Category Archives: Eat

Garden Update

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Picking some ripe beans

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Lots of green tomatoes…

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And BEETS!

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Lots and lots of beets. BEFORE you go any further, put on kitchen gloves or you will have brightly dyed, red hands.

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We saved the leaves that were in good shape and sautéed them with a tiny bit of coconut oil, garlic, salt and pepper. They cook just like spinach and will shrink down significantly. A little tart but so good.

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I scrubbed the uncooked beets with a veggie brush to remove the remaining dirt and then dropped them in a pot of boiling water. Cook until tender or until a fork goes into them easily. Once they cool, simply rub the outsides and the skins will fall right off.

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Sundried Tomato Pesto Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Last nights dinner. Oh my god, yum. This has become a weekly addition in our house; especially during the winter. Most of the time I will double the recipe to ensure that we have leftovers. I found this recipe online and have changed it a bit over time to work with what we have in the house. (Post photo has organic purple sweet potato mash and green beans in coconut oil with garlic).

  • Most of time I use 1lb grass-fed meat and 1lb chopped turkey so we have leftovers.
  • I only use sundried tomatoes when I have them, otherwise I will just make regular pesto or no pesto at all. The bacon still gives them a lot of flavor.

1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto, plus 1/4 cup for tops (see recipe below)

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

1 tablespoon chopped basil

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound fresh grass-fed beef

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup almond flour

1 large egg

4 slices nitrate free bacon

Sundried Tomato Pesto

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (in oil if you can, rehydrate per instructions if dried)

1/2 cup fresh spinach

1/2 cup fresh basil (a small bunch)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs to your food processor and blend. Stream in the olive oil until the pesto comes together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beef, almond flour, pesto, herbs, salt, pepper, onion,and garlic. In a small separate bowl, whisk in the egg and add it to meat mixture. With your hands or a spoon, combine the mixture until well incorporated.

Form mixture into 4 equal rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Wrap bacon strips around each meatloaf round. Top each round with additional sundried tomato pesto.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the meatloaf is cooked to desired doneness.

Makes 4 rounds

What’s up, Doc?

Greg planted a bunch of carrot seeds just when the summer started to cool down (beginning of September). We thought it would probably be too cold to grow them, but figured we would try since we’d never attempted it before. As the month went on we sprouted a ton of green carrot tops.
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We still thought there was no way carrots could be growing under there. Since I need to know everything about how everything thing works, I did some carrot googling.
A few interesting facts I found:
  • Don’t peel young carrots because much of the flavor is in the skin; the skin becomes bitter as carrots mature.
  • Raw carrot tops have a sharp, herbal, carrot flavor that mellows when cooked.
  • Over matured carrots are woody and less flavorful.
  • Harvested as very young plants, green carrot tops add a bright carrot flavor to salads and sandwiches.
  • Carrots are sweetened by the frost. AHA! We didn’t pull this batch until November 16 and it was plenty frosty by then; probably why they were so delicious.
I also learned that there are a bunch of different parts to a carrot. At the risk of bringing this back to 7th grade science, I bring you…..the carrot diagram.
Rootdiagram
I find this stuff so interesting. Once you start to grow your own food you become engrossed in every detail of it.
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The second and last pull produced 63 beautiful, crunchy carrots. I didn’t can any of them because you should only can carrots if you have a pressure canner. It takes the  higher temperatures of the pressure canner to kill the botulism bacteria. So, I went to back to good ole Google and tried to find some recipes I could crank out in bulk. Soups are the best, because you can double or triple the recipe and just freeze everything until you need it. This is the one I made.
Paleo Carrot Pottage (Pottage is a thick soup or stew made by boiling vegetables, grains and, if available, meat or fish. Pottage commonly consisted of various ingredients easily available to serfs and peasants and could be kept over the fire for a period of days, during which time some of it was eaten and more ingredients added.  Pottage consistently remained a staple of the poor man’s diet throughout most of the 9th-17th-century Europe. When people of higher economic rank, such as nobles, ate pottage, they would add more expensive ingredients such as meats. –thank you wiki)
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chives, minced
  • 2 tbsp. or coconut oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a big saucepan placed over a medium heat, cook the onion and garlic 5 minutes (or until softened) with the coconut oil.
  2. Add the carrots, sweet potato, turnip, thyme, bay leaves, chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring everything to a boil; then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and let it simmer for 45 minutes (or until all the vegetables are soft).
  3. Discard the bay leaves (they have sharp edges that can cut the inside of your mouth).
  4. Puree the soup in a food processor until smooth. (If you have one, use an immersion blender instead-so much less mess)
  5. When you’re ready to enjoy the soup, return the puree to the saucepan and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  6. Garnish with fresh chives and serve.
Soooo good!! This was the first time I cooked with turnips and they brought such a deep, earthy flavor to this winter soup. It instantly made me want a big cast iron pot and a fire in the living room to cook it over. Enjoy!
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Indoor Seed Starting

It’s finally time to start our indoor seeds!! This winter is dragging on much longer than usual so we had to hold off a little longer than we normally would. This year we used a combination of seed packets from http://www.seedsnow.com, Lowe’s and our local Organic Farm. It is SO MUCH CHEAPER to start your plants from seed if you can find a little space indoors. For example, a package of organic green pepper seeds are $3.49. Each pack includes 25 seeds. Each seed will produce a plant that will grow multiple peppers. One organic pepper in the supermarket is $2.50. Even if each of your plants only yield two peppers…that is a $125.00 value!! It’s a no brainer.

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First, we set up a folding table in our spare room to hold the seed trays. Normally we use the Jiffy brand, plastic seed starting containers that we purchase from Lowe’s (you can re-use them every year).  This year, Greg rigged up a light holder made from scrap wood pieces. It was a very simple structure with two braces on the sides and a bar in the middle to mount the light chains.  We place all of our trays on this table directly underneath our grow light. You can rotate them daily if you feel certain trays aren’t getting enough direct light. (Seedlings will grow towards the light so try to center them as best as you can).

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We’ve had the best results with the Organic Burpee brand starting mix in the past, so we chose it again this year. One small bag is plenty for a few trays. Once you fill the trays,  use a pencil eraser to push a little indention into each seed container, then drop a seed or two in each one. Make sure and keep a list or diagram handy to write down what seeds you have placed where. Cover the seed holes back with soil and water well.

Normally we switch on the light when we get home from work and leave it on overnight, trying to mimic the sun they would receive outside on a typical day. Since these plants are normally very small and fragile when they sprout, you can use a spray bottle to water them (at least once a day). You’ll have to give it a few days to germinate before you see growth, so be patient. Most varieties will sprout within a week. Now we wait….

The Boys Are Back

Today is the Daytona 500. Racing is finally back. We had some people over to watch the race so I figured I’d try my hand at some Paleo appetizers. I made some pineapple guacamole with a few avocados, red onion, green onion, tomatoes, garlic, chopped pineapple and some salt & pepper. This was SO good and a nice change from your basic guacamole. Serve with celery or cucumber slices if you are trying to stay gluten free. We had some blue corn chips for the non-paleo folks.

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I also tried out the paleo biscuit recipe and made cocktail franks with nitrate-free mini sausages (from Costco). I wrapped some in uncured bacon without a biscuit because you can never have too much pork in one bite.

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They were so easy and so delicious.

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Boogity, boogity, boogity!!

Farm Fresh Tomatoes In February

Last season our tomato plants produced a total of 156 edible tomatoes. I’d say we had another 30-ish that were ruined by insects.  This was our most successful year yet. After two years of trying different locations in our yard we finally found the perfect space for the proper sun and shade.

I think the most influential thing on our garden this year, was the nutrient rich compost that Greg makes. We maintain our supply year-round by constantly rotating the compost (in our homemade compost bins) with the house scraps we save, and adding from our stockpile of leaves and grass clippings.

We also learned a valuable tomato lesson from a good friend. Pick the tomatoes when they are GREEN. Put them in a brown paper bag and store them in a cool, dark place. Check the tomatoes every few days and in a about a week they will be a beautiful red. The last two years we would wait and wait and then all of sudden they would turn and it was too late. Once they turned red and got sweet, we would have a problem with the bugs eating them.

This was one of the last tomato pulls we had of the season (October). All of these tomatoes were pulled green and turned using the brown bag method.

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In the beginning the flow was pretty steady and we would easily eat everything we picked on a weekly basis. As soon as the weather turned from warm to cool (Sept-Oct), I pulled 62 tomatoes in two weeks. I had to learn how to can…and fast.

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I found a few canning recipes online since this was my first time and experimented with two. (I had also watched a canning demo at the tomato festival this summer) One recipe was for crushed tomatoes and one was for a sauce. The crushed recipe was a lot quicker but now that we’ve been eating them I prefer the sauce recipe more. I think I needed to “wring” out the tomatoes a lot more before crushing them because those cans came out very watery. Below is a pic of the tomatoes cooking down to make the sauce recipe.

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The 62 tomatoes produced enough for 27 jars, half crushed, half sauce. I only have 6 left. It better warm up soon.

21 Days of Detox

The holidays are finally over. We were terrible to ourselves the past few weeks. Zero self-control. Sugar filled cookie after sugar filled cookie. Talk about a cheat week. I haven’t cheated this bad since I started Paleo almost 11 months ago. But its over….finally. Today is Day 1 of the 21 day sugar detox. This book is such a good read and will make you feel amazing. Well, the first week or so you don’t feel amazing; you almost feel terrible. When we first did this back in February I was googling flu symptoms after a few days. We both thought we were getting really sick. Just the opposite, we were getting better. Our bodies were detoxing from the sugar and experiencing actual detox side effects. If you can stay strong and get through the first week or so, you will come out on the other side a new person. Healthier sleep, much more energy and you will see an amazing difference in your skin. I think my favorite part of the book is the weekly food schedules. Most of the things you will cook will leave you with leftovers and the author incorporates that into the next day. The hardest part of a food plan for us is that some days we work until 6 and then go to Crossfit and by the time we get home we are just too tired to cook an entire meal from scratch. When we sat down to dinner tonight, my husband said “Man, sometimes I forget how good Paleo meals are compared to that crap we used to eat.” You really never feel like your on a “diet” and everything we make (especially in the winter) feels so homey.  We didn’t cook from the book tonight but rather just made a mish mosh of what was in the fridge. Some nights you just have to be realistic and use what you’ve got!

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  • Nature’s Promise Chicken Sausage
  • Organic Peas
  • Organic Butternut Squash
  • Organic Mushrooms and Onions

All cooked in a little bit of coconut oil and minced garlic. We used Steve’s Original Tomato Balsamic dressing on the side. It feels good to be back.  

Paleo

On February 13, 2013, about a week before I started Crossfit we transitioned to the Paleo diet. Sometimes called the Cave Man Diet. People who eat Paleo follow a gluten-, legume-, and dairy-free diet with an emphasis on foods that are whole and unprocessed. Grass-fed meats and poultry, wild-caught seafood, organic fruits and veggies, naturally occurring fats (coconut milk, grass-fed butter, coconut oil and olive oil) are the basis for this way of eating.

We’d spent the month or so before going back and forth, half committing and ultimately decided to do it full force. For us that meant completely emptying our fridge, shelves and pantry and starting from scratch. We have little to no self-control in our house and knew that if even a single cookie remained, we’d probably break down and eat it. I made bags of food and gave them away to family members and brought the rest to our local church for donation. Our shelves were literally bare.

We had done A LOT of research before hand so we felt prepared to hit the store and stock up on the essentials. Some great resources on the Paleo Diet can be found at Robb Wolf’s website. We found most of the items at our local Stop & Shop. I like to cook our meals everyday so I wanted to have all the staples on hand. As far as pantry items go, the things I find myself using most often are coconut oil, olive oil, almond/coconut flour and our Paleo dressings from Steve’s Original. (Ginger Cilantro is my favorite for a salad dressing)

I bought a few Paleo cookbooks and then revamped my old homemade cookbook to only include Paleo recipes. There are a ton of websites and bloggers that post great recipes daily. Just a few I love, PaleOMG, Civilized Caveman, and Against All Grain  I print a few a week, try them out and if they make the cut, they go into my “cookbook”. My “cookbook” is made up of a split-back easel binder (about $13.50 online) and clear plastic sheet protectors. It really works great when you are trying new things and collecting your favorites.

There are countless resources online that will provide information and explain what this diet will do for you. What I can tell you firsthand, is what it did for us. Our goal was never to lose a ton a weight but rather get consistent. We would always yoyo 5-10 lbs in either direction during the year. We wanted to stop eating anything and everything and feeling like complete garbage afterwards. Eliminating the processed food and gluten has made a visible difference and we feel amazing everyday . It also fixed my never-ending skin problems. I never had acne but would always have an aggressive monthly breakout that no cream or wash could fix. After seeing my doctor, OB and countless dermatologists, they all chalked it up to hormones. Not one, suggested changing my diet. I can honestly say that after the first full month eating Paleo I haven’t had a single breakout.

I would say we are 90/10 Paleo. We are pretty strict during the week and cook all of our breakfast, lunch and dinners. But we are also realistic. We still go out to eat, get together with friends and crave the occasional sweet. Sometimes we have an off weekend, but really try hard to get back on track for Monday. The only reason this way of eating works for us is because we are realistic.