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Why I’m Doing Whole 30 and A Recipe Born of Desperation

Apr

14

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 | 6 comments

Whole30 Egg Muffins - Mini-Quiches

 

In hindsight, our timing could have been better.

After a wonderful return trip to Germany recently (one reason of many the blog has been so quiet lately), eating and drinking incredible things, we decided to shock our bodies senseless by beginning Whole 30 the day we returned.

“What is Whole 30?” you ask?  Torture.

Okay, that might be a wee exaggeration, but it’s a culinary stretch for us, both in preparation and consumption.

It started rather innocently, when Tad googled how to bake sweet potatoes when I was out of town.  He landed on a Paleo blog, and that, I’m afraid, was that. He landed on a page that showed before and after pictures, which lead him to read more.  The more he read, the more he was convinced this was a Good Thing.

Curses to those healthy food bloggers!

But then, the more I read, the more I was intrigued.

For the first time in my life, I decided to restrict and revise my diet NOT to lose weight but to improve my quality of life.

 

I haven’t slept well in over ten years (and ten years prior to that, I wasn’t sleeping well because of babies!).  My metabolism is flatlined.  My body has changed – really changed – over the past two years and not for the better, and without me eating more.

For 30 days we’ve committed to:

  • No dairy (including cheese or yogurt)
  • No sugar including natural and artificial sweeteners
  • No added sugar (which, when you read American canned good labels, IS IN EVERYTHING)
  • No grains (buh-bye beautiful breads, rolls, bagels, English muffins…)
  • No soy, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites

So when I’m committed to something like this, I’m ALL in, and I become the Best Rule Follower of Them All.  I even smacked Tad’s hands for chewing gum because it’s off limits!  Gum triggers false signals to your digestive system AND it contains artificial sweeteners.

Interestingly, Whole 30 even engages your brain; we’re having to think more about meal planning. Almost none of my go-to recipes are Whole 30 compliant, so I’m reinventing the menu wheel in our house.  Which is why I’m sharing a recipe today.

I call it Egg McMazings because it’s incredibly versatile and you can add your favorite ingredients.  Basically, I googled a bunch of recipes, and tailored this to what I had on hand:

Eggs Peppers Kale Onion

 

Egg McMazing – Whole 30 Egg Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs (Whole 30 recommends pastured, grass fed if you can get ’em)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • Big ol’ handful of Kale, chopped with stems removed
  • Basically your favorite ingredients in whatever amounts you’d like.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Lightly grease muffin tin or line with muffin cups.  Beat eggs together with salt and pepper and gentle fold in veggies.  Cook for about 20 minutes in a pre-heated 350° oven, or until eggs are set in the middle.  Will keep about 4 days in the refrigerator and my Publix manager (I kid you not, the guy who told me to make these) said they freeze wonderfully.

See??? The EASIEST recipe in the world!!

Notes:

  • I sautéed my veggies in a little olive oil because I wanted to make sure they were tender, not crunchy.
  • I can’t wait to try this with ground, browned sausage, broccoli, mushrooms and maybe zucchini.
  • I’m sure everyone else on the planet would like tomatoes in ’em (blech!).
  • I used 11 eggs (I was thinking one per muffin) and had some leftover (I didn’t want to fill muffins too full; can’t stand it if they cook over and brown too much).  I scrambled the remaining mixture and it was *almost* like a frittata (and finished much sooner than the egg muffins).

Questions?  Comments?  Have you tried Whole 30??
I mean, I’M EATING KALE, PEOPLE, even in smoothies.  

I have no idea who I am anymore….

Robin Heart Signature - Green

 

 


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I challenge you to find a more surprising, delicious, easier, less expensive meal!

Jan

27

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 | 5 comments

Pinto Beans and CornbreadProbably the most narrow-minded you’ll ever find me revolves around the foods I’m convinced I don’t like. Opinions likely hatched from my childhood, there are just some things I will not eat–

Fresh tomatoes.  Yes, many are calling to revoke my Southern card over this one.  I can tell the difference between “good” and “bad” ones, I eat ’em chopped and seasoned in salsa, I love marinara and all things Italian…but I will not eat tomatoes in salads or on sandwiches or burgers (grape, plum, cherry, Roma, Beefsteak, Heirloom or WHATEVAH).  This is why my husband says I’m complicated.

Cucumbers.  Fresh from the vine or pickled into, well, pickles, I can’t stand their flavor.  People try to tell me, “But you can’t even taste them,” which is a lie from satan’s pit because WHY WOULD YOU EAT THEM if their taste is invisible?

Blue Cheese.  I recently learned the hard way gorgonzola tastes more like Blue Cheese than what I was expecting–Feta or Goat Cheese.  Why I had all these soft cheeses confused escapes me, but stinky cheese tastes like it smells.  Gross.

Citrus fruits.  Love their juices, canNOT stand the texture.  I hide ’em in smoothies.

In recent years, I have picked up a few new favorites, i.e., cole slaw, fresh salmon, pimento cheese. Once I learned that salmon does not taste like the odor it emits from escaping oils, I was willing to try it.  My loss all those years.

You can imagine when we lived in Germany a year, my taste buds – and resolve – were tested. While I was willing to try new foods, no one could convince me to budge on my Ick List.  And, really, why do people care so much when your food tastes don’t align?  

I’m also a visual eater, so if something doesn’t look appetizing, unless I’m sitting around your dining room table and I HAVE TO EAT IT out of sheer politeness, well, fuggetaboutit.  Like if you offered me cow’s tongue or liver.  Organ meats scare me.

And then there are the foods with known gastro-intestinal consequences.  Really, those should be an excused absence, right?  One of the worst things to learn the hard way is the idea that Chili with beans is a good thing to fill up a house full of teenage boys.

There will be unpleasant consequences for the mother, but free entertainment for the boys.

So, maybe that’s why I’ve never tried Pintos; I thought they’d wreak havoc on my stomach and my decades-long record for Full Body Control would be at risk.

On a whim after Thanksgiving, it was in a spirit of good stewardship when I decided to make Pinto Beans using the uncuttable end of a spiral-sliced ham for flavor;  I’m embarrassed to admit this is typically thrown away.

All I can say is I’ve wasted a lot of ham stubs through the years, once again to my loss.

Those Pinto Beans were so ridiculicious, I’ve been raving ever since!  For under ten dollars and with only a few ingredients, you can make a high-protein, inexpensive feast…and surprisingly, there were zero gastro-intestinal side-effects.  Who knew?  That was almost as nice a surprise as discovering the meal itself.

Here’s how I made ’em; let me know if you try ’em and if you share my enthusiasm.

 

The World’s Easiest and Best Pinto Bean Recipe

Pinto Bean Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 16-oz Bag of Pinto Beans, sorted and rinsed.  (I’ve never understood what it means to sort beans…)
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I used 3 ’cause I like ’em)
  • 1 cup diced onions + additional for topping
  • 1 ham hock, stub, remnant…**
  • 6 cups water**
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste

1.  Set slow cooker on high; spray sides with Pam for an easier post-meal clean-up.

2.  Throw in all the ingredients except hot sauce.

3.  Heat 10 minutes; reduce heat to low and cook 8-10 hours.

4.  Book yourself a spa day with all the money you’re saving on food for this meal.

5.  Served topped with diced onions and hot sauce, if desired.

Makes about 8 cups.

I’ve tried cornbread many different ways and right now I’m loving Golden Cornbread using Martha White Self-rising Yellow Corn Meal Mix.  Yummo!

ENJOY!!

Pintos in the slow cooker

** I don’t always have ham on hand when I crave pintos; I found a cheap alternative by buying a single, thick slice of ham, and it was DELICIOUS chunked in with the beans!

** This recipe is adapted from Publix Apron’s Simple Meals; theirs is a soup recipe and calls for 8 cups of water.  However, when I made this, I reduced the amount of liquid and it was more stewy, less soupy.  

You do NOT need to buy the beans with a flavor packet; a little meat, salt and pepper are fine; if you’re the experimental type, feel free to add your favorite seasonings to the mix.  :)

Pintos and cornbread

 

Robin Heart Signature - Green

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Recipe for a killer hot toddy

Oct

27

Posted by on Oct 27, 2012 | 1 comment

31-Days-of-Travel-in-Europe-PENSIEVEWhy not a recipe for 31 Days?  This one is perfect with winter on the way!  In words and pictures, a drink that'll warm you from the inside out.

 

Until today, I never knew a hot toddy was anything other than any ol' generic hot drink on a cold day.  And I also didn't know Germans were well acquainted with the Southern gent, Jack Daniels.

Sometimes it's good to be ignorant.

Here, in my Mayberryesque Bavarian hometown, I ride my bike to get places; most are within 10 minutes or so, but Margarete lives a little further out.  Invited over for an afternoon cake date, and because the weather has taken a fast turn towards winter, I wanted to drive.  But my son had other ideas; joining us for a bite of dessert, he and Margarete's son were meeting a group for soccer after.  He wanted to ride bikes, and because this was actually a going-away party for him, it was pointless for me to argue.  Once again, I was shamed into two wheels from the child I carried for nine months on two legs.  

I shoulda reminded him of that.

When the sun sets, the temperatures drop quickly.  It was about this time Margarete's husband arrived home from work, and he knew I'd be leaving shortly.  "It's freezing out there!" he declared, and he asked if I'd like a hot toddy to warm me up before heading home.  

Not wanting to create work for him when he had just left work, and because I wasn't yet cold, I graciously declined the offer. But he was insistent and persuasive and I can only say no so many times before it borders on rude.  Right?

Well.

I had as much fun watching him at work as I did sipping this curiously affecting libation, a mixture of sweet and spice and citrus and fire, and though my pictures aren't the best, I'd like to jot down the recipe before I forget.  Why keep a good thing to myself when it's so easy to share?

 

Killer Hot Toddy

Photo 1
1.  Slice lemons 1/4" thin and pierce through with five cloves.

Photo 3

2.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar in the bottom of your favorite mug and drop the cloved lemon on top.

 

Photo 3
3.  Pour a shot of Jack Daniels over the lemon and sugar.  This is where my friend says, "Experiement!  Try different whiskeys!  Use more alcohol. Use less alcohol.  Play with it to see what you like best."  I'm thinkin' it's all good.

 

Photo 5
4.  Slowly pour boiling water over the mixture.  Add a splash of cold to cool it down for immediate consumption.  That last tip is important if you're eager to try it NOW.

That's it–simple and quick. The hot water quickly melds all those flavors together into a memorable, spicy, sweet concoction.  And it warms you from the back of your throat to the tips of your toes.

Let's just say during my bike ride home I barely noticed the sub-Arctic tundra my wicked son forced me to endure.

Hot toddy for the win!

 

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Chicken Noodle Soup: so much more than comfort in a bowl

Jan

31

Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 | 3 comments

January is National Soup Month–am I the last one to know?  It makes perfect sense since we're right in the middle of Cold and Flu season, but I had no idea it was official.  Except I can't find who actually made it official, but Goggle it and you'll see an awful lot of people are proclaiming it to be.

Working with Vicks VapoRub the past several months has given me reason to think about the things that make me feel better when I'm sick.   Pepsi over crushed ice is the first thing that comes to mind; that was a wonder drug for me as a child (and stirs precious memories of my mom).  It's still the thing I want most when I'm feeling lousy.   

And though I rarely lose my appetite when I've got a cold (or when it's cold), the comfort food I CRAVE is soup.  Is there anything better than a steaming bowl of {your favorite soup} when you're feeling lousy or the temperatures drop?  My mother-in-law's Chicken Soup is a simple recipe you might want to try; it contains the basics and it's an easy one for new or experienced cooks:

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken (cut up is fine)
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 chicken boullion cubes
  • 8-oz linguine noodles
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in stock pot and cover with water; add salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower temperature and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove chicken, debone and cut or pull into bite sizes.*

Add chopped celery, carrots and onions.  Bring back to a boil and then add boullion cubes.  Lower back to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes, then add linguine noodles and simmer for an addition 9-10 minutes. 

Serve with your favorite crackers or cornbread and, I promise, you'll feel better!

Your turn:

1)  Check out Vicks® Nature Fusion™ You Tube channel for wonderful recipes and ideas by Chef Curtis Stone.  You'll be pleasantly surprised with his healthy choices and delicious options.  Plus, he's easy on the eyes… ;).

2)  Please share your favorite "feel good" cold & cold weather recipes.  I'm always looking for the next best recipe in the world!

 

 

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The BEST Potato Soup in the World!!

Dec

28

Posted by on Dec 28, 2011 | 5 comments

Sauteeing diced potatoes, celery & onionsMy failing as a food blogger may be my forgetfulness to photographically document the process, but s w e e t mercy, when I do share a recipe?  It's money.  Tried and true with plenty of proof in the puddin' (or cake or pie or veggie or mac and chesse or …!), I'll stack my favorite recipes against Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Southern Living or Rachael Ray any day of the week.

My friend Isabel hosted a soup dinner before Christmas; and I'm not too proud to admit I wanted to lick the bowl after trying her version of Potato Soup.  Out goes my old recipe, in with hers.  And the secret ingredient?  A method that was new to me but probably familiar to many. 

Isabel's Best Potato Soup in the World

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced*
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup butter (mmmm, an entire stick!!)
  • 5 cups milk**
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions

  • Combine potatoes, onion, celery and butter in large saucepan.Cook over low heat 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  
  • Do not brown.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients; bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf; put 1/2 of the mixture in a blender and purée.  (Ah ha!  The secret method!!  This is the best way to thicken a soup, using ingredients instead of cornstarch or flour!  Her soup:  creamy, velvety delicousness!)
  • Combine blended mixture with remaining soup. 
  • Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped scallions and bacon.
  • Enjoy ~  Mug of potato soup with bacon & cheese

 

Cooknotes:

* I used six potatoes; next time I'll use eight.  I like chunky soups :).

** Isabel used 2 cups of skim and 3 cups of fat free half and half; I used 2% and it was still delicious.

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The easiest, best, sinfully-deliciousest cake in the world

Dec

08

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 | 12 comments

It might not look like much, but I assure you, do NOT judge this scrumptious, moist, life-altering book (cake) by it’s cover (my pictures).

DSC_0502

If you want to win friends and influence others, make this cake.

If you’ve dreamed of a world at peace, make this cake and give it to international leaders.

If you’d like to check “I ate an entire cake by myself in one sitting” off your bucket list, make this cake.

It’s possible I’m exaggerating, but only a little.

My friend Sally introduced me to this cake a few weeks ago, for which I shall be forever indebted.  The biggest shock came when I learned it starts with a boxed mix; the biggest delight was when she shared its secret (it’s in the sauce).  If you’re ever in need of an easy go-to cake, keep these ingredients on hand.  You’ll be everyone’s BFF at the next potluck dinner.

DSC_0493Look closely–you can see how moist it is! 

 

Sally’s Sinfully-Delicious White Wine Cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix*
  • 1 (3-oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup white wine*
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Grease tube or Bundt pan*.  Sprinkle pecans on bottom of pan.  Mix together remaining ingredients and pour evenly in pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 325°oven 1 hour.

Glaze: 

  • 1 stick butter (yuck on margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ white wine

After you put cake in oven, bring butter, sugar and water to a boil for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add wine.  Set glaze aside until cake is done.  Once you remove cake from oven, using a toothpick poke holes in cake while still hot and in the pan.  Pour 2/3 of the glaze over cake.  Let cool before inverting onto a cake plate (15 minutes-ish).  Drizzle remaining glaze over the top.

6474987923_108a977333MOST IMPORTANT:  Grab a knife.  Slice a piece.  Experience a Tonguegasm of Epic Proportion.  Write me a thank you note.

(You’re welcome in advance.)

 

Baker’s notes:

  • * Sally used Duncan Hines Deluxe II; I used Duncan Hines Classic Yellow.  I don’t think it really matters but I’d choose a reliable brand.
  • When I made it, I used Pam spray only; it stuck to the pan a little so next time I will use Crisco and flour (never Pam and flour) to prep the pan.
  • * Regarding wine choice:  I used a Sauvignon Blanc; I think Sally used a Chardonnay.  I’d never, never, never use a “cooking” wine or White Zinfandel.  Ick.

(and for those who’ve emailed, this is the Bundt pan I use.)

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