Holiday Wrap Up

Despite contrary sentiments I noticed on Facebook, I was quite sad to see the end of 2014.  For us it was a great year – one of strength, stability, growth and success.  Perhaps most importantly, we felt healthy and strong, committed and comfortable with our paleo lifestyle.  On the flip side, we’re looking forward to carrying this into 2015 and making this year just as great.

The holidays were the perfect time for us to unwind, relax and hang out with family and friends.  There’s not much that can compete with sleeping in, mom’s (paleo) cookies and dad’s fresh squeezed oj 🙂  Did we keep it paleo through all the parties and travel? Duh, totes. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite things and what we ate.

Santa knows us pretty well.  These are a few of the awesome gifts we think you should know about:

  • Mala Beads: These are beautiful, handcrafted pieces.  I got the Strengthening Agate Mala for its ability to ground and balance emotion as well as its healing properties
  • Mascara: This is my go to mascara that is gluten free
  • Salad Spinner: This has saved me loads of time in the lettuce washing department
  • Cast Iron Skillet: We’ve literally used this every day since we got it
  • Smart Wool Socks: Amazing, comfortable and feet don’t get sweaty or cold.  We also love the Defeet brand.

As for food, we don’t travel light.  We ordered groceries ahead of time from www.doortodoororganics.com and www.freshpicks.com.  We packed the car with the food, a box of our spices and even a crockpot.  Here’s what we feasted on:

  • Christmas Eve: Paleo Chili from Against All Grain cookbook.
  • Christmas Day: Eggs*, Bacon, Avocado and Fed and Fit’s Blueberry Scones.*  Grass Fed Pot Roast, Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies and Paleo Pumpkin Pie.  For the pie, I used this crust and this filling.
  • The next 2 days were spent in Peoria, where we ate leftover scones, more avocados, salads and veggies. We also had a new pot of Chili and some Grass Fed Italian Beef (Thanks Dave!)  We went out to eat one night where we ordered burgers with no buns and a side salad.  Chuck also finished off the rest of our cookies on the drive down when I fell asleep!  We had some backup larabars, renola and almond butter if we needed it.

*I have a sensitivity to eggs so I don’t eat them.  My accommodating mom made the scones by substituting one banana for the egg and they turned out amazing!

We hope you had a wonderful holiday as well.  Happy New Year!!

New Years Day

New Years Day Selfie at the University Club of Chicago

 

Surprise! Chef Josh “Live” – Kitchfix in our Kitch

Before we were Paleo, we’d eat out or order food at least 5 nights of the week. These days it is a big deal if we go out once or twice a month. There is so much involved in going out now like researching menus ahead of time, worrying about cross contamination and hoping the wait staff truly knows what dietary restrictions mean. Now that we cook so often, we’ve really honed our skills. Because we use high quality ingredients, we often find that we prefer our own food to a restaurant. In spite of all of this, Chuck said we were going out to dinner on my birthday last month. He wouldn’t give me any details, but assured me it was completely Paleo compliant. We are very strict with diet so I was really curious and excited.

I came home after work and patiently waited for him to finish a real estate showing in our building so we could head out. I was sitting at our kitchen island drinking a cup of bone broth when he got back. Then, I noticed that Chef Josh Katt was walking in behind him. I recognized him as the chef behind Kitchfix, a service that delivers pre-made food including Paleo friendly options. We order from them every single week and had met Josh before. “Weird” I thought, “was his showing with Josh Katt?!” That’s when Josh said “Hey! I’m going to be cooking for you tonight!” Shut the front door! This was totally a dream come true. You cavemen and women know that preparing Paleo meals day after day can get tedious and laborious. I’ve always wanted someone to just come over and cook me dinner without having to worry about any part of it. Chuck hit this one out of the park! After freaking out, I swapped my dress for comfy clothes and my bone broth for red wine. Although Josh said we could sit at the table and he’d serve us, we opted to remain at the island. That way we could all talk together and watch him create a 3 course masterpiece. He pulled out tons of ingredients that he brought and started cooking. It was amazing. Our menu consisted of:

First Course – Seared scallops with chorizo and bacon crumbles

CJK First Course

Second Course – Lamb chops, brussel sprouts, micro-greens and a perfectly spicy sauce

CJK Main Course

Third Course – Pumpkin crème brulee in a pumpkin garnished with strawberries, pomegranate, diced apple and bacon.

CJK Pumpkin Creme Brulee_

Chef Josh also left us with a box of their Kitchfix cookies (delicious!) and gave us some of their Kitchfix Paleo granola (which you can find at many Mariano’s grocery stores around the city!) Thank you, Chuck, for making my birthday so special and for always knowing just what I want (or need). Thank you, Chef Josh, for taking the time to cook for us. Your food is amazing and we had the best night!

For those of you who live in the Chicago area and want to try Kitchfix yourself, here is our referral link.

We’d love to know what you think!

Chorizo Super Hash

Door to Door Organics Chicago challenged MePaleo to come up with a new recipe using the delicious ingredients from Door to Door’s online store. With such a great selection of organic food, it is a paleo wonderland and you want to cook with everything! It’s so tough to narrow down the options, hence the challenge. After a great deal of deliberation, we thought comfort food would hit the spot. With Winter just around the corner and brunch at the end of every weekend, a paleo hash recipe sounded perfect. We came up with a spicy little number that is packed with nutrients and full of flavor. Let us know what you think!

PS – get $10 off of your next order at Door to Door Organics Chicago with this exclusive MePaleo coupon code!

Chorizo Super Hash

Chorizo Super Hash

Serves 2-4   Prep 15 min   Cook 60 min

Ingredients
1 lb Chorizo
2 large Sweet Potatoes diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 cups Red Onion diced
1 1/2 cups chopped Kale
2 tbsp Cholula Hot Sauce
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Black Pepper
2-4 Eggs
Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish (optional)

-Preheat Oven to 400
-Lightly brown the chorizo in a pan until crumbly and add to large mixing bowl (grease and all)
-Toss chorizo with potatoes, onions, kale and spices, throughly mixing ingredients together. Pour mixture into casserole dish
-Bake uncovered in oven for 45-50 min
-During the last 5 minutes of baking, pan fry eggs to your liking
-Spoon hash onto plate or bowl, top with fried egg, season with black pepper and cilantro

Enjoy!

Door to Door Organics Logo 1

Happy Baby

2013 has truly become a transforming year.  To my own surprise, I have embraced what I previously considered line-dancing on rubber mats.  In reality, I have always loved yoga. But, I loved it for different reasons.  Earlier this year, my love of yoga stemmed from the 90 minutes that Rene was in class.  During these precious 90 minutes, I could catch up on “Gold Rush Alaska” and “Bering Sea Gold” without interruption.  There was nary ounce of shame for being so engrossed in the relentless search for gold by highly unqualified “miners”.  It also gave me some quiet time to tune my bike while scouring the cycling forums for deals on shiny new components that I could install during next weeks yoga class.  Rene would come home totally blissed out from her yoga experience, so it was a win-win.

All of this “me time” recently came to an end when Rene coaxed me into checking out Sanctuary Yoga in person.  I had been stalling the inevitable for a long time, but my general lack of flexibility provided a good excuse.  About 3 weeks ago, I attended my first class. Luckily, it was a small class with just Rene, myself and one other yogi.  Steve Cull is the impossibly limber instructor that led me down this path to yoga enlightenment.  I borrowed a well used mat from him and we began.  We started with a little stretching and intention setting then it kicked into high gear.  Overall, I was more bendy than expected.  My hamstrings were ridiculously tight, though.  Any pose that really stretched the hammys made me want to throw up or pass out.  Other than the uncontrollable shaking anytime my core activated, the poses and flows went awkwardly well.  Picture a newborn fawn taking first steps.  Yep, that’s me.  Realizing that my core is more rotten than strong, the final resting pose was a very welcome finale.  I thought the class was pretty demanding, but Rene let me know that Steve took things easy since he knew it was my first class.  It was a really good mix of physical strength and spiritual mindfulness.  I appreciated and savored every minute of it.  Three weeks later, I find myself rocking a Manduka yoga mat and looking forward to attempting Crow at the next class.  There are couple weeks of gold mining action still sitting on the DVR, but my bike is still getting plenty of attention.  Namaste.

In case there is any doubt, those are photos of Steve… definitely not me… the shorts are too long 🙂

 

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The Perfect Paleo Chip

The Perfect Paleo Chip

My ears always perk up when I hear the distinctive crunch of a potato chip. A nice, delicious, salty, crispy, fried potato chip makes a glorious sound. Of all the ‘crappy for you’ things I used to eat, potato chips and pizza are the only foods that I miss and dream about and crave. I have found delicious Paleo substitutes for everything else in the food world, except for chips and pizza. I haven’t had potato chips or a slice of pizza since January… not even a cheat. And that’s probably why I want them so bad right now.

For a quick fix, we have tried all kinds of chip substitutes. For example… Baked kale chips, which taste decent, but have an underwhelming crunch akin to dryish leaves underfoot on a sad Fall day. They are just too light and airy to be satisfying.  My opinion on kale chips goes back and forth. Today, while writing about potato chips, I despise kale chips.

We have also tried baked sweet potato chips, but we just can’t get them crunchy enough. I loves me some sweet potato, no doubt about that. But, our baked sweet potato chips end up being a little burnt and a little soggy at the same time. How is that even possible? A little trick of adding arrowroot powder to absorb the moisture, helped crisp them a little, but not quite enough. They are decent tasting and beat the pathetic kale chip without even trying. I’m starting to sound like a chip snob or a kale hater. AIas, I am both.

Anyway… we did find that plantain chips fried in coconut oil are pretty close to a legitimate chip. Good crunch, satisfying taste, but they are just difficult to cut thin enough during the prep. We tried both green and yellow plantains, and it’s like slicing an extra slimy banana. The inconsistent thickness might be a reflection of my mediocre knife skills, so you could have better luck. Overall the plantain chips were the most suitable replacement for my good ol’ Lays, Ruffles and Pringles. That is, until a couple weeks ago, when casual conversation with our chiropractor brought the obscure taro root into our lives.

Taro root is gods gift to the Paleo chip lover. It is kind of hard to find, but you can get taro root on Amazon if you don’t see it locally.  It’s probably not on your regular grocery list, nor is it something you would randomly pick up to try. Taro looks like something ALF would pass after a late night out. But, behind that rugged exterior, there is beauty within. Taro root is used in Asian cooking and is typically served as a mushy dish. Nothing mushy here, though… we are going for a legit chip.  Check it out below… and listen to the crunch here!

Here is my recipe for the perfect chip:

Start by removing the skin from 2-3 taro roots with a vegetable peeler.

Slice approx 1/16″ or thinner on a mandolin (this gives consistent, quick cuts and makes up for any deficient knife skills)

Lightly coat with olive oil.

Arrange slices side by side on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (they shrink up a little so they can touch). Sprinkle with maldon salt or sea salt.

Bake in preheated oven at 425 for about 10-12 min. Watch them. When they start to brown and the edges curl, they are done.
Let cool to touch and transfer to your favorite snack eating bowl

Enjoy!

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Down with Paleo

There are always critics with an abundance of reasons not to live a Paleo lifestyle.  When you tell people that you are Paleo, they are either extremely curious about it or they question its legitimacy.  Personally, I have had great success living Paleo. This blog was actually created to document what works and what doesn’t and to help guide people through the ups and downs of Paleo.  If the lifestyle didn’t work, I wouldn’t waste my time writing anything other than a quick blurb about Paleo sucking and being a stupid sham.  Well, it’s not a sham and Paleo works. We personally know of at least 15 people who follow our FB page and blog that have made dramatic/ positive changes in their health and well being by adopting a Paleo lifestyle.  These are people that hadn’t heard of Paleo before or had heard of it, but quickly dismissed it because it appeared daunting or too extreme.  Hey, at least they took the initiative to try it for themselves before taking the negative road.  I typically hear criticisms like, “Paleo is a fad diet”, “you have to be rich to eat Paleo”, “eating the same as a caveman is impossible”, “Paleo is a cult”, “Paleo is too hard to do”.  The critics go on and on, but that’s ok, their GMO powered brains don’t know any better.  Critics may never understand Paleo or it may take something catastrophic to get their diet cleaned up.  But, diet/ lifestyle choices are as personal as religion and politics.  My mantra… do what works for you.

Some questions to ask yourself and figure out if you are on a healthy path… 1) do you have any current or recurring health issues, 2) is your stress level manageable, 3) are you comfortable with what you see in the mirror… naked, of course, 4) do you get enough sleep, 6) are you happy with yourself?  If you answer “Yes” to all, keep doing what you are doing.  If your lifestyle includes super sizing everything or thinking that Burger King’s new Satisfries, low-cal french fry recipe, is a gift from heaven, so be it.  If it is truly working for you, keep on truckin’.  If not, make some positive changes.  Give Paleo a week to work its magic and you will be hooked.  Over all, Paleo is very simple.  Cut out the processed food, dairy and grains and eat fresh everything.  If you love to spend money, get all organic produce, grass fed beef and free range, organic chicken.  Whole foods is happy to help lighten your wallet.  If you are on more of a budget, go with the conventional stuff.  Just concentrate on fresh food and have fun trying some new recipes.  The Paleo lifestyle is no walk in the park, but it is extremely doable and everyone will make some tweaks to their particular situation.   We are here to help, so let us know your questions!

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Breaking News – Local Man’s Pizza Cutter Rescued From Uncertain Donation Box Fate

Pizza is the only pre-paleo craving that I have. I was really excited to see the pizza crust recipe in “Against All Grain“, so I couldn’t wait to try it out. The recipe shows a prep time of 10 min and cook time of 20 min. This is perfectly accurate timing if you happen to own a time machine. We invested two solid hours making just two Paleo pizzas. I’m sure things will speed up after some tweaks and getting more practice at the prep. Here are some hints from the first try: 1) The dough comes out pretty sticky, so be ready with extra almond flour. 2) I tried the double parchment paper rolling, but had to resort to using my hands to form the crust. 3) Our crust was about 3/8″ thick and I’d definitely go thinner next time. The recipe calls for 1/4”, so stick to that or thinner. 4) Cook time was at least 20 min per pizza after pre-cookng the crust for 12 min. Just keep an eye on it. After all that prep work you definitely don’t want to burn anything.

Overall, the crust was doughy, but firm enough to pick up and eat like a regular pizza slice. It browned up really nicely on the edges and bottom. It was pretty tasty, too. Our fixins for the first pizza were an olive oil base, pan seared heirloom tomatoes, sautéed banana peppers and sautéed crimini mushrooms. I added a little hot sauce to the final product for some kick. The second pizza, deservedly winning the “most delicious pizza of the night” award, had a homemade pesto base with grilled organic chicken, sautéed red onion, sautéed crimini mushrooms and toasted pine nuts. We had fresh basil for the pesto from our balcony planters, so the pesto sauce was extra fresh and amazing. I have a quick recipe for the pesto if anyone is interested.

Would I try it again? Absolutely. But, I would definitely allot more time and patience for the crust. It doesn’t totally satisfy my pizza craving, but it comes pretty close and it was fun to eat some pizza for a change. The best news is that the old pizza cutter still has a place of honor in depths my kitchen drawer.

Basil Pesto Chicken Paleo Pizza

Paleo Pizza Pie!