A New Year – And Remastered Chili

Well, I’m already slacking. I usually get in a year-end reflection before the new year begins, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Seriously, I plan on kicking 2013’s butt so I guess I was trying to get a head start. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I feel like this is the year to make some commitments. After all, I am seriously beginning to connect with the knowledge that I am going to continue to be in bad shape if I don’t exercise, Paleo or not. Plus with what I do at my day job and my side business, I seriously need an outlet of some sort. That was made perfectly clear in 2012.

The reason why I do not like making resolutions is because I do not enjoy feeling like a failure. If I resolve to do something, and then it doesn’t happen, what progress have I really made? If I feel like a failure, how much harder is it going to be to try again later?

So I am just going to say that I am going to try to give CrossFit another shot. A do-over. And I have a buddy to do it with, so that may help me be more successful and not feel so intimidated by the big gym with all the strong people. Maybe I will stick with it for more than a week. Maybe I will hang for two this time! That was a joke – I’d really like to stick with it longer than that. I really want to chronicle the journey as well, and see where my mindset has gone.

On another note, I received my end-of-year summary from WordPress, and it seems that you people really like recipes. In fact, I would almost dare to say that one of the only reasons you visit me is for my food. I was holding out hope that it was for my incredible writing skills or my unbelievable wit, but I’m starting to take the hint. So I will give you what you want. At least today. You know how inconsistent I am when it comes to this blog.

You may remember a few weeks ago when I said that I was retooling the Best Chili Ever recipe, trying to find a way to make the chili without so many tomatoes. When I said that, the chili was actually cooking, and I did not feel right about posting a recipe before I knew what it tasted like.

It was Awesome! So here it is:

The Best Chili Ever: Remastered

2 pounds ground beef
1pound ground pork (or bulk Italian sausage for more flavor)
1.5 pounds stew beef
1 large onion, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis
2 poblano peppers, minced
4 Anaheim peppers, minced
1 small can Herdez salsa verde
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
3tbsp ground cumin
3 – 4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano

Brown the stew meat in a couple of tsp of coconut oil on very high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and put the diced onion into the pan, and cook until opaque. Add the beef broth and let cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the ground beef and pork (or sausage) and cook until the meat is browned. Place all of the meat (including the stew meat), spices, peppers, salsa verde, garlic, and tomatoes and chilies, into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat for no less than three hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!

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Look What I Found!

I am a huge fan of the Paleo blogosphere, and since I am trying to recommit myself to strict Paleo, as well as exercise, I have been bouncing around the net, trying to find new recipes and things to experiment with. Today I am making 5-Spice Slow-Cooker Pork Ribs, although I am quite frustrated about all of the time I took going through EarthFare to get coconut aminos, only to arrive back home with a bunch of other stuff – coconut aminos were not in my bag, because I forgot all about them. I ended up using soy sauce (gasp) in  the ribs…. my shame is tremendous.

The reason why I forgot the coconut aminos is because I became excited about trying another recipe I found – coconut butter. As I was telling a friend, think peanut butter without the peanuts. I am not all that crazy about almonds, so almond butter isn’t all that appealing to me. There seems to be a bitter aftertaste with almonds that I don’t like, and that aftertaste is a lot more noticeable in almond butter. But I am a HUGE fan of coconut, and when I found the coconut butter recipe and realized how simple it is, I HAD to try it.

Let me just say that I haven’t been able to stay away from the stuff since I made it last night. I am probably going to have to get something better to make it with than my cheapy little food processor, though, because I had to add a lot more coconut oil to get it to paste up than the recipe calls for. Plus, I think I made the crunchy version because my little food processor didn’t do a great job. However, what I did end up with came out quite tasty and I may have to stop by the store to get some more coconut very soon!

Spicy Shrimp and Scallops

I found this recipe in the Paleo Diet Cookbook  and I had to try it.

What you need:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 pound raw, peeled, deveined shrimp

1 pound scallops

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp fresh chopped cilantro

lime juice to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in your skillet. Add the garlic and saute for one minute, stirring so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tomatoes and stir, cooking for two minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp turn pink. Remove from pan – put them in a bowl – and cook the scallops, about five minutes (or until they are done, whichever comes first). Add the scallops to the shrimp and tomatoes, and stir in the remaining ingredients.

This was a pretty good snack for my fiance and I. The scallops were definitely a treat, but the recipe in the book doesn’t even call for them. I added them simply because he and I both like scallops, and they worked really well. I think that as everything sets the resulting sauce may pick up the subtleties of the different flavors involved; we ate the majority of the shrimp and scallops right after they were done cooking and felt that there was too much lime juice (the recipe called for juice from half of a lime). But when I went back for more, I felt that the flavors had melded a little better.

Paleo Pork Green Chili

So yesterday I wanted to try something new. I found this recipe earlier this week and I knew that I had to try it. The only changes I made were to double the recipe (I have PLENTY of leftovers!) and use slightly more of each spice than is listed (even after I doubled the amount).

This is by far the best chili I think I’ve ever made, even beating out The Best Chili Ever. The pork comes out very tender and the flavor is light enough that you can appreciate the flavors of the peppers that are a part of the recipe. I was a little concerned about the amount of heat that the chili had, so I only put one jalapeno in the chili; I think that in the next batch I will use two, because there is only a hint of heat when I used one pepper for a double recipe.

This will definitely be a fun recipe to tinker around with, and the chili was a great last meal for 2011.

 

I Did It!

Yes, I did it. I made it  to my goal of being under 200 lbs. before New Year’s.

What a great feeling! This is the first time that I have seen a one at the beginning of my weight since I was pregnant with my second child six years ago. So I am definitely celebrating today!

But while I am celebrating, and since it is almost New Year’s, I think that it is time to reflect on some of the things that I have learned these past six months. Learning is all about reflection, after all, and this process has definitely been a learning process. So here are some of the things I have learned:

1. Eat.

I recently wrote about my weight loss slowing down, and how aggravated I was about it. After I wrote that post, I  began counting my calories so that I could figure out what was going on. On the first day that I counted, I only ate a little over 1400 calories – a number that seems almost impossible to me! I don’t think I have eaten that few amount of calories voluntarily…ever! Then I started looking at my habits. I had begun to skip breakfast because my mornings are so busy. I would make breakfast, but then I wouldn’t eat it until lunch because of all the running around I was doing. You would think that I know better than that! I believe that was what has accounted for the majority of my issues when it comes to consuming too little food. I have had a little down time this past week, so I have begun trying to come up with a new plan for when school starts next week!

2. Eat Your Vegetables.

Especially when doing Paleo! I got sick a few days before Thanksgiving – nausea, diarrhea, no energy. When my daughter got sick with salmonella a few days later, I thought that was what I had experienced. But a few weeks later, I got sick again in the exact same way! So I pulled out my Paleo Diet Book to try to find some answers – and find answers I did! Apparently, if you eat too much protein without vegetables or fats to go with it, you will get sick – with diarrhea, nausea, and no energy. My days of skipping to the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and nothing else have been over ever since, and I have been trying to find some new, yummy things to put on my salad to add more flavor. My current favorites are a basil-infused olive oil that I found, and red wine vinegar. I have also added more avocados to my diet – I can’t get enough of those, anyway! Last night I made up a double batch of Garden Fresh Meatballs so that I will have something to fall back on when I get tired of the salads. I will let you know how well they come out after being frozen!

3. Listen to your body.

I have been repeatedly laughed at and made fun of for some of the things that I have become very hard-core about since starting this diet. Like, I won’t eat anything if it has any type of sugar in it. I have found out from experience that even the smallest amount of sugar will give me GI problems that cause a lot of pain and heartache (or stomachache, actually). It isn’t worth it. I read the hell out of labels to make sure that there are no hidden starches or sugars in anything. The bloating, pain, and other things aren’t worth it to me, either. Sometimes I eat something that causes the scale to tick up slightly, but as long as I think that the splurge is worth it in the long run, it is okay. I definitely stay away from wheat and bread products. I inadvertently ate a cracker one day at the farmer’s market and I was so sleepy and run-down for two days! That is definitely not worth it! I have found out that my body can handle sweet potatoes pretty well, so I have added them to my diet – not an every day thing, but I will eat one every now and then.

4. Variety is the Spice of Life

I have been on the lookout for some new recipes, because we all get tired of the same old thing over and over again. I have found that I can take a lot of recipes, use different spices in them, and have a totally cool new eating experience. I did this last night with my Garden Fresh Meatballs. I have found that altering recipes just slightly to please my taste buds goes a long way in determining whether or not I am satisfied – as in, I don’t desire anything else to eat when I am done eating. I have modified so many recipes in this way, from the Crusty Chicken recipe (which is actually a fusion of two other, different recipes), to the Best Chili Ever recipe, which I have to modify because it didn’t agree with my stomach at all (it sure did taste good, though)! I am also trying to figure out a way to modify my salmon, because I eat that a lot for breakfast, but it really is getting old.

5. Lift weights.

One thing that has amazed me since I started this is how much stronger I am. I haven’t been doing any cardio since I read the “Body by Science” book, and I have enjoyed my workouts so much more because of it! It really is fun to go and lift, and when you realize that it is time to add more weight, it is super exciting! I wish that I had written down what weights I started with when I started lifting, but all I know now is that I love going to the gym, and I love that my workout is so short – just 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how motivated I am. When someone mentions doing cardio when they are with me at the gym now, I cringe and try to get out of it any way that I can. I did get on the elliptical machine a few weeks ago, and I was amazed at how much better I did on that machine than I did before I started lifting. I can definitely tell that I am stronger! I have no idea how much muscle I have gained, but it doesn’t matter – all that matters is that I fit into my clothes better!

6. Sometimes the “Experts” Have It Right – They Just Have the Wrong Starting Point

I have seen or heard many things that have come out of expert’s mouths that have actually sounded common-sense to me lately, but only if you think about it in the context of a Paleo diet. When I think about them in terms of SAD (Standard American Diet), they make no sense at all. I’m talking about the studies that say “Eating this or that can help prevent this or that disease” or things like that. I am going to have to start keeping up with these things that I hear, because I can’t think of a single specific one now that I am trying to write about it, and it would be fun to put them in their own blog post.

I am so excited looking forward into the New Year – excited about all of the things that I can accomplish now that I have accomplished this. This is so huge to me, because I have been trying to accomplish it for about two years now! And with this new lifestyle, I accomplished it in three months! I went through all of my “skinny” clothes yesterday – I haven’t done that in a LONG time, and there were clothes in there that I had forgotten about! It was so much fun going through those clothes and knowing that it really is possible to be wearing them again! And that is my next goal, to be able to fit into those clothes again! It will happen in this coming year, and I am excited about sharing the journey to get there!

Crusty Chicken

About a week ago I cooked chicken drumsticks. I was looking for a new chicken recipe, and this one seemed to be pretty good. At least it was different.

It was good, but it wasn’t impressive. One thing that I like about cooking Paleo is all of the options available as far as spices go. I love sauces because they add big, bold flavor to food. While sauces aren’t forbidden on a Paleo diet, it is hard to find sauces that add wonderful flavor without added sugar or crap ingredients. But spices are totally okay on a Paleo diet, and they are so versatile – you can mix up spices in different ways and create entirely new dishes with your creations.

This is what I did with my chicken tonight. I looked at a few different recipes, got an idea of what I wanted to do, and began to mix it up. I can honestly say that this was a huge experiment since my knowledge of what spices work together is pretty small, but it worked so well that my fiance named the resulting dish “Crusty Chicken.” So, here is the recipe:

Crusty Chicken

4 to 6 chicken quarters

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp paprika

4 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the coconut oil, then mix the all of the spices into the oil. rub the spice mixture onto the chicken quarters and place in a shallow cooking dish. Cook for one hour.

You may want to watch the chicken as ours came out a little dry. I’m considering trying the recipe again using a baking bag for the chicken. However, I do like the crust of the spices on the skin of the chicken – it gets kind of crunchy which adds a nice texture. I know that I won’t get that with a baking bag.

Paleo Stuffed Peppers

I have been working my way slowly through the book “Everyday Paleo” by Sarah Fragoso. It has some wonderful recipes in it, including the Garden Fresh Meatballs that I mentioned previously on this blog. I feel weird posting a recipe from a cookbook that someone else wrote on my blog, so I am going to just tell you to buy the book! It definitely has some wonderful recipes in it (and I haven’t even tried half of them yet).

One of the recipes that I tried this week while I was on vacation and had some extra time to cook was the Stuffed Peppers (this is the link to the recipe on the Everyday Paleo blog). I am used to having the stuffed peppers that my mom used to make when I was little: rice, ground beef, some vegetables, and whatever spices she threw in. Now, don’t get me wrong; I loved my mom’s stuffed peppers. But they couldn’t hold a candle to this recipe. These peppers were quite possibly the best stuffed peppers I have ever eaten in my life. My fiance absolutely loved them, too! Even my five-year-old, who I am trying to get to eat Paleo, tried a few bites. We have already agreed that this recipe is definitely one that we need to do again – soon.