Monday, January 20

Pancake Cave

Breakfast is an odd meal for me. Always has been. Love eating breakfast. But I am a slow starter when I am waking up. I like to linger. And dawdle. And drink coffee. And shuffle around in my PJs. So, as much as I love a buffet of dishes, or an omelet with half a dozen chopped herbs and vegetables added, I really need recipes that require as little effort as possible. And there are some mornings I want pancakes. I have tried close to a dozen Paleo pancake recipes and the variety is staggering: almond flour, almond butter, coconut flour, mashed bananas, mashed sweet potatoes. All of them have been really good but none of the recipes I have made tasted like a good old fashioned fluffy pancake.

So today I ventured out on my own. My son is a bit under the weather and some comfort food was needed. There are only so many ways to mix pancakey ingredients so I apologize if this is recipe is unintentionally similar to someone else's recipe. But really, this was unlike any other pancake we have had. And it was an accident because I was feeling too lazy to look up a recipe. I like adding coconut milk to things I want a little sweet without having to add a lot of honey or maple syrup. Plus for some reason, they were easier to flip. Some Paleo pancakes are impossible to flip without ending up with pancake lump for breakfast. These pancakes turned out fluffy, light, with hint of vanilla sweetness. 

Pancake Cave Paleo Pancakes
Makes 8 pancakes (Serving Size 2 pancakes)

1/2 cup almond meal (I used Trader Joes)
1 TBS Coconut flour (I used Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 eggs
1/3 cup coconut milk (I used Trader Joes light)
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS honey

Mix all dry ingredients and blend with wisk to remove any lumps. Make a well in dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients except honey. Add honey to taste up to 1 TBS for slight sweetness. Mix with spoon until well blended. Cook with your favorite pancake cooking method. I use grass-fed butter on a skillet. Turn when edges slightly dry and batter is getting bubbles.  Serve plain, with fruit, or with maple syrup.

The pictures make the pancakes look a little dark. Don't mind burners have two settings: off and high. Yes I need a new stove. But if you give a girl a new stove she will want a new refrigerator, exhaust hood, location for stove, and cupboards to go with it. Yes, Kirk is well aware that someday he will likely come home to our kitchen cupboards, which are plywood and falling apart, sitting at the curb. That will be my way of saying it is time.

This next picture is not great but I was trying to capture fluffy. But they were so good I didn't want to think about lighting or getting a better camera or even moving my fork. They were that yummy.

Happy Primal Paleo Clean Eating Nutrient Dense New Year

We recently had a string of technical difficulties and discovered that partial glasses of beer, rambunctious cooped up cats, and laptops don't mix. I lost my primary access to the internet and blogging and discovered so much more. We decided that we don't need an expensive laptop and revamped an older desk top model, discovered that we don't want to spend our time on virtual friendships on facebook (especially since facebook decides which posts are best for me to see), and discovered that we could make a really lovely work area by shopping items in our own home.

So, there are a bunch of stories I have been keeping in my head to share here but today it is all a new year. I am so thankful that I discovered the Paleo/Primal way of eating. I'm glad it is a trend because I am adoring my recently acquired cookbooks Well Fed 2, Against All Grain, and Nom Nom Paleo. I can't wait for Slim Palate's cookbook (links will take you to Amazon for purchase, for links to each author's amazing blog, please see the main side bar). Josh is my son's age. And while my son's artistic endeavors lean toward music and guitar building, it is great to see young people pursue creative pathways.

I am 60 pounds lighter and counting and eating some of the best meals of my life. This is the first time in years that I did not gain and keep holiday weight to the tune of 10-15 lbs. I gained 5 pounds and it was gone within a week of returning to our usual habits. If you are thinking that you couldn't possibly make changes to your diet that would require you to give up holiday cookies or traditions, well you don't have to. I now hear what my body tells me.  It doesn't do well with a lot of refined sugar or grains but of all the grains, I seem to be the least sensitive to wheat. That's right. Rice will send me to Cramp Shouldnthavegonethere, but I can eat wheat in rare, small amounts with no discernable problems. So Christmas had a bit of this made the way my great-grandmother made them. And we were up to our elbows in frosting. And it was a blast.

But a new year awaits and very quickly we have gone back to the Primal/Paleo lifestyle.  There has been a lot in the press lately about Paleo being the worst diet ever forever and ever. The skeptic in me wonders if anyone who makes food in a box helped out with the research. These arguments are ridiculous in my view and the articles are written by those who have clearly not looked at a Paleo cookbook recently. Eat more vegetables. Eat high quality meats and protein for a better ratio of Omega fats. Get enough high quality fat in your diet to keep yourself satisfied and your body running smoothly. Eat foods that are nutrient dense and minimally processed. Limit sugars. Enjoy what you are eating. Eat when you are hungry. Listen to your body (sorry Tapioca Starch, we will never be friends). That, to me, is Paleo or Primal or whatever you want to call it and makes up the majority of information I have found on the internet. Nay-sayers will make this out to be a bacon fueled frenzy of folks arguing over whether a caveman would have had access to maple syrup. It's not, just go look for yourself. And bacon is delicious by the way.

I have eaten low fat diets, whole grain diets, vegetarian diets. My triglycerides soared. My body ached. My joints were stiff. My face looked puffy. I had a stint of looking pretty good on a low-carb diet for many years. But then I went back to school to become a nurse and the stress and lack of carbohydrate did my adrenals in. By the time I passed by licensing exam I looked and felt like total crap. I could sleep for days. I gained 60 lbs my last year of nursing school alone. My first year of nursing I gained another 30.

So here is my plea for everyone searching for a way to feel healthy and strong.

Stop looking for a diet and start eating high quality food. Paleo recipes can be healthy for everyone. My hat off to those whose bodies can digest legumes and grains. My husband is one of them but even he has benefitted greatly from cutting out all processed foods and poly unsaturated fats like vegetable, soybean, and canola oil. He sometimes eats a sandwich but the bread is made of ground grain, olive oil, yeast and salt. If we go out for Thai or Indian food, he often eats the rice. And he feels great. And his blood work is great. And his knees don't hurt anymore so he can run in -20 degree weather which makes me think he is also a nut.

Get your medical team on board. My physician completely supports the changes I have made because my blood work has never looked better and I have never felt better. I exercise (Disco Ball) because my body wants to move. Ask for a full thyroid panel (TSH alone will not tell you much, my Hashimoto's was discovered because of an enlarged thyroid and off the chart antibodies. My TSH at the time was completely normal). Ask for blood work to see if your body is suffering from inflammation. If your physician doesn't take inflammation seriously, find a new one.

Don't dabble. This is a toughie because I dabbled for over a year while I saw a great nutritionist, Tracie Fountain, so I get how easy it is to think that peeking through the door is the same as going to the show. I ate mostly good fats. I ate mostly no grains. I ate mostly unprocessed foods. I ate mostly grain fed beef. But really it was about 50/50 or maybe 40/60. Point is, it felt like I had made huge changes and I expected huge benefits. After a year I had lost no weight but I knew it was because I was trying to keep my foot in the door of my old habits. Going completely clean 100% for 30 days was the best thing I have every done to reset my body and my mind. Limit your use of Paleo friendly sweeteners. Limit using nut flours. Don't try to Paleo your old habits. Let them go.

Here's to a healthy New Year for us all.

Monday, September 23


Yesterday was a beautiful fall day and I was going solo since Kirk was at a studio all day recording an album. There is so much to do in the garden before the snow flies so naturally I spent the day cooking. I tried three new recipes and everything was so yumshuss that even though there are a million things for me to catch up on here, I want to write these down before I forget. Which could be any minute.

First, I bought a pumpkin at the farmer's market. And roasted it. And it rebelled. It was the worst tasting pumpkin I have ever had. Very bitter. Yuk. I have roasted pumpkin a million times and have sworn off canned pumpkin but this pumpkin was having none of it. Not all was lost however. The seeds were my final hope that the pumpkin did not die in vain.
Warm and Toasty Chili-Lime Pumpkin Seeds. So easy: clean off the seeds from one pumpkin and let them air dry or pat dry. Melt 1 Tbs Coconut Oil and mix with the juice of half a lime and half teaspoon hot paprika. Mix with pumpkin seeds well. Lay out seeds on cookie sheet covered with parchment. Sprinkle with sea salt and Ancho Chili Powder lightly. Toast 12 minutes at 400 F. Watch closely that the seeds are just starting to turn light brown. Try to wait for them to cool slightly so you don't burn your tongue! I failed at that part.

Next up, were the two pounds of ground turkey I bought from Jordandal. Now, I have always wanted to like turkey burgers because they sound so healthy but usually they taste like sawdust. So, it was time to jazz them up a bit. Ironically, the inspiration for these was an entire jar of tomatoes I home dried in our dehydrator. They were so pretty in the jar on the shelf in the fridge. I have seen variations of this at several of my favorite sites and I love that there are endless variations that rely on what you have on hand.

So gathering the ingredients:
  • Ground turkey thawed and in bowl...check! 
  • Half a bag of frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out...check! 
  • Half cup pasture raised feta crumbled in bowl...check! 
  • 2 teaspoons Penzy's Greek Spice...check! 
  • Third of a cup of moldy dried tomatoes...Yak! Make that one quick trip to Whole Foods to get sun dried tomatoes in olive oil with sea salt...chop 1/3 cup finely...Check! 
Lesson learned: home dehydrated tomatoes do not keep well. Must look into that because they took for flipping ever to dry.

But in the end I bring you: Greek Turkey Burgers!

I wish you could smell how amazing these were off the grill. Just 5 minutes a side and they were perfection. Served with some garlicky yogurt and a side salad. Beyond yummy.

Last but not least, why grill once when you can stand in a cloud of smoke twice! We had pork chops thawed and I get a little weird about the possibility of meat going bad. I really wanted to do something special for Kirk who loves BBQ. I have tried several paleo barbecue sauce recipes and while they were all good, they were clearly substitutes for the flavor we craved. But I came across a new source of inspiration this weekend, Ditch The Wheat. Her recipe for Spicy Maple BBQ Sauce is amazing.

At first, I thought it smelled really mustardy and since Kirk is not a mustard fan, I was a little concerned. But the sauce is a gorgeous deep red color that looked like perfection and I was not running to Whole Foods twice in one day. Once baked on the chops (again 5 minutes a side for chops on the thin side) the mustard flavor melds together with all the other ingredients and Kirk didn't even know that mustard powder played a big role. He LOVED it. Declared it to be the best and made me promise we can coat several other things in BBQ sauce this week. I present to you the worst food photo ever of Spicy Maple BBQ Pork Chops with Ginger Apple Sauce:
This picture is atrocious but at this point we were so hungry I had already started before I remembered to take a picture. I wish the photo showed the deep red BBQ color better because it was a show stopper. On the side is home-made apple sauce with a bit of finely grated fresh ginger to spice it up a bit. What a great dinner. And a fun day.

Friday, July 19

Just Call Me Paleo

I need to be planning and packing for a trip so naturally here I am writing a post. At least the laundry is started and my bedroom is half vacuumed. I swear I'll do the other half in a minute. But first I wanted to check in and catch up.

I am feeling so much better. And people are starting to notice, and did I mention that I am an introvert and that is a weird experience for someone who would love to not only fly under the radar but just avoid flying anywhere near the radar.

Most people who have noticed I am getting smaller also ask what I am eating. Which feels awkward. "Paleo" sounds like a fad. "Primal" sounds like my cat is in danger. "Clean" sounds like we had hygeine problems previously. "Anti-inflammatory" sounds just plain boring and doesn't come close to describing how much we are enjoying our food these days. Food like:

Amazing what happens when you have some left over burgers, some frozen spinach, some portabella mushrooms, some pepper strips, basil and garlic. Oh, and really good parmesan to freshly grate over the top. Yes, real parmesan. I understand from other blogs that means I won't earn my Paleo badge. Totally worth it.

Or this beauty from yesterday:

This is the banana bread recipe from Slim Palate. This is the best banana bread I've ever had. Jaybird and Hubster agreed. That is why I was only able to take a photo of the nub. I have a feeling that this is not as sweet as the type of bread I used to make and the trade off is that it is so much more flavorful. Resetting our taste for sweets was a really important part of this journey.

So far I am 42 lbs lighter. We've been biking, hiking, canoeing. Shenanigans galore. Energy to spare. Still love the disco ball. We got a portable air conditioner for upstairs because disco dancing and hot yoga do not mix. Or shouldn't.

I have also developed a bit of a cook book addiction. Beyond Bacon from Paleo Parents is gorgeous and filled with great recipes. Jerusalem is not a Paleo cookbook but most of the recipes are easily adapted, the photos are amazing and the book is sprinkled with stories of the region. It is a like a travel book wrapped inside a great meal. I am ridiculously excited for Well Fed 2 (Oct. 22, 2013) and Nom Nom Paleo Food for Humans (Dec. 22, 2013).

Now back to my regularly scheduled evening of last minute frantic packing for our vacation. See you soon!

Wednesday, May 29

Airstream Dream

Have you ever had a dream that was so important to you, so real in your mind, that you were hesitant to move forward because of an unconscious fear that reality might not live up to your expectations? Yeah, me too, but since it was subconscious I didn't know that until yesterday.

As our boy has become a pre-man over the last several years, the topic of "What Happens When Our Boy Flies the Coop" has come up more and more often. The converstations were quickly discarded as the two of us realized that Kirk's retirement dream looked a little like this:

And mine was more like this:
No, no...I don't plan to develop a moose fetish. But I as much as I like travel at the end of the day I enjoy having a place to hang my hat. So while I was thinking cabin in the woods, Kirk was thinking car on the road.

There was also the issue of location. First off, we have one great kiddo. And as much as I don't want to be showing up on his doorstep every morning for coffee (okay I do, but I also recognize that wouldn't be a good plan ultimately. There is a slight chance Jaybird would become resentful or if he wasn't resentful then he would be flat out weird), I do want to be at most a one day car ride away. Jaybird is an apt nickname for our son, there is no telling where he will ultimately end up. He wants to be a luthier and play in a band. He loves Oregon, the Rockies, and Minneapolis. When he finally travels more to the southwest and east coast, I suspect he will be drawn there as well.

Second, Kirk's heart is here:
And mine is constantly calling for:
So we were in quite a conundrum. And then we took a trip in 2010 that changed everything. Kirk's brother runs rivers in the Oregon/Washington area and invited us on a week long rustic trip with his friends on the Salmon River. Everything you need for a week on a raft. Kirk was excited. I was nervous. It wasn't just needing to poop in a bucket that comes along for the ride. Yeah. You heard me. It was more the idea of no turning back. Once you are on the river you can't decide that it isn't really your cup of tea so let's do something else. You start at point A. End at point B. Come what may you are along for the middle. And we both loved it.

Three rafts. Nine new friends. Our family. After a week of rafting in the wilderness we realized we really didn't need much to be happy. We really couldn't stand watching commercial television. I realized that I loved being outdoors and a tent could become home. And then I saw a picture of an Airstream. A home that rolls. And so the dream began. We will sell everything and live in an Airstream full time.

I bought a talisman from a talented jewelry artist, Katrina, to remind me of our dream and I had the date of my retirement eligibility engraved on the back.
And I bought books and put up pictures. And became an Airstream stalker. Yup. I know the Airstreams in our neighborhood and I will change my route to drive by. If I am out for a stroll, I have been known to choose my path so I can nonchalantly pet the side of an Airstream as I walk by. Yes, I know that if anyone catches me that will be mighty hard to explain. But I never have actually been in one until yesterday.

And I realized that this dream is much closer than I had dared to hope. And the person we met at Ewald Airstream, Jody, was so friendly and down to earth and he is a camper. In an Airstream. And he got it. And didn't think that owning nearly nothing and being on the road is unusual. And he insisted we go in every model so we know exactly what we are going to want. And I know. A Flying Cloud 27 FB.

It felt like home.

Monday, May 27

If Chicken Were a Box of Cookies and other Paleo Adventures

One of the challenges when changing one's lifestyle and eating habits is relearning what to do in social situations. Restaurants are generally no problem. There always seem something that is suitable without too much fuss. It is trickier when the invitation is to someone's home. I found through trial and error that I really do feel like crap if I eat things that cause an inflammatory flare up. That said, I also don't want to draw a whole lot of attention to what I do and do not eat. So, yesterday we were invited to a cook out and I was trying to think of what to bring that would be fun. Answer: Nom Nom Paleo's Green Chicken.
I knew it would be yummy but I had hesitated a long time to make this dish. The marinade has a lot of mint, cilantro, and basil. I thought it would be pesto-y. It is not at all. Not one of those flavors dominate and it was the best chicken I have ever had. Since the marinade is made in a blender, it is also one of the easiest recipes I have ever made. After the cookout, Kirk returned home to eat another piece. Then this morning he wanted to eat up the left overs and put a fried egg on top. Classic line, "It is like a box of cookies, I just can't stop!"

For a side I decided I wanted to make something with rhubarb from our garden. When I planted the rhubarb last year I had visions of rhubarb crumble and ice cream. While I realize that there are paleo versions of these treats I am not into paleo substitutes for sweets just yet. So I went on a hunt and found an intriguing recipe for rhubarb salsa.

I tweaked the recipe. I don't like honey in savory dishes it overpowers other flavors for me so I used mango that I pressed through a seive. I also don't like green onion in salsa and prefer red onion for its flavor and speckles of purple.  This was so good I ate it like a side salad. By the way, I tried a bit with some cilantro but for this combination of flavors I thought it threw it off balance. So my recipe:

Rhubarb Salsa
Ingredients :
-  2 cups of rhubarb, diced small
-  1 chopped medium apple
-  Half medium red onion diced small
-  2-3 limes, juiced (to taste)
-  1/2 cup diced mango (frozen works well)
-  1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped small
-  2 peppers (red, yellow, or orange) chopped
-  Himalayan salt to taste

Directions :
1) Bring pot of water to boil. Drop in the rhubarb and blanch 30 seconds. Pour in colander and cool under cold water to stop cooking process. (30 seconds is a guess. It was the time that it took for me to drop in the rhubarb, realize I was using a pot that the handle had fallen off of, find a kitchen cloth that I could use as an uber hot pad, grab the pot and make it to the sink without burning myself.)
2) Add lime juice to apple immediately after chopping so the apple doesn’t discolor.
3) Mix rhubarb, apple/lime juice, onion, jalepeno, and peppers, in bowl large enough to do some proper mixing.
4) If using frozen mango, microwave it or thaw in small pan until slightly soft. Mash the mango through a sieve into the salsa mixture. Flip it around a bit to taste and more or less mango essence to taste.
5) Add a few grinds of Himalayan salt to taste.

Finally, to round out my mango mint obsession. My favorite breakfast smoothie. This is my go to breakfast when I want something easy or on the sweet side. The mint and cinnamon add a nice dimension to the taste and a dandy anti-inflammatory jump start to the day.
As you will see the recipe is not exact. And yes, yogurt is not paleo. Again, Wisconsin. I have tried no dairy and don't have a reaction to yogurt, cheese or butter (grass fed).

Cinnamint Mango Smoothie
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut milk (From the can, try to find one without additives or thickeners)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup Fage Yogurt (Two big scoops with a table spoon)
- 8-10 chunks frozen organic mango (Trader Joe's works well)
- Scoop of collagen (Adds protein and has other joint friendly properties)
- Healthy dash of cinnamon
- 2 leaves of mint

Blend everything until smooth. Add straw. Ta Da!

Tonight we are trying a recipe from Well Fed. Chinese BBQ Pork. Looks fantastic. For those who are interested in such things I am 25 lbs lighter as of today. But again it is the difference in how I feel and my energy that is the real story.

Next up: How I discovered a way to make a privacy screen and a window into my personality all in one home improvement project. The last photo of the smoothie is a bit of a teaser.

Saturday, May 25

Happiness Is...

So much that is right with the last week can be characterized by this photo:

  • I scored a whole window box of basil for a fraction of what individual plants were selling and can hardly wait to make Grilled Green Chicken this weekend from Nom Nom Paleo.
  • A dear friend was at a plant sale and they were giving away Jade Plants and she scored some for me.
  • We bought Rainbow Chard, Dreamfarm Feta, and asparagus at the Farmer's Market. I don't know what that means but it will be yummy I am sure.
  • Tucked under my feta you see a peek of my awesome garage sale find. More on that in a bit.
  • My lemon tree is finally outdoors and happy. Four lemons in the making.
  • The green chairs from Elkhorn are perfection on my porch.
So Garage Sales and Elkhorn. Yes, I love a good find. I love a good flea market and finding a new purpose for something that would otherwise be discarded. I love that your junk is my stuff. I am also a firm believer in flea market and garage sale ju ju. Some days you have it. Others...not so much.

Last weekend I definitely had it. I have been looking for chairs for our porch table for nearly a year. Needed something that could withstand the weather. Not new. Not rickety. Comfy. Fitting with our rural aesthetic (not really but I can't resist a reference to Hot Fuzz).
I love the mish mash of a good flea market. Where else do you see this:

And the fellow who sold the porch chairs was bargaining before I even asked. $50 for all 4 chairs. He noticed I sat in them for a long time. I love it when someone wants you to have something because they sense it is a good fit. I also scored the original vinyl of XTC's English Settlement for $4. But try as I might I did not find another sought after item: candle wick plates. I have one. I like eating off of it because it is pretty and simple and food looks yummy on it.

But today, on the way to the farmer's market we stopped by a garage sale on a whim (we are usually ultra focused on getting there pronto lest someone walk off with the last cheese curd). And ju ju galore:

My green chicken will be a stunner.