Food Challenge

I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s Resolution.

I don’t try to be healthier at a certain time each year. I try to do that all year round. I don’t work out/buy a gym membership starting January 1st. I’ve worked out at least 4 days a week since high school. I don’t try to be nicer, because that is subconsciously on my mind at all times.

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If I vow to stick to something starting on a certain day I don’t tend to stick to it, and I have a strong feeling most people are in that boat- considering the low attendance at my gym come March.

However I was reading through one of my fave blogs, and she posted a fantastic article from Food52. It’s called 57 Things to Do for Yourself This Year, and it’s a list of ways to challenge yourself in the kitchen, and make cooking and eating more enjoyable while learning something.

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Here’s a few I will definitely accomplish:

Make a beautiful meal, even if you’re only feeding yourself. I loved having someone to cook for and experiment on when I was in a relationship, but now I find myself losing creativity so this is a great challenge for me, because who doesn’t love leftovers anyway?

Buy yourself a piece of cookware you love, and use it. I’ve been dying to commit to a cast iron pan, and I think now’s the time.

Cook yourself a lunch so good you’ll be looking forward to it all morning. My massaged kale salad and chicken sausage are getting old, so why not spend some time making something new and exciting to eat at my less than exciting job!

Reward yourself with mid-week fresh flowers. It’s amazing what a vase of fresh flowers can do to boost your mood.

Take walks after dinner. Who’s in?

Now pick a few from the list and challenge yourself too, or at least vow to swap out your late-night ice cream for a homemade chocolate cake 😉

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Crockpot Short Ribs (Paleo)

The problem that a lot of people have when cutting out grains and dairy and going “paleo” is that they can’t find enough protein sources. Or maybe that’s just me. But since I can’t really eat nuts and all dairy is out of the question, then how’s a girl to get this protein without going broke?

Chicken is always a great option, but I love shopping the sale meats at my local grocery store. There is usually some form of chicken up for grabs for crazy cheap, but this week I stumbled on some short ribs. I don’t tend to cook beef as it’s hard to find grass-fed options that won’t leave my wallet empty. Plus I almost always have Applegate Grass-Fed Beef Hot Dogs for my work lunch so eating beef for 2 meals a day is a bit much.

I decided to just go for it and buy the short ribs. I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do with them, but that’s when the crockpot comes out. It’s my savior. My night in shining armor. My everything. Kind of exaggerating.

8 hours later and my meat was perfectly cooked, falling off the bone and ready to devour. I added a side of sautéed veggies with coconut aminos (gluten-free soy sauce) for a crunchy side.

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Crockpot Short Ribs

3 lbs grass-fed beef short ribs
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp salt
2 cups water

// Place short ribs in crockpot and squeeze the lime juice on top.
Mix seasonings and then sprinkle it over the meat.
Add the water on top and cook for 6-8 hours on low.

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Creamy Sweet Potato & Kale Soup (dairy-free)

Tips to surviving temperatures well below O…

  • Make this soup.
  • Preheat your heated blanket.
  • Turn on Netflix.
  • Never leave your bed.

That has been strategy the last 4 days, and I can say it’s honestly working. Until I have to go to work…

On a Netflix note, ever since watching “Making A Murderer” I’ve been really into crime things, and based on my conversations with friends/top picks on Netflix, so is most of the country. So I’ve been binge watching Criminal Minds, and honestly, where has this show been my whole life?? I know the characters are fictional, but those people are crazy smart!

Back to the food, I had a bunch of old sweet potatoes that needed life ASAP, so I just boiled them. I planned to make “home fries” post-boiling, but I had already eaten brunch at that point, so they just went to the fridge in all their boiled glory 😉

Then I was thinking, while watching Criminal Minds, I should just make a soup out of them. I immediately got up and threw them in a pot with kale and bone broth and was very very pleased with the outcome, and it only took about 15 minutes. I threw some chicken in my bowl for protein, but that’s totally optional. So without further ado…

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Creamy Sweet Potato & Kale Soup

2 large sweet potatoes, chopped and boiled*
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large handfuls of Kale
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 cups bones broth (any stock/broth will work)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

// Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.
Add chopped sweet potatoes, kale and seasonings and cook until kale has wilted.
Pour in broth and coconut milk and bring it all to a boil on medium.
Turn off the heat and let cool before pouring in a blender to puree.

*You can’t use uncooked sweet potato that’s not boiled, but you need to cook it longer so they soften before blending.

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Dark Hot Chocolate (dairy-free)

When the weather drops below 30 degrees in Minnesota I instantly start chugging hot drinks, but when the temp gets below 0 (like this past weekend) I put in more effort and make real hot chocolate.

Growing up I absolutely hated chocolate, so when I would come in from playing in the snow I would either have apple cider or a freeze pop. I’m a bit extreme sometimes.

Now that I’m much older and wiser I opt for everything of the chocolate variety. I literally will eat any kind of chocolate, if given the opportunity, except white chocolate because I mean, is that really even chocolate? Yes it is, but no. Just no.

I just happened to have everything that makes a killer hot dark (and I mean dark) chocolate on hand so of course I had to whip some up. If you don’t like as dark of chocolate as me, you can easily substitute the unsweetened chocolate chunks with a milk chocolate or any bar you like.

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Check out that steam!!

Dark Hot Chocolate
(serves 2)

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp maple syrup (add more if you like it sweeter)
2 oz dark chocolate (I use unsweetened baking chocolate)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

// Add all ingredients to a pot and cook on medium until it starts to thicken and get creamy.
Sprinkle a little sea salt on top and sip away!

 

Surviving Minnesota

I turned on the news this morning and the first thing I heard was “It’s going to be deadly this weekend.”

Now, if I hadn’t been looking at the TV I would have thought the apocalypse  was finally going down, but sadly it was just the weatherman. He was informing all of the stupid Minnesotans that we are going to be in for some really really unpleasant temperatures this weekend. Honestly, I don’t go outside much between October and April in Minnesota anyway, but thanks for the warning, Sir.

I feel like I should be used to the cold after 22 years of these awful Minnesota winters. I think I just enjoy it because it’s an excuse to buy a nice new jacket every year or how wearing layers allows me to cover up my ever increasing winter weight (Did I mention eating more also keeps you warm?). Oops.

This weather also brings the inevitable sicknesses, but I’m fighting them off this winter with some gut healing and warming bone broth soup. I told you all about my bone broth fast from hell. Well this time I’m not fasting; just making soup out of it which is much much more appetizing.

This really isn’t a recipe as much as it is just a bowl of everything healthy I could find in my fridge, but it was delicious never the less.

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Bone Broth Soup

Making the bone broth:
3 grass-fed beef bones (easy to find at most Co-ops)
3 types of organic veggies (I used celery, carrot and onion)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp salt

// Throw all ingredients in a crockpot and cover with water.
Cook on low for 12-24 hours and then strain.

Soup:
2 cups bone broth
6 frozen brussel sprouts
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 handful broccoli slaw (from Trader Joe’s)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt & pepper

// Place all ingredients in a small pot and heat up until brussel sprouts are tender.
Squeeze the lemon in and have at it.

 

Dark Chocolate Mousse (dairy, sugar, egg-free)

I find myself constantly craving chocolate in the darkest of forms, but I can only eat so many Trader Joe’s 85% chocolate bars (seriously the best!!) before it’s concerning. Sooo I’ve been experimenting with making other forms of chocolate treats that are stomach friendly.

Well lactose-free friends I’ve done it!

I literally ate the whole batch while watching the Golden Globes last Sunday. That damn Eddie Redmayne just kills me! So darn good-looking and that accent… hearts all around! This mousse is the Eddie Redmayne of desserts, ya know? But not quite as gorgeous.

I realize my picture is less than delicious looking, but it’s the best I got before it disappeared and I couldn’t hold the recipe from you any longer. Just take my word for it, it’s insanely delicious and totally customizable which is exactly what I plan to spend next weekend doing. I will be making batches and batches of this light airy mousse in as many varieties that I can think of, and hopefully getting a much more appetizing snapshot.

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Dark Chocolate Mousse

1 full can coconut cream (or 2 cans coconut milk refrigerated and cream scooped from top)
2 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

// Stir gelatin with cold water and let sit for 1 minute then add boiling water and stir and set aside until cool.
Whip coconut cream until smooth.
Add cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly.
Add gelatin mixture and mix again and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Enjoy with some chocolate shaving on top or just out of the tupperware like me…

I Bought a Cookbook?

I can’t remember the last time I bought a cookbook. I mean, people still do that?

People don’t just peruse Pinterest for hours looking for the exact recipe instead of buying someone’s $25 cookbook just to make 1 or 2 recipes?

Well that’s what I usually do. Until I discovered Juli Bauer on Instagram. She’s a paleo cook/blogger (Paleomg) from the Denver area, and she has been getting tons of Instagram love for her new cookbook, Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook.

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Her Buffalo Chicken Casserole is getting rave reviews in the paleo world. I haven’t whipped that one up just yet, but I did make her absolutely delicious Cinnamon Pancakes from the book. That recipe alone was enough to make me a believer in her.

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I’ve been experimenting with paleo pancake recipes for awhile now, and I just can’t seem to find one that tastes exactly like the glutinous versions I love. I’ve used both coconut flour (here and here) and almond flour (here), but the texture is never quite right. They’re always delicious, though.

Then I came across Juli’s version in her cookbook. It uses coconut flour and tapioca starch which makes the pancakes dense yet fluffy which is what I love about pancakes!

Go out and buy Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook even if you’re not paleo, because you’d be surprised at what food greatness lies between the covers. Plus you’re gonna need her pancake recipe, which I unfortunately can’t give you 😦

For now I can only tell you about their amazing-ness! The rest is up to you!

** If you’re wondering why my pancake pictures never have toppings that’s because I HATE putting anything (not even maple syrup) on my pancakes, and if I’m eating them post-pics, then nothing can go on them pre-pics. Maybe I should get someone who loves toppings to taste test my recipes? Any takers?