Summer time is full of BBQs, especially around July 4th. Well, what's better than fireworks, good people, and GOOD FOOD!?
Good news: Contrary to popular belief, BBQs are very paleo-friendly and make eating healthy easy. Why is that? THE GRILL! Bring your meat, bring your veggies, throw them on the grill, and enjoy some good, healthy food! Okay okay, so what OTHER than meat and veggies on the grill can you eat that doesn't require you to deviate from your paleo-streak? This July 4th, save your gut the grief by avoiding bread and pasta salad, and instead enjoy BACON-WRAPPED DATES!
Lil' bites of paleo deliciousness!
Bacon-wrapped dates are so easy to make and everyone loves them...yes EVERYONE! As the perfect combination of salty and sweet, this paleo appetizer is one I bring to festivities often. Whether your friends are strict paleo or fast food junkies, I assure you they will enjoy this decadent meat candy.
1lb bacon (pasture-fed for best quality)
1 bag/container dates (pitted/unpitted, both ok)
You will need toothpicks so don't forget to grab a box of those too!
Dates & Bacon...doesn't get much simpler than that!
The first thing you do is preheat the oven to 350. Next, pit the dates...if you purchased them pitted, you're job just became EVEN EASIER! However, as a side note, dates purchased already pitted tend to be a bit less moist. This won't matter TOO much, but if you have the time, buy them pits-in and take the few minutes to squeeze them out yourself...enjoy the full effect of deliciousness! You also have the option of splitting the dates in half length-wise or leaving them whole, depending on how big of a bite you want, and how juicy you want the center of the date to be (this is not a make or break thing, but rather an issue of moistness...a date left whole will maintain more of its moist center). As for the bacon, I find that cutting each strip into 3 parts makes for a nice proportion of bacon-to-date. If you are crazy over bacon, go ahead and use an entire strip, but depending on how many people you are feeding this may get pricey!
Warning: Avoid urge to overeat!
Once you have your dates pitted and bacon the length you want it, it's time to get wrapping! Simply use your hands to wrap the piece of bacon around the date...then secure each bacon-wrapped date with a single toothpick. Place all the bacon-wrapped dates on a cookie sheet (covered with tin foil if prefered, but things get greasy regardless). Cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally. The cooking time really depends on how you prefer your bacon...for example, if you like your bacon crisp, cook a little longer. The dates will be really hot in the center, so be sure not to burn your tongue off...or should I say, enjoy with care!
This July 4th...EAT RESPONSIBLY! :)
As most of you know, I have been SLACKING w/ paleoscape lately...but I'M BACK (w/ a vengeance), as I officially have my Ph.D.
now! Who would have thought!?
Anyways, I have struggled the past few months with maintaining the paleo diet through writing my thesis and staying sane. Sitting at a desk for long, tedious bouts of time is draining. I work better at night, of course when all other distractions are sleeping, so my night sleep generally began around 3am on writing days. This is NOT GOOD. Physicians are now saying that 'hours of sleep a night' will soon become a vital sign, much like that of blood pressure or heart rate. Go figure...have you ever had a horrible night sleep (or barely any sleep at all) and the next day craved nothing but crap food? Sugary food? Yep...that's because lack of sleep has left your cortisol
out of whack. This makes sticking with paleo more difficult. Even worse, cortisol can make it very hard to lose weight or stay in shape, regardless of how clean you're eating. I will highlight cortisol later in another blog of its own, because those of you who know me personally, know that I love to talk about it!
Moral of the story, I am getting back on the paleo bandwagon full force AND making adequate sleep a NECESSITY (b/c it is). I will also be keeping up with the blog frequently. Graduate school has come to an end, I have obtained the Ph.D., and traveling the country has ceased for a bit. Thanks to all of you who have continued to e-mail me or send me messages related to paleo during my paleoscape blog hiatus...these things are always welcome and appreciated.
The subject of this blog is mantaining paleo-like eating while on the fly. For example, I was in airports for 12hrs on Tuesday traveling from San Diego back to Philadephila. So what did i do to avoid being infected by the standard american diet (SAD)? It is worth noting that NONE of the things I ate were OPTIMAL, but they kept me going throughout the day, and allowed me to avoid wheat, gluten, bread, corn, soy, etc. that form the basis of processed foods.
Breakfast: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant
What is shown here is what I did NOT eat for breakfast. The terminal I sat in for the morning had no 'sit-down' restaurants from which I could order eggs and bacon, the typical foundation of my breakfast. My choices were to intermittent fast (IF), or order something that I could modify to fit my diet. I hadn't slept great, and had been under a lot of stress from constant traveling, so I decided the timing was not optimal to IF. I ordered the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, of which I only ate the bacon, egg, and some of the cheese. I avoided what cheese I could, but not having an autoimmune disease myself, I knew a little dairy wouldn't harm me too much. You know you're paleo when...you eat sandwiches with a fork!
Snack 1: Tomato Juice
It's frustrating sitting on the plane for hours when you follow a paleo-like diet because the only drinks they offer that you can drink are water, and WATER! I suppose tea and black coffee also work...but this time I went for the 100% tomato juice. For me, tomato juice seems to give me that kick of vitality I need for long travel trips. If you can stomach the stuff, I'd say go for it (afterall, its free)!
Lunch: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Airport food is NOT CHEAP! My strategy: find a place where I can order lunch and dinner together for 'cheap.' I had a 5.5hr flight ahead of me, so in anticipation of getting hungry (and in an effort to avoid eating all the food im my parents house when I arrived late at night, as was the case in my past), I bought a dinner meal with my lunch and brought it on the plane with me. I will get to dinner in a bit...as for lunch, I ordered a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, which I have to admit is one of my favorites. The soup rang in at about $3 and was an impressive portion that included big chunks of chicken and avocado. I avoided the tortilla strips and some of the gooey cheese, and overall felt good about my lunch option. For soup, it was very satiating...satisfying.
Snack 2: 85% Dark Chocolate and Starbucks (my obsession).
Almost every day I have dark chocolate and starbucks, and in fact, I often indulge in the two together...the combo is to die for! I thoroughly enjoyed this snack just prior to my 5.5 hour flight. Why? Because although most people have the luxury of sleeping on airplanes, I canNOT. Instead, I capitalize on this time as 'research' or 'work' time. Coffee and chocolate definitely help fuel that!
Importantly, the chocolate I ate had no gluten, soy, or emulsifiers. It is dark enough to provide beneficial antioxidants, and even tastes delicious. I recommend trying this bar if you can find it at your local health food store. I purchased mine on sale for $2.99 at the local co-op in Iowa City before leaving for my trip across country...good find!
No Gluten, No Soy...DELICIOUS.
Dinner (in flight): Grilled Chicken Salad
As I mentioned earlier, I bought my lunch and dinner at the same place...a convenient mexican restaurant i stumbled upon in the airport. The soup was amazing, and so was this salad. The salad had an impressive amount of chicken, avocado, green lettuce, tomatoes, fresh feta cheese, and a little bit of an oily vinegarette. For those of you with autoimmune or who are trying to lean out, I would advise you to stay dairy-free, and therefore avoid the feta cheese in this salad. Also, I am not certain of the quality of the vinegarette, or even chicken for that matter, but this option was better than other options offered at airports: fast food, pizza, bagels, candy, soft pretzels, etc. It is worth noting that including a oil on salad facilitates extraction of the vitamins and minerals from the vegetables/lettuce- a good thing! Also, a tip that I live by is that if my only options are not high quality meat, stick with inherently lean meats- in this case, chicken. Overall, for $13 I had a very satisfying lunch and dinner.
Snack 3: Custom-made Raw Trail Mix
The best way to eat cheap on the go is to bring your own food...duh. Before leaving for my cross country trip I ordered a custom-made 5lb bag of trail mix...yes 5 pounds! For those of you interested: www.nutsonline.com
, have a field day. My mix included raw nuts (macadamia, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds), dried fruit (cherries, star fruit, chocolate covered goji berries, and coconut flakes). This was a great go-to snack to have on the road, in the plane, post workout, or when I needed something to get me through a few more hours to the next meal (which is important when traveling b/c we can only afford to buy so many good meals).
I hope my 'on-the-go" menu has provided you with some options to consider next time you're on the road/ in the air. The basis of good health is eating real food. Eating real food is ALWAYS a possibility...don't sell yourself short no matter where you are...this is YOUR life we are talking about.
I'M BACK! ;)
I'm sure we can all agree, some days are just CRAZY! This was the case for me yesterday... does that mean I went out and got McDonalds? NO. The way I see it, there is always time to make a healthy dinner because without health we wouldnt even be here to live our busy days.
Fortunately when I got home from crossfit around 7:30pm, I had wild alaskan salmon thawed in my fridge, which is about the most low maintenance main dish to prepare/make.
Some seriously good stuff
~1lb Wild Alaskan Salmon
1 bunch asparagus
2-3Tbsp Coconut Oil
1-2 cloves garlic
All it takes
Depending on the time of year, asparagus can be CHEAP. Buy it. It used to be the only vegetable I dispised... until I tried it fried in garlic and coconut oil. Seriously scrumptious. On the other hand, wild alaskan salmon is never going to be cheap, BUT if you are going to spend money on salmon, it is irrational to do so on the stuff that is farm-raised (high in mercury, comprised of low quality fats, etc.). How healthy can fish be that are kept in a small area ('farm') and once killed pumped full of dyes to look a pretty orange? Yuck.
Washed and cut, each into 3 pieces, you only want the top 2!
Asparagus, coconut oil, pan
I add the top two portions of the asparagus to ~2Tbsp coconut oil in a big sautee pan. Reasoning: I find they cook better when I don't leave them long and whole, AND the bottom third tastes hard and GROSS.
Making use of the rest of my leftover thyme!
Do you need to use thyme? NO. This is why it is not in the ingredients. Half the time I cook, I am just trying to make use of the things in my fridge... afterall people are starving so it shouldn't be wasted! The tin foil? I don't particularly LOVE doing dishes, so lining the pan with tin foil makes for an amazingly easy clean up. Definite plus!
To prepare the salmon, I placed it skin-down on top of the tin foil containing roughly 1Tbsp melted coconut oil and thyme. I then topped the salmon with a couple spices I chose from my cabinet- paprika and pepper. Feel free to add garlic powder, salt, and whatever else you want to try. Finally, I placed two thin slices of butter on top of the fish. This helps coat the fish while cooking to maintain flavor and moisture... butter = yum. For those of you with dairy issues or autoimmune disease, ghee is a great alternative. Ghee is essentially butter that has had its "milk constituents" removed, and accordingly is often referred to as "clarified butter." Ghee is a bit pricey, but if you think butter tastes good, this stuff is RICH to a whole new level! If any of you try it let me know what you think. As a side note, I have, and ghee + sweet potatoes = paleo candy.
Back to the food: place the salmon in the oven and bake at 375 for ~20min- QUICK! As for the asparagus... Once it becomes lathered in the coconut oil, add the chopped garlic in as well as some salt/pepper if you wish. Cook the asparagus on medium until the fish is done, mixing occasionally. You want the vegetable soft, but not soggy.
I couldn't resist the parmesan cheese in my fridge, so I grated some on top.
Ready to be devoured in 20min.
When the fish is done, so is the asparagus. Convenient right?? Literally, 5 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook. It is nothing fancy, but is delicious and perfect for post workout nutrition recovery. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (and frequently do)!
I hit up CrossFit Epic
at noon today, so my night was free to play in the kitchen. I made use of a spaghetti squash I had picked up at the store about a week ago, as well as some left over sage just for the hell of it.
Spicy Pork Sausage
For those interested in the sauce click above. I used Muir Glen brand, all natural organic pasta sauce (Garden Vegetable). I have also used pure tomato sauce from pureed tomatos. Both are delicious, I just love trying new things! When choosing your sauce beware of ingredients (chemicals) that you have never heard of and SODIUM levels!
Handmade, natural, spicy pork sausage, about 3/4lb
Baked spaghetti squash
Literally as easy as buying the squash and then sticking it straight on the rack in the oven at 375-400F for about 45 minutes (until soft to the touch). For those of you with microwaves (NOT me) I believe you can stick it in there and have it ready in under 15 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large sautee pan, throw about 1-2Tbsp of coconut oil and melt over medium-high heat. Coconut oil is comprised of saturated fat and is therefore very heat stable and ideal for use with cooking. More on this in a later post.
Meatballs, fresh chopped garlic, fresh sage
Using my hands, I rolled portions of the pork sausage into meatballs and dropped them into the pan containing the coconut oil. After cooking a few minutes I added 2 cloves of chopped garlic and some sage I had leftover (it was going to go bad in the next couple days so I decided to throw it in and experiment)! Once the meatballs were mostly cooked on all sides, I rinsed and threw in some crimini mushrooms (about 1-2 cups whole).
After the mushrooms cooked a few minutes, I added a jar of all natural organic tomato sauce. On top of this I sprinkled the rest of the pine nuts I had hiding in my cabinet since Thanksgiving. I had never tasted pine nuts before then, and was pleasantly surprised by their buttery, nutty flavor. I have heard they are even tastier if baked at low heat for a few minutes prior to using, but have never done this myself. Personally, I don't want to risk the chance of burnt nuts, and it's just faster my way...BUT, if any of you try it please comment.
Sans seeds, spaghetti scooping
When the squash is soft to the touch, remove from the oven and cut in half lengthwise. I used to cut prior to cooking, but trust me when I say the cutting it SO much easier if baked first! Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and then fork away at the flesh. The squash should easily detach from the skin and resemble spaghetti! Add this beautiful 'squashgetti' to your sauce mixture and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to distribute.
I grated a little fresh parmesan on mine only because I had some in the refrigerator, but the flavor is so fantastic it is definately not necessary. I will certainly be making this again, SOON.
I recommend accompanying with red wine, only because it is my favorite. Tonight I went with Malbec. YUM!