Tex-Mex Remix

I absolutely love Tex-Mex. It is my favorite style of cooking, mainly because it’s what I grew up eating (thanks Dad!), and it’s my comfort food. When I made the transition to a Primal way of eating 2 years ago, I grieved for my beloved tortilla chips and enchiladas with cheese! I spent several months pining over those foods and only eating them for my ‘cheat meals’ before I decided that I could still have my favorite flavors without the guilt.

I started with a simple idea: Substitute veggies where there used to be grains. Rice? Make that spinach. Tortillas? How about green peppers! Or lettuce. It’s really not complicated. The stuff that makes it taste good is the spice. No one said you can’t douse that ground beef in chili powder or, my favorite, cumin! There is nothing wrong with topping it with that organic, minimally processed salsa or some homemade guacamole. The flavors of Tex-Mex are all achievable in Primal cooking. Here’s just one example of something simple I whipped up recently.

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1 lb ground meat of choice (I used Turkey)
1 onion
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 8 oz can tomatoes
2 green peppers
1 Tbsp Cumin
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Raw Cheddar Cheese (opt.)

Directions: Saute onion in coconut oil until soft, add turkey and salt and pepper, saute on medium-high heat until meat is done. Meanwhile, halve the green peppers and place them open-side down in a glass baking dish with 1/4 inch of water and roast in a 350 degree oven for 5-8 minutes to soften. Next, add tomatoes, kale and seasonings to the cooked turkey, stirring to combine and cover to let simmer for 10-20 minutes. Once the peppers are done roasting, remove from oven, carefully pour out any remaining water and flip them over. Stuff the peppers with turkey/veggie mixture, return to the oven for 5-10 minutes (add cheese to top of peppers for the last five minutes). Remove from and serve with salsa or avocado.

What other Tex-Mex recipes could you convert to Primal ones? Feel free to share your own recipes or suggest a new one for me to try!
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Give me that cookie! A Thin Mint love story (I mean, recipe).

I spent all day yesterday looking at the Girl Scout cookies sitting in front of my cubicle. They were just sitting there waiting to be eaten. I told them ‘no’ about a dozen times. I even ate a mini Snickers so that I wouldn’t eat the cookie (shame). I was strong in my resolve, but I wanted that damn cookie!

I spent the afternoon devising a plan to make said cookies at home (you may have noticed by now that I think I can make any dessert with almond flour and maple syrup) and was ready to tackle the project with a glass of wine in hand after dinner. And then – magically – it happened. I turned on my computer to discover that Elana (of Elana’s Pantry) did it for me! Paleo Thin Mints!!!

I made them immediately.

Because I have a tendency to do whatever I want when I bake, I modified the recipe slightly. It would now be considered more of a Primal Thin Mint. Here’s what I did:

Cookies
3 Tbsp butter (salted)
1/8 cup honey + 1/8 cup maple syrup
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt

Coating
1.75 oz 85% chocolate bar
1/8 cup chocolate chips
~1 tsp peppermint extract

20130215_202946 In stand mixer, add half-melted butter (my substitution for vegan shortening) and mix on medium speed until creamy with small peaks. Grab honey jar and attempt to pour/scrape honey into measuring cup, getting honey everywhere. Look at hands covered in honey and decide to rub all over face because honey is an excellent facial cleanser. After honey has been applied, wash hands and realize there is not enough honey for the cookies. Grab the maple syrup and top off measuring cup. Blend sugars in with butter until well combined. Add peppermint extract. Sample.

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In separate bowl combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and cocoa powder – add extra cocoa because it needs more chocolate. Add tiny bit of salt because butter was salted. Whisk dry ingredients for one minute. Evaluate chocolate content – decide it will do.

20130215_20552120130215_205730Slowly incorporate dry ingredients with wet, 1/4 mixture at a time until combined. Drop dough onto plastic-wrapped cutting board (you should use parchment), top with more plastic wrap and roll out to 1/4 in thin. Freeze for 10 minutes. Cut out into circles with small tupperware container (who has a two-inch cookie cutter?) and place on non-stick baking sheet. Cook for 5 minutes (or maybe 6, but 4 wasn’t enough). Cool and Freeze 1 hr.20130215_210704

Microwave amazing chocolate bar at 30 sec intervals until melted, add chocolate chips and heat a little more. Add peppermint and stir until all melty and minty! Dip cookies in chocolate until sufficiently covered. Eat several while dipping – quality control. Freeze what’s left.

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Verdict: AMAZINGNESS!

Give Your Sweetheart the Gift of Iron?

I did.
And so did he.
‘Cause that’s how we roll.

That’s right, my Sweetheart gifted me a shiny new Bella Bar! I’m so happy to have this female-friendly barbell to work with. It is much smaller in diameter (so my little hands can grip it) and it weighs just 15 Kg instead of 20 Kg like our other bar.

Separately, and without discussion or consultation, I gifted him a 2 Pood Kettlebell! That 1 Pood we have just didn’t cut it for a strong man like him to train with. Happy Valentine’s Day to us – and to Rogue Fitness, who probably love us now too♥

Interestingly, we currently have 7 out of the ’10 necessities for a Garage Gym’ according to this post: Top 10 CrossFit Equipment for a Garage Gym! Time to save up for that C2 Erg…

Fat Tuesday Experiment: Primal Paczki

Today is Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras). For many people, this is a much-anticipated day  because they get to eat whatever they want in preparation for the season of Lent. For people of Polish heritage, like my husband’s family, and anyone who has ever lived in or near a Polish community, the staple of Fat Tuesday is Paczkis!

Homemade paczki

These delicious fried doughnuts with a sugary filling are definitely not Primal/Paleo or what could be considered Real Food. So, out of sheer curiosity and for lack of a better project, I spent all last night and part of this morning creating a gluten-free, refined sugar-free, custard filled doughnut that I could offer to my hard-working husband on Fat Tuesday and then proudly blog about. Or something.

I started by researching all available gluten-free (GF) Paczki recipes on the interwebs. There aren’t many and they all use GF flour or some combination of rice/millet/sorghum flours which I don’t use. I chose this recipe to base my experiment on and then struggled for two hours to convert 2 cups of GF flour into some amount of almond flour, coconut flour and/or tapioca starch – ugh. Once I started mixing everything up, I got all excited thinking that it was working (thank goodness because it was already 11). The dough was a little too wet, but my hope was that if I let it continue to rise overnight, as was done in another recipe, it would be fine in the morning.

Morning. Wake up early to fry some dough in coconut oil. Take dough out and roll it carefully onto plastic wrap. Use fancy biscuit cutter to cut 10 pretty little discs. Look at the dough with adoration. Feel triumphant. Check temperature of the oil. Pick up handy utensil to transfer dough from plastic wrap to pan. Disaster.

My first Paczki attempt ended early this morning when I figured out that the dough I made was too flimsy to hold any shape at all. I attempted to salvage it in some way by patting little discs with my hands and then watched them fall apart in the hot oil. Of course, after declaring it a total failure and leaving a note to my husband to that effect before racing to work, he informs me that the fried doughnut crumbles were actually quite good and he ate them all – go figure!

Fried Something...

Fried Something…

I was hoping that I would have a shiny new recipe for you all to enjoy today, but I don’t think anyone will want this one! We’re just gonna have to file this in the ‘failed experiments’ category. I will go back to my chocolate and bacon.

Someone much more talented than I can create the first Primal Paczki – PLEASE?

Ditching Fast Food for Real Food

I’m just gonna let you in on a little (not so) secret. I love food. Especially junk food. I used to be the kind of girl who would eat whatever I wanted without a thought as to what it would do to me. It made little difference to me what was in the food. Who cared about calories or chemicals or whatever? And don’t you dare try to take away my sugar! Isn’t it obvious that I love it?

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The truth is, I just never thought about why we eat food. I eat because I feel hungry – eating ANYTHING makes me not hungry – and it’s delicious. Simple, right? Well, unfortunately, no. Eating the ‘easy’ foods, like pizza, french fries and cookies actually does the opposite. Sure, I feel full for a while (and enjoy my temporary sugar high) but then something ludicrous happens – I get hungry again! Not just a little hungry, either – we’re talking WAY hungrier than I was before. Sound familiar?

That’s because as we fill the body with simple carbohydrates (a.k.a. sugar),  it produces more and more insulin to counteract all the sugar in the bloodstream (by storing it as FAT). Then, when the insulin has been pumped out in stupid high levels, ALL of the sugar is eventually re-distributed and there is nothing left in the bloodstream but insulin. Once there is no more sugar left from that awful meal we just ate a few hours ago, our body signals that we are – yep – hungry!

Blood sugar and insulin is only one of several reasons why we should all eat REAL FOOD vs. processed food. Bad food can also cause systemic inflammation, clogged arteries, hormone dysregulation, and can lead to auto-immune disorders, cancer, stroke, diabetes and a host of other illnesses. Don’t believe me? Read This or This.

For those of you who are more visual learners (or who just think I’m making this up) there is a brand new video designed to highlight why we should eat REAL food. I highly encourage you to watch and share with the people you love. Slim Is Simple.

Now, I eat to fuel my body. I eat veggies, meat, fruit, nuts and seeds – mostly in yummy combinations. When I work hard (see my post about Lifting Heavy), I splurge on high starch foods like potatoes or rice. I eat chocolate and drink wine and make grain-free low sugar baked goods. Hey, I never said I was perfect! But, I am thin, happy and healthy. What more could a girl ask for?