tikka Masala with Cauliflower (makes 3-4 servings)

 

chickentikkamasala

 

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs

4 tablespoons ghee

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, pressed or finely chopped*

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

One 15 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1 cup canned coconut milk

1/2 cup gluten-free, low-sodium, organic chicken broth

1 head of cauliflower, chopped into small to medium florets

 

Instructions

Season the chicken with salt.

In a large, deep skillet or stock pot (I use a stock pot so that the sauce doesn’t splash when I blend it later), heat two tablespoons of ghee over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken and cook until browned or almost cooked through. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and melt the remaining two tablespoons of ghee.

Ad the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the ginger, cayenne, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and turmeric. Stir to combine and cook for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, and chicken broth.  Using an immersion blender, puree until the sauce is smooth.**

Let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Add chicken, and cook for 10-20 minutes more.

In a separate pot filled with about 1/2 inch of water, place the cauliflower in a steamer basket.***  Bring the water to a boil, and then simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

To serve, spoon the chicken and sauce over the cauliflower.

 

* If you don’t have a garlic press, and you use garlic on any sort of regular basis, let me encourage you to get one.  It makes working with garlic so much easier, and the results are better than any you’ll get with a knife.

** If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can always transfer the sauce to a blender and (very carefully) puree it that way.  But it’s hot, messy, and a huge pain. Once I finally got an immersion blender I wondered how I ever lived without one, so I encourage you to invest in one. I have a very basic Cuisinart model, and it serves all my needs. They make them fancier and more expensive, but if you need an immersion blender with more bells and whistles, you probably already have one and don’t need advice from me about it.

*** This is the steamer basket I use. It’s cheap and easy and I’ve had it for years.

 

The Whole 30 July 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 12:11 pm

For the past month, I have been following The Whole 30 diet plan. And by “diet” I am just referring to the specific foods one eats, not a restriction of calories in order to lose weight, although weight loss has been one very nice side benefit. Today is Day 31 (meaning I am done), and I wanted to take some time to summarize how things went, what I learned, the results I experienced, etc.  In their own words The Whole 30 is “a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.”  Based on these goals (and other results), I would have to say that my Whole 30 was a success.

When we talk about elimination diets, most people focus on what you CAN’T have to eat, so let’s get that out of the way right now: No sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no grains (including corn), no dairy, no soy, no beans or legumes (including peanuts), no MSG, carageenan, or sulfites (you’d be amazed at where you find these lurking), no white potatoes.

Here’s what you CAN have: meat, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts (including nut butters), seeds, and healthy fats from oils, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  It may not sound like much, but trust me, I ate loads of seriously delicious foods in the past month, and very rarely felt deprived at all.  I eat sweet potatoes like they’re going out of style. I use canned coconut milk in my coffee, my cereal, my recipes. I eat grass fed beef, and organic chorizo, and wild caught salmon, and almond butter, and watermelon, and blueberries, and peaches … and I’m making myself hungry.

I do need to add a bit of disclaimer or qualifier here. As with most things I do, I modified my Whole 30 a little bit to suit my needs.  So I suppose technically, I didn’t follow The Whole 30 to the letter.  I had a few treats when we were in Chicago in early July (including a few glasses of wine and some truly amazing s’mores on the night we went camping in Wisconsin), and rather than start my Whole 30 over as you’re supposed to do, I elected to just add on 5 more days at the end, one for each day of our trip.  Overall, I was pretty pleased though with how closely I stuck to my Whole 30 while traveling.  I think the way I ate on that trip is a perfect template for how I plan to eat now that my Whole 30 is over.  My results might have been a little bit different had I not had those few treats, but I’m so pleased with the results that I don’t really care.  I just want to be clear for those of you who feel nit-picky about these sorts of things. Yes … I cheated. Deal with it.

Let’s talk a bit about where I struggled in the past 30 days.

The biggest roadblock for me, which kept me from trying the diet at all for months and months, was what to eat for breakfast. Most people who follow a diet like this eat a TON of eggs, for breakfast and at other meals, as snacks, etc.  Unfortunately for me, I am sensitive to eggs, so eating them regularly is not an option – maybe a couple of times a month is all I can stand (I also don’t really like eggs very much, which reinforces for me that my body knows what it’s doing).  I have already posted the two non-egg breakfast recipes I found that got me over that hurdle, and once I found those, I was ready to go!

I struggled with sugar cravings less than I expected, but the Sugar Dragon still breathes down my neck with unpleasant frequency.  I have noticed though, that it’s generally just when I am around sugary foods. Walking through the grocery store, I am bombarded with sweet treats, and therefore I want them. At home, I am generally okay.  If I am truly hungry but also craving sugar, I might have a piece of fruit along with some nuts. It’s amazing after not having sugar for a month, how incredibly sweet and satisfying fruit tastes.  But I’m not kidding myself … the Sugar Dragon is something I will have to continue to battle daily.

One of the things many people talk about in their Whole 30 is how their energy levels stabilize and they no longer have that afternoon energy slump.  I can honestly say that I no longer have an afternoon energy slump … but for several weeks, I experienced a 10 a.m. energy slump.  Every. Damn. Day.  It’s not a caffeine thing because I never drink caffeine in the morning anyway. The only caffeine I have is the iced tea I order when I’m out to lunch or out and about running errands on the weekends.  Thankfully, the morning slump seems to have mostly passed. I’m not sure why it happened, but I’m used to having nice consistent energy in the mornings, so this was frustrating.

And of course, I struggled with wine. We’re not talking alcoholic type cravings here. I’m not a big drinker, but I do dearly love my occasional glass of wine. And so a couple of times, I gave in and had a glass. And it was delicious.  I’m not sorry. So there.

So those were the struggles … now let’s talk about what went well.

I had absolutely no problem at all staying off grains and dairy.  Really didn’t miss ‘em at all.  Of course, I’ve been off gluten for a year, so that probably helped.  And when I went off gluten I couldn’t eat dairy for a while either, so eliminating those things wasn’t new to me.  I do miss my regular tacos from TacoDeli … and so my first non-Whole 30 meal is going to be the Cowboy and Papadulce tacos (on corn tortillas) for lunch today. :)

I also didn’t mind at all eliminating legumes. Not only do many of them not agree with me, I don’t particularly care for most of them. Ever since I can remember I’ve avoided foods that have the texture of paste, which is pretty much all beans and many other legumes. I’m one of the only people I know whose hummus always goes bad in the refrigerator. I really don’t like lentils.  Don’t get me started on lima beans.  You should see the “icky face” I’m making even as I write about this.

One of the things I am most pleased about is giving up artificial sweeteners, in my case Stevia.  Months ago, I realized that I was drinking sweet tea way too often, which equaled too much sugar and too many calories.  I decided instead to switch to sweetening my tea with Stevia, which is a more natural sweetener.  I went through loads of the stuff.  The problem with this is twofold.  First, even Stevia keeps your body accustomed to have very sweet tasting food. It may not affect your insulin levels like sugar does, but it doesn’t help eliminate the cravings for sweet-tasting foods. Second, unless you’re using actual Stevia leaf (I wasn’t), packaged Stevia is still processed, and can still have negative effects on the body.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to stick with this, but 30 days later, I am Stevia free!  And it turns out my addiction isn’t to sugar, it’s to iced tea, sweetened or not. And I am fine with this. It doesn’t even have to be the black tea caffeinated variety. I make pots and pots of iced Moroccan Mint herbal tea at home and I am just as happy with it.  I am not entirely caffeine free – I still order black tea from restaurants that don’t have a decaf option – but I am sweetener free, and that is a huge accomplishment for me.

I also feel pretty fantastic.  Toward the end I definitely entered what they call the Tiger Blood phase.  I wake up in the morning after 7-8 hours of sleep with plenty of energy. It’s still my morning introvert energy, so it’s more low-key  and antisocial than what people might associate with high energy. But I do feel pretty good for pretty much the entire day now.  I still have energy when I go to bed at night – but fall asleep pretty easily.  My running is going well – no big changes there – other than a few lethargic runs early in the my 30 days, I am running as well as I was before the Whole 30.

A lot of people talk about how they sleep better and/or their skin has cleared up during their Whole 30.  I can’t really say I’ve noticed  much of a difference … I have been blessed my entire life with really good skin and Olympic-level sleeping abilities.  My skin might look a little bit better, and I might be sleeping a little more soundly, but honestly, my baseline for these was already so high, it would be hard to improve upon that.

UPDATE: Apparently my skin has improved more than I thought. I was shopping at Nordstrom this weekend, and a manager and I were talking and she asked me what kind of makeup I was wearing because my skin looked so fantastic. Here’s the thing … I wasn’t wearing any makeup.  So instead of suggesting skin care for me, she wanted to know what I used. I had to tell her it was more about what I was putting on the inside than what was going on the outside.

But the best part of my Whole 30 … MY CLOTHES FIT!!!!

Yes, I did lose weight this month. Eight pounds to be exact.*  Without significantly cutting my calorie intake (can you say “Goodbye inflammation”?).  I am now only a few pounds above my pre-anemia, pre-gluten intolerance, pre-hypothyroid weight.  I am now basically back to my set point – the weight I have been able to maintain with little effort since I was a teenager (notwithstanding periods of weight gain due to health issues, injury, or eating disorders).  I’d love to lose 3-5 more pounds (there’s one skirt and one dress that are still a teensy bit snug).  But ever since I got sick back in 2010, all I have really wanted was to feel like I was living in the body I’m supposed to have … the one that feels healthy, and that feels like ME.  I just wanted to be able to wear the closet full of clothes that I have had for years and still love.  This was not about achieving some unrealistic level of thinness, or about hitting any particular number on the scale.  Sure, we all have those few vanity pounds we’d love to lose.  And I’m definitely not skinny by any means – I’m not even sure you could call me thin. What I am is back to a normal, healthy weight for MY body. I cannot even express what a GIFT that feels like after the past three years of struggling.

Now that my Whole 30 is done, I’ve given a lot of thought to where I go from here.  The Whole 30 isn’t something that is intended to be strictly followed after the 30 days are up.  But I also don’t want to just go back to the way I ate before this.  I feel so much better eating whole foods and minimizing my dairy, grain, and sugar intake.  I also am seriously enjoying wearing my cute clothes again after three years, and I really don’t want to f*%$ that up.  I like looking in the mirror and seeing someone who looks like ME. I’d like to keep doing the things that made that happen.

I read recently that the man who coined the term Paleo Diet, suggests following the 85:15 rule – meaning that your diet should be 85% Paleo, with 15% wiggle room for non-Paleo foods. (The Whole 30 is essentially a variation on the Paleo Diet, although they – and I – prefer to talk about it more in terms of eating whole foods and eliminating anything processed). This comes out to about three meals a week that include non-Paleo foods.  I think this sounds right on, and this is basically what I am going to try to do from now on.  That doesn’t mean that I plan to have three meals each week that contain dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, AND alcohol (and obviously, gluten remains off the table).  This isn’t the 15% binge plan.  But it does leave room for the foods I might really miss, or for special occasions, or the perils of trying to eat well while traveling.  It leaves room for lunch at TacoDeli … and the occasional glass of wine … and gluten-free s’mores on a camping trip …and now I’m hungry again. ;)

No preaching here … as far as I’m concerned you can eat whatever the hell you want.  But I will say that the Whole 30 worked wonders for me, and I am officially a big fan.  If you want to ask me about it, I am happy to share. If you want to try it, good for you! Let me know how I can help.  And I’ll keep posting my recipes for anyone who’s interested.  They won’t all be Whole 30 approved, or even Paleo. But hopefully they will be delicious and won’t make you feel like crap.  Because as the title of the Whole 30 book says, It Starts With Food.

* I can’t believe I’m going to do this (and I may decide in 5 minutes to go back in and delete them out of sheer embarrassment), but here are my “before” and “after” photos.  I hope they inspire you to something other than ridicule.  But I think it’s important to show realistic pics of real people and their results.

Here I am on Day 1 of the Whole 30:

Whole 30 Front Day 1 Whole 30 Side Day 1

And this is me on Day 31:

Whole 30 Front Day 30Whole 30 Side Day 30

 

Snack Time July 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 2:58 pm

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just need a snack.  I know that the Whole 30 (which I finish today and will post about tomorrow with my final results and thoughts) discourages snacking, and their reasons are sound.  But for me, eating lunch at noon and then dinner sometime after 7 p.m. in the evening means that I require some sort of mini-meal in between.  Maybe “snack” isn’t really the right word, but that’s how I think of it.  The Whole 30 folks recommend that if you do have a snack, that it is essentially a scaled down version of a regular meal, or a true “mini-meal.”  For me that’s just not entirely realistic. I need something easy to prepare and easy to consume.  Over the past month, I’ve come up with two delicious and easy go-to snacks. They are not entirely Whole 30 compliant (one contains vanilla extract and the other almond flour), but they are grain-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free (mostly), and for me, totally satisfying.  I will note that neither one is as high in protein as I’d like (both have about 6 grams per serving).  The Whole 30 frowns on using protein powders, and that’s one thing I will add back in to both of these recipes beginning tomorrow.  I am a big fan of the products from Garden of Life and their RAW protein powder is terrific.  If you get the unflavored version it doesn’t even have Stevia in it, and has 17g of protein and only 3g of carbs per serving.

 

First up, the “Milkshake”:

 

Skinny Shake

 

1/2 banana (I use frozen bananas and fewer ice cubes)

1/4 cup canned coconut milk + 1/2 cup water (or 3/4 cup lite coconut milk, the consistency is about the same)

1-2 Tablespoon(s) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract (make sure you get the real thing and not one with sugar in it – it will still contain alcohol though)

Optional: 1 scoop of protein powder (preferably unsweetened)

5-10 ice cubes

Throw it all in a blender and let it go till it reaches the consistency of a smoothie or milkshake.  That’s it.  This is another one that wasn’t my idea and I can’t remember where I first saw it, but it’s not rocket science so I could have seen it anywhere.

 

Next up … Marcia’s Delicious Bars (1 recipe makes 16 bars):

I really wanted to come up with something that I could eat on the go and that was a little bit sweet but not overly so.  I used three or four different recipes as a guideline for some of the ingredients, but the final recipe is actually all mine.  I’m still experimenting with it a little bit, so it’s a work in progress, but so far I’m really happy with it. If I get to a point where I feel like it’s perfected, I’ll post an update. I want to come up with a version that uses protein powder, but I think that will change a bunch of the measurements, so this recipe doesn’t even make it optional.

 

Delicious Bars

Delicious Bars 2

 

Ingredients:

1 cup almond or cashew butter

1/4 cup ghee (melted)*

1 egg**

1/4 cup canned coconut milk

1/3 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup cacao flakes (unsweetened – I find this in the bulk food section at Wheatsville Co-op)

1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup raisins

3-5 dates, pitted and chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine almond butter, ghee, egg, and coconut milk. Mix by hand until smooth.

In a separate small bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix until combined.

Stir in pumpkin seeds, cacao flakes, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, raisins, and dates.

Spread into an 8″x8″ pan lined with parchment paper. I like to leave some parchment hanging over the sides of the pan so that I can just lift the entire batch out of the pan before cutting them.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 and bake 10-15 minutes longer.

Allow bars to cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy!

 

* Yes, I know ghee is technically a dairy product, so if you’re vegan you would want to use some sort of butter replacement like soy or coconut butter.  But if you’re just trying to avoid dairy for the effect it has on your body, I would encourage you to try ghee. It’s similar to clarified butter, and made correctly all of the milk solids are removed.  It’s delicious and has been used in India and other countries for years for its myriad health benefits.

** On the most recent batch (shown in the second photo), I realized after starting that we were out of eggs so I used 1/8 cup of coconut oil.  The bars still tasted great but they were a lot more crumbly than my previous bars.  Still, if you want to make bars that are vegan, you could substitute the coconut oil for the eggs.

 

Easy breakfast “cereal” July 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — marciainger @ 10:58 am

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I’m not a big cereal eater.  I know lots of people who are, but for me – despite my sugar addiction – I don’t crave sugar in the mornings (other than fruit) and I find virtually all cereals to be too sweet for me.  There were a couple cereals I used to eat that had no added sweeteners, but they contain gluten, so I can’t have them anymore. THIS version of “cereal,” however, has quickly become a favorite. It contains no grains, dairy, sugar, etc., but provides all the crunch and deliciousness of cereal. And it’s super easy to make, which I love.

Start with a handful or two of berries…

 

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Next add a handful of sliced almonds…

 

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Then add a handful of shaved coconut (unsweetened)…

 

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I also like to toss in a teaspoon or two of chia seeds…

 

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Finally, pour in canned coconut milk.*  Since I use the full-fat kind which is really thick, I use about 1/4 cup and then add water until it reaches the right amount and consistency.

 

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And voila! Easy and delicious “cereal”!

 

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* If you don’t want to use coconut milk (and I recommend canned because it doesn’t have the preservatives that the kind in the carton has), you can use nut milks or whatever kind of milk you want. If you are going to buy the cartons of almond, soy, or coconut milk at the store, at least try to make sure you get the unsweetened kind – cane juice and cane sugar are still sugar. I also use the full-fat canned coconut milk rather than the lite version because the only difference is that the lite version has water added and I can add water myself and get a lot more coconut milk for my money.

Note: My apologies to the person who came up with this idea. If I can ever find your blog post again, I will update this post and add the link.

 

 
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