Paleo Lasagna

Over the weekend I went to a cottage for a bachelorette party. Our Saturday night meal was lasagna, which can be all kinds of bad for me and my stomach. In order of worse to less worse symptoms; #1 being cheese, #2 being pasta, #3 being the garlic bread that is usually served along with. SO I decided to do some research and try to make a lasagna without cheese or pasta.

I found the following recipe:

http://www.paleonewbie.com/awesome-paleo-lasagna-recipe/

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Coming out of the pan it looked like a pile of mush. It was more than edible, and I had more than one serving which means either I was really hungry or it was pretty good. The cashew nut ricotta cheese was pretty awesome, and the zucchini noodles were pretty successful. I probably wouldn’t make this for non-paleo guests, but I’d say it’s worth a try!

Whole30 – La Fin

Here we are, I finished my first Whole30.

I ordered the book by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig “It Starts With Food” at the beginning of my Whole30 and read it throughout my last two weeks. I learned a lot, and I think I will be able to use this knowledge and do it better next time.

I explored some new foods options, and learned breakfast doesn’t have to be eggs and bacon. I learned I do not NEED coffee when I wake up or at the beginning of a shift nor do I need to chew gum to get through my night shifts. I finally committed to finding and buying meat from a local, organic source, and buying grass fed beef. I also was able to get some bacon that is free of sugar and nitrates.

Although I didn’t see any drastic changes, I did see some changes.

Better Sleep: My insomnia is definitely much better than the last few months, although I still am not sleeping as soundly as I was a year ago it is much better. On top of eliminating alcohol and coffee, I also started taking a Magnesium, Zinc and B6 supplement before bedtime.

Better energy levels: I found I was better functioning off less sleep than I was previously, and this was without the help of coffee. I’m also not as hungry as often as I was before.

Better Hair: My scalp isn’t as dry and itchy as it has been all winter, and my hair feels softer and looks shinier.

Quick Healing: I went sledding and crashed into a tree during Week2 of the Whole30, my face was all scratched up and bleeding and I had a fat lip, within 3 days it had healed completely and no one could tell (with the help of applying coconut oil topically as well).

For a list of 30 reasons to do the Whole30, visit The Clothes Make the Girl blog: I scratched off about 18 of the 30.

http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2012/12/30/30-reasons-whole30/

As I finished reading the book, I realized it’s important to go into the Whole30 with no exact expectations. If you’re doing it simply to lose weight, or get rid of acne, or get rid of sugar cravings, or whatever, you might lose sight of what is important and miss out on the bigger picture.

I had previously done the 21 Day Sugar Detox to help with my acne, and I have to admit, it’s one of the main reasons I went into the Whole30 as well. Unfortunately, I have not seen much improvement. But this just tells me that there are other things I need to work on. I know my stress levels are high and my hormone levels are off because my sleeping patterns are a complete mess because of my shift work. Sometimes, a clean and healthy diet just can’t overcome the other things we do to our bodies. I know I should exercise more, I know I should go outdoors more, I know I should have a more regular sleeping pattern, I know I shouldn’t work overtime… these are things that I have learned I need to work on. Next Fall, after my sports season has finished (I’ve already paid and committed for the summer), I’m going to try to commit to a regular yoga routine.

When I started the Whole30 back in February with a friend of mine, I said to her “Just think about it, by the end of the 30 days it will be warmer outside and Spring will have arrived!” Boy, was I wrong. This winter has been incredibly long and dreary, and it takes a toll on people’s mental and physical health. I’m extremely excited for the spring and summer so I can start going outdoors more and go to the Farmer’s Markets for my produce.

As I said in a previous post, there’s nothing I’m going to jump to eating or drinking simply because I am done the Whole30. Although I do plan on drinking alcohol on St Patrick’s Day. Cheers.

Beef and Kale Frittata

Looking for an easy breakfast that’ll give you some leftovers for a day or two? Once a week I usually make a quiche or frittata that will last me for a few of my night shifts so I have something to eat when those early morning cravings hit or when I wake up with hunger pangs there’s something ready right away for me to eat. I usually put bacon in my quiche or frittata… but since I am doing the Whole30 and can’t find or afford sugar and nitrate free bacon I’ve been experimenting with different meats. Ground beef makes a yummy frittata! (Can you tell I love the word frittata? count how many times I use the word frittata in this post)

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You will need a cast iron skillet for this frittata recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound lean ground beef (grass fed if you can get it!)

1/2 sweet onion, chopped (I like to use sweet onions in my recipes because they don’t make you cry as much)

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 large zucchini (shredded and drained of excess liquid with cheesecloth or paper towel)

A few kale leaves (washed, dried and cut up)

10 large organic eggs

1/4 cup coconut milk 

2 tbsp ghee, divided

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Place the cast iron skillet on medium heat, melt ghee. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add garlic and onion to pan and fry until onions are translucent. Then, using your hands, crumble the ground beef into the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until you can’t see any more pink. Drain the fat. Place the beef in a bowl.

Add a bit more ghee to the skillet, and sautee the kale and zucchini for a couple of minutes, until the kale is wilted. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together in a bowl with the coconut milk and sprinkle with salt and pepper and whatever other herbs you like. 

Then place the beef back in the pan. Then pour the eggs on top. They should just about cover the beef and kale. I don’t usually stir it at this point, but if you want to spread things out you can. Decrease the heat and leave on the element for about 5 minutes, don’t stir, to let the bottom set, until you see the edges are about cooked and the eggs are bubbling a bit in the middle. Then use an oven mitt and place the entire cast iron in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then slice it like a pizza and enjoy your frittata!

Whole 30 Week 2 Beef Stew

Every week since the beginning of the Whole30 I try to make one large meal each week that will last me a few leftovers for my shifts so I don’t have to sacrifice sleep to have a good meal to take to work! Week 1 was a roast, I also made a Shepherd’s Pie, and week 2 is a beef stew. Week 3 will be a paleo pad thai, and week 4 will be Chili!

Jasmine’s Whole30 Beef Stew

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Ingredients:
½ butternut squash, chopped into cubes
1 small rutabaga (turnip), chopped into cubes
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 large parsnips, chopped
1-2 lbs beef hip stew cubes, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 box of organic beef broth
1 small can tomato paste
¼ cup tapioca or arrowroot flour
Instructions:
Heat pan to medium heat, melt 1 tbsp coconut oil, ghee or other fat.
Turn slow cooker on low.
Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper and brown the beef on all sides in batches.

Transfer batches to slow cooker. Once all the beef is browned, place garlic and onions in pan and stir until onions are soft. Add ½ box of beef broth into pan and stir, adding tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes. Add oregano, basil and thyme.
Place all chopped veggies in slow cooker and stir, then add broth/tomato mixture on top along with the rest of the beef broth and stir again. Cook on low for 6 hours.
Turn the slow cooker on high, take a tbsp of the liquid from the slow cooker and whisk together in a small bowl with the tapioca or arrowroot flour, when well blended add to the slow cooker and stir. Leave on high for about 30 minutes, this will thicken the stew.

Then it should be ready to consume!!

Whole30 Week 2

You know how I know this is working? You know how I know this Whole30 that so many people read about and think is impossible is actually very doable?

Because I’ve stopped counting the days.

A friend of mine asked me at work the other day “What is the first thing you’re going to eat when you’re done?”. My initial thought was… well… nothing.

I don’t actually miss anything.

In the end, my answer was something like a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with some stevia and coconut milk, maybe some pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup.

But really, I’m not craving anything, I’m not thinking about food all the time, I’m actually not hungry. If you know me… that is a crazy notion. I’m always hungry, something I got from my father’s genes. We are simply hungry all the time. These last few night shifts I worked… I could not believe it. I wasn’t eating all the food I was bringing. I wasn’t eating all the food I was preparing, I had so much food I was actually sharing it! I’ve been eating paleo for over a year now but still found myself snacking and eating all the time and still was hungry 2 hours after meals filled with protein and fat, but not nearly as bad as before when I would have a piece of toast for breakfast.

I’m also feeling very fueled in this Whole30 because of the support. My friend Myriam is by my side and was actually the one who asked me to try it out with her, it’s great to have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of and support each other when out with friends. And after having a few phone calls with my mom she decided to start it as well with my father!

I’m getting many questions from friends and family and it really makes me happy that people are interested in making their lives better.

I think a big part of this is the incredibly long and dreary winter we are having here in Canada, and there seems to be no end in sight. I even told my friend that one of the things I’m most excited about finishing the Whole30 is that the weather will be more springlike by then! (I’m starting to doubt that even…) 

People are feeling depressed and tired and stressed out, and the Whole30 is something to get excited about and challenge yourself and make yourself feel better!

Paleo Pork Schnitzel

Adam made a request for some schnitzel.

As a child, I lived on the Canadian Military base in Germany for four years with my family. I was a very picky eater as a child, but I remember schnitzel being one of the only things I would eat! I was very excited to make a paleo version of this.

So here it is!

Ingredients:

5 Pork Chops (tenderized, pounded, fat cut off)

1/2 cup tapioca flour with salt and pepper (in a bowl)- I believe arrowroot flour would also work

1 cup almond flour with salt, pepper and paprika (in a bowl)

2 eggs, whisked, with 1/3 cup coconut milk (in a bowl)

1 cup melted coconut oil

Instructions:

Place coconut oil in a pan and melt at medium-high heat

Heat oven or toaster oven at 300 degrees and have grill pan ready to place pork chops on after frying in coconut oil.

Place bowls side by side, first the tapioca flour, then the egg mixture, then the almond flour mixture.

Dip the pork chops in the tapioca flour, make sure to cover, then dip in the egg mixture, then dip in almond flour, then place in melted coconut oil in frying pan. Fry each side for 4-5 minutes each, then place on grill and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat process for all 5 pork chops.

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I served it with some cauliflower rice and made the delicious paleo mayonnaise (added some dill and lemon juice) from the NomNom Paleo Cookbook

http://nomnompaleo.com/post/3440774534/paleo-mayonnaise

Delicious!!

Whole30 Preparation and Week 1

Since starting my paleo journey about a year ago, I have heard about this “Whole30″ program but have never really looked into it much further. The basic concept is similar to that of the paleo lifestyle; no grains, legumes, sugar, dairy… but it doesn’t just stop there. You are not to have any sugar other than fruit, and you should limit your intake of that. Yup, that means no natural sugars like maple syrup, honey or stevia leaf. No processed meat (deli meats, BACON! :( ), no alcohol of any sort, no sulfites and nitrates (most bacon) and no white potatoes, for 30 days.

Not only does the program want to change the kind of food you are putting in your body, but also the way you consume the food. It’s trying to change your habits, so no paleo versions of pancakes, brownies, even if they have Whole30 approved ingredients. I read an article that equated this to “sex with your pants on”, it really made me laugh.

http://whole9life.com/2011/10/sex-with-your-pants-on/

I had a hard time understanding this part of the Whole30 program when I first started looking into it… but the more I researched and read the more I understood.

For more information visit their website for the full program, it’s all free!

http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/

I really like when I saw them refer to the program as sort of pressing a “reset” button on your body, metabolism, health and quality of life. Ever since I started the paleo lifestyle,  I have had many people ask “why?”. Why are you so strict about your diet? Why aren’t you eating any sugar for 21 days? You’re not fat, you don’t have acne, you don’t have any health issues.

What I’m going to start saying is that, plain and simple, I just want to be the best I can be. I want to see how far changing my diet and lifestyle can take me. I want to see my greatest potential. I want to see how much energy I can have, how well I can sleep,  how fit can I be, how happy can I be.

Simply put, I want to be the healthiest and happiest version of me I can be.

That being said, this program requires an incredible amount of preparation, both physically and mentally. A good friend of mine approached me about doing this with her, and I figured this would be a great opportunity for both of us. I started reading books, online articles, recipes, making grocery lists and menus for the weeks to come. At first, it was a little overwhelming and stressful to think about. But at the same time, it’s very exciting. That’s one of the main reasons I like doing these different things, to challenge myself to make new and different foods and experiment with my cooking and food.

My plan is to go grocery shopping the day before the week starts, and basically buy whatever meat, fruits and veggies are on sale, then make my menu for the week based on those items. My first week I spent a lot of money because there happened to be a lot of meat on sale, so I stocked up for the month. Hopefully this will save me money in the long run!

I decided to cut down on my coffee intake during the Whole30. Initially, I had thought that coffee was not allowed on the program, and was mentally preparing myself for that. But then, the same night I found out I couldn’t eat my bacon, I found out I could drink my coffee black. Despite learning this, I decided to try to continue the program without drinking coffee. Coffee can make you crave sugar because of the caffeine, and every year I seem to be drinking more and more coffee. So I’m hoping to be able to stay awake without it.

I started off the Whole30 on a 4 night shift stretch (12 hour shifts) so I made sure to make a few large items like a pot roast and quiche that would last me a few leftovers.

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Beef tip sirloin pot roast with carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips

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Zucchini Quiche (crustless)

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Greek Souvlaki Chicken Skewers

What have I learned this week? Meat tastes so much better when it’s marinated.

The withdrawals weren’t too bad. I got over the coffee and bacon thing after day 3, and the sugar cravings went away after day 4. I never really got the headaches, just a little bit when I first woke up.

On to week 2!