Grab and Go Lunch

  
Well it’s summer, and we are BUSY! Rob and I have realized the quickest way for us to derail from the paleo path is when we fail to plan. I went out of town last weekend, missed our normal grocery shopping day, and so this week has been creative cooking week. I made it to the store tonight and then spent about 10 minutes chopping in the kitchen. It really doesn’t take long to prep and it makes a world of difference on a busy morning. 

I made 4 of these Italian salads using up the last of our veg from last week including:

-leftover shredded lettuce from last nights tacos

-one yellow bell pepper

-one cuccumber

-half a carton of cherry tomatoes

-half a bundle of green onions

-half a red onion

-a few banana pepper rings

-hard salami 

Chop!Chop! 

Done. 

  
Now we are both set to finish out the week, in the morning we can dress these, grab some fruit and some nuts and a bottle of water and lunch is packed! 

Paleo-on-the-go! 

-In other Sandwell life news we recently updated our Kitchen and baby J started eating food! So I’m learning all about how to make baby food. So probably posts on that coming up, stay tuned! 

Paleo meatloaf

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures but it was just too tasty we gobbled it down before I thought to take pictures. I’ll share my recipe, but I need advice, without bread crumbs, there is nothing to absorb the juices, how do get this to “loaf”? Don’t get me wrong it tasted amazing. But it wasn’t something we could slice, it was more like a delicious meat pile. At any rate no ego here please share your tips for me I you have a secret to Paleo meatloaf this girl wants to know!

*Preheat oven to 450

In a large bowl mix
1 lb grass fed beef
1 diced green pepper
1 diced red onion
1 handful of diced baby Bella mushrooms
1 cup of cauliflower (I put mine in a food processor until it is the texture of rice)
2 raw eggs (for binding purposes)
1 large can of gluten free marinara sauce *reserve a little to top the loaf with

Mix all together and then form into a loaf pan and then pop in the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 I top it with the last of the marinara and let it go 15 more.
-I’ve also used pepper jelly, or pineapple preserves to top it with. Sweet goes great with the savory. Think outside the box. (Which means step away from the ketchup bottle)

Please leave a comment of you have tips to improve my recipe 🙂

Attempted Paleo Potato Pancakes

Attempted Potato Pancakes

Last night we had Shepard’s pie for dinner and we are both working late several nights this week, so I made a giant batch of mashed potatoes.

I do this pretty often if I’m taking the time to make a multistep dish I usually just make a big ole batch. It’s not much more work to make a double batch and it makes for easy dinners later in the week.

This morning I thought it would be fun to make potato pancakes.

Wrong.

I’m not sure why since I’ve never ever ever not ever been successful at making pancakes that I could whip up a potato version.

It wasn’t pretty.
But it was tasty.

Here’s what I did I took about two cups of mashed potatoes and added an egg. 20130910-150135.jpgWhip em together and heat a little oil on the stove at a med high heat. Then plop the taters in.

If you dip the back of your spoon in the hot oil you can press down the potatoes into a pancake shape with out it sticking to them.20130910-150329.jpgAfter they get nice and browned on the edges flip them over.

This is where it all went wrong. I’m a terrible flipper. It all fell apart. 20130910-150504.jpgBut then I had a moment of inspiration brought to me by my former pre-paleo life and steak and shake.

Silver dollar potato pancakes.
So I changed my method and made them smaller. This worked better but not wonderful.

In the end they were not beautiful but they were amazing tastey!!!

*most recipes for potato pancakes include some flour, I think that would have helped but really for the most part I just have no flipping skills. I will let Rob do the flipping next time.

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Fish and Chips

20130828-215850.jpgA lot of people have been asking me about my fish recipe lately. Pescetarians have said to me, “I’m interested in Paleo, but I still don’t want to eat red meat. What can I do?” Well if you’ve been reading our blog, you know that we use a wide range of proteins, including beef, pork, and a variety of poultry. And fish!

Tonight we were both just tired. We’ve been working long hot days, and we’re broke, and we wanted something easy to cook. So we thought we’d throw some foil packets on the grill. We had a couple of lemon-pepper cod fillets we bought from the grocers, so we decided to cook those with some potatoes and onions.

I got out some heavy aluminum foil and brushed it with roll butter and sprinkled salt, pepper, and cayenne on it. Then I sliced a lemon and made two little stacks on the foil of lemon slice/fish fillets/lemon slice.

While I was preparing that, she put a rustic chop on a bag of variety garden potatoes and a red onion. I prepared another piece of foil the same way, butter/salt/pepper/cayenne, and we put the potatoes and onion on the foil with some minced garlic and a few small pieces of butter.

We wrapped up the foil and I started the grill. I let it heat up, then I put it on the lowest setting with the two foil packets on the top shelf and set a timer for ten minutes. When it went off, I flipped the two packets and let them cook for another seven minutes before pulling them off.

I let the foil packets sit for a few minutes to finish cooking and cool, and then we opened them up to reveal the goodies inside. Always be careful with this. There’s a lot of steam in those packets and you can burn yourself. We both like vinegar on our fish, although this fish is delicious and you can eat it just like it comes off the grill. I went with a pomegranate infused red wine vinegar, she went with mild salad vinegar. Next to that we both had big piles of potatoes and onions.

These meals were fantastic. Crazy delicious, really easy, and super filling. It probably took about forty five minutes between prep and cook time, but the prep was mostly just slice and chop, and the cooking was mostly just waiting for a timer to go off. We use a propane grill, but you could use a charcoal grill if you want, or even just cook this in your oven. It’s really just steaming, we just do it on the grill because it’s convenient for us.

We didn’t use to eat a lot of fish, but since we’ve started eating Paleo we’ve started diversifying our foods more and more and fish has become a regular part of our diet. So have a lot of new vegetables. And we’ve found we’re starting to really look forward to a lot of these foods. A lot of people think fish smell bad, but when we opened up the butcher paper tonight our first thought was “Yum!”

Give this recipe a try. There are lots of different fish you can cook like this, we just buy cod because we’re broke and it’s cheap. But it tastes great! And the potatoes are awesome! And it made plenty for us to save some for breakfast tomorrow.

We might not eat fried fish and french fries anymore, but we can still have fish and chips for dinner any time we want. You might not eat red meat, but you can still eat Paleo. Get creative. You’ll like the results. Leave a comment and let us know how this recipe works for you!

Salad for Breakfast

I had to go into work super early today and didn’t have time to make anything for breakfast. But I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I didn’t want to try to do it on an empty stomach. Which ended up being a good idea, because it turned out to be a busy day. So I went down to the food court to see if anybody was open. And the only place that was was a chicken sandwich place. But they sell salads, so I figured I’d try my luck.

I tried their Cobb Salad, which I ordered with grilled chicken instead of the breaded chicken it normally comes with; and without cheese or dressing. The grilled chicken was served cold, which may have been because it was nine am and they were just opening, or may have been because that’s how they serve it. I didn’t really care enough to ask. I didn’t realize until I opened it up that it also had corn on it, which I normally don’t eat and mostly picked out with my fork, although I wasn’t overly concerned and I definitely ate some of it. Other than that it was served with some crispy pepper strips which I skipped because they listed some grain products in the ingredients, and tomatoes and carrots and eggs and bacon which I did eat.

I had the whole thing dry. And before I took a bite I really wanted to cover it with dressing. But then I tried it and it was awesome and I devoured it as quickly as I could. I still experience some of the old cultural programming that makes me think veggies don’t taste good unless they taste like ranch dressing. But as soon as I take the first bite I remember how amazing meat and vegetables and eggs and fruit taste and I don’t need to cover it all with cream sauce and croutons.

That simple cold salad of mixed greens and tomatoes and carrots and corn and eggs and bacon and chicken gave me the energy to power through a pretty busy day for about six hours until I took a break to eat another Larabar. Fruit Tart. And that got me through till dinner, when my wife prepared me an amazing spaghetti squash and meatballs. There was a time, not too long ago, when I would have been starving on 5000 calories before five pm. Today I had less than 700 total through breakfast and lunch. The more I eat nutrient dense food, the smaller my portions become and the longer they sustain me. It really is an amazing thing. Nutrition is so much more complex than “calories in/calories out.”

The idea of a salad for breakfast seems really crazy. When I was younger I remember thinking mockingly of that as “rabbit food.” Even as I got older and started eating a lot more salads I rarely thought of them as “main course” material, even with meat. I wanted something more. Something extra. Even when they were covered in dressing. Now I can eat a fairly small dry salad and run at top shape for hours.

Paleo doesn’t mean every meal has to be a salad, or you have to survive on nothing but shakes or granola bars, or starve yourself to get by. Most days I’m eating grilled meats and roasted vegetables and potatoes and squash and succulent fruits. Every once in a while I’m on the go and in a hurry and have to make due. But I’m finding the more I make the right decisions, even in a pinch, the easier everything becomes.

ChickfilA-Cobb-Salad

Breaded Pork Chops and House Salad with Cheese

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Mrs. Sandwell and I went out to one of our favorite Italian restaurants recently. We specifically asked the waitress not to bring us bread and to leave cheese off of all our food. She gave us some static about it throughout the evening, repeatedly, but was generally a very good natured waitress. We enjoyed her service thoroughly and tipped her well.

We both ordered the same thing. A house salad, which was fantastic. And was delivered with Parmesan cheese all over it. And for the main course I was going to order a large antipasto salad, but the waitress sold me on the special which my wife also ordered. Pork Chops with Roasted Red Potatoes. “That sounds delicious!” I thought. And it was. It was also breaded pork chops, which I only found out when they arrived. They were also served with green beans, which was a delightful and unexpected surprise since the waitress didn’t mention them when describing the special to us earlier.

So even though I specifically asked that our table not receive any bread or any cheese, we got cheese on our salads and breaded pork chops, both without warning. We were also offered garlic bread and cheese on our dishes, despite having previously expressed our preference repeatedly. Our waitress even said, “Oh, I thought you meant the other cheese.”

We didn’t let any of this bring us down. We didn’t get bent at the waitress or make a scene. She really was a pleasant waitress. And we had a great date night. I’ve said before, “When someone else is doing the cooking try to be gracious about the results.” So we didn’t have the perfectly Paleo meal we had planned. That we had specifically chosen THAT restaurant to go to for. That didn’t ruin our evening or cause any drama. The breaded pork chops with red potatoes and green beans were fantastic. So was the house salad with cheese. It was a great meal, and one great meal with a few grams of food we don’t normally consume isn’t gonna be the reason my legs fall off.

It’s easy to get really caught up in what you’re focused on. And that’s good, because you really want to be conscious of what you’re ingesting and making intentional decisions about your nutrition. But sometimes life throws you a curve ball. I could have been a big jerk about the whole thing, and yelled at the waitress, and embarrassed my wife in public, and demanded I get my meal for free. I wouldn’t even have been that out of line. I couldn’t have been more clear about “no bread no cheese.” But instead we smiled and laughed and had a wonderful meal and went on our merry way.

The world at large doesn’t get it yet. The more experienced you are with Paleo, the more you encounter that. “No cheese” means “the other cheese.” “No bread” somehow doesn’t include bread crumbs. It’s all the time, everywhere. It’s people saying, “I don’t eat much bread; I only had a croissant and a muffin for breakfast and pasta for lunch and pizza for dinner and soda all day.”

You can rage at that, or you can chuckle at it. You can throw your food in the waitress’ face, or you can enjoy a delicious meal. Your choice won’t change the world. But it might change your evening.

We loved our dinner. And later we talked about how it’d probably make us feel a little sick, and how we’d probably experience a little bloating from it, and how tasty it was. And we’ll definitely go back to that restaurant. And next time I know to be more specific about my salad, and not to order the breaded pork chops. Instead I’ll get the grilled chicken or the antipasto salad, both of which are also excellent.

Learning how to live the Paleo lifestyle is more than just caloric math equations or lists of allowed or prohibited foods. It’s about education and objectivity and rational decision making. And at it’s most basic, it’s about having a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s about being healthy. And your mental and spiritual health is just as important (or more so) than the number on the scale or the size of your pants. It only makes so much sense to stand firm on a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and ruin your evening and your marriage and bring long lasting drama and stress and negativity into your life by throwing a fit at a restaurant. Sometimes the healthy decision is just to enjoy your evening.