Monthly Archives: August 2014

Melted Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Melted Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Melted Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

These cookies are great for that time when you are absolutely dying for a gooey warm chocolate chip cookie but you discover that you have no chocolate chips left.  Damn it!  Who got into the chocolate chips?  You knew you had like half a bag left in there…    Never fear because you do still have that dark chocolate bar you were hiding for a chocolate emergency such as this!
image You may be tempted to not share these delicious warm and chocolatey cookies but it really is better to take the high road here and share the love of dark chocolate with your family, including whoever that sneaky chocolate chip thief was.

Melted Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup almond butter
1/3 raw honey
1 egg whisked
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch of Himalayan or Kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup large flaked coconut toasted

1 70 – 80% Dark Chocolate Bar broken into 1/2 inch sized squares. Or if you are a dark chocolate freak like me, you can use 85% or 90%.  Lindt is good or Green & Blacks

1-2 tsps coconut sugar (optional)

Note:  The darker chocolate tastes  even stronger when it is melted.  If you absolutely love dark chocolate, put on a bigger or darker piece but a little goes a long way!

Directions:

Oven 350 degrees

  1.  In a non stick pan, toast the large coconut flakes till they begin to turn light brown on the edges, being careful not to let it burn.

  2.  With a hand mixer, blend the first 4 ingredients till combined.

  3. Add cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and mix well.

  4. Last, stir-in in the finely shredded coconut

  5. Drop by tablespoon full sized drops on a parchment paper lined baking sheet an inch or more apart.

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  1. Bake for about 15  minutes or till just set.  Usually when you can smell them, they are ready to come out.

  2. As soon as they come out of the oven, place sheet on a cooling rack let them rest a few seconds.

  3.  Carefully place a chocolate square on each, then top with toasted coconut and sprinkle with coconut sugar, if desired.  Let cool another couple of minutes.

  4.  With a thin flat spatula, carefully remove from cookie sheet and let cool on rack.

  5.  The chocolate will melt and then set as the cookie cools.

I know it’s hard, but try and let them cool a little longer so the top sets well.  Or, if you just can’t hold back any longer, scarf them all down and laugh wildly as the melted chocolate runs all over your face and hands!  You’re a hot mess and you love it!

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Date Night Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon topped with toasted Cauliflower Garlic Mashed and Shrimp in Sherry Shallot Cream Sauce

Filet Mignon topped with toasted Cauliflower Garlic Mashed served with Shrimp in Sherry Shallot Cream Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes it is just me and the husband for dinner and when that happens, we like to get all sorts of fancy!  We don’t really get fancy but we eat fancy.  Mostly I’m still in yoga pants but the husband seems to think my yoga pants are good and so I wear them to make us some fancy food.

I bought this Grass Fed Filet Mignon from Buckley Farm in Ballston Lake, New York.  I visited there today and fell in love with the place.  More about farms and farmer’s markets and shopping in another post.

Just  a couple of filets isn’t too expensive and it’s nice to treat ourselves once in a while and make a “date night” out of if.  When you are doing the paleo life, you don’t eat out very often, but you still gotta have date night right?!  Right.

Filet Mignon with Shrimp in Sherry Shallot Cream Sauce

What you will need:

Filet mignon – .75 pounds – serves 2
1 shallot – thinly sliced
1 clove garlic smashed and diced
1/2 pound shrimp – peeled, deveined tails removed
1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk
1 tbs or more sherry

Side Salad: mixed greens, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes

Dressing:
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tsps chives – diced
2 tsps fresh parsley divided
kosher salt
ground black pepper
dash crushed red pepper

Leftover cauliflower mashed*

What you do:

1.  If the shrimp is frozen, place in a large bowl with water and allow to thaw out about 20 mins – half hour
2.  Remove and discard the tails unless you want to put them on your fingers and scratch someones back…. uh no?   okay then throw them out.
drain, rinse, set aside

3.  Allow filet to come to room temperature while lightly covered with a paper towel

4.  Prepare your greens salad and make your dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

5.  Heat a tbs of coconut oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
Once heated, add the shrimp and stir to cook till mostly pink.
Add the shallot and the garlic and stir a few mins.
Once all shrimp is pink and shallots are soft, reduce heat a little, add the coconut milk and stir through.

6.  Heat up the mashed cauliflower in a small bowl on 350 degrees.
Check on it periodically so that it is heated through and gets a little browned on the top.

7.  Lightly salt and pepper the filets.
Heat a tbs of coconut oil in a cast iron pan on medium heat.
Once hot, place the filets in the pan and sear on each side for about 2-3 minutes.
Use tongs to stand filets on sides and turn to sear on all sides.

8.  When done to likeness, remove from heat and allow to rest a minute.image

9.  Turn heat back up to medium on the shrimp and add a tablespoon or more of sherry to the shrimp and stir through.

10.  Place filets on serving plates with shrimp.

11.  Take cauliflower out of the oven and place about a 1/4 cup on each filet.

12. Add dressing to salad, and toss together.

13.  Garnish shrimp and filets with parsley.

*Garlic Mashed Cauliflower:

Oven 400 degrees

What you will need:

2 heads of cauliflower
1 whole bulb of garlic
olive oil
salt
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbs chicken broth
kosher salt
ground black pepper

Here’s What you Do:

1.  Place garlic on foil
2.  Clip the tip off so the cloves are exposed
3.  drizzle olive oil on it so that it is well coated
4.  sprinkle with salt and pepper
5.  Enclose the garlic in the foil
6.  Bake on a baking sheet for 30 mins

7.  Rinse and chop the cauliflower into small pieces
8.  Spread in a single layer on parchment covered baking sheet
9.  Coat well with coconut oil
10. Salt and pepper
11.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or till soft

12.  Place roasted cauliflower in blender or food processor – I used my Blendtec
13.  Squeeze half or more of the roasted garlic into cauliflower
14.  pulse till smooth
15.  Add coconut milk (room temperature)
16.  Add chicken broth
17.  tiny pinch of salt and pepper
18.  Blend till smooth and no lumps
19.  Garnish with fresh parsley

Reheat leftovers in the oven till toasted and use to top steaks, soups, stews, have it for breakfast with some bacon and eggs or alone cuz it’s just gooood!

Salmon Saves the Day!

One night, after one of “those” days, I really just wanted something healthy, flavorful and satisfying that would please my peeps but not be a giant pain in my butt, cuz honestly, I just wanted to eat and go to bed! I’m sure I’m not the only food blogger that’s not always in the mood to cook.  Too much to ask?  Heck no!  This dish was all of that and more because there was enough leftover salmon to bring for lunch the next day, which I ate cold (with a little power greens salad).  You know, you just can’t smell up the office with fish in the microwave!  No problem!  This dish is delicious hot or cold.  And leftovers for lunch make me so very happy!

Encrusted Salmon Filets with Lemon, Capers and Asparagus

Encrusted Salmon with Lemon and Capers

Encrusted Salmon with Lemon and Capers

Here’s what you will need 1-2 lbs Wild Caught Salmon, skin removed (have them do it for you at the market because that is a pain in the arse) and cut into serving sized portions. (I think you can handle that part)

2 tbs almond flour

1 tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried cilantro

Kosher Salt

Ground pepper

1 lemon cut into round thin slices

1/4 cup capers or more if you like

olive oil (about 2-3 tbs)

1 pound/bunch of asparagus or however much you feel like eating

Balsamic vinegar

Vine ripe tomatoes

Here’s what you do:

This is so damn easy but it comes out looking all fancy shmancy!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Place one rack on the 2nd from the top place and the other rack on the lowest.

1. Rinse asparagus, pat dry and trim off hard ends Place in a shallow baking dish so that they are in 2 layers and drizzle with olive oil, so that it is well-coated but not saturated. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and place on the lowest rack in the oven.

2. Mix together almond flour, dill, cilantro or whatever dried spices you happen to have/like, a large pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of the ground pepper.

3. Place the salmon filets on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Lightly pat dry with a paper towel.

4. Place about a teaspoon of the almond flour mixture on each and spread so that it coats the top of each filet. Lightly press down with your fingers.

5. Place a lemon slice on each one. Press it in a little so it is set in there. Lookin’ good right?

Seasoned Salmon Ready to Bake!

Seasoned Salmon Ready to Bake!

6. Place desired amount of capers on each one. They can be naughty and roll off. Don’t let them! Put those little jerks in their place!

7. Drizzle each filet with olive oil and season with a little more salt and pepper if desired.

8. Bake for 12 mins on the higher rack (rack placement mentioned above, remember?) The only tricky thing, and it isn’t all that tricky is to time it so the asparagus and salmon are done at the same time. The asparagus takes 18-20 mins while the salmon only takes 12 mins. When the asparagus is done, uncover it and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and give it a little dash of salt and pepper.

9. Serve along side the salmon with some fresh sliced tomatoes that are dressed in olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Serve with pride!  Eat with passion!  Not a lot to clean up either.  Hooray!

Hanger Steak with Asian Marinade, Broccoli, Cashews & Orange Dressing

imageDon’t you just love the weekend?  It’s that little slice of time where you think that you can do everything AND relax too.  We are silly aren’t we?  So this weekend, I am going to go to 3 different grocery stores AND the farmers market, catch up on all the laundry and housework, put up the christmas lights, spend quality time with my family, drive my kids all around the place, do some christmas shopping, cook amazing meals, write a new post on my blog, get together with a friend, go to the gym, clean out my car and my purse, color my hair, do the mail, make toothpaste, deoderant and laundry detergent, oh yeah AND I am going to have some time to sip tea and finish reading Grain Brain and The World According to Garp…. OKAY.  JUST WHO IN THE HELL DO I THINK I AM ALREADY?!   Seriously, there is no way I can do all of this stuff in just 2 days.  When I am elected president of the United States of America, I will make the work week be 3 days and the weekend be 4 days, but until that happens, I guess I will try to be more realistic.

So I made some choices.  The first thing I did was go to yoga because I knew that this would help me to calm the eff down and focus while stretching out my hamstrings.  The other thing that I did was to make a simple yet scrumptious steak and my peeps were all like, “This is good!”  “I love steak!”  So there’s 3 things accomplished right there.  Yoga, family time and steak.

Today I am hoping that I will get all the other stuff done, a chance to take a shower and to read,  yeah right.

 

Hanger Steak with Asian Marinade, Broccoli, Cashews & Orange Dressing

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1.5 – 2 lb hanger steak (grass fed)
2 cups of broccoli, washed and cut into florets
1/2 cup of raw cashews toasted
2 tbs coconut oil or bacon fat
1 orange (half for dressing and half for garnish)

For the Marinade:
1/3 cup coconut aminos
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbs raw honey
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed and then minced
1 tbs fresh ginger minced
1 tbs finely chopped onion
dash each of kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs raw honey
1 garlic clove smashed and minced
1 tsp fresh ginger minced
salt pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

1/4 tsp onion powder

juice from 1/2 orange
zest from 1/2 orange

Instructions:

First, make the marinade by combining all the ingredients, placing the steak in a glass baking dish, or large zip lock bag, poke some holes in the steak with a sharp knife and then pour the marinade on the steak, turn it a few times. Massage it in if using a bag.  Cover and either put it in the fridge for up to 10 hours, or just keep it on the counter covered for about an hour. I did the latter because I don’t have my shit together like that. If you can think ahead like that, then you’re awesome, but take the steak out an hour before so it can reach room temp before you cook it.

Next make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and set aside. Stir occasionally.

Next cook the broccoli by adding a tbs of the fat of your choice in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the broccoli, salt and pepper and turn it to coat and get a little warmed up. Reduce heat to low and cover. You can add a little water or a tbs of chicken broth if it needs some help cooking.

For the steak, heat a tbs of coconut oil or bacon fat in a large cast iron pan on medium heat. Use tongs to pick up the steak and let the marinade run off into the dish before placing in the pan. Discard the remaining marinade. Cook the steak for about 6 minutes on each side and then about 5 minutes on each side or to desired doneness.

While the steak is cooking is a good time to toast the cashews on a parchment lined baking sheet on 350 degrees for about 5 mins.

Place steak on a cutting board to rest a few mins and then slice against the grain.

Set up plates with the steak and broccoli and then pour some dressing over the whole thing, top with toasted cashews and garnish with a quarter of an orange.

When you serve it to your family, you can smile and say, “Orange you glad dinner’s ready?” They will laugh and say, “Oh Mom, you are so funny and witty and beautiful!” “I want to be just like you.” And then, you will get everything on your to-do list done with plenty of time to relax and enjoy some tea and a good book.

Or, if you are lucky, you will get some help cleaning up the dishes before someone needs a ride somewhere or money for something.

 

Pre and Post Workout Food. The Journey

Workout Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

What do you eat before and after a work out? I have discovered through trial and error that much depends on what type of exercise I am doing and when I am doing it.  For the most part, I work out early in the morning.  Most of my classes are at 5:30 a.m.  Some are at 7 a.m. and if I am able to adjust my schedule, I prefer to attend 9 a.m. classes or 11 a.m. classes when I can. So what in the heck do you eat at 5:00 a.m.?  That is really freaking early in the morning, right?!  It’s hard enough to get up that early much less eat anything.  It takes some getting used to and it is not really the ideal time for our bodies because sleep is so important for our health.  Not getting adequate sleep sets you up for a multitude of health issues, weight gain being one of them.   If you work out early like me, then be sure to be sleeping by 9:30 p.m.  The best schedule is to sleep when it is dark and to be active when it is light out.   However, if you work from 9-5 and/or have children who are in sports and activities in the evenings, and fitness is a priority for you or you just want some me time when no one else needs you for anything, you may find that the butt crack of dawn is the best time to work out.  You can gain a great sense of accomplishment by working out early and having your whole day ahead of you.  First thing in the morning you are your freshest and you haven’t been drained by your job or your kids or your family drama or some jerk face that cut you off in traffic or whatever your day may throw at you.  When I get up early to work out, I am literally putting myself first and everyone that depends on me benefits when I invest in my health and well being. At 5:00 a.m. before working out, I have a small amount of black coffee and maybe a couple bites of a banana.  The purpose of this snack is only to give me a little energy and to keep me from feeling hungry.  The coffee is stimulating and the banana or other fruit provide some quick energy.   I do not want a lot of food that early, especially for a boot camp class with burpees, high knees and running.  If you do a class like this in the evening, you should probably not eat any large meals a few hours before it.  I made the mistake of having a roast beef sandwich for lunch (BP – Before Paleo) and it was fighting back on me at 7 p.m.  Talk about burpees!  Keep your lunch light and have some fruit and nuts about an hour or more before.  Maybe a hard-boiled egg and an apple.

Blueberry Chia Pudding with blueberries and walnuts

Blueberry Chia Pudding with blueberries and walnuts

If it is a body pump class, which is a barbell class, that is later in the morning (9 a.m. or later), I will have a medium small breakfast about an hour to an hour and a half before the class starts such as chia pudding and fruit or 1 – 2 eggs and some greens and maybe a spoonful of almond butter or a few nuts.  I will have already been up for a few hours before the class starts so I need something more substantial to eat and because the class is not usually very aerobic, I am not worried about it staying down.

Grapefruit with raspberries, walnuts, almond milk, honey & ginger

Grapefruit with raspberries, walnuts, almond milk, honey & ginger

Most important for pre workout, especially if it is an early morning (5:30 or 6:00 a.m. workout)  is that you have eaten healthy and kept hydrated the day before. The one thing that I always do every morning, whether I am going to the gym or not, is as soon as I get out of bed, I have a glass of warm water (not hot, not cold, just warm) with 1/4 of a lemon squeezed into it.  The warm water and lemon together get things moving and flowing inside your body.  Lemon is a natural diaretic and is the perfect cleanse first thing in the morning.    Before you are sitting on a bike, or squatting with weights or running or doing high knees, don’t you want to have your bathroom business out of the way?  I know I do and the lemon water works like a charm.

The post work out meal is important because your muscles are most receptive to muscle building protein and complex carbohydrates within the first 15 mins to half hour immediately following your work out.   This meal will restore glycogen to your muscles and protein, which will help build that muscle, keep you from getting too sore and speed up your recovery time so that you can do it again sooner.  I still get sore sometimes and especially at times that I have increased the amount of weight I am using.

I have experimented with different post work out meals and found that a baked sweet potato (or 2 small ones) and 1 cup of plain chicken breast to be the best post workout meal for me because it has lots of protein and restores  glycogen to the muscles.   A banana is best before not after because this type of carbohydrate will only replenish the glycogen to your liver and not to your muscles.  The chicken is perfect because it is a very lean protein source.  It has about 44 grams of protein and if you eat it immediately with some water and the sweet potato you will be getting what I consider to be the perfect post work-out meal. The night before, I put a couple of sweet potatoes in the oven on 400 for about an hour.  Meanwhile,  I take a package of boneless skinless organic chicken, cut up into bite sized pieces and cook it in about a teaspoon per cup of chicken of coconut oil with a sometimes a little salt and pepper.  Then I put a cup of the cooked chicken in a glass container and when the potatoes are ready, I take them out, let cool a bit, wrap in foil and pack it all up for the morning.   I call this meal Work Out Chicken and Sweet Potatoes.  Depending on how many times you will need said Work Out Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, you can make a big batch and put it in separate containers for your week and use the rest for salads or other dishes. I actually eat the chicken and the sweet potato in my car after my pump class or boot camp.  Update:  I started peeling the baked sweet potatoes and just putting them right in with the chicken, because, duh! that makes sense and also I don’t eat the skin PWO since the fiber in the skin  will slow down absorption.

Embarrassing Car Picnic!

Embarrassing Car Picnic!

I know I look like a weirdo but whatever.  People see me having my little car picnic and I’ll admit I feel embarrassed but If I don’t eat right away, I will get really sore.   So pretty much this takes care of the post work out meal and my breakfast at once. I usually bring something to work with me for a late morning snack like some fruit and nuts or raw veggies or I make a green smoothie. If I am doing a 5:30 a.m. spin class, I don’t need to have this immediate post workout meal because that class is mostly aerobic and  doesn’t build up lactic acid like body pump which is mostly anaerobic.   Prior to the class, I will have half a small banana or a couple slices of apple and a little coffee.  I drink a water bottle during the class, refill it and drink another one on the way home.  When I get home,  I have breakfast, which is often a couple of eggs, avocado, and sauerkraut  on top of a small salad or some chia pudding with Maca.

Sauerkraut omelette with avocado and tomatoes

Sauerkraut omelette with avocado and tomatoes

Early morning yoga is my absolute favorite time to do yoga.  What a beautiful way to invigorate and wake up your body while calming and and clearing your mind!  I drink water during and after and when I get home,  I like to have a nice thick and delicious green smoothie that is packed with nutrient dense greens like kale, spinach, collards and arugula and also is thick and satisfying with healthy fats like avocado or sun butter.

kale & avocado smoothie

kale & avocado smoothie

Like I said, I have experimented with different post work out food.  A couple of times I had sardines after a pump class because I am gross.  No.  That’s not really why, but my 18 year old daughter, who was with me of course was totally grossed out and embarrassed that I would do something so weird in my car at 6:30 a.m.   Sardines are actually an excellent post work out meal but not the ones packed in olive oil because the fat will slow down digestion and your muscles will not be able to absorb the protein fast enough.  The same thing is true for nuts, steak and eggs with yolks.  Whey protein powders are great because you absorb them very quickly, but because they are obviously dairy and a processed food, they are not the best paleo post work-out food.  Many people like them best and they are very convenient, not embarrassing like Workout Chicken and not gross like sardines, but you need to select those carefully as many of them contain sweeteners and some of them are contaminated with heavy metals. Everyone is different and should experiment to see what works best for them.  You may find it impossible to eat anything at all at 5 a.m. and just have a sip of coffee or some water.  You may find you prefer the convenience of whey protein drinks for either before or after your work-out and wouldn’t be caught dead eating sardines in your car or perhaps you’re a little bit of crazy and like the idea of eating fish in your car as you watch the sun rise. Most important is that you do eat a lean protein and complex carbohydrate in that 15 minute to half-hour window after your work-out.  And remember to drink plenty of water all throughout the day.

It’s a process for me and  I am still thinking and re-thinking this part of my diet.

Okay so if anyone read all of that they really need to get a life but seriously, it really makes me happy if you did.   So it’s been about a year since I wrote the above and here is where I am at with regard to pre and post work out nutrition.

I am still eating a paleo diet.  I have decided that I am sick of being sore all the time and unable to work out as much as I need to in order to reach my fitness goals so…… I have added dairy back into my diet but only as nutritionally necessary.  Well, that’s a little lie because I had some cheese on my Chipotle salad, whatever.

Every morning first thing:  warm lemon water

Pre work out:  banana and coffee

During:  water mixed with BCAAs

After:  Protein shake:  Whey isolate and glutamine.

I have these supplements for all workout days including spin.

I also consume a small post work out meal of carbs and lean protein:  a sweet potato and about a half of a small chicken breast half, so about a quarter of a breast.

Then I drink more coffee because I just want to but I also drink lots of water all day long.  I aim to have about 60 ounces of water or about seven eight ounce glasses.  Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain recommends that you drink half your weight in ounces of water per day.  Water can be tea, coffee or water, etc.  In addition to the 7 glasses of actual water I have coffee and tea as well.

The first year of paleo I aimed to be as pure about it as possible, not because I was hoping to win a place in paleo heaven and be the queen of a paleo cult of which I am the only member but because I wanted to see what the long term affects would be on my body from it.  At this time, I am not concerned with being “perfect” at paleo, I am learning as I go and seeing what works best for my body.  So far, I am very happy with the supplements I am taking.  I am experiencing much faster recovery and I am not over eating because I have given my body the actual proteins it needs to repair and I don’t feel deprived.

In addition to the whey protein shake, I have been eating organic full fat plain yogurt as well as a breakfast or a snack.

Other supplements I have been taking for a while are fish oil, probiotics and turmeric.  All good for inflammation, which I have read is at the root of so many chronic health problems including digestive and joint pain.

Living and learning!