Thursday, June 20, 2013

Zucchini to Noodle

While I would like to believe I am really 75-80%  nutritionally"good" on a regular basis I never fail to learn that I can do much better than I do.  This first week of the six-weeks of "strict" paleo has been kicking my butt from here to next week.  It's funny because I'm not working out any harder, sleeping any less or drastically changing my diet, I didn't eat bread every day or drink sodas as part of being hydrated, I ate fairly clean (except for some grilled cheese binging last week, but that was abnormal) on a regular basis.   I am not doing a Whole30 per-say but I actually have been eating the same way without noticing it so reading the "stages" of Whole30 reminded me that I always feel a little tired, cranky, etc. when I start over.   I'm starting to feel the "I need a nap" phase a bit more strongly than I would like to admit but that's fine, it's almost the weekend.  I'll just have to refrain from trying to "paleo-ize" (and why it's bad when you're first getting rolling) everything that looks tasty on TV...come to think of it I think I'll steer clear of some of my favorite lazy-tv time (cooking channel anyone?) to avoid the temptation. 

In the meantime I'm looking forward to getting my meal planning for the week done and doing some prep, I might even be really nice and prep some food for a certain boyfriend who doesn't cook much for himself.  After coming home from the gym I was far too tired to want to make the Cinnamon Beef Stew (from Well Fed) that I had intended to make, it'll just have to wait till tomorrow.  Instead I cut the portions in this delicious Carbonara recipe down to suit dinner for myself.    I used one of my new favorite tools, a julienne peeler to cut some Farmhouse Delivery zucchini into "noodles" and tossed the Carbonara sauce over the top. 

While I don't do a lot of "paleo" noodles (too much work unless I can buy them) I do love turning squash, zucchini and sweet potatoes into noodle shape and sauteing them until they are the right texture to serve as a delivery vehicle for my favorite sauces.  Let's face it, all noodles do is deliver sauce to you...delicious amazing sauces, so who cares what the noodles are made of?  Veggie noodles just mean more veggies which is never a bad thing!

My two favorite tools for turning veggies into noodles are both finds (I admit I'm a bit of an addict when it comes to Amazon):

1. Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler

2. Spiral Veggie Slicer

The peeler does a bang up job with cucumbers and zucchini, the spiralizer (as we call it in my family) does a great job with everything but I have gone through one already because the plastic doesn't hold up well to repeated use with stubborn sweet potatoes.  I have thought about getting a really fancy metal one but for $23 I can't beat this, even if it only lasts a year.   Both of these are invaluable to me and help me turn random produce into a quick and easy dinner on a regular basis.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Up to the challenge

While I do try to live a "paleo" lifestyle I have been a bit more relaxed about it all for the last few months.  My sister and I have attempted not one, but two Whole30's that really were more like Whole5's...not exactly a giant success.   So when word came down that our gym would be doing a 6-week nutritional challenge I begrudgingly signed up.  Begrudgingly because it spans the height of lake/boat/pool/beach season and July 4, who wants to be the girl not enjoying a cocktail during those events?  Not I.  Despite all of that serious enthusiasm (insert sarcastic look here) I signed up anyway to give me the shove over the cliff back into a lifestyle that I know makes me feel good and perform well.    I did take a little bit of advantage of the impending challenge start date to enjoy some things I wouldn't be able to during that time, some vino, a grilled cheese and popcorn at the movies last night.  The grilled cheese might've been the worst idea in that list.  Heading into the week I planned a list of meals that will make life a little easier for me, they are all good for me and even better, I actually will want to eat the leftovers.

First on the list, left over Wild Boar Ragu (yes this was the vino on my pre-challenge list), originally I had it over zucchini "fettuccine" and tomorrow night it'll be over some spaghetti squash.

Wild Boar Ragu:
1 Lb Ground Wild Boar
8 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
1 8 oz Package Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Cup Diced Carrot
1 Cup Diced Celery
28oz Crushed Tomatoes
4 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup Dutch Processed Unsweet Cocoa
4 Bay Leaves
2 Springs Rosemary
1 Tsp Anchovy Paste (you won't even know it's in there)
1/2 cup chicken stock or red wine (*if you use chicken stock add 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar as well)

1. Mix ground boar and diced bacon, put in the bottom of a crockpot.  Cover the bottom completely with the meat mixture.
2. Sprinkle onion, carrot, celery over the meat mixture.
3. I used fresh tomatoes vs. canned since it's in season but either works well. Add tomato, garlic, cocoa, anchovy paste, salt and pepper and puree in a blender until it's relatively sauce-like. I prefer a little less smooth sauce but you can puree to your hearts content. Pour tomato/garlic mixture over the veggies.
4. Add  sliced mushrooms over sauce, then pour wine or stock + vinegar over the mushrooms and put the lid on it.
5.  Cook this on high for 1.5-2 hours or on low for 4-6 hours.

In addition to this I've got a handful of other easy but yummy recipes planned, a fajita recipe from the PaleOMG cookbook, Cinnamon Beef Stew from Well Fed a green bean salad with shrimp and grilled chicken with fresh tomato, bacon, leek sauce.  Hopefully between those and the breakfast "casserole" (a word I hate) I'll have plenty of options to keep me from wandering from the path this week.