Short Ribs with a side of Emotion

Ok guys, I gotta be straight with you.  I’m having a pretty intense reaction to all of the bombing at the Boston Marathon stuff….to the point where I’m not allowing myself to watch the news or turn on any sort of talk radio.  For a good hour this afternoon, I was in complete fight or flight mode, stressing hugely over one of my best friends in the entire world who had been in Boston and had posted some pics of the marathon to Facebook about 3 hours prior to this all going down.  Needless to say, until I heard he was OK, I was a wreck.  Regardless, I’m in a complete state of shock.  The capacity for hate and destruction that some people possess truly terrifies me.  For far too long, I was the kind of person who held grudges, who had a negative outlook, and who saw the darkness in everyone and everything.  The root of this was my own hatred of myself, my place in life, and my body.  I have worked so incredibly hard to NOT be the person that harbors any sort of anger or hatred for anyone or anything, so the events of today have left me completely confused.  Now, I’m not going to make any sort of political statement here, or take any stance….but I AM going to say that I think the root of all of this lies not a gun control issue or a terrorism issue, but a lack of respect and love.  Respect and love for yourself, for each other, for your world, and your future.  Call me simplistic, but that’s where I’m at.  So I’m gonna keep doing what I can to put my positivity out into the world, because God knows there is more than enough hate to go around.

Anyways, other than that, things are going pretty great right now.  I bought my plane ticket for Cancun today!!!  Not gonna lie, I got the jitters when I hit the “book now!” button.  Then immediately had buyer’s remorse…..to which I promptly smacked myself in the forehead and was like “WAKE UP! When are you gonna get to do this?!” So, I’m over that now and have moved on to being SUPER excited!! Had a great day in the gym today….added 20 pounds to my back squat, so there’s that! Plus, I’m over the initial hump of the Whole30 where all I could think about is food.  Because I’ve done this before, I feel like that period was much shorter for me, and now, on Day 8, I’m not thinking/living/breathing/dreaming food!  It is shifting back into a position to fuel me, not just satisfy boredom.  Slowly but surely, I feel like I’m tackling that stupid sugar demon!!  I’m still eating a small amount of fruit each day, but I’m OK with that.  You know what else is great about fruit?  You can add it to savory things and it adds just a hint of sweetness!  Like it did with these….

short ribs

I know it looks like a somewhat gnarly pile of meat….but I swear to you, these were some of the most AMAZING short ribs I’ve ever made!  Plus, they go in the crockpot, so they are SUPER easy to prep, cook, and clean up!  Win all around!

Blackberry Balsamic Short Ribs

  • 3-ish pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 10-15 large blackberries
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 10ish leaves fresh sage, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a deep skillet, melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
  2. Sear short ribs in the coconut oil on all sides.  You only need to get a thin crust on the meat, not cook it through, so about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. In a bowl, mix together vinegar, tomato paste, and water.
  4. When ribs are seared, add them to your crockpot.
  5. Pour liquid mixture over your ribs.
  6. Add spices, torn sage, smashed garlic, and blackberries in around the meat.
  7. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  I actually cooked mine on low for about 9 hours, then switched it to warm for another 2 (while I was at the gym) and they were great!  Falling off the bone beautifully!
  8. Stuff your face with hearty, rich, savory, meaty goodness!

The best part about this is that I was able to eat and do all of the “cooking” dishes in less than about 35 minutes….which was amazing!  Not to mention, it was nice to have something already cooked when I got home from the gym and my house smells AWESOME!  Sending a whole bunch of love and calming, healing thoughts to all my homies in Boston.  Go love one another.

PEACE. LOVE. and Paleo.

-Meister

Fighting Sugar Demons….

minty temptation

For real.  Sorry if this offends you, it’s truth.

Remember when I talked about those STUPID Lifesavers mints in my desk drawer haunting me?? Yeah, here they are, trying that crap again.  Seriously, every single time I opened this drawer I caught a minty whiff.  It took every bit of willpower I had today NOT to destroy these.  Again, they aren’t even worth it!  If I’m gonna go to sugar town on crappy candy, I’m gonna get after some Hot Tamales…..because THOSE are perfection!

I’m at the successful completion of Day 4 of my Cancun Challenge!  It honestly, food wise, hasn’t been that difficult for me yet.  Yes, I’ve had a couple of random cravings; however, when those pass, I’m good.  I was eating pretty strictly Paleo before I started.  I had completely cut out gluten for over a year, and had cut down on processed junk long ago.  But I have to be honest, the true test will be this weekend.  I always ALWAYS generally do some sort of baking on the weekends.  Not sure what I’m going to do with myself!  Plus, I don’t have family dinner on Sunday to look forward to because my parents left this morning for Maui.  They are jerks.  Flaunting their Hawaiian gear while here in good old O-town, we’ve had every possible form of precipitation in the last 24 hours.  That being said, I’m pretty sure BOTH my folks packed their PaleoMeister shirts, and intend to rock the shit out of them all over that island.  I’m fairly certain there will be photographic evidence of this, and it will likely end up here…..because although they may be jerks, they are FREAKING ADORABLE.  For real, my folks are the greatest!

Guess what else is awesome?!?  I finished my State Testing today!!!  This is HUGE!  So relieved to go back to my regular schedule tomorrow.  Now it’s just 6 glorious weeks until summer break!  On the whole, this year has been amazing so far.  Great coworkers, great building, and GREAT kids.  Gonna really miss some of the 8th graders as they go on to high school….but until that day comes, I’m hoping for a ROCKIN’ end of the year!

Ok, recipe time! I was originally going to make meatballs, but when the evening rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling it!  Plus, I had some beautiful portobello mushrooms in my fridge, so I decided to stuff them!  Realistically, I got lazy and didn’t want to roll a whole bunch of meatballs….so sue me! Also, this red sauce is killer!  I’m a sucker for good red sauces, but getting good flavor without throwing some red wine in can be difficult….but this one nails it!  I apologize that it just looks like a meat pile in this picture.  I promise there is a mushroom under there!!

stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Red Sauce

For the Stuffed Mushrooms (I made these first, then while they were baking, assembled my sauce):

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and “gills” (the brown undersides) removed with a spoon…..carefully scrape them out, you don’t want to tear your mushrooms!
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt AND pepper
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped (this ingredient isn’t totally necessary, but makes it MUCH more awesome!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the meat up with your hands, gently incorporating all of the seasonings and herbs.  Don’t OVER mix it or it will become tough.
  4. Divide your meat into 4 equal portions and stuff into the cap of each mushroom.  You want to make sure you pack it pretty tightly and in an even, relatively flat layer.
  5. Arrange your stuffed mushrooms in a glass baking dish (you might have to use 2 dishes, depending on the size of your mushrooms)
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. While these are baking for the first 30 minutes, make your sauce!

For the red sauce:

  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup liquid (I used water, but your could use any kind of stock)
  • 5-7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, add a tablespoon of olive oil.  When warm, add in your onions and garlic.  Saute until the are softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add in your fresh herbs, and lightly toss them with the hot oil and veggies.
  3. Dump in your fire roasted tomatoes and your tomato paste.  Stir slowly to combine.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste starts to loosen up.
  4. Add in your 1 cup of liquid slowly, until you achieve the thickness of sauce you want.  I used the entire cup, and I still ended up with a thick chunky sauce.  It was perfect!
  5. Stir in your dry seasonings and simmer on low until mushrooms are finished with their first 30 minutes of cooking (about 15 minutes).  You will want to slightly cover it so it doesn’t splatter everywhere, and stir every couple of minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan.  That would SUCK!
  6. When mushrooms are done, remove them from the oven.  They WILL NOT be done, so don’t worry if they still look pink!
  7. Spoon sauce over each of the mushrooms.  Use as much as you like.  I didn’t drown mine, in fact, I had almost a cup of sauce leftover (which I put in a jar in the fridge for later)
  8. Put your saucy mushrooms back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes.  Cooking time will depend on how thick the stuffing layer is, how thick your mushrooms are, how much sauce you topped with, etc.  When in doubt, use a meat thermometer to check for “done-ness”.  Or if that is too much for ya, after another 30 minutes of cooking, pull one out…..cut into it, and if it’s still pink, put it back in.  It’s not too terribly hard!
  9. Plate up, and smash!  I served mine with some roasted veggies and it was AMAZING!

These turned out surprisingly well, considering the mushrooms were a last-minute game time decision. I took the leftovers to school today for lunch, and a substitute in the teacher’s lounge was like “I know that ain’t what they are serving in your cafeteria! You make that?”  It made me laugh.  Eat up my friends! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Day 1, on the books!

cilantro lime shrimp

Before I jump into recipe talk, I need to come clean and be brutally honest….I had a LEGITIMATE stare down with some lifesaver mints today in my classroom.  It was beyond stupid!  I’m not even joking when I say that: A. those mints kind of suck B.  I would have eaten one out of boredom, and just because I “couldn’t” have it and C. one of my students TOTALLY called me out on it.  Like I said, it was ridiculous.  This is exactly what happened the last time I did a Whole30.  I started getting random MENTAL cravings for things I don’t even usually eat; however, simply because it’s on the “no list” I instantly want it.  Noooo, I don’t have ANY emotional issues with food.  Clearly not!

Whatever, now that that’s out….today was just a total Monday.  In every sense of the word.  I put myself on autopilot and just went through the day.  Eh, those have to happen every once in a while I suppose.  On the UP side, I should be done with my State Testing this week!!  That will get a huge weight off of my shoulders.  It also means that I get to go back to real life, and better yet, REAL teaching!  Whaaaaat?  For real.  Giving tests is really, REALLY difficult and it sucks the life out of you.  I teach middle school for a variety of reasons, one of which is the amount of energy that I get from my kids.  That just doesn’t happen during testing time because of the serious environment.  Much like sunshine, good food, and excellent music, I need adolescent energy.  I’m weird.  Deal with it.

On to food!  I sat last night looking in my freezer thinking, “hmm…..shrimp?”  So I went with it!  My mom makes this Chinese coleslaw that has crushed up Ramen noodles in it.  She makes it for every summer party she goes to.  I hate it.  In fact, I hate raw cabbage in coleslaw form.  One of my friends describes it as wet grass and I couldn’t agree more…..that was until I had myself some Napa cabbage!  That shit is BOMB!  It’s also about the only cabbage I can stand in coleslaw form.  So, the slaw portion of my dinner was inspired by my wonderful Ma, and her super popular (though hated by me because I’m a jerk like that) coleslaw.  The shrimp was kind of an after thought.  I knew I wanted something spicy and green and fresh.  Plus, I’m totally in love with fresh cilantro right now….so that’s how this shrimp came to be!  Not to mention limes make me think of cocktails, which makes me think of summer…..which I want, NOW.  Here goes!

napa slaw

Napa Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 head of Napa cabbage, shredded (it’s a much more delicate leaf, both texture and flavor….or get regular cabbage if you dig it.  I don’t, not raw at least!)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced finely
  • 1 bunch (8-10) scallions, chopped up….both white and greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (you could use tamari or GF soy sauce…but I’m staying strict to no soy)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, peppers, and scallions in a large bowl.
  2. In a jar (or something else you can shake up dressing in) combine your vinegar, coconut aminos, olive oil, lime juice, and all spices.  Cap the jar and shake the SHIT out of it.  I happened to dance around to Whitney Houston in my kitchen while preparing this.  It helped, trust me.
  3. Pour about half of the dressing over the cabbage and toss well to coat it.
  4. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to blend flavors and such.  Top it with the sliced almonds and serve!  Top with more dressing if you like yours saucy-er!  Or better yet!  Top it with this shrimp!

Spicy Cilantro Lime Shrimp

  • 1-1.5 pounds of medium sized raw shrimp, peeled, de-veined , and tails off
  • 2 bunches of scallions, white and greens, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 serrano peppers, thinly sliced into rounds (these little guys can get HOT, so if you don’t get down like that, sub out jalapenos, or no peppers!)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  1. In a deep skillet, melt your coconut oil.
  2. When heated, add your shrimp in a single layer.  Season the shrimp with half of the seasoning mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp start to turn pink and curl up a bit.
  3. Flip shrimp and season with the remaining seasonings, it’ll form almost a crust on the shrimp.  Cook for another 2 minutes on this side.
  4. When shrimp is ALMOST cooked through, push it to the sides of the pan.  In the center, add your scallions and peppers.  Saute them for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Toss the shrimp and the veggies together to finish cooking.  Add in your lime juice and toss in your fresh cilantro.  Stir for about 1 minute to heat them through and coat your mixture in the juice.
  6. Devour.  For real.  I’m surprised I was able to snap a picture before scarfing mine down…..let alone exercise enough self control to pack up leftovers!

Here’s to freaking delicious food, kitchen dancing, the light at the end of the tunnel, and day 1 of Operation Cancun in the books!  I dare some stupid Lifesaver Mint to tempt me tomorrow….ain’t nobody got time for that! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

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