Monday, August 26, 2013

Nutrient Density

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my diet. Not so much in the sense of a weight loss program, but in my general eating habits and what Paleo means to me. One of the many podcasts I've been listening to, The Paleo View by Sarah Ballantyne and Stacy Toth,  recently had a three part series outlining their take on the Paleo diet/philosophy. I won't go into too much detail about what they said as I think people should check out the series out for themselves. (Seriously folks, this podcast is great! Sarah and Stacy are informative and such a delight to listen to. They're one of my inspirations for starting this blog.) I came to realize that I completely agree with these two ladies and have decided that this is my foodlosophy:

I am grain free/gluten free/legume free. I eat meat, fats, vegetables, fruits, and occasionally some dairy. I try to focus on making these foods be of the highest quality, preferably locally raised, and as nutrient dense as possible. Ever since I started eating this way over a year ago, I have stopped having any 'attacks' from the IBS that I was supposedly diagnosed with. My skin looks better, I have more energy than I ever, I sleep like a baby, and I have a much better time dealing with my food issues. (Yes, I have food issues. One of the reasons why I started seeing a therapist.) Do I occasionally eat potatoes, corn tortilla chips, or Paleo "treats'? Yes, and I love the fact that I'm free to do so.

In keeping with this newfound food outlook, I've come up with a really nice, nutrient dense meal.

Nutrient Dense Italian Wedding Soup

  • Meatballs:
    • 1 lb ground beef (preferably grass fed)
    • 1 lb chicken livers (preferably from pastured chickens)
    • 1 egg (preferably from a pastured chicken)
    • 2-3 tbsp coconut flour
    • 1 tbsp oregano
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1-2 tsp salt
    • 1-2 tsp black pepper
    • a couple dashes red chili flakes
  • Soup:
    • lard (you could also use coconut oil, butter or ghee)
    • 6-8 cups bone broth
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 16 oz bag frozen spinach, thawed
    • ~1/2 lb okra, sliced
    • 1 pkg kelp noodles, rinsed
    • ~2 tsp dried thyme
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper, to taste
    • red chili flakes, optional
    • chopped fresh parsley, for serving
  • Place the chicken livers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend them up. Add all of the other meatball ingredients and pulse until everything is mixed together. This will somewhat resemble thick pink sludge and that's ok. If the mix is too liquid-y, add a little more coconut flour. You can set the meatball blend aside while you start the soup.
  • Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Put some lard (or other fat) into the pot.
  • Add the onions and saute until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the sliced okra and let that cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in the broth, salt, pepper, thyme, red chili flakes (if using), and let the liquid come to a boil.
  • Once boiling, you can add your meatballs. I used one tablespoon to scoop out the meatball mix and another spoon to slide the mix into the soup. They won't be perfectly round, but they do stay in ball shapes. Keep spooning the meat into the soup until it's gone.
  • Add the kelp noodles and spinach. Return the soup to a boil, reduce the heat. Simmer for 20-25, or until the kelp noodles are tender and the meatballs are cooked through. Taste, adjust seasonings.
  • Serve in large bowls, topped with fresh parsley.
  • Enjoy!
Justin isn't necessarily the biggest fan of liver. However, when he started eating this soup, he said, "Wow... This is really good!" I actually had to tell him that there was chicken liver in it. That being said, this soup tastes absolutely a-mazing! The broth is rich and flavorful. The meatballs are moist and don't have a hint of any unctuousness. Plus, this soup has all the makings of one nutrient powerhouse of meal! If you want something that warming on a cold day and full of all the good stuff, give this recipe a try.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Green Eggs and Ham!

I know it's been a while since I've blogged. Sorry folks! I've been trying to get back into the swing of things  with work and adding in my physical therapy. I'm happy to announce that I've made great strides in regards to my recovery. I'm officially out of my torture device of a brace and am almost completely walking sans crutches. There are times when my progress seems really slow, but then I remember to tell myself that it's still progress.

On another note, I've just finished up a round of the Whole 30 challenge. It basically means that you go 30 days grain, dairy, legume, and sugar free, for 30 days. Some fresh fruit and even a little dried fruit is allowed. I know it seems like an extremely difficult thing to do, but I swear that it's easier than you think! I feel so much better when I'm not relying on sugar or processed foods to get through my day. If anyone is struggling with weight issues or wants to jump start their health, give the Whole 30 Challenge a try!

This week, I'm taking a little trip down memory lane and paying homage to Dr. Seuss. I've made a grown-up version of 'Green Eggs & Ham.'

Green Eggs & Ham

  • lard (you could also use coconut oil, butter, or ghee)
  • a dozen eggs
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen spinach, thawed
  • 4 oz diced prosciutto
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground savory
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • a couple dashes red chili flakes, optional
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13x9" glass baking dish with lard (or other suggested cooking fat).
  • Crack all of the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until pale yellow. (You could use a regular whisk to do this or you can take the lazy version, like me, and use a fork...) Strip the thyme sprigs of their leaves and throw them into the eggs. Add in the spinach, prosciutto, and seasonings.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the prepared dish and bake 40-45 minutes, or until the top and edges are golden brown and the center is set.
  • Enjoy!
First off, I'd like to say that the basis of this recipe comes from the 'Crustless Swirly Quiche' in Diane Sanfilipo's Practical Paleo. I encourage everyone to buy this book! It's a treasure trove of information on transitioning to/maintaining a Paleo style diet and has many fabulous recipes. 

For my variation, the salty prosciutto and the spinach blend together wonderfully to turn this into a masterpiece! The thyme and savory add a nice herbiness. Feel free to change up the seasonings as you see fit. I'm sure that this would be excellent with some cumin, ground chipotle, and chili powder... or maybe some smoked paprika and sage... or even add some shredded cheese, if you can handle dairy. Another suggestion is to do what I do and cut this up into small portions. You can then use the individual pieces as your on-the-go breakfasts. You don't necessarily have to reheat them to eat. I've eaten this cold and think it's still fantastic!