Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Scallop and Bacon Sauté

If you haven't had Scallops with Bacon before, you are seriously missing out. If you aren't a fan of Seafood, try it with Chicken. Actually, Dave truly believes Bacon makes everything taste better and I am inclined to agree.
Unfortunately Bacon has a pretty bad reputation for being an unhealthily processed meat. It's high in fat and the majority are chemically cured, full of nitrates and sodium, pumped with water, artificial colours and flavours.
This pretty much sucks. We've avoided eating a lot of Bacon and don't eat shaved Ham or feed it to our kids for the reasons listed above.
But I found out recently (thanks to Aunty Linda and Google) about a company here who produce naturally cured Bacon and Ham. It's made the old fashioned way with no chemicals or additives whatsoever. You can buy direct from their factory (and also in supermarkets) so I went down to Wairau and got me some meat! They are called Hendersons and I suggest you check them out. I bought just about a bit of everything and it was all awesome.

Anyway back to the food! Frozen Scallops were on special last week at Pack n Save so I splashed out knowing that one night it would just be Dave and I for dinner and we wouldn't have to share these with the kids.
All I could think about all day was Scallops with Bacon, Scallops with Bacon. I never considered what we would have with it. This food fixation happens fairly regularly. So here's my method five minutes before dinner when I realise we should probably eat some vegetables too. 1. look in the fridge, 2. choose veges, out how best to cook them. Oh yeah, I'm living on the edge.
First I chopped up some Middle Bacon and pan fried it in some Olive Oil. I removed the Bacon and cooked some Brussel Sprouts, Spinach and crushed Garlic in the Bacon juices. Then I added that to my Bacon plate, threw some butter in the pan, turned up the heat and quickly cooked the scallops. You really don't want to do these babies for more than 2 minutes. Rubbery Scallops ain't great. Toss everything back in the pan for a minute, add some salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve. I had field mushrooms with mine and Dave had Bok Choy. Delicious!

I've just changed the settings so that anyone can leave a comment now. I had no idea it was set so that you had to be a registered user. Boo!
If you try this or have any questions or suggestions let me know.
Kate =)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Eating my greens

So if we can't eat grains, dairy, sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils or legumes on a paleo diet, what exactly can we eat? Is there anything left?!
This PDF from Balanced bites is a great resource. I've downloaded it and will be referring to it often. Don't try and make this picture bigger, it just goes fuzzy. Just bite the bullet and download so you can take a proper look.

I think variety and flavour in my food is really important. I don't like eating the same boring thing all the time. But since we had kids we've kept things relatively plain to better suit their tastes. Take vegetables for example. There are a ton of different varieties out there but we generally stick to a limited few and cook them in the same old ways. For me, it was vegetables I knew the kids would eat for dinner. In the Winter I'd lightly steam Carrots, Peas, Broccoli and boil or roast Potatoes. In the Summer, a salad with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Avocado. 
But, did you know that Brussel Sprouts and Bacon are amazing together? Or that Parsnip and Cauliflower make a really tasty substitute for mashed potatoes? Or that you can make just about any vegetable into a crunchy chip to snack on?

Part of this new lifestyle for me, means trying new foods and cooking with ingredients that I haven't given a second thought to before. Yes, I may get a few turned up noses at mealtimes, but if we don't try, we'll never know. I want us to eat more REAL FOOD, in all the colours of the rainbow.

This is what real food looks like:

I could happily eat the contents of that plate =)
I am testing out a bunch of new recipes and I will share the successful ones here so that we can all get the benefit from them.

Are you guilty like us of eating the same vegetables all the time? Is there something new you'd like to try? I'd love to hear your comments.

Kate =)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oat free Muesli

We've been eating Mum's and making our own home-made Muesli for a little while but recently Dave decided he wanted to go completely grain-free. Here's a good explanation as to why.

I made up some new Muesli for Dave a week ago and he's really enjoying it. It also keeps him full till about 11am.

Oat Free Muesli

There is no set recipe for this. Just do a combination of dried fruits, nuts and seeds that you enjoy with coconut thread or coconut flakes as the base instead of Oats.
I've used Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Linseeds, whole raw Hazelnuts, raw Walnuts, sliced raw Almonds, dried Apple slice chunks, diced dried Apricots,dried Cranberries and some Yoghurt covered raisins(YCR's) thrown in for good measure. All this with a good helping of coconut thread. Combine and store in a container. I've put a 1/2 measuring cup in with it so Dave doesn't go overboard on what equates a normal serving at 6am in the morning. He's currently off Dairy too, so has his with a bit of Almond milk and some fresh fruit on top.

I'm not going to lie, this sh*t was expensive to make. If fact I got a bit of a shock when I got home from Pak n Save and checked my receipt. I'll be seeking out a more cost effective supplier this weekend. Apparently there is a bulk bin shop in Browns Bay. So we'll see what their prices are like.

If you try this/want to try this or any of my other meal ideas I'd love to know! Comments welcome =)

Keeping it real

As I research, I'm finding that the word Paleo seems to have certain negative connotations. People are immediately sceptical. Heck, I was. I thought Dave was going to exist solely on meat for the next god knows how long. 

So where is this coming from?

There are Paleo extremists/elitists/perfectionists out there and they are scary and overwhelming.  It's so hard not to get caught up in the hype and become paranoid about the nitty gritty of Omega 3 - Omega 6 ratio's and eating only organic meats and produce over eating it at all. People can quickly assume that eating Paleo "properly" sounds way too much like hard work and they soon write it off as a practical solution. 

Sometimes striving for perfection can get in the way of just doing something good. ( I think that's a quote, I'm sorry to say it's not mine but it's good huh?).

Don't let Paleo Perfectionism bring you down! 

I'm not going to constantly question whether our caveman ancestors would have had access to something before I put it in my mouth. Or for that matter how much he/she would have eaten of it at any one time. Eating a whole punnet of Strawberries still beats eating a whole bar of Dairy Milk or half a tray of Toffee Pops. Calories are not created equally, despite the views of people who insist on counting them.

The truth is we have access to so much more variety in our diets year round than they ever would and we should take full advantage of that. I'm of the belief that the vast majority of the benefits someone will see by "going Paleo" are just to do with eating REAL FOOD. By real food I mean something that doesn't live in a packet in your pantry and has an expiry date of 2014. That's not natural.

So what are real foods? Vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, eggs for example. Food that comes straight from the source without anyone tampering with it's makeup first. Have a look at the flow chart in one of my earlier posts. 

This week I am proud to say, I bought just four food items prepackaged from the supermarket. A bottle of Red wine, some Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate, some Greek unsweetened Yogurt and a block of natural, unsalted Butter.  Nearly 3/4 of my trolley were Vegetables and Fruit. That has never happened before and it may never happen again ;)

Any small change is better than nothing, I fully intended to take this in baby steps but when I think about it I've really leaped right in. 
I just want to do what I can, change the obvious and substitute foods that I now know to be harmful to my body with foods that will do good. We're eating more vegetables, more fruit, more eggs. I'm excited to be in the kitchen again, coming up with new and interesting combinations of foods that stray away from my old staples. I'm hoping that it will continue to be a challenge that's fun rather than tiresome. Time will tell!

Kate =)

Sunday Brekkie

I think I'm pretty damn good at feeding my husband. Particularly since he came home with a whole new set of dietary requirements.
But most Sundays, I get a sleep in and more often than not coffee and breakfast in bed. We look after each other.
Look what he whipped up for me last Sunday.

Scrambled Eggs, Celery, Spinach and Salami with Basil Pesto.
With a beautiful brew too.

Now that's what I call a Sunday breakfast in bed!

Kate =)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Venison Stew

So far the biggest challenge for me, is coming to grips with the amount of meat protein that you are meant to eat on a Paleo diet. My Mum and Dad don't eat red meat (since I was 10) and my Sister is mostly Vegetarian too. I've always believed (and am yet to be completely convinced otherwise) that eating too much meat was bad, that it could cause bowel cancer.
Dave on the other hand has come from the opposite end of the scale. A completely typical Kiwi meat and 3 Veg family. He would probably eat as much meat as I could put in front of him. For the last few years I have been trying to reduce out meat intake by having 2 Vegetarian meals a week. That's really tough now when you take legumes and grains out of the equation.
To make myself feel better about this sudden overload of meat, I've been balancing it out with tons of vegetables. I'd much prefer it if Veges were at the bottom of the Paleo food pyramid instead of Meat, Fish and Eggs.
Check out this photo below, there are 8 different veges and a fruit too =)

Venison Stew
-served a family of 5 with leftovers for 2 for lunch

500 grams of Venison rump steak, chopped into chunks.
1 onion, finely diced.
2 cloves of Garlic finely cut.
3 carrots, chopped into rounds.
3 Celery Stalks, chopped about the same size.
1 parsnip ,cut up into even size pieces.
2 Orange Kumara, also cut into even size pieces.
A head of Broccolli cut into florets and the stalk peeled and chopped.
Half a bag of Spinach Leaves.
A tin of tomatoes ( I used basil seasoned ).
Salt and Pepper, herbs and spices to taste.

Fry up the onion, garlic, carrots and celery until onion is clear and veges are starting to soften. Add tomatoes and seasonings and let simmer while you prepare the rest.
Cover Parsnip and Kumara with boiling water and cook until soft enough to mash.
Heat a pan with Olive Oil and cook Venison quickly over a high heat. You want it to still be a bit pink in the middle. Stir it through the stew and serve it up with Parsnip/Kumara mash, lightly steamed Broccoli and Spinach leaves. Enjoy!

This was really good considering I made it up from looking at what we had in the cupboard and fridge! This was the last of our veges, everything I'd bought on the Wednesday was gone by Saturday night. That's never happened before. This week I bought three times as much.
I'm not usually a Venison fan, I find it to taste quite Gamey. But although you could tell this wasn't beef, it didn't have an overly strong flavour. It worked really nicely with the tomato based stew.
The Parsnip/Kumara mash was nice but maybe I overdid it a little in the mashing department. It didn't need to be baby food consistency. Oops ;) It's also a lot sweeter than mashed potato and that takes a little getting used to. I added more salt to mine.
For the kids I did do a Potato mash, they love their spuds. I like to make sure there's something on their plate I know they will eat.
Sweet S thought the meat was tough, but then she says that about all meat. She puts too much in her mouth and then I think she can't be bothered chewing it. She also told me she only liked Celery raw, not cooked but I convinced her to try again and she did eat it all. She didn't eat the spinach on it's own but she will eat it if I've combined it into something.
Initially I didn't put Spinach on Big C's plate but when he saw me dishing up everyone else he felt like he was missing out and asked for it. He ate it too, funny kid. Spinach was one of my most hated veges as a child.
Miss Izzy ate everything too but then she usually cleans her plate.

All in all a good result, and I'd definitely make it again, with Beef or Chicken if we didn't have Venison.

Kate =)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eggy Breakfast Muffins

I adapted a recipe I found here to fit what we had in the fridge. I thought 10-12 eggs was over the top and we would have missed out on eggs the following morning if I'd used that many. So I just subbed in some Almond milk instead.

Eggy Breakfast Muffins
Makes 12.

8 Free Range Eggs
A good splash of Almond Milk
1 grated Carrot
2 Spring Onions finely chopped
2 Rashers of Naturally Cured Bacon- diced. ( Good quality salami or sausages could be used here too).
A handful of fresh Basil chopped
Half a cup of frozen Peas
1/4 tsp of Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Beat eggs in a bowl with a fork and add Almond Milk. If using Bacon or Sausage, fry up in a pan first. Add all the other ingredients to the egg mixture and divide between a greased 12 cup muffin tin. Cook at 190 C for 20-25 mins until egg has set.

These were delicious! My non Egg eating daughter agreed to try one, gave it a thumbs up and asked for another. Big C devoured his too. With a splash of Tomato sauce of course. As usual I asked if he wanted a happy sauce face on his food, today he asked for a 'grumpy' face. His verdict was, and I quote ' I tried it, I liked it, I want another one'.
Parent rating: 10/10
Kids rating 9.5
Dave ate 4 1/2 and I ate 3 and we were both full afterwards.
We all particularly liked that these were so easy to pick up and eat. They'd be portable for lunches too and handy to have in the fridge for breakfast on the go. Just heat and eat!

Friday, July 6, 2012

My take on Paleo and making it work for us.

I need to reiterate that my reading everything I can on Paleo is an incredibly recent thing. I really know very little about it. I am working to change that, but this will take time.
However, I thought that I should to the best of my ability, give you my understanding (right now) of what Paleo is and how (and why) I intend to include this way of eating into my family's life.

Paleo (short for Paleolithic) is basically a diet based on thinking about what our ancestors ate before the advent of Agriculture about 10.000 years ago. So pretty much meat, vegetables, fruit, some good fats and nuts. That's it. No grains, no soy, no legumes, no dairy, no sugar. Nothing that has been altered in any form by a human process.

Here's a great chart I found tonight on Multiply Delicious which incidentally also has some amazing looking recipes I will be checking out.
Not only is this pretty funny, it also illustrates perfectly what you need to know about Paleo.

So how do I intend to apply what you see above to our family?

Well, if I was to completely overhaul our diet overnight I think I'd have a mutiny on my hands. It's one thing for a single person or a couple living alone to make instant dietary changes but you try telling three puppy eyed kids that you are taking away their chocolate chip biscuits and you better be prepared for civil war.

My intention is to take the main principals of a paleolithic lifestyle and make them work for and fit our family. I am not going to try and slot us straight into a regime that could potentially send us on a roller coaster of awful meal times with our kids. I don't want to be THAT Mum.
I'm also not going to be religious about adhering puritanically to Paleo, we will adjust to this gradually. If I want to grate some cheese on top of my meatballs I will be. I am not anti dairy, but I am anti the 'recommended' daily serving of dairy. This is nothing new and as a family we consume very little considering we live in the dairy capital of the world.

It has been my initial observation that eating well and getting the amount of protein required on a Paleo diet is not cheap, especially when you are trying to feed 5 people. It's a lot more costly to fill a plate when a large portion of it can no longer consist of cheap, go-to staples such as pasta, potatoes or rice. We are a one income family and will continue to be so for some years to come. I have a limited amount that I can spend on food each week and having seen the cost of substitute products for certain flours and oils, I don't think we'll be going down the road of baking with Almond Flour and cooking with Coconut Oil. These things may be readily available in the USA but they certainly aren't here in little old NZ. So if I need to thicken a gravy for a stew for example, I will be using regular flour. I'm not going to send myself into a tailspin because it's not 100% Paleo.

I will continue, as I have always done to buy the best quality food we can afford.

We are very lucky in that we are given some vegetables(usually broccoli and spinach) every week from my Mums garden, often eggs too. Unfortunately her Chickens have taken a break from laying for the past few months but they seem to be slowly starting up again. Sometimes we are given locally farmed or hunted meat (last night we had Venison for dinner) by Dave's parents who live in a rural community in the Waikato. It's often given to them by friends and they like to share with us =)
This certainly makes things easier but on average we would still be spending about $230 a week on groceries. It will be interesting to see how our budget can handle a Paleo lifestyle.

So why Paleo? Well I outlined in the post above how Dave has been training in a CrossFit gym. The Paleo and CrossFit movements seem to go hand in hand largely thanks to the work of Robb Wolf . Most CrossFit gyms now promote Paleo as the way to eat to compliment their training programs. Jamie Milne  a trainer from Dave's gym introduced the idea to him and we have just kind of adopted it. Paleo is my new baby ;)
Mine and Dave's take is that if you are going to eat substandard food, you can expect your training results to be pretty substandard too. Food is your body's fuel. While I don't do CrossFit, I want Dave to get the most he can out of it. For me it's about having a good level of energy to do what I need to do - raise happy, healthy food aware kids.

Ok, this is getting long. I must be getting more into this than I thought! If you want to know why Paleo is good for you and why we are trying it then check out the question and answer section here at Fitbomb. I read this and I was almost sold (I'm still a little skeptical about eating so much meat and no dairy -especially for kids) but the article covers Paleo way better than I ever could.

Love to hear your thoughts. Comments are welcome!

I've been creating in the kitchen the past few days, so I'll be back later with some food photos and recipes.

Kate =)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In the beginning....

...there was bread. Glorious home made loaves of Rosemary Foccacia, Pizza Dough, Spinach and Cheese Scones. The list could go on. Let's just leave it at I love to bake and my entire family love the results of that baking.
So when my husband came home from a Cross Fit training session at the gym one night and told me he wanted to try and follow a Paleo template for every meal, he met with a fair bit of resistance and skepticism on my part.
Obviously there were a few jokes about dragging me into his cave (wishful thinking apparently), but mostly I just envisioned plates piled high with rare meat and not much else.
I was also immediately a little annoyed, because I figured that this was going to become a huge inconvenience for our entire family as I tried to figure out what the heck to put on his plate at night. I must have unconsciously verbalized this feeling because he got riled up and defensive claiming that I didn't need to change anything about our meals, he would simply eat what he could and avoid the rest. 

Of course this achieved nothing other than making me worry that then he wouldn't get enough to eat and believe me, the man opens the fridge enough times a day as it is.

Anyway, it came down to me deciding that as the sole cook of the family (besides Dave's mean eggs) I couldn't leave ma man in the lurch to fend for himself in his new dietary choices. Even though that is what a real caveman would do.
So my curiosity was aroused and because I'm naturally interested in food and feeding my family to the best of my knowledge and ability, I started doing a bit of research.

Ahh the wonders of Google.

So here we are now, today. I've planned and cooked two Paleo inspired dinners and made some seed and nut muesli for Dave to have with Almond milk for breakfast. No, it's not a lot.

I wanted to start this blog to track our journey as we experiment with a new way of eating, and how it affects Dave's training and general health. It's about me thinking more about the food we're consuming as a family. I'm interested to see where this goes and how we cope.

I don't know at this stage how involved our three kids will become. They are pretty attached to home baking in their lunchboxes and Ice Cream for an occasional dessert. I am happy for them to continue with that. They are all great vegetable eaters and I'm not about to deny my kids the pleasures of childhood.

So there you have it. Gradually I'll add links to blogs I've found useful and recipes I've tried successfully or not.
If anyone out there has some tips or advice to help us with going Paleo, I'd love to read your comments.

Kate =)