Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Going Primal...

Well folks...I'm going Primal.  What is Primal?  Well, from the research I've done, my loose definition would be that it's a slightly looser Paleo.  Paleo people can sometimes be pretty hard core (at least the ones I've encountered).  However, that wasn't my reasoning behind not going Paleo.  In all honesty, they're pretty darn close to each other.  They are like the cousins that grew up living so close to each other that they end up more like siblings.  The main difference I found was that Primal seemed to be a little more understanding of what modern society has to offer and looked at a more holistic approach.  Primal also was not quite as "you may only eat these foods or you'll die!" as Paleo seemed to be.  Yes, I am over exaggerating alot a little.

Technically it's the Primal Blueprint (PB for short).  But when I say "I'm going PB" I think of peanut butter...which leads to all sorts of cravings.  Hence "Primal"...but it kind of sounds bad-ass.

80/20 Principle

What drew me to this was Mark's philosophy...."The Primal Blueprint, as we say, is all about Primal living. Living. Enjoying. Even chilling out. This is not a lab controlled experiment or a boot camp. No interns in white coats with clip boards will show up at your door or spy on you. No screaming sergeants will get in your face."  Let's be honest, with everything going on in my life, I could use some help chilling out.  Sometimes I could use alot of help!  What I don't need is an insane "diet" that will add stress or have me all paranoid about failing.  Enter the 80/20 Principle which outlines that you always want to shoot and plan for going 100%, but understands life sometimes gets in the way.  Likewise, they aim for more of a lifelong change rather than temporary cosmetic fix (like many "diets").  That, among many other reasons, is why I don't even call it a diet.  It's not.  It's cleaner eating.  It takes into consideration life and that a cheat meal every so often is not, in fact, going to kill you.  How many is probably dependant on what your personal goals are.  I read one case study who said she abided by the 80/20...and when that 20 included a cheat meal, she just made sure she enjoyed the hell out of every bite!  


This one is a tough one for me.  Paleo is very definitively against dairy---"the cavemen didn't eat cheese".  BTW, that is the worst comeback ever...talk to me when you have something more than a tagline.  Anyyyyyway.  I like my dairy; I have no digestive issues with dairy.  Therefore, I was not willing to cut it all out 100%.  Why?  I looked and still didn't find any real reason other than people that threw out that tagline or had digestive issues.  Again, this is why I like Primal; Dairy is put in a grey area.  You can have it...just try to make it the best stuff you can.  This doesn't mean you have to spend $100 on cheese, but it does mean that some things are out.  All that high processed stuff??  You gots to go.  Really, who thought that those slices of american cheese were "good" for you anyway.  The less they have to do to it, the better!!  I had already made a switch to unsweetened almond milk, so that's no problem.  But I love my greek yogurt and an occasional cheese.  

My tweeks: 
  • Opt for plain greek yogurt
    • Mix in my own fruit, nuts, etc
    • Don't eat it every day
  • No junk cheese!
    • Get the good stuff and enjoy it in small quantities
    • Goat cheese, feta, a nice sharp cheddar...
    • Don't eat it every day
Mark even has dairy in some of his meal diaries, so it firmly falls into that "with moderation" category in my opinion.  The exception to all this is probably kids/babies.  I have no idea how it works or what adjustments to make, but I don't really need to know :) 

Issues on my "ToDo"

Another thing I appreciate about Primal is that it's not a "cold turkey is mandatory" thing.  Example: I can't just stop drinking diet soda.  Ummm can we say rebound migraine from hell??  So I'm weaning off it.  If there are areas you know are going to be problems, take it slow.  It's a lifestyle change, not a "lose 10 pounds in 10 days" thing.  If that's what you're looking for, you should probably go elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong, I'm planning to lose weight, but I also know that I can't have an entire week or two of my life where I'm just tired-grumpy-irritable-dizzy and have migraines.  BTW, if you've ever gone cold turkey on something, those are all things that can happen (and do).  

My first step was to identify things I knew would be issues for me and research them.  Grains and legumes are out according to Primal.  Does that mean that you can never have brown rice again?  No...but the goal is that you won't want it.  I didn't think I was too bad on grains and legumes to begin with.  BUT, once I started really looking at it, I realized how much of that was in the things I do eat.  It all has to go and I have to figure out how to replace it with something I won't feel bummed about eating.  That left me with a little apprehension (what?!?! no fruit loops ever?!?!) and a little excitement, surprisingly.  I get into moods where I like to try new foods...yes, I have to be in the right mood.  And I have some weird sense of accomplishment when I try one and I like it.  It's like I just overcame something huge!  Hey...whatever works.

Sugar is going to be tough, but I know it's necessary.  I knew that before even looking at Primal.  *sigh*.  I don't think that means I'll be one of those raving crazies who tells someone to eat a can of sardines rather than have a few skittles, but I am going to have to work on this one.  Cause gosh-darn-it do I have a sweet tooth.  Luckily for me, quality chocolate is still an OK for occasional consumption.  Score!  It's all the cookies, skittles, twizzlers, and ice cream of the world that is going to bite me in the arse.  It will definitely be a work in progress.

Who am I kidding, this whole thing is going to be a work in progress...but what lifestyle change isn't???

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Triple 'C' Cookies

Who doesn't love cookies?!?!?!  Am I right?!?  Nothing is better than a cookie that is just the right mix of soft and chewy...savory and sweet...a tasty-happy dance for your mouth...beautiful to look at...so good as soon as it hits your lips...

We're still talking about cookies by the way.  Get your head out of the gutter!

This has become one of my favorite cookie recipes and most popular with my friends.  I love it so much that I hesitated sharing it because I secretly love being the person who walks into a party and hears her friends say "OMG she brought those cookies!  Saweeeeet!"  But I'll be nice and share :)

As a side note, the original recipe was from another blog and I can't find it now to give credit.  I'm sorry!!!  I've modified it, as I do with pretty much every recipe.

What you need: 

  • 1 canister of seamless crescent roll dough
  • 1/4 cup sugar (note: I tried this with stevia, splenda, etc just because I was curious.  verdict: not as good)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package (8 oz.) Fat Free Cream Cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 bag of mini chocolate chips: how much you use is dependant on how much chocolate yumminess you want!
What you do: 
  1. Layout a layer of saran wrap on  your counter that is a good 6 inches longer than what your crescent roll dough is going to be.  Spray a little Pam or something on there so nothing sticks.
  2. Spread out your dough.  Don't make it hard...just open it up and unroll.
  3. In a bowl, mix your cream cheese, vanilla and sugar until it's all nice and creamy.  I don't need a hand mixer for this, btw.  Just a good spoon or scraper works fine.
  4. Spread your mixture out over your dough.  This isn't going to be the easiest thing ever because they're both a little sticky, but just do your best to get it even and as close to the edges as possible.
  5. Now that you have your dough and layer or cream cheese mixture, sprinkle those lovely mini chips all over in a single layer.  How many you use is up to  you.  I love chocolate, so I use alot...like at least half the bag.
  6. Start at one end of the roll and start rolling it up.  You'll want to get it a little tight at first, but after you get it started it will just naturally even out.
  7. Wrap your roll up in that saran wrap, twist the ends, and pop it in the fridge for a good 60 minutes to harden it a little.  If you're shorter on time, you can put it in the freezer for a few minutes.  Keep an eye on it in there, however, because you don't want it to form crystals!!
  8. Preheat oven to 350.
  9. Pull your roll out and slice it just like cookie dough!  I do about 1/4" thick slices.
  10. Place on cookie sheet with non-stick spray...or parchment paper...whatever your "thing" is.
  11. Bake about 10-12 minutes.  You're looking for just slightly golden.
My justification for these badboys: simple ingredients, not too shabby on the calorie side, and they stay soft!!!  Plus it's cream cheese and crescent rolls, so you can totally justify these for breakfast, right??  Well, I do...

Shared on: Buns in my Oven

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I'm on Bloglovin Baby!!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5030195/?claim=2vadtgjepy2">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

With this whole ridiculous frustrating as hell annoying google reader closing deal, I decided I need to figure out an alternative.  So here goes a test...

Follow up: 5 minutes later

This is the FIRST thing I've messed with today on my blog that has actually worked!!  Praise Jebus it's about friggin' time!

Sign up was super easy AND it even took me right into importing all of my current google reader subscriptions into Bloglovin!  Double Score!!  I'll be testing more over the next days, but i'm hoping that's a good sign.  They seem pretty on top of it.

I'm digging their motto....

"Sure, there were other blog readers out there, but they were technical, boring, and cluttered with features. We wanted to build something for the rest of us. For everyone who doesn't care about the technology behind it. For everyone who just wants things to work."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

The quest to make healthy eats is a tough one...am I right??  I try to cook clean as much as possible AND make extra (because leftovers rock).  Sometimes it's dang hard though!!  Today's post is an example of my version: cooking mostly clean!  One of the things I love most about this recipe is that you can change stuff out to suit your taste...you'll see below.  I can't take credit for this recipe, as the original came from my someday sister-in-law :)  However, just like all my recipes, I modify/alter/adapt until I find the mix that is perfect for me.

What you need:

  • 4 Bell Peppers (any color)
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey (or ground beef)
  • 1 Packet Good Seasons Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Can Hunt's Diced Tomato with Roasted Garlic (or whatever kind you choose)
  • 1 Small Onion (or more if you LOVE onion) diced finely
  • Minced Garlic: I used about a tablespoon.  Adjust based on your tastes.
  • Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Whole Grain Brown (again, use whatever you want...I just like that I can pop it in the microwave and it's done)
  • Mozzarella Cheese

What you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the tops off your 4 peppers and discard the insides (all the white stuff).  Fit the 4 peppers in a baking dish.  I like to use one with higher sides because the peppers get heavy and sometimes want to tip.
  3. In a skillet, heat some EVOO and start to saute your onions and garlic.  Do this only until they're softened.
  4. Add your ground turkey and brown.  After it's browned, I usually try to drain off whatever grease I can.  Call me crazy or picky...but it's what I do.  
  5. Turn down your heat and add the Good Seasons.  Mix well and let this simmer for just a few minutes.
  6. Open up your diced tomatoes.  Again, I like to drain of the extra liquid...I just don't like liquidy food.  Add your diced tomatoes to your skillet and mix well.  Simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. Get a big bowl and mix your skillet concoction and cooked brown rice well.  With a spoon, add your mixture to your hollowed out peppers.
  8. After filled, put a sheet of foil loosely over the top and cook for 30 minutes in your oven.  
  9. Take out, add mozzarella cheese to your heart's desire and stick back in the oven for a few minutes until it's all melty and delicious.
  10. Eat and enjoy (after it cools)
You can also do this recipe on the grill.  Seriously.  I tried it this summer.  I used a cookie sheet as a surface and kind of propped the peppers against each other for support.  I think it only took about 15 minutes on the grill...so BONUS!!!

Don't veggies look pretty???

Turkey is just as good as beef!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crunchy, Non-Fried, Onion Rings

Onion Rings and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the taste...the crunch...the dippability!!  I hate the frying and all the fatty fat that comes with it.  Yuck!!

A few years ago, I created this recipe based trial and error.  They're tasty, zesty, crunchy, dippable, easy and *shock and awe* NOT fried.  Yes, they can be just as crispy...the trick is just doing them correctly!  I'm not sure what the calorie count would be on these, but you can see from the ingredients below that it is very simple.  The worst ingredient is probably the breadcrumbs, and you can go lowfat on those.

For this round, I decided to go with onion chunks rather than onion rings only because you can do more than one at a time in the dipping process...and I was super hungry :)  Onion rings just take a smidge longer.

What you need:

  • 2 peeled onions
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2-3 egg whites (only the whites!)
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used lowfat)
  • 2+ teaspoons italian seasoning
  • 1+ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1+ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
What you do:
  1. Peel then cut your onion rings (or chunks)
  2. Spray a baking sheet with evoo cooking spray and preheat oven to 425 degrees
  3. Mix your breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder and garlic salt in a bowl
  4. Place your flour and egg whites in two separate bowls...so you'll have 3 shallow bowls--flour, egg white, breadcrumb mix
  5. Now you go down the line! Dredge in flour...dip in egg white...douse in breadcrumb mix
  6. Place on baking sheet evenly spaced out.  This is the time to add a little extra sprinkling of seasoning if you want.  I always add extra italian seasoning!
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, give or take.  Watch these guys because it really depends on the thickness.  They're done when the edges start to look a little darker brown.  Feel free to snatch one and give it a taste test if you're not sure!!
That's it!!! Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!!  Crunchy, non-fried, onion rings in the comfort of your home!

Shared on: Jam Hands

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Pork Chops

I'll be honest, I haven't cooked a pork chop in probably 5+ years.  For some reason though, they sounded amazing this past weekend!  So with permission from the htb, I decided to go for it.  I found some inspiration from a few different recipes and melded them together to put my own spin on them.  I give you...

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Pork Chops

I like mine with a little carmelization :)

What you need:

  • 2 thick boneless pork chops
  • 4 slices of bacon (at least)
  • 1 cloves or garlic (or more depending on your garlic love)
  • EVOO
  • Red Pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
What you do:
  1. Preheat your skillet or grill to medium-high heat so it's good and hot.
  2. Pat the pork chops down and add salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Wrap at least 2 pieces of bacon around each pork chop.  Add more if you have big pork chops...or really like bacon.
  4. Drizzle EVOO in your pan and place the pork chops.  You might want to cover with a splatter guard if you're doing it on your house!
  5. Cook on one side for about 8 minutes (depending on thickness) and then about the same on the other.  If you have a meat thermometer, you can check them.  I pulled mine off at about 140 degrees, but I wanted some carmelization (see above).
  6. As your chops are cooking, mix some EVOO (1/4 cup) with your minced garlic.  Add this as a sauce JUST after you take your chops off the heat.
  7. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
These were waaaaay easier than I thought they'd be, btw.  Total time (prep+cooking) was about 20 minutes.   Easy.  Seriously.  And TASTY!!  Dang I love bacon...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

DIY Update a Light Fixture with Spray Paint

Are you one of those super duper lucky individuals who has an ugly outdated light fixture?  I was.  My house was blessed with alot of ceiling fans (BONUS)...but those ceiling fans were not blessed with style.  To be honest, when I moved in 6 years ago, that was one of the first things I set out to do...update!  I'm only the 2nd owner of the home, which was built in 2000.  So you'd think that fixtures and finishes would be more modern...but you'd be wrong.  Anyway, it was a work in progress, but I digress...

Final Product in all it's Satin Nickel glory.
Here's what I started with - ugly bronze.  Yuck.
Updating your light fixtures is actually not nearly as complicated as I would have thought it to be.  It's certainly cheaper than buying new!!  (Ceiling fans are expensive).  And what a difference it can make!!!  See above.

Since my ceiling fans are high and won't be touched, I chose to go the even easier route which cut out the sanding step.  Sanding helps remove the finish on the existing fixtures and allows the spray paint to adhere better.  I did a test on a spare fixture with the same ugly bronze finish and loved how it turned out--so I went for it!!

What you need:

  • Tools.  You'll probably only need a screw driver though.
  • Newspaper or something to layout your pieces
  • Painters tape
  • Spray Paint of choice: I used Krylon Satin Nickel
  • Optional: Sand paper

What you do:
  1. Flip your breaker!!!  EMPHASIZE---Electrical shock is no laughing matter.
  2. Remove your fixtures.  If you're doing a ceiling fan, I recommend an extra set of hands.  (Thank you to my awesome fiance!!)  You might not need it for a simple light fixture though.  Note: this was the hardest part for us.  My ceiling fans were a bit complicated to get down.  Still worth it!
  3. Optional Step: Lightly sand your pieces.
  4. Layout your pieces leaving enough room around them to access all sides.
  5. Tape any electrical components, motors, etc.  Paint on those guys = bad.
  6. Spray!!!  Tip: it is 300% better to do many light coats than a few heavy coats.  You will regret it.  I promise.  Follow the directions on the can and do short bursts keeping your hand moving.  Think a "swoosh...swoosh" type of movement.  Go ahead and make the sound if it helps...I did :)
  7. Let dry.  I let them sit for an hour between coats in my garage, which was about 60 degrees that day.
  8. Re-assemble your fixture and put it back up!!
2 Ceiling Fans = Lots of Space
Scrap wood makes a great lift.
More scrap wood assistance
Electrical tape!

Do as many coats as you feel is necessary (I think I did 4 coats).  Keep your hands off them...fingerprints suck.  If you need to flip them over to do the other side, make sure you let it dry extra long before you do!!!

I highly recommend doing a test piece on something (maybe a spare fixture or piece of it).  Not all spray paints are created equal.  Satin Nickel in one brand can look completely different in another brand.  I'm a big supporter of TEST first!

That's it kids!!!  If you want, you can add a coat of spray poly.  Like I said, my fixtures weren't going to be touched much if ever, so I skipped this step.  I didn't need the extra touch protection.  Warning: the poly will make it shiny.  

Sit back and enjoy your updated fixtures!!