Comfort Food

I’ve been quite under the weather lately… Went from running a personal best 5K with my beautiful sister to almost being unable to hold my head up all day and passing out on the bus/in meetings… I’ve not exercised in a week and a half and it’s mentally starting to get to me… I’m hoping to go for a walk after work tonight… slow and not very far is fine by me but I need some freakin’ fresh air.

The one thing that has not suffered while I’ve been feeling unwell is my appetite, thank goodness!  While my sister and I were trying to rule possible causes of this either in or out, she was asking me if I was craving shit food, salty food etc…. thankfully no, I’m quite happy with my Whole30 choices and my standard fare…but sometimes you just want some ‘comfort food’.

The two new things that I am completely obsessed with right now are what I like to call Warm Turkey Coleslaw and Deconstructed Reuben.  One is my own invention and one is a knock off from Well Fed 2’s Reuben Rollups. Both are VERY easy to make and require very little effort, which is great for me right now…

First up, let’s talk Coleslaw… it’s one of my FAVORITE salads of all time!  When I did my first Whole30 last February, I gave up ‘sauce’ and ‘dressing’ because I wasn’t very culinarily (word?) inclined and making dressings and sauces seemed out of reach… so I ate a lot of ‘dry’ food… that meant that things that were on the menu previous, such as coleslaw were disallowed because there is no commercial coleslaw dressing that doesn’t involve at least sugar and vegetable oil…

After a year of making everything I eat and becoming significantly MORE culinarily inclined, I ventured into the world of sauces and the amazingness that is Paleo Mayo!  Home made mayo… kid you not, it’s good enough to eat right out of the jar off a spoon… forget everything you THINK mayo is and go ahead and make yourself some… you won’t regret it.

So!  Now that I had Mayo back, I could have things like coleslaw, right? 

Okay well, me being me, I like to have ‘one bowl’ meals… everything in the same bowl, all mixed together, covered in ‘sauce’ and eaten with a spoon.  Yes, it’s kind of weird but to each their own.

So enter Warm Turkey Coleslaw.  Salad, protein and warm… score!

Basically, during your weekly cookup, you’re going to cook a pound or so of ground turkey… add a ton of sage and thyme and a bit of salt and cook through.  You’ll also shred a few beets and slice up some cabbage. (I cut the cabbage in half and then slice the half rounds into long ‘noodles’.  You could also shred this like real coleslaw and it would be just as good).

When you’re ready for dinner, heat some coconut oil in a pan, toss in a few handfuls of cabbage… be generous, it cooks down.  When it’s almost cooked to your liking (shiny and a nice bright green color), add in some shredded beets and mix all together.  Then throw in your serving of the precooked ground turkey and let it all warm together.

Pile in a big bowl and then put a generous scoop of home made mayo on top.  Mix it all together and put a bit of salt and pepper on top.  Warm Turkey Coleslaw.  It’s amazing… just try it!  I’ve done this with left over cooked chicken thighs and when I ran out of meat, I made an opening in the middle of the pan and cracked a couple eggs into the middle… cook until the yolk is runny and the white is done and then squash it all together with the mayo in the bowl… also amazing!

coleslaw

The other really easy, really yummy thing I’ve been having is Deconstructed Reuben Sandwiches.  Basically just pile some pastrami or corned beef (good luck finding sugar free if you’re Whole30… I waited till I was officially done W30 to eat this because my Pastrami has a touch of added dextrose) on a plate.  Beside it pile some wine-free sauerkraut and then put a big dollop of home made mayo and a big dollop of wine free/sugar free grainy mustard.  You can be fancy and put the sauerkraut and sauce on the slice of meat and then roll it up if you’re inclined… that makes it look a bit nicer but I’m a smidge lazy lately.  The Reuben Rollup from Wellfed 2, which is where I got the idea suggests that you make a Russian Dressing (basically the home made mayo mixed with Kickass Ketchup) and use that as the sauce.  I’m sure it’s amazing but I’ve not made the ketchup yet so mayo and mustard it’s been and it’s pretty dang delicious!

reuben

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Delinquency is not really an option here…

Do you know what’s annoying? Making a life choice that stinks.  Oh sure, my life doesn’t stink and the choices that I’ve made probably don’t really stink either. But it’s really annoying when you put restrictions and boundaries in place for yourself and then they come back to cause you trouble.

What the heck am I talking about?  Why food, of course!

In the good old days of not caring what I put into my body, I could spend an entire Sunday laying on the sofa and not give a flying rat butt about the next day’s meal, let alone week.  I could always just run to the store and grab a bag of bagels and a hunk of cheddar cheese and that was dinner.  Breakfast wasn’t even on my radar unless it was a muffin… with chocolate in it!  And lunch could be anything or nothing… I’d eat a brownie for an afternoon snack if I was hungry…

Since I’ve put restrictions on myself that include not eating brownies and chocolate filled muffins (seriously!) and not skipping meals, it’s made my life harder.  What’s that about?  I thought we were supposed to do things in our lives that made them easier… more navigable… work smarter, not harder…

I can no longer spend an entire morning and afternoon lolling around in bed taking naps… I mean, I can, but the chicken is not going to cook itself…the salad dressing will not blend itself and the kale and eggs can’t steam/cook themselves.  And before any of that even happens, I’m required to spend a significant amount of time THINKING about food… what will I eat… How much should I cook.  I’m only one person, so cooking huge batches of anything doesn’t really work well unless I want to eat the same thing for dinner 12 days in a row.  Even cooking a pork roast… the smallest one I can find, means that I’ll be eating pork all week.  Last week I prepped/made pork roast, a chicken curry and meatza crusts for dinner.  Uh, for one person, that is a LOT of food… the crust and the curry all ended up in the freezer. I might have to consider looking up what other singles do because unless I just eat the same thing/two things in a week, which I already do for every breakfast and lunch, it’s kind of hard…

I did spend almost all of yesterday in bed.  I know when my body is tired and I am not out of the woods of this incredibly emotional time right now so I didn’t feel bad about it.  It’s just that it’s kind of stressful knowing that the freedom of eating whatever you want (or nothing) is not there… I have set up my life to force responsibility around certain things and that can’t be let to slide…

I’m very tired and I hope any of this makes any sense… In a nut shell: 

I’m tired.

I can’t eat bagels and cheddar cheese.

Food won’t cook itself.

That is sometimes stressful.

This makes me tired.

The end.

Christmas is OVER!!!

That’s right, I said it!  Christmas is over!  It has to be!  I have a rash on the palm of my right hand from eating so much ‘junk’ over the last two weeks! I’ve always been able to tell if I’ve been a bit to free and easy with the ‘food fun’ because my skin protests a bit… Last night I found water blisters on the inside of my palm, which is the most extreme my skin has ever protested.

How did I get there?

Lets see…  Starting on Dec 13th and going until December 26th (read this list remembering that I am for the most part a strict W30er)

3 glasses of rose, 3 quiches, two macarons and a giant wedge of brie at a Christmas party.

Perogies, Caeser, creme caramel, brownies, cream puffs, some sort of egg/cheese thing wrapped in a tortilla for our Birthday Brunch

Deep fried chicken wings and caeser salad for our work Christmas lunch

Approximately half the world’s supply of Purdy’s caramels and other assorted chocolates, a VERY salty burger (no bun) with some sort of peanut butter sauce, one ceaser, one vodka soda and chocolate peanut butter ice cream for my birthday.

Japadog, Iraqi dinner, carrot cake, cheese cake, Coconut Milk London Fog (carrageenan) for 2nd Birthday Dinner.

Breakfast wrap with cheese and flour tortilla, another Coconut London Fog, two truffle things, FiveGuys Burger and the rest of the carrot cake for Snow Day.

*** I should mention here that by Friday at 10am I started to get a pretty killer headache and by 10pm, I was in a full blown migraine situation that lasted until Saturday night.  So I was pretty good Sunday and Monday…except for eating what can only be described as all the Lindt balls in the whole world***

Turkey dinner with floured gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, parsnips with cream cheese, more lindt truffles, chocolate covered almonds, some sort of cheese/dairy cocktail dip, salami, butter tarts, some sort of mint pudding and a lot of wine… that was Christmas Eve.

Bailey’s spiked coffee (2), chocolate almonds, butter tarts, turkey dinner with cheese/cream mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce (sugar), floured gravy, short bread cookies and a lot of wine.  That was Christmas Day.

Crackers, cocktail dip, a LOT of those puffy cheesies, a lot of wine, turkey dinner with floured gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, three different kinds of Christnas pudding covered in three different kinds of sugar based sauce, more of those puffy cheesies things.  That was boxing day.

Somewhere in there I also consumed fudge, ice cream and eggnog.  IT’s no damn wonder that I am MISERABLE right now and have started my January Whole30 five days ahead of time.

I will say tho that I appreciated every bit of ‘food fun’ that I participated in. It is certainly not the norm for me and aside from the disgusting list above, there were some good choices, some ground-standing and some healthy options involved,  If life is about balance, then I got my fill of the fun side for the whole rest of the year!

If anyone is joining me in feeling like they had their ‘food fun’ but now feel like it’s in everyone’s best interest to get back to basics, why wait for January 1!!  Nothing magical happens on the 1st of January.  You make your own magic every time you decide to make a good choice.

Now, bring on the herbal tea! Gotta wash some of the toxins out!

Calculations

I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day during the week, so it was relatively simple to figure out how much I was spending. I’ve rounded some of the costs up so that the budget I make from this takes into account inflation over the next few months and if some things increase in price.  For instance, I think the Romaine hearts are a 6pk for $5.49 but I’ve rounded it up to $6. 

Breakfast in the weekday mornings consists of shredded sautéed Brussels sprouts and par steamed broccoli, topped with a homemade breakfast sausage and a semi fried egg, along with ¼ of an avocado. 

I’ve started using local ground game instead of the standard ground pork/turkey from Costco.  The sausages taste better (Buffalo is so good!) but it might turn out to be one of the places I can cut my spending. 

I made Buffalo Breakfast Sausage this week and my 500g of ground meat ($9) made 6 patties.

The eggs I buy are $7.99 for 18, so each egg works out to be 44cents.

5 Avocado from Costco are normally $5.99 but last week I got them for $4.99, so the ¼ I ate for breakfast weighs in at a whopping 25cents. Since they’re not normally on sale, I’ll calculate the ¼ using the regular price.

I use a half a bag of broccoli ($5/bag) and a half a bag of Brussels sprouts ($4) and divide the total of that into 5 meals.  That makes the Broccoli portion 50cents and the Brussels portion 40cents.

For Lunch every day I have one romaine heart (6pk for $6) topped with 3 baked chicken thighs, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 1/5 a jar of homemade Caesar salad dressing and ¼ of an Avocado.  Sometimes I have ½ a grapefruit with it.

The chicken thighs are from Costco and come about 26 to a package for about $22.  The Caesar Salad dressing costs me $3.25 to make and it lasts for a whole week.  The tomatoes come in a small clamshell for $4.49 and the Avocado is another ¼ from the daily Avocado that comes 5 to a bag for $5.99. The grapefruit come 9 to a bag for $8.99… they’re HUGE!

Breakfast Summary:

1 Sausage $1.50

1 Egg $0.44

¼ Avocado $0.30

Broccoli Sauté $0.50

Brussels Sauté $0.40 

Total Breakfast $3.14

I think if I switched back to ground turkey or ground pork from Costco I could probably save about $0.75 per patty… I don’t know if it’s worth it to switch from grass fed organic ground game to Costco portions of ground meat for a savings of $0.75 a meal.

I don’t know what a standard Paleo Breakfast is supposed to cost though… 

Lunch Summary:

 1 romaine heart $1

3 chicken thighs $2.53

1/5 jar of Caesar Salad Dressing $0.65

1/5 Clamshell of Cherry Tomatoes $0.89

¼ Avocado $0.30

½ Grapefruit $0.50 

Total Lunch $5.87

There are a couple ways I could cut back for lunch.  I currently buy the Romaine hearts but I can buy one pound of mixed spring greens that lasts a week for about $3.49.  I could also buy less expensive cherry tomatoes (I buy the heirloom multi-colored ones) and hopefully when this produce comes into season at the local farmer market I can really save some money. I think I could also buy oranges or a different type of fruit that might come out to less than $0.50 per serving.  Again, I don’t know what a standard lunch costs.  It would be reasonable to compare this salad to the Whole Foods salad I used to buy that was essentially the same thing (although with the addition of unapproved cheese, dried cranberries and really nasty (but so tasty!) dressing.  Those calculated out to approximately $12-13 per serving and I didn’t get avocado, tomatoes or a grapefruit at that price.

My breakfast and lunch combined daily total is $9.01.  

It’ll take me a little longer to figure out the dinner calculation because I make something different each week and there’s usually enough for dinners and then some to freeze, along with a lion’s share of vegetables. I will also have to factor in the can of coconut milk I use per week which is $2.69, and then I’m not sure how I’m going to cost out tea and sparkling water.  I hope with everything included I can come in well under $100 for the full 7 days (weekends will be less expensive because I don’t seem to eat as much). 

I’d be interested in any thoughts or comments about the general cost of Paleo meals, or ways in which I can make this way of eating less expensive.  If I can’t, that’s one outcome of this exercise and I’m okay with that too!  Thoughts?

Dollars to Donuts

Well… donuts are verboten so lets talk about dollars. 

I have a rule in my house that goes like this:

We don’t throw out food.

That’s it.  There is no food throwing out… if the porkchops end up dry and over cooked, that’s too damn bad because that’s what’s for dinner… All those veg that I steam and roast in anticipation of the week?  They’re all eaten and not a single shred of Brussels Sprouts goes to waste.

This is night and day compared to the food situation I’ve been involved in, in the past.  I hate to be wasteful and I really loathe taking out the garbage and emptying the compost so it’s in my best interest to eat that which I bring into the house and that which I cook.  That being said, I feel that there is room in my cooking and feeding routine to save some money.  Lots of money is saved, comparatively speaking, from when I had less control over my food environment and things were thrown out constantly, but I believe that I can sharpen up my current feeding tactics and make it cheaper and I have a great reason to try.

I’m planning on hiring a weight lifting coach here in town.  I just sent an email to him to give him some background of my story and see if his philosophy and gym fits with what I’m looking for.  I’m hoping that he will agree to take me on as a client and give me direction and plans so I can work out myself between our sessions. The rate is reasonable but in order to make it work in the budget, I need to try and get my food purchases to be more efficient.

So for 14 days I’m going to document everything I eat.  Not in oz or grams or calories, but in dollars to see where my meals can be made more cost effective and where I am already doing well (I think breakfast is pretty good).  I will then take these two typical weeks and create from them a food budget.

And you’re in luck!  I’m going to share that information here with recipes where applicable.  I already know I have some great cost saving meals and recipes, so I’m hoping that I can tweak and adjust them to make them very valuable in the consumption department and very invaluable in the monetary department.

I’ll also post back and let you know if the weightlifting coach is going to work out and share my journey on that with you.

If you have any money saving recipes or tips/tricks that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments and feedback on the meals and expense will be appreciated too.  This will all start on Monday so I get two weeks and two weekends in the ‘study’, however since I eat a lot of the same stuff every week, I will start working on the math now.

Easy Whole 30 Chicken Curry

I like to make a ‘dinner’ item on Sunday night that I can then heat up and eat with freshly roasted or steamed veg for the weekday evenings.  Before I started my W30 endeavor in February, I wasn’t much of a cook.  It was even worse if you went back to this time last year when I would happily eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch or a bagel and cheddar cheese for dinner.  I bought my lunch almost every day, which was stressful and annoying, not to mention incredibly expensive.  Fast forward to now and I personally cook from scratch everything I eat.  I mentioned the other day to a friend that I should stop referring to myself as a bad cook because I’ve actually gotten quite good!

I have a pretty hard and fast rule about cooking and that is that I generally don’t make things that have more than ten ingredients.  Now, those ten don’t include salt and pepper, but usually I don’t even come close to the upper limit of ten, so my cooking is pretty fresh and pretty easy! I also usually only cook things that I know I can make a big batch of for left overs so that cooking during the week is a pretty uneventful ordeal.

To get inspiration for my meals, I usually go online and look at a few recipes of what I want to make and then make up my own version. I find that internet recipes are usually not seasoned the way that I like them, so when I write recipes, I expect people to take the seasonings as a guideline and often I don’t put in measurements.

That said, I’m going to share the delicious Chicken Curry that I made on Sunday. 

Leftovers

10-12 boneless,skinless chicken thighs

1 large can of diced tomatoes (check to ensure W30… dang sugar is in everything!)

1 large onion, diced

2 tbsp diced garlic (or whatever suits your taste)

1-2” of a piece of fresh ginger, grated

2-3 large handfuls of broccoli florets

1 can of coconut milk

Ground yellow curry powder

Ground cumin

Salt and Pepper

 Curry

Cover a large plate with a layer of curry powder, cumin and S&P

Coat both sides of each chicken thigh in spices.

Heat oil of choice in a non-teflon pan (I used coconut… went well with the dish but you can use EVOO) and then panfry thighs on both sides until cooked and juices run clear.

Remove chicken from pan.

Before deglazing, add ginger, garlic and chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes.

Next, add the can of diced tomatoes and the handfuls of broccoli and put the lid on.  The liquid from the tomatoes will deglaze your pan and give your sauce a lovely flavor.

While the broccoli is cooking, empty your can of coconut milk into a bowl and add in additional curry powder (I like my sauce very curry-y so I added 2-3 tbsp)

When the broccoli is cooked to your liking, add the coconut/curry mixture and cook for a few minutes.

I put this into containers in the fridge and when I’m ready for dinner, I roast some extra broccoli and throw some butternut squash into the pan with the heating chicken and sauce and then serve it all over the broccoli with some cubed cold avocado.

 curry 2