Red White and Blue Protein Pancakes

Happy 4th of July!  I’m sitting on our patio writing this post and can’t believe I’m not sweating my you-know-what off.  70 degrees, sunny, and less than the usual 99% humidity we usually have here around this time of year.  I’ll take it!

This morning I decided to get a little creative in the kitchen and whipped up a batch of protein pancakes.  I of course had to go with a red, white, and blue theme because…why not?  At first bite, Matt thought these were “legit” (his words) pancakes, meaning unhealthy. Much to his surprise, they are actually paleo.  I love it when I trick him like that. 😉

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Strawberry Coconut Protein Pancakes

(serves 2, makes 5-6 pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • toppings of your choice!

Directions

Whisk together wet ingredients then add dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour batter onto heated griddle/pan using 1/4c measuring cup.  Flip when batter starts to bubble and firm up.  Add toppings of your choice! Today I used blueberries, honey, coconut and almond butter….and a little syrup.  Hey, it’s a holiday.

 

I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Dear Plantains, Where Have You Been All My Life?

It’s official.  I am obsessed with plantains and I have no idea why it took me so long to come to this conclusion.  A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Plantain Chips.  I didn’t think it could get much better….but then came the tortillas….and then the crackers.  I’m not going to pretend like I’m some genius who created these recipes out of thin air.  My (recent Paleo convert) mom told me about the tortilla recipe she found a few weeks ago and raved about them.   She also tried making pizza crust with them, which you better believe I will be doing sooner rather than later.  So of course, I had to share these little gems of recipes with you all!

The original recipe for the tortillas can be found here, at Fresh Tart.  The only difference is I used extra virgin olive oil instead of avocado oil because that’s what I had on hand.

DSC02028I definitely didn’t make mine thin enough but it ended up more like pita bread, which was amazing.  Matt couldn’t get over them!

Ingredients:

(Makes 12 tortillas)

  • 4 plantains, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Blend everything together in a food processor until you get a hummus-like consistency.  Spoon onto baking sheet (I covered mine in parchment paper) and spread until about 1/4in thick, or thicker if you want “pita bread”. 🙂  Bake for 10 minutes, switch racks and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.

I mixed shredded chicken with avocado to eat with the tortillas and it was really good!

IMG_20140326_185244And because there was a link on the page for Plantain Crackers, I of course had to take a gander.  Since I was in Betty Crocker mode already and my food processor was already a mess (does anyone else despise cleaning that thing?!) I decided to give them a whirl in the same night.

DSC02027I actually think I like these better than the Plantain Chips!  They really feel and taste like crackers and are much easier to make.

I found the original recipe here, at The Paleo Mom.  Again, only difference is I subbed the coconut oil for extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains, peeled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until you get a hummus-like consistency.  Spread on a small baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.  Cut into squares with a pizza cutter and continue baking for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly brown and crispy. According to the original recipe, sometimes hers took up to 80 minutes to bake.

 

Happy Friday!

Ladder Workout and Whole30 Snack

Sometimes when I go to the gym, all I want to do is put my brain on auto-pilot and get in and get out.  A good workout doesn’t always have to be multiple rounds of multiple reps and…wait am I on round 3 or round 4? Was this exercise supposed to be 30 seconds or 1 minute?  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, intense workout but sometimes it’s nice to put together a short and sweet plan and get ‘er done.

Here’s a ladder workout that requires little to no equipment.  This can easily be done at home, just use a (sturdy!) chair for the box jumps and warm up by doing high knees, running your stairs, “fake” jump roping, etc.

Bodyweight Ladder WorkoutThe Easter egg theme was totally unintentional.  I think it’s my subconscious talking? #comeonspring

I know I’m making this the most random post ever, but I also wanted to share a fun appetizer recipe that is Whole30/Paleo approved! During the Whole30 challenge, Matt and I made it a point not to go out for dinner/drinks because…well, what’s the point?  If anything, the challenge certainly saved us a lot of money!  We did end up spontaneously having a few friends over one night and I was determined to whip up a few snacks that I could eat AND my guests would enjoy….also so I wasn’t a huge hostess-fail. These bacon wrapped dates are good any time, anywhere. Challenge or no challenge.  I mean, who doesn’t love bacon?

DSC02020Bacon Wrapped Dates

Cook bacon in a skillet until halfway done, then wrap around a date (pitted!) and secure with a toothpick. Bake at 350 until bacon is cooked through.  Frying the bacon before baking makes it a little crispier in the end.  I also only used about a half a piece of bacon per date, but it really depends on the ratio you prefer.

 

That’s all for today!  Make it a great one!

WIAW #14: Whole30 – Been There, Done That!

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Well, that’s a wrap!  Yesterday marked day 30 of the Whole30 challenge.  That’s 30 days without sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy…and we survived.

Sounds like borderline torture, right?

Wrong.

No, really.  I actually kind of liked it (after the initial shock wore off).  I swear I’m not crazy.

Seriously, once we got past about the 10 day mark, things really started lookin’ up.  Sure, it was hard when people around me were eating pizza and cookies and ordering out…all I wanted to do was dive right in and treat myself like I normally would, but since there was an end in sight, that helped me stay strong and committed to the challenge.

Here are a couple of the meals we ate during the last week, to keep things interesting.  There are plenty more where this came from but I’m trying not to make this the longest post in the history of blogging, so stay tuned. 😉

Sausage, Sweet Potato, Egg and Kale Bake

DSC02005Ingredients:

  • 4 sausage links or breakfast sausage (Whole30 approved, or not if you aren’t doing the challenge)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 large handfuls of kale, or more
  • 8-12 eggs, depending on how much you like

Directions:

Cook the sausage on the stovetop while you roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 20min (until tender) at 450 degrees.  You can also saute the potatoes, I just prefer the texture of them roasted.  Place kale into baking dish, pour the sausage, potatoes and eggs over the top and bake in the oven on 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through and the kale is wilted.

Easy Taco Salad

DSC02014Ingredients

What you see above!  The taco seasoning doesn’t include any sugar and is basically a mixture of several spices.

Directions

Chop pepper and onion and saute in olive oil, or you can cook it right along with the meat.  Add salt/pepper and taco seasoning and you’re done!  Add a little red wine vinegar, olive oil and avocado/guacamole and it’s a super easy, healthy and delicious taco salad!

DSC02016So, why do this you ask?

First of all, I want to emphasize that my intention for this challenge was not to lose weight.  Although I eat healthy 80-90% of the time, I was interested to see how my body would react when I removed processed foods, sugar, etc. all together, without any treats or cheat days.

The result?

We feel great!  We don’t feel lethargic or bloated after meals and we have more energy overall.  Until this challenge, I don’t think we really realized how certain foods affect our bodies.  After week two, I even noticed my post-meal sweets craving had all but disappeared, which I never thought would happen.  I’m interested to see how I think sweets taste after 30 days without them.  Honestly, a cheat meal doesn’t even sound that appetizing to me right now.  Who am I??

I only lost 3 pounds, which was a good thing.  I dropped that much in the first week of the challenge and to be honest, if I dropped any more I was going to think about quitting the challenge all together.  Instead, I tried increasing the size of my meals and that helped me stay even for the rest of the 30 days.  Matt, on the other hand, lost 12 pounds!  He looks and feels great, so I’m proud of him for sticking to the plan with me.  I’m sure some of the weight will come back on once we start introducing certain foods back into our diet, but this challenge was a good jump start to an even healthier lifestyle that we can hopefully maintain.

Now what?

Matt and I both agree that we really like the way our bodies feel with minimal sugar and processed foods, so our plan is to continue to eat this way….most of the time.  It will be nice to have the pressure of the challenge behind us, so if we are running late or just don’t have time to prepare, we can grab a protein bar, smoothie, or order out.   During the week, I’ll cook meals like I have been for the past 30 days and I’m sure we will treat ourselves every once in a while on the weekends.   And dangit, give me my dark chocolate! 🙂

Thinking about trying the Whole30?

Stop thinking about it and just GO FOR IT!  The whole idea of giving up so much for 30 days can seem really intimidating, but not if you do your homework.  If I can give one piece of advice, it’s prepare, prepare, PREPARE.  That is the absolute key to successfully completing this challenge and doing so with your sanity intact. 🙂  I constantly searched for new (and easy!) recipes that would keep things interesting and that I could prepare on Sundays for the entire week.

In the end, I’m SO glad we did it.  #1 it’s a great sense of accomplishment when it’s over and #2 I think it has opened up our eyes to an even better lifestyle (NOT a diet) that now we know we can can have.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a glass of wine calling my name….

As always, thanks to Jenn for hosting the WIAW link-up!

WIAW #13: Whole30 – Week 2

Hey hey!

Well, we are knee deep in the Whole30, 16 days down, 14 to go!  No turning back now.  Week 2 was much more tolerable than Week 1. No breakdowns and only minor panic attacks.  I kid, I kid. 😉

Both Matt and I are feeling good, we have more energy and aren’t really having too many cravings, except for the ever-present chocolate for me.  Not sure that will ever go away…and I’m ok with it, because a life without chocolate is a life without living.  Let’s be honest.

I switched it up a lot this week and made sure to have different meal options – something other than just chicken, veggies, salmon and eggs.

On the menu:

Breakfasts and snacks have pretty much stayed the same: almond butter, apples, berries, dried fruit, nuts, veggies, guacamole, etc. LaraBars have been a saving grace at times too, although they are supposed to be used as more of an emergency food, according to the “rules”.  I like to have them as a pre-workout option.  I usually break off part of it before heading to the gym in the morning.  It’s a much better option than a hard-boiled egg and/or almonds at 5am. For me, that’s less than appetizing. 🙂

Sweet Potato Chili  (SO delicious, you won’t even miss the beans!) I paired it with kale salad…which isn’t as good without the Stevia, I have to admit.

DSC02012Baked Cod (dipped in egg, covered in almond flour and baked at 400 for about 20min.), paired with avocado and veggies.

DSC02013Paleo Beef and Broccoli with cauliflower rice

DSC01998Beef & Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 small onion, chopped*
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped*
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt/pepper

*I used garlic, onion and shallots already chopped from Trader Joe’s

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Directions:

Cut broccoli into florets and steam, set aside.  Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic/onion for about 1 minute, add the steak and saute until almost cooked through.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined then mix in the broccoli florets.

Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2-1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Cut the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until it looks like grains of rice.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can probably use a blender or cheese grater.  Saute the onion in the olive oil, add the cauliflower and saute until soft.  Add the spices of your choice.

As always, check out Jenn’s blog for more WIAW posts!
 

More recipes coming your way soon, including a new breakfast casserole!

Have a great day!

WIAW #12: Whole30 – Week 1

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Matt and I have been talking about doing the Whole30 challenge for a few months.  Now that the holidays and a few weddings have come and gone, we decided it’s now or never.  My friend Kate and her husband have done the Whole30 twice now, and I remember thinking they were crazy the first time they did this.

What? No wine? No sugar of any kind? #cray

Since then, I’ve been making an effort to incorporate more unprocessed and whole foods into our diet and making paleo meals at times, so the thought of cutting back just a little more didn’t seem so daunting.  We don’t even realize the negative effects that certain foods have on our bodies, sometimes because we are just used to it, so I am interested to see how I feel after 100% cutting out these foods and pressing that “reset” button.  Like they say on their website, it’s only 30 days.  Yes, it might feel like torture at times, but it will be over in 4 weeks and your body will thank you for it!

So what is the Whole30?

The Basics: It’s kind of like Paleo on crack.  Paleo is the “hunter-gatherer” diet…although I don’t like to call it a diet, more like a lifestyle.  Meat/Seafood/Poultry (natural/grass fed is preferable), vegetables, healthy fats (EVOO, avocado, coconut oil, etc.), fruit, and nuts in moderation are all a-ok.  No grains, no legumes (aka beans, peanuts), no dairy, no processed foods, no refined vegetable oils, etc.  And for the Whole30, also NO SUGAR.  This is essentially a sugar detox.  That means no honey, no maple syrup, no Stevia, nothing, nada, zip. I didn’t think it would be all that hard but seriously, you would be surprised how many things contain sugar, and food that you would even expect (bacon?).  Luckily, they provide you with a shopping list that outlines Best/Better/Good options to help you make your way through the grocery store.

I spent most of the day last Sunday stocking up on Whole30 “approved” food and prepped most of our sides and snacks for the week.

Snack Meal Prep: Hard-boiled eggs, apples, almond butter (no other ingredients except almonds and maybe sea salt), raw/dry roasted nuts, dried fruit (unsweetened/unsulfured – Trader Joe’s has a few good options and Costco had dried bananas only sweetened with fruit juice, which is ok by Whole30 standards), LaraBars in moderation

Breakfast Meal Prep: Roasted sweet potatoes/turnips/rudabega/butternut squash

Sides Meal Prep: Cauliflower rice, roasted veggies, veggies for salads, fruit

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I found this timeline on the Whole30 website and I have to say, it’s pretty spot on so far!  It actually made me feel better about the way we were reacting to this challenge.

Day 1: Piece of cake.  We’ve got this.  Eat our normal meals and cut back on the snacking, or only snack on “approved” food.

Day 2:  Panic.  Well, almost.  When I realized that we were going to run out of the food that I had spent alll that time prepping in t-minus 1 day, the thought of having to prep even more meals in the middle of the work week was certainly not ideal, and not to mention exhausting.  Matt and I both felt pretty tired, but it wasn’t from lack of sleep.  It all made sense after reading the timeline.  Maybe our Sunday all-day bender was the culprit.

DSC01989(Not Pictured: Burgers, fries and lots ‘o soda)

I also found this waiting for me when I got to work….

IMG_20140218_091602If there was a Whole30 hell, I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like.  It’s not like if it were a normal day I’d eat a dozen of these things, but not even one little bite?? (or three)

Day 4:  Near breakdown.  I was doing ok except for the lack of my usual snack options at night, which was making me very cranky. Matt on the other hand, not so much.  Unlike me, he can’t eat the same meals on repeat day after day.  After day 2 of eggs for dinner, he looked at me and said “why don’t we just order something?”.  You have no idea how tempting that was.  But we resisted and powered through. 🙂

DSC01990Example Week 1 dinner: Salmon (with smoked paprika- yum!), roasted asparagus and cauliflower rice.

DSC01994Example Week 1 lunch: Shredded chicken, roasted broccoli and avocado.

One idea I was borderline terrified of was drinking coffee without Stevia.  I have to say, it really isn’t bad! I’ve been using my usual coffee but with canned coconut milk instead of almond milk and Stevia, and I think I’ll keep doing that even after the 30 days are up.

DSC01993Now it’s Day 10 and I think we are finally getting into our groove.  I did a better job of meal planning and prepping this weekend so I think we are pretty set for the week with Whole30 approved (and delicious!) meals.  I’m excited to share some of them with you!

Overall, I think we are going to really see the benefits of completing this challenge.  I think the hardest part for me is all of the things that I “can’t” eat.  I’ve always been a big proponent of everything in moderation and I’m not usually one to deprive myself of anything. So avoiding the yummy snacks and treats like the plague has been hard for me.  Having said that, I think this challenge will show me how much willpower I really have!  Once we got through the first week and over that initial hurdle of the “detox phase”, both Matt and I feel pretty good and have seen a change in our bodies for the better.

Today, I thought I would share the recipe for Plantain Chips, one of my new favorite (and simple!) snacks.

DSC02002Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains *
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper

* If your grocery store has them, they will be next to the bananas.  They look like bananas but are larger and more green.

Directions:

Cut off the ends of the plantains and slice it longways 3 times, then carefully peel off the skin.  The skin is pretty tough, so you might have to use a knife to help get it started.  Unlike bananas, the less ripe the better.  The more ripe they get, the sweeter they get.

DSC01999Now, you can either slice the plantains with a knife, or if you have a food processor that’s what I used and it made it much easier to slice the chips thin and evenly.

Toss in the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out the chips evenly on a baking sheet that is sprayed with olive oil.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until they start to brown.  Be careful because they will go from almost done to over done quickly!

DSC02003It’s best if these are eaten within a day or two of baking because they can become chewy and I would suggest storing them in a glass container like a Pyrex dish, which might keep them crisp longer.

These are good plain and I really like them dipped in Wholly Guacamole.  Post Whole30, these will be great with hummus. 🙂  A great substitute for store bought chips!

More Whole30 recipes coming soon!

As always, checkout Peas and Crayons for more WIAW goodness!