Operation Cancun, commence!

Well folks, I am officially starting my “Operation Cancun” tomorrow.  It’s gonna look a WHOLE lot like a Whole90 with a few little tweaks.  First off, I’m going in on this bad boy with a friend from the gym.  She’s a GIANT motivation to me, and when she mentioned that she has not been able to finish a Whole30, I was immediately like, well that’s because you haven’t tackled it with ME as back up!  For real, they aren’t always easy, they aren’t always fun, but you learn a ton about yourself, your relationship with food, and your digestive quirks.  As weird as it sounds, it’s really enlightening.

Anyway, my Operation Cancun will look like this:

  1. I will be doing a strict Whole30 starting tomorrow.
  2. Days 31-88 (I fly out on day 89) will be completely clean on food, alcohol is another story.  I know already that there are a couple occasions that I will want to have a drink…..and I’m OK with that, it’s literally like 3 different events.
  3. On the rare occasion that I do indulge in a drink, it will be in moderation, and it will only be wine or straight Patron with some lime….no mixed up, sugared up crap.
  4. I realize that it’s not a “Whole90” if I’m drinking.  Don’t be a hater.  Deal with it.  My goals with this time around are not the same as they were when I initially did a Whole30.

So what are these goals I speak of?  Well, honestly…..I bought a bikini.  Like a legit bikini.  That hasn’t happened since I was about 6 years old.  I’m kind of freaking out about the purchase and completely regretting it…..negative self-talk has a way of creeping in.  So this time around, I’m doing this to get myself looking as awesome as possible in that bikini come beach time.  I realize how vain that is, and I’ve accepted it.  In preparation for Operation Cancun, I’ve taken “before” pics in the suit……don’t worry, they won’t be hitting the internet ANY time soon!  SOOO not ready for that!  However, there is a good chance they will be hanging in my bathroom so that they stare me in the face every morning.  I’m still debating whether I want to weigh myself or not tomorrow morning…..I honestly haven’t stepped on a scale in a couple of months, and I’m cool with that.  The data nerd in me wants a number to go off of though….we’ll see what tomorrow morning brings.

Before I jump into my recipe, the biggest tip I can give anyone wanting to do any variation of the Whole30 or to anyone getting into the Paleo life is to MEAL PLAN.  Seriously, there are a ton of great sites out there that can help with this.  Just do it!  It saves hugely on the decision making in the middle of a stressed out week, it saves money at the grocery store if you aren’t buying a ton of random crap you don’t need, and it really REALLY allows for food to be cooked and actually eaten rather than going bad and ending up in the trash.  I sit on Sunday afternoons with a notebook, a pen, and my brain….sometimes a cookbook or a food magazine and this is how I do mine:

menu planning

For real, it keeps me sane.  No technology involved….OG handwriting and chart making!

I’m giving you my breakfast recipe for the week.  I make a HUGE batch of this and then put it into containers for breakfast for the entire week.  That way it is done, and I have no excuses for not getting my breakfast in!

breakfast hash

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

  • 1 pound ground pork (or sausage if you can find it with no sugar and extra crap added)
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded (I used the food processor)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 bell peppers, I used 1 red and 1 green
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a deep, large skillet, brown your ground pork.  While it is cooking, season it with a small amount of each of your spices.  I also tossed in a small amount of ground sage.  Make sure you break the pork up while it is browning so you don’t have too big of chunks….unless that’s your thing.
  2. When the pork is browned, after 5-7 minutes, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon.  You want to leave most of the fat in the pan.
  3. Toss in your peppers, onions, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes or until they soften and become translucent.
  4. Add in your coconut oil.  When it is melted, top your veggies with your shredded sweet potatoes.
  5. Toss the shreds in the oil, then flatten them down into an even layer, covering the entire pan.
  6. Leave them ALONE!  You only want to stir them every 3-4 minutes.  Re-flattening them out into an even layer after each stir. You will cook your potatoes for 10-12 minutes.**
  7. When your potatoes have cooked through, become bright orange, and may even begin to crisp up and brown a bit, add back in your pork and the remainder of your spices.
  8. Stir thoroughly to combine everything and flatten into an even layer again.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to let flavors blend together.
  9. Plate up and serve!  I top mine with some fresh avocado and some hot sauce….it rocks!

**Time on this may vary depending on how deep your potatoes are layered in your skillet, how fine they were shredded, how soft you like your potatoes, etc. Just play with it and taste as you go!

Well, here’s to the journey I’m embarking on!  I’m somewhat scared about what I will be like when the reality of no “paleo treats” sets in…..God save us all!  Peace, love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Orange Pecan Cookies

orange pecan cookies

Apparently, I shouldn’t go on vacation.  Ever since I got back from Austin, I have been getting gradually sicker and sicker.  It sucks, pretty hardcore.  I finally caved and am taking the day off tomorrow, mostly to sleep…because I haven’t been doing any of that lately.

In other news, because of said sickness, I have watched several random movies this evening.  I NEVER just sit on my couch and watch movies, like ever.  I get all sorts of antsy, so I’m usually reading or working on some sort of project.  So naturally, I started baking these cookies tonight while watching movies.  I figured, hell, I pay for all of these channels, might as well watch some!  So far tonight, I’ve watched “Friends with Benefits” “Apollo 13” and now I’m watching “The Other Boleyn Girl”.  This movie is nuts!  Henry VIII was NUTS! But Eric Bana is pretty to look at….so this movie is watchable.

On a slightly sadder note, I think I’m gonna hang up my baking mitts for a while.  Starting Monday, I’m beginning what I’m dubbing the “Cancun Challenge”.  I’m 99% sure I’m going to Cancun in July and I want to look as amazing as possible in the swimsuit I just bought.  Therefore, starting Monday, I’ll be officially doing another Whole30…..which will actually be more like a Whole90.  No more paleo treats for me…..but have no fear, I’ll continue to bring you deliciousness.  It just means I’m going to have to rely heavily on taste testers!

Without further ado, here are these tasty little devils!

Orange Pecan Cookies with Orange Coconut Butter Drizzle

For the Cookies (makes about 5 dozen):

  • 5 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • zest and juice (about 1/2 cup) from 2 oranges
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (I used dry roasted, unsalted ones)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.  Mix in your pecans with the dry mix!
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together all of your wet ingredients, including the orange juice and the zest from both oranges. (Seriously, invest in a microplane or a zester, the are AWESOME!!)
  3. Mix your wet ingredients into your dry, combining thoroughly.
  4. At this point, I usually refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour.  This makes it WAY easier to roll later.
  5. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Roll your dough into walnut sized balls (about 1″) and slightly flatten them.
  7. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. I let mine go for just under 10 minutes and the were perfection!
  8. LET THEM COOL!!!  For real, let them cool for at least 30 minutes before you even think about putting the drizzle on them.  If you don’t want to top with the drizzle, feel free to smash on these bad boys as soon as they are cooled!

For the Orange Coconut Butter drizzle:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • small splash of vanilla (1/8 teaspoon for you measuring types)
  1. Put all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir all together.
  4. Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the cookies all fancy like!  Or if you are feeling really fancy, you can make your own “pastry bag” out of a ziploc bag.  Load your drizzle goo into a baggie, seal it, and snip a small amount of the corner off.  Drizzle that deliciousness all over your cookies.
  5. STUFF your face!!

These are simply delightful!  I hope you enjoy them.  I’m trying my best to NOT eat all of them….please send strong willed thoughts my way as I embark on the Cancun Challenge!!  It’s gonna be really tough, especially because I also won’t be drinking….like at all.  Crazy.  I know.  Last time I did that I lost a whole bunch of my friends over it. Meh, oh well!  Sending delicious paleo treat love your way! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Post-Travel Blues and Island Pork Stew

Hey y’all!  Coming to you live…….from my kitchen!  Back from PaleoFX in Austin, TX and holy crap, I can’t say how much I love the Paleo/Primal community.  It was incredibly amazing to spend a long weekend with such an amazing network of scientists and foodies that were all there to enjoy, learn, and spread the same message.  This is definitely an event I will go to again in the future.  I TOTALLY geeked out in some sessions, lived out a couple of  fan girl moments, and met a lot of really, really AWESOMELY paleo peeps.  Check this out!! That’s RIGHT!  I met George, the Civilized Caveman and Juli B. from PaleOMG!  For REAL!!  I almost couldn’t make conversation…..I was a completely stupid mix of first date jitters and 14 year old girl at a Bieber concert.  Major thanks to my girl, Missy, for putting her foot down and making me go say “Thanks for being so awesome!!” to these two.

bloggers

And immediately following this, I had enough guts to go personally thank Sarah Fragoso for doing what she does.  For those that don’t know, it was her book, Everyday Paleo, that I creeped through on my coworker’s desk.  SHE is one of the major reasons I’m living a Paleo life today.  She has been, is now, and will continue to be an inspiration to me.  Needless to say, I’m pretty sure we both got a bit choked up when we were talking…

Me and Fragoso

Austin solidified itself as a magical place in my heart.  It had already been one awesome place to visit, but this weekend just confirmed it!  To the point of me job searching teaching positions in the area, no joke.  In addition to the Paleo goodness, I had the opportunity to reconnect with some incredibly amazing friends.  Seriously, those folks and that town really really vibe with me.  Sitting out on patios, drinking ridiculous cocktails, listening to live music, and discussing the world……It was a little piece of heaven!  I sat in the Austin airport last night really bumming hard about coming home…..more specifically, coming back to real life.  I wish I could just suspend the feeling from the weekend and make it last forever!

Anyways, enough whining about leaving the great state of Texas…..I’ll be back there soon enough!  This recipe is one that I made quite a while ago, but talking to a friend made me remember it!  His own words were, “I love pork, I love pineapple, I love stew!  Check, check, CHECK!  I’m all over it!”  I mean, it is pretty amazing.  So amazing in fact, I’m playing with a variation of it for tomorrow night!  Here is the original!

island pork stew

Island Pork Stew…..in the Crockpot

  • 6 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chunked
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tahini (or you could use sunbutter)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (NOT melted)
  • 1-2 pounds pork (cutlets or boneless chops) cut into large chunks
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated or cut into very small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you want it spicy!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Chop and layer all veggies into the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Dump pineapple and ginger in on top of your veggies.
  3. Layer your pork (trimmed of fat, if that’s your thing….or not!) on top to cover your veggies.  You want to make a pretty even layer of pork.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together your tahini, coconut oil, and spices into a paste.
  5. Smear that delicious goodness all over the top of the pork!!  Get messy with it.
  6. Pour your vinegar over the top of the pork.
  7. Set your crockpot to low for 6-8 hours.
  8. When all is bubbly and hot, stir with a large spoon to mix everything up and break down your pork further.
  9. Bowl it up and top with fresh chopped cilantro and scallions!  Or hell, top it with whatever you dig.  Anyway you top it, it’s gonna be freaking delicious!

*** If you are into WICKED hot stuff, toss in a habanero pepper.  Keep it whole and remove it prior to serving.  If you really REALLY like to live on the edge, make a couple of slits in that bad boy with a sharp knife to let more of the oils out into the crockpot while cooking.  Again, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but sometimes, you just gotta get SPICY!  You know I’m right.***

With that, friends, I need to go clean up my disaster of a kitchen and think about going to bed at some point.  Sending much Paleo love from a very VERY full heart……Peace, Love, and Paleo.

-Meister

Laundry, Packing, and bars……GO time!

No, not the drinking kind of bars…although I’m pretty sure a few of those will be involved this weekend, but more like the fruit and nut kind of bars!  Perhaps even venture to call them “knock off” bars…..you know the ones I’m talking about!  Not gonna mention them here….I don’t need to go an get myself flagged, or worse, sued!  Oh the horror!!!  Ain’t NOBODY got time for that!  Anyway, I made these:

larabars

And they were freaking delicious!! So that’s the recipe you all will be granted this evening!

Before I get to that though, times are super exciting!  First of all, I am packing my suitcase (not really yet, but I will be in a little bit) gearing up to head to Austin, TX for a long weekend of Paleo LOVE!!!  Yep, I’m going to the PaleoFX conference. Go ahead and click on that link, find the speakers and schedule tabs and cream your little Paleo jeans.  I’m BEYOND excited!!!  I’m prepared to geek out pretty hardcore, good thing I’ve got my girl Missy with me to keep me in check and out of jail!!

In addition to the conference, Austin may be one of the greatest towns in ALL the land!  I’m pumped to be going back there.  One of my bestest buddies in the whole wide world lives there, and it’s been way too long since I’ve seen his face.  Throw in getting to meet up with one of my totally rad cousins and her BF, and I’m like a fat kid in a cupcake shop!!  Needless to say, this is the EXACT weekend I need before getting into the swing of State Testing at school.

Last bit of exciting news, I picked up these little beauties today!!!

PM shirts

Yep, it’s legit!  I can’t wait to see people reppin’ these!!  Not to mention, the women’s cut ones are completely obnoxious….I mean baby blue/teal with purple screen printing?  I mean, who even suggests that?!?  Oh wait…. MAJOR thanks and props to the guys at Courtyard Ink!  They were totally amazing to work with and created some extremely quality work.  Much love guys, and you are definitely getting any of my business in the future!!

Anyways, enough blabbering!  The bars were super easy to make, did it all in the food processor!  In the future, I’m planning on adding some Paleo protein powder to these bad boys to make protein bars…..oh yeah, that’s happening.  Can’t freaking wait!

Salted Almond Fruit Bars….with a hint of Cocoa

  • 1 pound dates, pitted and chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped (I used dry roasted ones….salted or unsalted, whatever you dig!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Add your chopped dates to your food processor and pulse until they become a paste.  They will clump into a giant ball, you will have to push it down multiple times….get used to it, you’ll have to do it on almost every single step during these!
  2. Add in your coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla.  Pulse until they are incorporated, again, pressing it down whenever it comes into a ball.
  3. Next add in your shredded coconut and your chopped almonds.  Again, pulse until they are all combined, pushing it down when needed.
  4. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper.  You will want to leave a little hanging over the edges so you can lift your bars out later.
  5. Using your hands (it’s honestly the easiest way….so get down and dirty!) press your mixture into an even layer in your pan.  You want to make sure they are pretty densely packed, mine ended up being about 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Toss that pan in the freezer for at least an hour, a couple if you’ve got the time.
  7. Lift your bars out and slice them to whatever size your heart desires.  I got 12 bars out of mine.
  8. Wrap individually in parchment paper and store in the fridge until you want to smash!

If you want them with more of a chocolate kick, add more cocoa!  Want to use a different nut, get after it!  Live your life.  With that, I’d better get on to actually packing!  I might post some randomness from Austin over the next couple of days, but nothing legit until next week…..most likely.  Please understand, k thanks!  Until then, peace, love, and PALEO y’all!

-Meister

Er-mah-GERD! Chocolate Hazelnut Pie!

chocolate hazelnut pie

For REAL!?!?  I’m not even kidding with this pie when I say that my dad is convinced this could be served in a fine dining establishment.  He will eat almost anything I make, but this one topped his list as “I would NEVER EVEN GUESS this is Paleo!!!”  That made my heart happy…..especially when he said he needed an entire pie, not just the one slice I took him.  I’ve been caught saying that this is the recipe that is gonna land me a husband someday.  It’s completely OUT OF CONTROL!  In fact, I can hear the leftovers whispering to me right now from my fridge.  Not even lying when I say that I’m really, REALLY glad I’ve got myself to a better place in my life….because the old me would have eaten this entire pie with a bottle of wine for dinner and wallowed about how crappy things are.  Not saying that won’t happen at some point this weekend, but STILL!  The fact that there is pie in the fridge at this point is a massive triumph!

Today is the last official day of my Spring Break.  I’m somewhat sad.  I did absolutely nothing, and that was great, but I feel like I also haven’t accomplished much. Eh, gearing up for Austin I guess!  Plus, getting back into the routine of waking up early is not going to be fun!  Oh, and it’s snowing today.  What the HELL, Nebraska?  Get your act together!  I’m beyond over this weather!  I’m counting down the days until I leave for Austin, TX next week.  Which I’m completely STOKED for!  I know I’ve said it before, but seriously, I can’t freaking wait!!

Really not looking forward to Open Workout 13.3, mostly because I hate wallballs.  In fact, hate doesn’t even begin to cover it.  I really like having the ability to walk, especially up and down the stairs……I’m already having nightmares of what my legs will be like after I finish that workout.  It’ll be like my first 2 weeks of CrossFit all over again…….going down the stairs backwards, drowning my quads in Icy Hot, and needing to use the handicapped stall for the sheer purpose of having the grab bars if I need them.  No joke.

Alright, enough of my whining.  On to pie!  This recipe takes a bit of love, but in the end it’s really pretty easy.  I mean, you make the entire thing in the food processor….what could be easier than that??

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

  • 1 bag Enjoy Life chocolate chunks, split in half
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (I used dry roasted, unsalted from Trader Joe’s….they have a good price!)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (plus a bit more to dust your pie pan)
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup hot water (like almost boiling)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (not melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and make sure you have a rack in the bottom 1/3 of your oven.  It seems weird, but this bad boy needs to cook near the bottom.
  2. In your food processor, place half of your chocolate chunks, your hazelnuts, and 1/4 cup of coconut flour.  Pulse until you get small chunks.  You don’t want them to get too small….this is what gives your pie some crunch.  I would pulse until all pieces are about the same size. Dump this into a separate bowl.
  3. In your now empty processor bowl, add in the rest of your chocolate chunks and your raw honey.  Pulse this until they come together.
  4. While the processor is running on low, slowly add in your hot water and keep blending until all of the chocolate has melted.
  5. Remove the lid and add in your salt, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut oil, and eggs.
  6. Pulse a few times so that it all incorporates.
  7. Now, add back in your chocolate chunk, hazelnut, coconut flour mixture.
  8. Pulse a few times to combine everything.  Not too much though, you don’t want to break your chunks and nuts into smaller pieces.
  9. Pour your batter into a 9 inch pie pan that has been brushed with coconut oil, and dusted completely with coconut flour.  It will almost completely fill the pan, don’t worry!  (I have not tried this in glass, so I would stick to a metal pie pan….I make to guarantees with it baking the same/coming out cleanly with a glass pie plate)
  10. Bake for 35 minutes in the bottom 1/3 of your oven at 350 degrees.
  11. Remove from the oven at 35 minutes, no matter what.  It may not look done in the middle, that is FINE.  It may have risen strangely, that is FINE!  It will all settle itself out, don’t worry!!
  12. Let cool on the counter for an hour.
  13. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is great too!
  14. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to serving!
  15. Top with paleo whipped cream and SMASH!!!

I topped mine with a few fresh blackberries, because I’m currently obsessed with those!  No berry is same in my house…..Not even lying, plan to share this with friends and family, or be prepared to hide it from yourself.  It’s INSANE!! Peace, Love, and Paleo y’all!

-Meister