Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pork Shoulder and Cauliflower Rice with Peppers and Onions

Tonight's dinner was one of our regulars. We love pork shoulder! The juice in the pan after cooking pork shoulder is too good to be wasted, so we throw in some cauliflower rice to soak up all of that yumminess. Add a few diced peppers and onions and you've got the perfect meal!

Pork Shoulder
1-2 lbs boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (do  not remove the fat!)
1 tbs coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a cast iron or stainless steel pan, melt coconut oil, add seasonings then brown pork shoulder 5 minutes per side (don't cheat here as this full 5 minutes gives the meat that yummy brown crust). When brown, cover meat and continue cooking over low heat for about 15 minutes or until meat is about 160F. Use a meat thermometer to tell temperature. Let rest for a minute or 2 before cutting.

Cauliflower Rice with Peppers and Onions
1 head of cauliflower
1 pepper
1 onion
Pan dripping from pork shoulder or other fatty meat

After meat has been removed from your pan, add peppers and onions to the drippings. Rice cauliflower by grating it with a box grater. Saute until slightly tender then add riced cauliflower. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's going on in the garden right now?

It snowed this morning...and now it's melted. But still! It snowed this morning! I'm so done with snow. I'm ready for it to be spring. I'm ready to plant things and have them grow. But in the mean time I'm doing the best I can.

Plants at bottom of the picture are broccoli and spinach starts from last fall and chard I rescued from the garden.

A couple of weekends ago I got some seeds started in the greenhouse. I took a look again yesterday and I have some sprouts in my cold weather veggie pots. Kale, Cabbage and Turnip are just starting to sprout and the spinach and broccoli that I started last fall is now getting a bit bigger. I also planted seeds for Zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, cauliflower, onion, beet, and carrots. I usually try to put them in the ground sometime after Mother's Day. We usually don't have any freezing temps after that and it's safe to put plants into the ground.

I also cleaned up the garden a bit and prepared it for the chicken-dozers. I covered my strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb so the chickens couldn't dig up the plants and kill them. It won't hurt the strawberries if the chickens eat the leaves, but I don't want them digging up the whole plant. Before I let the chickens into the garden I also rescued a few chard plants that I planted last fall. They had started to come up late last fall, but weren't really big enough to harvest. I didn't know if they would survive the winter, but apparently they did. So now they are living in pots in my greenhouse waiting to go back into the garden when the chickens are finished cleaning it up.

So far, the chickens have cleaned up the weeds in a few rows and are now moving on to other places in the garden. If I'm lucky they'll eat all the weeds, cultivate the soil and still leave the mounds for therows. But most likely we'll have to go back in and redefine the rows when the chickens are done. But all in all, if that's all that I have to do to rid my garden patch of weeds, that's not bad at all!

Slow Cooker Short Ribs

One of the many benefits of buying a 1/2 cow is that you get cuts that you wouldn't normally buy. Although they sound really yummy, I probably wouldn't have bought short ribs from the store. But since they were in my freezer, Hubby decided to cook them up the other day in the slow cooker. We searched through several online recipe sites to find a nice combo of spices to use then threw them in the crock pot to cook slowly all day. The result was very much like a fatty pot roast that falls off of the bones. Yum!

Slow Cooker Short Ribs
About 4 lbs of grass fed beef sort ribs
1 C beef stock
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs Chinese Five Spice
1 t chili powder
1 onion
4 carrots
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the short ribs under the broiler in the oven for 5 minutes per side. Coarsely chop the onion and carrots and put in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place browned ribs in slow cooker on top of the vegetables then add spices and stock. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-10.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Honey Carrot Muffins

In the fall I often have extra veggies from my garden that we can't eat right away. We eat as many apples, pumpkins and carrots as we can, but after a while you just can't fit anymore into your menus. When that happens I make applesauce and pureed pumpkin and carrots to freeze. The purees freeze really well in old 32 oz yogurt containers for use throughout the winter. The other day I pulled out a pureed carrot tub to thaw. I wasn't sure what I would make with it, but today I put it to good use. I made Honey Carrot Muffins! (But the kids think they are pumpkin pie muffins because I used pumpkin pie spice in them. I don't plan to clear up that confusion as they both ate them and said they loved them.) You could use just about any fruit or veggie puree like pumpkin, apple, carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash in these and achieve the same results.  

Honey Carrot Muffins
1 C Carrot puree (or other fruit or veggie puree) - room temp
1/3 C Coconut flour
1/3 C honey
3 Eggs - room temp
1/3 C coconut oil - melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (could mix cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to make your own)
1/4 C almond flour

Bring all ingredients to room temperature and preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients and spoon into lined or greased muffin tins. (I made 18 mini muffins and 2 large ones.) Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until muffins are firm to the touch.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Kids Say

I asked my kids these questions 3 years ago and again yesterday. Some of the answers were the same and some were really different, but it's interesting to see what the kids think about me. I guess my favorite parts are that the kids both see my favorite thing to do is play with them and feel that I show that I love them every day. If they remember that forever, I will have done my job.

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Lily (6 years old): Maybe
Lily (9 years old): Do your homework

Ian (3.5 years old): Yes
Ian (6.5 years old): Eat your dinner

2. What makes mom happy?
Lily (6 years old): Doing what she says
Lily (9 years old): Not fighting with Ian

Ian (3.5 years old): Doing what she says (Ian was just copying Lily at this point)
Ian (6.5 years old): when she gets to play with me

3. What makes mom sad?
Lily (6 years old): When we don't hug her
Lily (9 years old): When I fight with Ian

Ian (3.5 years old): when we don't hug her
Ian (6.5 years old): when we don't have time for bedtime stories

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Lily (6 years old): When she sneaks up on me
Lily (9 years old): When she says something silly

Ian (3.5 years old): When she makes funny faces
Ian (6.5 years old): when she tickles me

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Lily (6 years old): She was a sugar duck in a play
Lily (9 years old): She picked up frogs

Ian (3.5 years old): She played puzzles
Ian (6.5 years old): she liked to play

6. How old is your mom?
Lily (6 years old): 35
Lily (9 years old): 36

Ian (3.5 years old): 20
Ian (6.5 years old): 36

7. How tall is your mom?
Lily (6 years old): 42 inches
Lily (9 years old): around 5 feet

Ian (3.5 years old): a little bit
Ian (6.5 years old): 90 inches

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Lily (6 years old): play with us
Lily (9 years old):play with me and Ian

Ian (3.5 years old): play with us
Ian (6.5 years old): play with us

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Lily (6 years old): work on the computer
Lily (9 years old): sometimes walk with her friends, run errands and work on the computer

Ian (3.5 years old): play by herself
Ian (6.5 years old): talk with daddy

10. If your mom becomes famous,what will it be for?
Lily (6 years old): a rockstar
Lily (9 years old): Best mom

Ian (3.5 years old): she would be pretty
Ian (6.5 years old): being a rockstar

11. What is your mom really good at?
Lily (6 years old): giving hugs and kisses
Lily (9 years old):Cuddling

Ian (3.5 years old): telling us what to do
Ian (6.5 years old): typing on the computer

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Lily (6 years old): letting us have ice cream every day
Lily (9 years old): making a mess

Ian (3.5 years old): being up high on her toes
Ian (6.5 years old): doing the splits

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Lily (6 years old): work around the house
Lily (9 years old): don't know

Ian (3.5 years old): work on her computer
Ian (6.5 years old): you don't have a job...or do you?

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Lily (6 years old): lentils
Lily (9 years old):Chicken legs

Ian (3.5 years old): Soup
Ian (6.5 years old): soup

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Lily (6 years old): that she loves us even when she's angry
Lily (9 years old): she helps me with my homework

Ian (3.5 years old): she plays with me
Ian (6.5 years old): when you play outside with me

16. If your mom were a cartoon character,who would she be?
Lily (6 years old): Bugs Bunny
Lily (9 years old):Elastagirl

Ian (3.5 years old): Boo from Monsters Inc
Ian (6.5 years old): Porky Pig

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Lily (6 years old): play after school
Lily (9 years old):play games

Ian (3.5 years old): play
Ian (6.5 years old): bake cookies

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Lily (6 years old): we have the same nose
Lily (9 years old): we both have short hair

Ian (3.5 years old): we like to do the same things
Ian (6.5 years old): we have the same color eyes

19. How are you and your mom different?
Lily (6 years old): she has grown up teeth and I don't
Lily (9 years old): we have different color eyes

Ian (3.5 years old): she's a girl and I'm a boy
Ian (6.5 years old): i'm a boy and you're a girl

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Lily (6 years old): she hugs me
Lily (9 years old): because she says it every day

Ian (3.5 years old): we play
Ian (6.5 years old): you kiss me a lot

21. Where is your Mom's favorite place to go?
Lily (6 years old): Park on sunny days
Lily (9 years old): Sky high sports

Ian (3.5 years old): the park
Ian (6.5 years old): stay home

Monday, March 12, 2012

Propagating African Violets

I'm a gardener. When it's warm enough outside I plant things there, but during the winter months I get antsy and want to play in the dirt. Last January I decided to try to propagate my African Violets. I've had good luck keeping African Violets alive, and since they're so expensive to buy in the garden store, growing my own new ones made sense. I looked up some growing tips online and gave it a try. If you have some mature African Violets at home and want to make some violet babies, give this a try.

1. Fill pots with some growing medium. I just used some potting soil.

2. Cut a few mature leaves from your African Violet.

3. Dip the ends of the stems in some Rooting Hormone if you have some, or go without. I dipped some in rooting hormone and left some without and both grew eventually. Rooting hormone seemed to speed up the growing process a tiny bit.

4. Poke your stems about 1-1.5 inches into the growing medium in the pots.

5. Place pots in a pan or dish of some sort so pots can be watered from the bottom. Fill pan about 1/2 inch with water. Never water pots from the top or get the leaves wet (this is true for mature plants as well.) When pan is dry, fill again. Keep some water in the pan at all times.

6. Wait. The first pictures of starting the plants were taken in January 2011. The picture of the small Violet at the bottom was taken January 2012. It takes about 4 months for the first sprouts to appear then many more months for the plant to grow into something of any size. But if you've got the counter space and the time, you can grow nice teacher gifts or the like from just a pot, a little soil and a cutting of a plant that should probably be pruned anyway.

Pots in a pan of water (metal pans rust...)

 Tiny sprout of a new Violet. Look closely to see the little round leaf at the base of the stem.

Larger sprouts around the parent leaf on the left. Plant on the right is several months old.

8-9 month old plant.

Mature flowering plant.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Ultimate Paleo/Primal Waffle Recipe

My friend Rachel threw down the gauntlet. She challenged me to make a crispy, fluffy, tasty waffle to replace her famous buttermilk version. My mission this morning was to find the perfect paleo waffle recipe. With the help of the girl and the boy (and the hubby of course), we went to work. The boy helped me crack eggs and mix ingredients while the girl acted as scribe. She had her favorite feathery pen and fancy notebook at the ready to take notes about what ingredients we added and what each family member thought about the resulting waffle. We tried 4 different recipes, tweaking each one just a little based on what we thought about the previous attempt. Sometimes we'd add more oil or water; other times we'd change the ratio of flours. Along the way these were some of the comments "These are too eggy", "too floppy", "not fluffy enough", "too dense" and "too salty". But by the last batch the comments were "These are crispy", "These taste just right", and "I'm too full, I can't eat another bite." :) So, I think we may have found the best waffle recipe (so far). Give them a try and see what you think!

Note: I use tapioca flour in these pancakes. Although tapioca flour is a "safe starch", gluten-free and paleo-friendly it is still a starch and not low-carb.

Paleo/Primal Waffles
4 Eggs - room temperature
1 Banana
1 C Coconut milk - room temperature
1/4 C + 2 T coconut oil - melted
1/2 C Water - room temperature
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 T vanilla
1/2 C coconut flour
1/4 C almond flour
3/4 C tapioca flour

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. Pre-Heat waffle iron. Mix all ingredients in a blender or in a large mixing bowl (if using a bowl, mash banana thoroughly!). Pour about 1 Cup of batter in the middle of your heated waffle iron then close lid. Cook waffle until your little "done" indicator light goes off then continue to cook as long as a significant amount of steam is still coming out of the waffle iron. If you pull the waffle out before it finishes releasing it's steam the waffle will be floppy rather than crispy. Check for crispy-ness when you think the waffle is done by tapping the top of the waffle with your fingernail (at least this is how I do it).

A note about tapioca flour according to Mark's Daily Apple:
Tapioca flour is one of the “safe starches.” That is, it’s a toxin-free, antinutrient-less, dense source of carbohydrate. Tapioca flour can be treated more like potato or rice starch. It’s a classic carby flour, albeit one without gluten and other noted toxins.

For someone with good glucose control, tapioca is a decent source of carbs. If you’re looking to add carbohydrates, or your activity level warrants it, go ahead and try it out. Since tapioca comes from cassava, which is perhaps the most popular source of starch across the entire world, it’s not like it’s a dietary unknown. To venture into tapioca territory is to travel a well-beaten path. Just realize that anytime you turn something into flour, you massively increase the speed at which it breaks down into usable energy. High energy burners in need of a quick hit may find that to be a plus, while more sedentary individuals might react poorly to a quick infusion of glucose (especially if it’s not going to be utilized right away or sequestered into already swollen muscle glycogen stores). Your call based on your context.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Paleo/Primal Ranch Salad Dressing

Stefanie's post on salad dressing made me want to give it a try myself. The kids eat a lot of ranch dressing, and I'd like to convert them to a version that doesn't have vegetable oils. I found a variety of recipes on the web, then combined the parts I liked into this one below. The result was thinner than Hidden Valley Ranch, but very tasty. I had a second helping of spinach today just so I could eat some more of the dressing. Now, I'm looking forward to Stephanie's version!

Paleo Ranch Dressing1 cup olive oil
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs prepared dijon mustard
2 tsp Dill
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Chives
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Parsley
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Sea Salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or magic bullet and pulse until well combined.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paleo/Primal Shopping List

I've heard from some folks that they would like to have a shopping list of some basic staples to have on hand when they start eating paleo/primal. Here are the items I recommend having on hand in order to cook a basic array of paleo/primal dishes. Most of the items to buy are determined by what you like. If you don't like Cumin, then use something in it's place in a dish. If you love Dill, then use that more often.  The same goes for meat, veggies and fruit. Buy the ones you like, but try to have a variety of flavors so you don't get bored. Even healthy food doesn't improve your health if you don't eat it.

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Bacon Grease or Lard

Red Wine Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar
White Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar

Nuts and Extras (eat in moderation if your goal is weight loss)
Almonds (whole and slivered)
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
72% or higher dark chocolate chips/bars

Almond Flour/Meal
Coconut Flour

Almond Milk
Coconut milk (Canned and in cartons)

Black Pepper
Chili powder
Baking Soda

As often as possible (when $ and supply allows) buy meats and eggs that are pastured, organic, grass-fed and free of nitrates, nitrites, preservatives, antibiotics and hormones. Here are a few I recommend, but others are good as well.

Local Eggs
Ground beef/bison
Beef/Pork steaks/loin
Whole poultry and/or parts
Pre-cooked and uncooked sausages/Bacon
Wild caught fish of all kinds (tilapia, salmon, cod, halibut, etc.)
Shrimp, Scallops, Squid
Organ meats

As often as possible, buy organic vegetables. Here are a few I recommend, but others are good as well. Choose what you like and what you will eat before it goes bad. The only healthy vegetables are the ones that get eaten. If fresh organic vegetables aren't  available where you live, frozen organic is a good alternative. (I'm not including nightshades - tomatoes, eggplant, peppers- here due to their tendency to promote inflammation, but if you don't have issues with them, then feel free.)

Spaghetti Squash
Butternut Squash
Zucchini/Yellow squash
Spinach, Chard, Kale and other greens

Fruit (Eat in moderation if your goal is weight loss)
As often as possible, buy organic fruit.  And if you plan to eat the skin of the fruit you should always buy organic (especially apples and berries)! Here are a few I recommend, but others are good as well. Choose what you like and what you will eat before it goes bad.

Berries (Blue, Straw, Rasp, Black)

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Few Primal Lunches for the Kids

I'm giving the kids a nudge toward a more Primal lifestyle this week by making them Primal school lunches. I gave the kids a few options and they chose which they wanted to put in their lunch boxes. I also made up a batch of Primal waffles for them to eat for breakfast during the school week. I'm hoping to see a little less bouncing off the walls and a little more concentration from them. Maybe taking the gluten out of their diets will help a bit with that. And I'm hoping I won't have too many uneaten lunches return from school this week. We'll see what happens!

The girl has 2 days of Apples and almond butter and 3 days of sliced turkey, cheddar cheese and fruit.

The boy has 3 days of boiled egg white (he won't eat the yolk), oranges and cheese and 2 days of apples, almond butter and cheese.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Make Your Own Sauerkraut

Cabbage is very easy to grow in my garden. Cabbage likes cool weather and part shade, which is what I have in my garden. So at the end of the summer I usually have several heads of cabbage. I like eating cabbage in soups, salads, and cole slaw, but after a while you want something different. I've always loved sour foods like pickles, capers, olives and sauerkraut. So I decided to make my own sauerkraut. This recipe is very simple and only contains 2 ingredients: cabbage and salt. You can flavor your sauerkraut with other veggies (like carrots, peppers, etc.) and spices if you like, but that's optional.

Raw Fermented Sauerkraut
3-4 heads of cabbage (any kind works) shredded
2 T salt
2 glass quart canning jars with lids

Shred or cut your cabbage into fairly small shreds. Take a good handful of shredded cabbage and put that into one of your canning jars. Sprinkle the cabbage in the jar with a little bit of salt (keep in mind that you are only using 1 Tablespoon of salt for the whole quart jar of sauerkraut). With a wooden spoon mash the cabbage down over and over until it starts releasing water. Add another good handful of shredded cabbage into the jar and sprinkle with a little more salt. Again, take your wooden spoon and mash it around and pack it down so that you start to have a layer of water on the top of your cabbage. Keep this up until you've filled the entire jar with cabbage and salt. Make sure you have a layer of released water at the top of the jar. If there isn't a good layer of water on top, take that wooden spoon and mash the cabbage some more until you have enough. This recipe should fill 2 quart jars of saurkraut.

Put the lids on your jars but don't tighten them completely. Sit the jars on a kitchen towel or on a stack of newspaper (you'll see why later) and put them in a spot (do not refrigerate yet) where they can be undisturbed for about a week.  After a couple of days of sitting on your counter you'll notice that the jars are starting to ooze and liquid is squeezing out from under the lid. After about 5-7 days you'll notice the jars start to smell sour. This is when your sauerkraut is ready! You can eat it right away or refrigerate for months. (I still have some 6 month old jars in my fridge!)

NOTE: This is not shelf stable, so you will HAVE to refrigerate it if you want it to stay good.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Paleo Sprints - Tabata Workout

My Paleo Fitness Mantra: Walk every day, lift heavy things, sprint occasionally and play often!

I was recently talking to a friend about my exercise regime which includes almost exclusively low intensity cardio (walking and stationary biking) and strength training (yoga and weight lifting). When I thought about this more I realized that I'm not often adding sprints to my workout. I don't like sprints very much, and who does really? But most Paleo Gurus do suggests that occasional sprints are very beneficial to the body.

I had heard of the Tabata training method, but hadn't looked it up to see what it really entailed. So, today I Googled it and found this on the web:


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