Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turkey and Dumplings

What? Dumplings? On a Paleo diet?  Yes, I was doubtful too.  I didn't think they'd work.  I was sure it would be a monumental fail, just like my attempt at Paleo apple fritters.  To my surprise and delight, they actually held together.  And they were tasty.  The texture was like that of cornbread.  They were also a real hit with everyone in the family!  That's a tall order as I'm constantly introducing new flavors and textures to my boys, ages 12 and 6, and they're not always receptive.  But this one got gobbled up (and I had to fight to save some for Superman).

I started with a turkey vegetable soup that I threw in the crockpot that morning.  It was a simple combination of leftover turkey, carrots, celery, and onions, with chicken broth and a little white wine, seasoned with salt and red pepper flakes and curry powder and oregano and plenty of minced garlic.  About a half hour before dinner, I stirred together the ingredients for the dumplings, which I found here:

4 large eggs
1/4 cup  fat (I used bacon fat)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut flour

After letting the dough rest for a few minutes (a necessary step when using coconut flour), I used a cookie scoop to rest the dough on top of the soup, then took the removable crock and placed it uncovered in the oven at 400 degrees.  It took about 15 - 20 minutes for the dumplings to bake.

Hearty and delicious!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chicken and Quinoa Casserole

You may remember that my youngest daughter, "Actress", was always the most vocal about her dislike of our new grain-free, sugar-free lifestyle.  There was always a great deal of drama surrounding the fact that there was no "non-paleo" food in the house.

Fast forward a year or so...

With the beginning of her high school years, and the stresses of moving from one state to another, my baby girl has decided to make some changes in her nutrition and activity level.  She surprised Superman one day by asking him to show her the Crossfit ropes.  And the day after Thanksgiving, she started her own 30-day Paleo Challenge.  She has been a rockstar.  Yes, some of the wods make her weep and groan (I believe even seasoned Crossfitters can relate).  But she's been sticking with it, and has seen good results.  She's even shown an interest in becoming a dietitian.  She is an amazing young woman!

One of Actress's favorite pre-paleo dinners was Chicken and Rice Casserole.  I used to believe this was a healthy dinner:  chicken, vegetables, rice, cream of chicken soup (yes, that gelatinous substance found in a can).  Tonight, I have altered it to align with our new nutritional style.

Chicken and Quinoa Casserole
2 c. quinoa, blanched
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. coconut milk
1/2 onion, chopped
2 - 3 cups chopped vegetables (carrots, broccoli)
4 - 5 chicken breast halves
seasonings to taste

Blanch the quinoa in a large pot of boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain.  Stir everything except chicken together in a 9x13 glass baking dish.  Top with chicken.  Season as desired.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake at 375 for 45 - 60 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

My chopped veggies
Fresh out of the oven!

Yummy and satisfying.

Paleo Packs

You may have heard of Paleokits.  Superman relied on them while he was in Russia a couple years ago.  They are a healthy mix of sugar-free beef jerky (very hard to find), dried fruits and nuts.  With Superman's busy schedule, I decided to try my hand at making my own kits.  My mom has a FoodSaver she was willing to let me borrow, so I purchased the best options I could find, and went to work.  Does it save any money?  Well, for me, yes -- since I didn't have to purchase a vacuum sealer.  However, since all the ingredients are shelf stable, you could probably just throw them in good quality zipper bags and call it good.

I keep my nuts in the freezer, so they're thawing on the counter next to this Paleo Pack.

My first try included steak strips, pistachios, pecans, raisins, dried apples and dried zucchini.  When those were all gone, it occurred to me that people might want to know how much it costs to do this.  So I did it again.  Unfortunately, Costco isn't currently stocking my beloved apple chips.  I'm dehydrating my own at this very moment, but since I needed Paleo Packs right now, I substituted a serving of dried figs. 

Here's what's in them:  1 oz. each of steak strips (no, they're not clean, but I can't buy sugar-free dried meat in the store.  I will be making my own in the future.), almonds, pistachios, raisins, figs, and a handful of my own zucchini chips (thank you, dehydrator!).  Total cost of ingredients:  about $2 per pack.

Homemade Paleo Pack

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fitting In Again: A Guest Post

405 lbs PR
Hello! This is "Superman", the other half of the amazingly beautiful and talented Ms. Julie. Just over two years ago I introduced my then girlfriend and author of this blog to Paleo and Crossfit. She loved the workouts but scoffed at the new approach to eating. I never pushed her on the diet or preached to her the benefits. However, despite her disinterest in Paleo she dove right into this new and exciting workout regimen. On Sept 27, 2010 Julie began tracking her workouts on a Google Spreadsheet that allowed me, living in a different state at the time, to contribute feedback and add love notes to her workout regimen. 

However, not too long after she dove into the WODs she decided to give Paleo a try. Something I have learned over the years and have loved about my sweetheart is her focus and commitment to whatever she puts her mind to -- it's never halfway. Just a couple months after starting her WODs, she began this blog, "How's That Been Working for You," as a way to track the progress of this new dietary venture. 

Julie has since became an expert at Paleo and has made some pretty amazing meals. Although I introduced her to this venture, she has far surpassed me in ability to eat well all the time. She is an example to me, I'll let her blog speak for itself. 

Over the last few months however, we both have needed to learn how to adapt to an ever increasingly busy schedule -- with our wedding on June 8th, five kids, work and now I have started a full time Masters program in Counseling Psychology. It has been difficult to keep a clean diet and workout consistently. We are both no longer at our pre-wedding fitness level. We refuse to accept this and have recommitted to make our health a priority. 

With our re-commitment, I felt it would be helpful to share the guy's perspective in getting fit again and our team effort to incorporate healthy living into our family's lives. Most guys, and anyone who has a full time job and living on a budget, find it very difficult to adapt a new lifestyle and consistently live clean and fit. I hope I can share my successes and failures in a way that motivates others to do well.

My journey began July 14, 2009 when in my Brother's garage Crossfit gym he had some very strong words for me and pointed out how unfit I had become over the years. The following picture is of me at around my max weight of about 250 lbs.

He then introduced me to a  workout call Fran. This was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. This is a workout that is 3 rounds, the first round is a set of 21 thrusters with 95 lbs (I used 65 lbs at the time) and 21 Pull ups (I did jumping pullups at the time). Then 15 on the next set and 9 on the last round.

After the workout, which took over 30 mins to complete, my brother texted my local gym owner -- some guy named Jason Khalipa -- who was at the Crossfit Games when he got the text, and told him to expect me in his gym the following week.

This started me on a transformation that I never expected. I wasn't new to fitness. For the three years previous I was routinely working out 3-5 times a week, 1-3 hours at a time. Running, elliptical, and even spinning, with occasional weightlifting. But never much progress. After joining Khalipa's gym and about 6 months of hard continuous effort and eating right, I lost 55 lbs and hit a new low of 195 lbs. That following summer in June of 2011 I took the pictures below at my lightest of 183 lbs.

I maintained this weight and increased my strength for the next year. However, in the last few months I have added unneeded weight and have lost some of my fitness level. Although Julie and I have made it a point not to be concerned with how much we weigh but rather how we look and feel, I have nevertheless put on a few pounds that have decreased my performance in the gym and life.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be sharing my challenges and progress to achieving a lifestyle that is healthy and fit while raising a family, working and attending school. I look forward to your comments and feedback. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cream of Broccoli Soup


"Mom, can we have Broccoli-and-Cheese Soup?"

This is the kind of pleading question that leads to innovations in the kitchen.  My little ones yearning for the flour-thickened, dairy-and-potato laced creations of the past.  Well -- not so little.  She's 14 now.  And she's  decided to start doing crossfit, which makes Superman and me so very proud of her!  She's outside right now, doing thrusters and box jumps. 

I've found (and slightly tweaked, of course) a Broccoli Soup recipe that suits us.  It's simple, creamy, and tasty.  When my daughter tasted it, she asked, "is there cheese in this?"  The answer:  nope!  If you're also craving this comfort food, enjoy!

Cream of Broccoli Soup
inspired by Gourmaleo

2 T. coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 c. raw broccoli, chopped
3 c. raw cauliflower, chopped
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
3/4 c. coconut milk
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Saute chopped onion in coconut oil.  Add broccoli, cauliflower, broth and water.  Simmer until vegetables are soft.  Puree in batches, then return everything to the pot.  Stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper.  Adjust seasonings to your preference.

Sauteeing the onions
Simmering the veggies

Ahhhh.  Bowlful of comfort food.