Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yummy dinner and an interesting experiment

I really, really, REALLY like mushrooms. Whenever a package comes in the bi-weekly produce bin, I cook them and eat them right away.

Better Half really, really, REALLY hates mushrooms. She goes mushroom hunting with me, points at them, and yells "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, KILL IT!" She will not eat them. She once proposed that I get separate pans for mushrooms, that none of her food would ever touch. So the mushrooms, when they come, are all for me.

This tends to mean that I get to experiment more with mushrooms than with other food -- if I only have myself to please, I don't really care if I produce something odd.

Tonight I had a delicious lamb shoulder with greens and foraged field mustard florets and mushrooms cooked in butter:

The foraging was great. I took the dog for a walk and we climbed up an embankment after the mustard. I couldn't reach the biggest plant, but I definitely got a good workout hiking up and down the hill. I also picked some miner's lettuce, but decided it was probably dog-peed-on so I ended up tossing it.

While I was cooking dinner, I decided I would do something odd with the rest of the mushrooms. We had some bacon already (alderwood smoked no preservatives no nitrates and so forth), and we got TWO leeks in the box this week meaning last week's leek has no room. Leeks and mushrooms and bacon are always a winning combination. But what to do? Inspired by a memory of a fantastic 18th century British recipe once featured on Two Fat Ladies for a Mitton of Pork, I decided to layer the mushrooms and leeks, sprinkle them with mace, and enclose them, pie-like, in bacon, then bake.

Step one: line tiny deep-dish pie dish with bacon:

Step two: slice mushrooms and leeks and layer them in the dish, sprinkling each layer with a little mace. (Note: I used too much mace. 1/8 tsp is plenty. I shouldn't have eyeballed it.)

Step 3: Top with bacon, tucking in ends of other pieces to make a little parcel:

(Note: You can see that, like an idiot, I put still MORE mace on it at this point. I don't know what my plan was, honestly.)

Step 4: Bake at 400 degrees until bacon is crispy and vegetables are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes:

So, other than HOLY CRAP WHY DID I PUT SO MUCH MACE IN THIS (I really like mace, but I got a little carried away), this was pretty good! It was easy, the flavors blended well... yeah, good stuff! Better Half suggested trying the same technique with apples and onions instead, which just sounds awesome and I can't wait to try it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A fantastic dinner from a few weeks ago

Seasoned grass-fed beef patty (I added ground up thyme, sage, and garlic, plus salt, formed the beef into patties and cooked them under the broiler) with a salad of romaine lettuce, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, pasture eggs, and home-made honey mustard dressing (which wasn't strictly primal).

Totally delicious and Better Half loved the salad. She didn't like the meat, which meant I ate two! :D Hee hee!

Why to buy pasture eggs

Look at the color of the yolk! Also, they are unbelievably delicious.

Stumbling toward the light!

I'm desperately trying to get back to eating normal-to-me food after the horrorshow of my post-tooth-removal, but it's been unbelievably hard. Meat is difficult to chew, vegetables get stuck in my tooth-holes something fierce, it's bad news all around. But tonight I did make a very nice dinner, and Better Half liked it too. Behold: coconut curry mahi mahi over cauliflower rice:

We bought some frozen tofu-equivalent (a term we use for meats that are easy to prepare/non-scary/uniform -- Better Half and I were both vegetarians for a long period of time so cooking meat was scary to us for a while) mahi mahi fillets. I thawed one and baked it in a mixture of coconut milk (light, which I know is not really primal but since I've been so carby lately I'm afraid to go back to megafat right away), curry powder, fish sauce, lime juice, and Sriracha hot sauce. All told I think I baked it a little over 30 minutes (Better Half always wants the fish overdone, and I find I kind of lean that way too). About 15 minutes before it was done, I quartered some tomatoes and put them on top.

We got a beautiful head of orange cauliflower, so to go with this I decided to try my hand at cauliflower "rice". I split the head into florets, steamed them, and grated them in the food processor. The color was incredible! I'm afraid now I've spoiled myself for this dish, I don't think I would have enjoyed it even half as much without the wild color.

This was fantastic and I will totally make it again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I think I'm back

I just made chicken liver pate, now I'm frying up some chicken hearts to spread it on. I'm not sure how I plan to eat the chicken hearts (suck the juices from them?), but the pate is amazing.

I think I must be feeling better.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Getting my teeth pulled on Friday has completely thrown a wrench into all of this. I just can't manage real food -- all I've been eating are smoothies, soft processed carbs, yogurt, and milkshakes. I did make myself some nutritious chicken glop (with sort of a medieval feel to it -- chicken cooked in almond milk with pomegranate molasses and spices) and pureed greens, but even that was just too much for me. I'm definitely making choices based on what seems the easiest and I'm also for sure "eating my emotions." This experience has freaked me out more than I thought it would and I'm in pain even with the painkillers (I am trying to take the minimum dose I can manage and I held out on taking narcotic pain medication until late last night). I feel like I'm taking some major steps backwards in my journey toward wellness and non-crazy eating, but I have decided not to beat myself up about it too much. It's kind of like how when we took the dog to puppy class and he would be much more poorly behaved than normal and the trainer pointed out how much better it was for him to be ill behaved in the unique circumstance than every day -- if I can recognize that this extreme circumstance, which will almost certainly never happen again (prior to this I had never even really had a filling), is an anomaly, it doesn't have to mean I've failed or even mean I'm taking steps backward. I am instead going to take it as retreating to regather before making a major leap forward.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Greens soup from last Sunday

IMG_8801 by laurelfactorial
IMG_8801 a photo by laurelfactorial on Flickr.

Right out of the PBC (although I used less liquid). It was amazing!

Ridiculously yummy dinner

Beef stir fry with broccoli and and bok choi, based on a recipe in the PBC. Lots and lots of vegetables! Lots and lots of flavor! Very very yummy! Would totally make again.

I also made, on a whim, "primal cake." Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 eggs
About 1/2 cup of a mix of frozen blueberries and cranberries

Beat all ingredients together in stand mixer. I baked it in a miniature baking pan made for my toaster oven for 20 minutes. The result is remarkably yummy and moist, and surprisingly cake-like. I cut it into very small pieces, about 1" by 2". It would be better with a little bit of cinnamon or maybe ginger, but it's a good start for a simple, healthy baked treat.

Back on track

Breakfast -- bacon, eggs, tomatoes, apple, and frozen concoction of blueberries and coconut milk

Lunch -- not sure if I'll have any

Dinner -- hoping to do beef stir fry with broccoli and bok choy

Exercise: I will walk the dog today, damn it! Maybe a little core work with the ball?

ETA: Successful "hunt" at Whole Paycheck (ugh), acquired grass fed meat for myself and the dog. Also, marrow bones! Will be experimenting with marrow one night this week.

I walked the dog for 20 minutes in the cold and wet before I wussed out. I'll try to run around with him more tonight and do some core work as a break.

I have a ton to do to get ready for work tomorrow, and this week is going to be somewhat hellish as we have conferences two nights so I'll be stuck at work for a good 13 hours on each of those days. This means that dinners this week might be dicey... I suppose I can always get a salad at the barbecue place, or maybe see what options the Mexican restaurant has (fajitas without the tortillas?).

Goal for tomorrow: make a real breakfast (eggs with broccoli rabe is the plan), find time to exercise between the end of school and the start of conferences. Maybe go for a walk in the park?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why I am changing my eating habits

Baking bread was fun, and the resulting whole-wheat loaf was really yummy (especially with butter and honey!) but now I feel kind of crappy.

Some thoughts on all of this

I feel like I need to put "primal" in quotes since I'm eating so much fruit, and occasional tiny amounts of honey.

The fruit thing... man. I really like fruit. I understand the reasoning behind fruit playing a minor roll in a modern paleo diet, but damn, I really like fruit. I've decided for now for me fruit is okay.

So far I feel good. The food I'm eating is yummy and satisfying and I feel energetic. I'm still really struggling to be as active as I want to be, though. I'm also down 3 pounds since Wednesday morning -- on the scale today I am officially down 55 pounds since January 2010. No doubt I'll undo that with my planned cheat day today for bread baking, but I'm not too worried. I've reached this place with my weight loss where I know I can do it and I know that I can take breaks and get back on the horse, and if taking breaks is what allows me to do this then I'm fine with that. I feel like I've taken a break after basically each 10 pound milestone; sometimes long breaks, sometimes short breaks. I haven't gained back any weight on those breaks (okay, except over Christmas, but the net gain was 4 pounds and I lost that and more in one week of getting back on track) and they allow me to not get that crazy deprived feeling. I've been itching for a break since hitting 50 pounds.

Actually, that's part of why I've been eating the way I've been eating: I planned to take a 2-3 week hiatus from tracking with Weight Watchers because I've been feeling kind of burned out and I have upcoming wisdom tooth surgery -- I have pretty much decided that after I get my wisdom teeth out I will eat whatever foods don't make me miserable and I won't beat myself up about it. If eating primally works well for me, I will continue. If not, I will go back to tracking with Weight Watchers (and eating how I was eating, which was very, very limited processed junk and sugar and a moderate but not necessarily restricted amount of carbs -- my typical day was yogurt or cottage cheese in the morning, fruit mid-morning, meat and vegetables and fruit for lunch, then for dinner we'd often do pasta, or meat and vegetables, or meat and vegetables and grain-product of some kind).

I think I'm going to start setting daily goals. Today's goal: 20 minutes of yoga or core work with the bouncy ball before I go to bread baking.

If you are reading this and thinking the kinds of things that most people think about fat people ("You are lazy and not serious and you are obese because you can't stick with anything etc etc etc") I disagree with you. Keep in mind that this same basic approach of punctuated equilibrium (NOT yo-yoing: my weight has not gone UP in all this time) has brought me here, which is 50 pounds smaller than I was before.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I ate today

Breakfast: beef jerky (home made) with pasture butter, a pear, and two "primal bites."

I had an apple mid morning.

Lunch: Chicken caesar salad, no croutons and no cheese. Dressing I'm sure has non-primal stuff in it but for going out to the barbecue place that slathers everything in sauce and has only battered / deep fried sides, I felt like I did okay.

When I got home from work, knowing dinner will take a while, I had a slice of bacon and a tiny tangerine.

Dinner will be pot roast (beef with onions and herbs) with baked acorn squash (with pasture butter and sage) on the side. I might make baconnaise slaw, too. More veggies are definitely needed.

Tomorrow I'm planning a "cheat" day to bake bread with a friend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All primal, all day

I am eating lots of fruit, almost certainly enough to tip me into dubious levels of total carbs, but again, BABY STEPS -- avoiding processed food, grains, and sugar. I had sushi last night for dinner, though (and it was awesome), so I'm not fully committed to this yet, really.

Here's what I ate today:
  • Breakfast: eggs with cream and butter, two kiwis
  • Mid-morning: apple, sunflower seeds
  • Lunch: beets (cooked), carrots (raw), ground grass-fed beef patty (seasoned with garlic, sage, and thyme and cooked like a gigantic meatball)
  • Afternoon: an orange, some coconut milk, and a "primal bite"
  • Dinner: Broccoli salad with bacon, pecans, and raisins (recipe out of the PB cookbook) with dressing made with freshly made baconnaise. Yes, that's mayonnaise made with bacon fat. Dear sweet Jesus, I know. I actually used half bacon fat and half walnut oil, and it was OMG INCREDIBLE.
  • Dessert: Frozen blueberries
Given what's been in the produce box, I'm trending really heavily to the higher carb vegetables and fruits. I see a definite need for more greens. Good thing I like them so much!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Fish, stuffed with more fish!

IMG_8798 by laurelfactorial
IMG_8798 a photo by laurelfactorial on Flickr.

Okay, so shrimp aren't fish. Whatever. But behold the glory of the mackerel, stuffed with shallots, sage, and little bittie shrimpies.

Pretty yummy! I liked the shrimp the best. The fish was too scary for Better Half, so next time I think fish-that-doesn't-look-like-fish is how we'll roll. Not gonna lie, the fish was actually a little much for me, too. I've never really been that into fish, and sometimes fish makes me want to barf, so this dinner was a big step for me.

Definitely more misses than hits, so far

Hmm, stress at work (grades due Friday! yikes!), early meetings (so no time to make a real breakfast), and too much to do (an unexpected project at home) has put a serious ding in my ability to cook, which is definitely hampering the plan. I even resorted to a frozen lunch at work today. But I did make the stuffed mackerel and greens soup on Sunday, and it was awesome, and I made myself some simple "mostly-primal bites," a quick snack or breakfast addition with coconut/walnut oil, ground almonds, raisins, dried cranberries (sweetened, but with apple juice), chopped nuts, and a tiny bit of honey -- not strictly carb free, but on the right path.

I'm thinking a couple of things: I need to do more planning, and I need to purchase foods that are VERY quick to prepare. Better Half ordered a fancy counter-top grill thingy, so I'm thinking the way to make this work for me is to some combination of grilled meat plus speedy veggie for dinner, salads or leftovers for lunch, and... still not sure about breakfast. I'm thinking what I really want for breakfast is home made pemmican and some fruit, but that would require me to make more pemmican, which is kind of a project.

So, I guess I am still stumbling. I'm also looking ahead to getting my wisdom teeth out next week (ARGH), and I'm seriously thinking I'll just cut myself some slack and eat nothing but pudding and mac'n'cheese for a week, otherwise that time (which is spring break) would perfectly coincide with the best time to undergo a serious dietary change.

next post: pictures of the fish!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Primal Experiments

The Insufferable Foodie has decided to dabble more seriously in a paleo diet. I purchased The Primal Blueprint Cookbook yesterday (I really enjoy reading Mark's Daily Apple), the immediately went grocery shopping and bought some ingredients to make some things that looked super yummy. I then came home and flagged all of the recipes in the book that I want to make sure I try "right away" and then realized I had flagged 36 individual recipes, which in a relatively short cookbook like this is a lot. I think it's fair to say I'm excited.

I don't want to declare that I AM DOING THIS AND IT IS FOREVER AND I HAVE FOUND A WHOLE NEW WAY OF EATING ETC, but it does interest me and I'd like to document how it goes, so I'm reviving this blog.

Since the last time I posted here, I have lost 50 pounds. I started by doing Daily Plate, lost just over 30 lbs, then hit a plateau. Then I joined Weight Watchers (I can do it for free through work), and have lost just under 20 lbs on that. Through all of this, I find that my diet has been slowly working its way toward paleo. I've been drawn to a paleo diet for... gosh, years, but always afraid of failure. Yesterday I decided I'm not afraid of "failure" anymore because in this instance there's no such thing as failure. I don't have to commit to never eating dairy or carbs or processed food again. I will still lead a normal life and if I really want to indulge, I will. What I am going to commit to is ramping up what I'm already doing, which is limiting processed food, limiting carbs, and limiting dairy (I am mildly lactarded, after all). Oh, and exercising more/differently, but that's outside the scope of this blog. I'm also finding that I'm drawn more to Sisson's primal model rather than other versions of paleo as his seems a lot more flexible and realistic rather than being about crazy restriction. I am still going to track points through Weight Watchers, although since it is impossible to track macronutrients I might have to do something else in addition / instead.

Now I will babble about food!

At the grocery store, I bought:
  • Grass fed beef for pot roast
  • Grass fed beef for jerky for my dad
  • Grass fed ground beef (plan to make meatballs to facilitate quick and easy bento-type lunches)
  • Pasture-raised eggs
  • Wild-caught mackerel
  • Little bitty shrimpies
  • Pasture butter (this was my splurge of the week)
  • Coconut milk (light and regular)
  • Sage
  • Shallots

We get a produce box every other week, so my produce purchases are usually minimal.

Things I'm planning to make this week:
  • Mackerel stuffed with shrimp, shallots, and sage, with creamed greens soup on the side (at Better Half's request, this will be with heavy cream instead of coconut milk)
  • Pot roast, with mashed squash and parsnips on the side
  • Coconut-blueberry "ice cream" (either unsweetened or honey sweetened) as a treat, possibly with pecans!
  • Mahi mahi (we have some frozen) in some kind of coconut-curry with bok choi, haven't hammered out the details yet
For breakfasts I'm either going to do eggs, if I have time, or just homemade jerky and some fruit. For lunches I'm going to probably make something like coleslaw today and then round that out with aforementioned meatballs, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and fruit. Other dinners during the week will be made up on the spot. At least one night I will probably be eating carby, processed frozen food (I have some evol burritos).

For breakfast I had pasture eggs, pasture butter, melon, and kiwi (very carby fruits, but I've decided at least for now not to care about this). For lunch I'm planning a salad with lettuce, beets, goat cheese, grapefruit, and honey mustard dressing (which is not paleo at all, but again, I'm focusing on the bigger picture right now.

I'm planning to take pictures of the fish tonight and post them.