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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mediterranean Green Beans with Golden Raisins

Most children (and adults) do not enjoy being told to eat their green beans. I have shied away from green beans my entire life. Most versions I have encountered either looked like a mushy mess or were drowning in cream of mushroom soup and passed off as a "casserole". I did like those crunchy fried onions on top of the casserole, though. But, I digress.

I continued to stay away from green beans after switching to Paleo, but I did a little research on the nutritional value of green beans and they seem to be just fine. I won't go too far into it, you can learn more here and here, but green beans are high in protein and have lower levels of dangerous lectin and phytates as most legumes.

This green bean dish uses golden raisins, pistachio nuts and Mediterranean spices. Oh, did I mention bacon? How could I forget the bacon! These little string beans are sautéed in bacon fat AND topped with crumbled bacon. This dish is sweet, salty and...bacon-y. What do you think we need to do to get bacon-y added to the dictionary? Is there someone I can petition on this matter because I feel pretty strongly that it should be treated as a proper, officially recognized adjective. I'll see what I can do.

In the meantime, eat your green beans!

Mediterranean Green Beans with Golden Raisins

Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 25
Total Time: 40

4 slices of nitrate free bacon

4 cups of green beans, trimmed

1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 tsp freshly chopped or dried oregano

1 tsp freshly chopped or dried basil

1/2 tsp freshly chopped or dried dill

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

-Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. 

- While the water is heating up, heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, place the bacon slices in the pan. Cook until crispy, turning often (about 6-8 minutes). Remove bacon from pan and set pan, including bacon fat, aside for later use.

-When water begins to boil, add beans and simmer for 3-4 minutes until tender. Drain water from pot.

- Return the pan with reserved bacon fat to medium heat. Add garlic, sliced onion and green beans. Cook, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes, until beans begin to brown.

-While the beans are cooking and the bacon has cooled enough to handle, crumble the bacon. 

-After beans have started to brown, add bacon, pistachios, raisins, oregano, basil and dill. Stir well and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Curried Cauliflower with Figs and Almonds

For the past couple of weeks, the farm where we get most of our veggies, Russell Veggies, has been offering a big basket of whatever they harvest that week. We decided to give it a try and were thrilled to pick up our overflowing basket of blueberries, peaches, onions, peppers, squash and much more. Tucked away in the basket was a HUGE head of cauliflower. As a former vegetable hater, I haven't eaten much cauliflower in my life. I guess I am still a bit shy about it because I really spiced it up to increase my chances of liking it. The almonds give the dish a nice crunch and the figs really balance well with the curry flavor. I loved it so maybe I really do like cauliflower after all, but I still need to figure out how to cook all that Kohlrabi they gave us....

Curried Cauliflower with Figs and Almonds
Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes

1 head of cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into small florets
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder (can be adjusted to your tastes)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup almonds
6 dried figs

-Preheat oven to 375 F.
-Place the cauliflower in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with curry powder and pepper. Toss well to coat.
-Transfer cauliflower to a large baking dish. Cover with foil and roast for 25 minutes.
-While the cauliflower is roasting, add the almonds and figs to a food processor. Pulse until coarsely ground.
-After the cauliflower has roasted for 25 minutes remove the foil and stir in the almonds and figs. Return to the oven uncovered and roast for an additional 15 minutes until cauliflower is lightly browned and tender.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tropical Chipotle Salsa

Did I mention I like spicy foods? Mr. What I Gather loves to make this Tropical Paleo Cereal so I stole some of his pineapple and mango and made this salsa. Because it was so tasty, he wasn't even upset with my fruit thievery. We ate this with some plantain chips from Trader Joe's, but it would also make a great topping for chicken or fish.

Tropical Chipotle Salsa
Serves 6-8

-1 cup pineapple, cut into large chunks
-1/2 cup mango, cut into large chunks
-1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
-1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
-1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
-juice of 1 lime
-salt and pepper to taste

-Add all ingredients into a food processor
-Using the chopping blade, pulse until coarsely chopped
-Serve with plantain chips as a snack or over fish or chicken for a tropical dinner

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Paleo Eating at a Music Festival

The last thing that most people are thinking about when they attend a music festival is what they are going to eat for the next few days. There are much bigger decisions to be whether to see Kenny Rogers or Bon Iver (I chose a little of both), whether to take a nap in the afternoon so you can stay awake until 3:30 in the morning dancing your little heart out to Skrillex (I chose the nap...and the dancing) and whether anyone else will be dressed like Shera (okay, I didn't dress like Shera this year, that was a couple of years ago, but it was a big hit). Following a Paleo diet, though, I am forced to do a little more planning before heading out of my home territory for any length of time to ensure I have the tools I need to eat a healthy, wholesome diet while away from home.

Me and my Ironman

I have learned that a lot of people treat vacations, or any trip away from home, as an excuse to take a break from their healthy eating habits. I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to take what is available and making it work for me, though, and I hope that from this and my post on Eating Paleo at Disney, that you will pick up a few tips you can use on your next vacation. It definitely takes a bit more work and planning, but I believe it is completely possible to stick to your Paleo diet anywhere you go...even a four-day music festival on a Tennessee farm.

If you have never heard of Bonnaroo, it is an annual music and arts festival about an hour outside of Nashville in Manchester, TN. This was my fourth Bonnaroo and I love it more every year. I have gotten to hear the Avett Brothers sing our first dance song, "January Wedding" twice, I've heard the Beach Boys play "Kokomo", witnessed the reunion of Buffalo Springfield, danced into the wee hours with Deadmau5, and made lifelong memories with some of my closest friends. 

Bonnaroo has plenty of great music, but not a lot of Paleo options when it comes time to fuel all that dancing. We were lucky enough to be staying in a RV this year, which made things much easier. But even if you are tent camping, you can stock your cooler with fresh fruits and veggies and cook most of these same meals on a grill or camp stove using a frying pan. Our whole group (all 5 of us) went grocery shopping together a few days before we left and picked up everything we would need for four days of breakfasts, lunches and snacks. We knew some of our meals would be eaten inside of the main music venue and you can only bring in small snacks so we didn't plan to cook all of our meals in the RV. Here is a little recap of what I ate throughout the weekend...

Breakfast: This was made exponentially easier by the fact that we had an RV with a full kitchen. Two mornings, I made Everyday Paleo's Southwestern Frittata. Well, the first morning it was a Southwestern  Scramble because the RV rental group had to come by and show me how to use the oven. But we got it all straightened out. The other mornings we had bacon and eggs with onions, spinach and salsa and/or fruit with almond butter and coconut milk.

Lunch: We usually made our way back to the RV for a break sometime in the afternoon. I brought along plenty of lettuce and salad fixins so I usually threw together a salad with lettuce, deli meat, onion, blueberries, cucumber and homemade dressing. Nothing fancy, but it was tasty and gave me the energy boost I needed. We did purchase lunch one afternoon. We found a burrito stand and requested just the burrito filling served in a bowl. So we got chicken, fresh pico de gallo and guacomole in a bowl. I think they even gave us a bit extra since we weren't having the burrito. I have found you can do the same thing with pretty much any sandwich or rice dish, you just have to ask!

Paleo version of a naked burrito - chicken, salsa and guacamole

Snacks: This was a pretty easy one because we could purchase or make everything ahead of time. For this trip, we brought along nuts, dried apricots, raisins, apples, bananas, berries, homemade jerky, almond butter, carrots, cucumbers and hummus. I am on the fence with hummus, I know beans aren't the most nutritious food, but I think there are much worse things I could be eating and I don't eat them often. Plus, hummus is yummus! We could only bring small snacks into the main music venue so we would throw a couple pieces of fruit, some jerky, dried fruit and nuts into baggies and pack them in the Camelbak. The Camelbak was a lifesaver because it can get HOT in Tennessee in June and the Bonnaroo folks are nice enough to provide tons of free filling stations.

Apricots and Walnuts

Dinner: We were treated to some awesome dinners by my Ironman (aka "Grillmaster"). On our first night we grilled kabobs with steak and vegetables. A few nights later, as we sat outside the RV and listened to Phish close out the weekend in the distance we dined on grilled chicken, poblanos and peaches with a side of guacamole. Pretty much a perfect end to the weekend. We also purchased a few of our dinners and I found another great vendor, I believe the name was "Bayou Billy's". They had a sausage sandwich and I requested my sandwich without the bun. They asked if I wanted rice and I said that I only wanted meat and vegetables. When they heard that they offered me some extra zucchini and squash, which doesn't even come on the sandwich. I happily accepted and couldn't even finish the huge plate of food they gave me. Again, most vendors can make adjustments to suit your needs, you just need to think a little bit creatively.
Sausage, peppers, onions, squash and zucchini
The Grillmaster at work
There is definitely much more to music festivals than just the food, but by thinking ahead just a bit, you can easily stick to the nutritious diet you follow at home. Food = energy = not missing your favorite late night act!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Could Never Give Up...

I was recently asked to write a guest post for The Life and Times of Lucy in Da Sky with Diamonds' "Paleo Week" on her blog. I was so excited for the opportunity to share my thoughts with a new audience who may not be familiar with Paleo so I decided to title my post "I Could Never Give Up".

I began by writing about what most of us say we could never give up...cheese, ice cream, name it. But we all know we can give those things up, we just have to want it. We have to make the decision to take control of what we put into our bodies and accept that our diet affects our entire wellbeing.

I then wrote about all of the things I could never give up now that I am filling my body with nutritious, whole foods. I have the energy to get up for early morning workouts and the comfort of knowing that I am not pumping my body full of inflammatory ingredients, pesticides, artificial flavors and colors and other harmful ingredients that I cannot spell or pronounce.

Click here to read the full article AND see the recipe for Pepper and Onion Quesadilla Bake. Is there anything you never thought you could give up??