Monday, May 16, 2011

Primal Fajitas

I made some fajitas for dinner the other night. It was sooooooo good. Since we're going primal, we didn't eat tortillas. At first I wondered what we would have with our steak and veggies. The answer: more veggies. Instead of heaping our fajita fixings into a flour tortilla, we put it on top of a big bed of mixed baby greens. Then we topped it like we would do with regular fajitas or a taco salad, with sour cream, fresh salsa and fresh guacamole. (Have I told you how excited I am that this diet lets me eat tons of avocado? I'm pretty ecstatic.)

It was fantastic. Really simple solution with super tasty results. Another option that I considered was using butter lettuce leaves in lieu of tortillas. I think that would have been just as tasty, but we didn't have any that night. *sigh* Next time.

So here are the recipes. The original recipe calls for using a grill, but it was raining and we don't like grilling in the rain. So I adapted it for the stove top. Enjoy!

Fresh Guacamole
3 medium avocados
2 Tbsp red onion, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Scoop out the avocado into a medium bowl. Smash with a fork until it is about half smooth and half chunky. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and push it right onto the top of the guacamole. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Fresh Salsa
3 medium tomatoes, diced small
1/2 c tomato juice
1 chipotle chile, minced fine
1 medium red onion, diced small
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 c cilantro
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Mix it all together in a medium bowl and refrigerate 1 hour.

Fajitas (serves 8)
2 1/2 lbs flank steak
1/4 c lime juice
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 very large onion, cut in wedges
2 large bell peppers, cut in wedges

Squeeze lime juice onto steak and season with salt and pepper, both sides.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over med-high heat until very hot. Add veggies and saute until just starting to soften. Remove from heat and transfer veggies to a large bowl.
Heat remaining oil in skillet. Add whole steak. Cook covered for 5 minutes on each side.
Remove steak from heat and transfer to a cutting board. Slice across the grain into thin strips. Return all steak, any juices that have accumulated and veggies back to pan. Saute until steak is cooked to your liking and veggies are heated through.
Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh salsa and fresh guacamole over mixed greens or use lettuce leaves for tortillas. StumbleUpon

Friday, May 13, 2011

Losing weight!

Okay, so I wrote that last post about 5 days ago, but forgot to post it. So here's an update about the new diet.

I have lost 4 pounds since my weigh-in last week. 4 POUNDS! And that was only from changing my diet. I didn't really exercise since my weigh-in except for a couple walks because I was sick and then super busy. But I still managed to lose 4 pounds.

And here's the super exciting part: I wasn't hungry all the time. I ate as much protein and veggies as I wanted at meal times and grabbed a banana with almond butter for a morning snack and that was it. I had energy all day long, no highs and lows, just constant energy. I slept like the dead most nights and have been in a pretty good mood all week too. I'm in a great mood today since it was weigh-in time and I had lost weight.

I was pretty skeptical about this diet when we started and I kept track of what I was eating. I figured that there was no way I could lose weight without feeling half-starved all the time. And absolutely no possibility of losing weight when I was eating eggs and bacon most mornings. But it really does work. I've lost a total of 12 pounds in the last month. At this rate, I'll make my goal of losing 20 pounds before my birthday with plenty of time to spare. And that means I'll get my big reward (to be determined, I haven't figured out what it will be yet. If Eric meets his goal, he gets a big chunk of cash toward a $1500 bike. That's how big I'm talking.)

Gotta go get the little monsters from school. Oh, that reminds me. I didn't really think about it, but my kids have had more energy because they are doing this diet too. I hadn't considered that. They've been bouncing off the walls for a week. Time for some play time at the park, I think.

If you want to learn more about this diet, start here: StumbleUpon

Time to Trim Down

Hooray, Blogger is working again!

So, it's no big secret: I'm a bit overweight. Okay, more than a bit. I've put on a lot of weight since Eric and I got married almost 10 years ago. (It'll be 10 years on May 19th!) We both have. I've been trying to watch what I eat lately, counting calories eaten and burned, cutting out the sweets (mostly), drinking LOTS of water and cutting back on my fat intake. I've been exercising between 3 and 6 times a week. I have been doing pretty well with the exception of a few cheat days and a week of being so sick I could hardly get off the couch. I lost 7 1/2 pounds in about 3 weeks, which is good. But, I haven't really been feeling better. I've been tired and feeling hungry and deprived most of the time. I have a goal of losing 20 pounds by my birthday and if I could stick to my plan, I could probably make it. However, I'm not sure I could continue sticking to that plan. I don't do well with deprivation. I tend to get to a breaking point, then I binge on junk and feel like a failure. Time to change tactics.

Eric and I watched Fat Head last week when I was sick. There was a lot of information in that film that made a lot of sense to me. And it got me thinking and asking questions:
1) Why has the government told us to eat a lot of grains as part of a healthy diet when animals are fed grain to fatten them up? Can't wrap my head around that one.
2) Is the abundance of gluten allergies these days occurring because our bodies aren't programmed to handle so much grain? Quite possibly.
3a) Are vegetable oils really "healthy" if they have to be chemically extracted from the vegetables? Doesn't sound right to me
  b) And if it is so healthy, why can consuming said oils contribute to developing cancer? Again, seems like that goes against all logic. "Healthy food" shouldn't contribute to a person getting cancer.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I had a bit of a frustrating night on Saturday night. I went to bed annoyed and didn't sleep particularly well. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I really didn't want to be awake. I just wanted to stay in bed for the day.

My day got a lot better though. My wonderful husband told me to pretend to be asleep so the kids could bring me breakfast in bed. There was no need to pretend. I went back to sleep and it was great. Next thing I knew, Eric and the kids were bringing me my breakfast. Lizzy made me bacon. Joshua made me scrambled eggs. Jacob made me some toast with lots of butter. And Eric made me a mimosa and added some strawberries to the plate. I'm not sure who decided I needed cookies with my breakfast, but I gladly ate them. It was sincerely one of the best breakfasts I'd had in a long time. And of course one of the best parts about it was that I didn't have to do the cooking.

After breakfast, Eric and I played some cooperative Portal 2. Lots of fun. That game really makes you have to think to figure out the puzzles. Love games like that.

We had some quiet time. The kids stayed in their room, Eric fell asleep and I watched a movie and worked on my knitting project. Very relaxing. After quiet time, we all went for a long walk, almost 4 miles. The kids did pretty well considering it was a fairly warm day. Our destination was a Redbox kiosk at Walgreens to return and rent movies. We picked up a pack of Uno cards too. We ended up playing Uno until bath time and then it was bedtime for the kids.

It was a really good day. I know that, like most moms, I can get really fed up with and tired of my kids. But really, they are great kids. I love them. They are sweet, loving and smart, each one of them. I am grateful for them and a wonderful husband who keeps me from giving them away on my more stress-filled days. This Mother's Day was the best one I've ever had. StumbleUpon

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Brown Butter Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

What? Is it possible to pack that much tastiness in one cookie? Why yes, it is. These are the most amazing cookies I've ever had.

I introduced my friend Debe to the Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe a while back. Recently she informed me that she made them even better. I was skeptical. I mean, can you really improve on perfection. Apparently, you can if you add coconut. Now, I love coconut, but it never occurred to me to put it in chocolate chip cookies. That's mostly due to my obsession with following a recipe to the letter. (I'm a little OCD when it comes to following baking recipes.) I am so glad that Debe's not that way. It's one of the many reasons we get along so well. She pushes me to be more laid back with my recipes and I introduce her to lots of new and amazing recipes, which she goes on to tweak to her heart's content.

These cookies combine the nutty, toffee-like flavor of browned butter with toasted coconut and chocolate. If you like nuts, a cup or so in this recipe would not necessarily go amiss, (perhaps some macadamia nuts). I, however, will save my nuts for another recipe. I think trying to pack anymore goodness into these cookies would be a bit reckless and possibly dangerous, at least to my waistline.

The technique of browning butter can be used for any cookie recipes to add a little extra tastiness. So, next time you get a hankering for amazing chocolate chip cookies, something extra special, here's what you do:

Dig out your favorite chocolate cookie recipe. Take 3/4 of the butter and melt it over med-low heat in a skillet, about 2 minutes. Once it is melted, keep an eye on it. Butter can go from browned to burnt in a snap. Once it turns a light golden brown, 1-3 minutes more, remove it from the heat and add the remaining butter, allowing it to melt as well. Pour the melted butter into the bowl of a mixer and allow to cool a bit

While the butter cools, toast your coconut in a 350 degree oven on a baking sheet. Again, keep an eye on it. Stir it every 2 minutes until it is golden brown and toasted. Put the toasted coconut in the blender or food processor and pulse it until chopped fine.

Continue following the recipe, substituting coconut extract for vanilla and adding the toasted coconut with the flour. Bake as directed.

These are best right out of the oven, but if there are any that last until they're cool, store them in an air tight container. I don't know how long they'll keep since our batch only lasted 2 days.

Enjoy! StumbleUpon

Fabulous Day of Amazing Food

Every now and then, my friend Debe and I get together and spend the whole day cooking. This last Saturday, we had a bit of a theme. We made Chipotle and Qdoba copycat recipes.
We made guacamole

 fresh salsa,

The recipes from all turned out wonderfully. The barbacoa beef was a bit lacking in flavor despite the marinade smelling so potent that it made me cough and my eyes water. Kind of disappointing.We used a Cook's Illustrated recipe for the salsa, which was pretty simple and straightforward.

The beans were a chore, let me tell you. I've tried cooking dried beans many times and it's always a crap shoot whether they'll turn out well or not. Most of the time, half of the beans are still rock hard while the other half of them are mush. The only way I've found to cook them with fairly good results is in the crock pot, but that takes all day and the results still vary. I decided that I'd start the beans the night before our cooking day and hope for the best. I started by doing a quick soak: covering the beans with water, bringing them to a boil and letting them sit for an hour. I let them sit overnight instead of just an hour. Saturday morning, I started them boiling on the stove again, simmered them for a couple hours, then put them in the crock pot when I got to Debe's. They cooked in the crock pot on medium for another 6-7 hours. They turned out really well. I guess the secret to cooking dried beans at high-altitude is just cooking the crap out of them. I'm not really sure that it was worth all the work though. I think next time I'll just open some canned beans and add some extra flavor or just cook them in the crock pot for 24 hours and be done.

Dessert was my favorite part. I made angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. It was my first attempt at making angel food cake. (It called for 10-13 egg whites, enough to measure 1 1/2 cups. No problem there, but what do I do with all the yolks?) It was delicious, so much better than the styrofoam angel food cake you buy at the store. It had kind of a marshmallow-y flavor and a spongy texture. So yummy. Debe made Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies even better by adding coconut! These were seriously the BEST cookies I've ever had! She substituted coconut extract for the vanilla and added about 1/2 cup toasted coconut in with the flour. They were amazing and didn't last long. I mean, can you get any better than browned butter chocolate chip cookies with coconut? I'm thinking, no.

It was a fabulous day. StumbleUpon