Taste the Rainbow Swiss Chard

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I would be TGIFing, if I didn’t have to work tomorrow. Luckily, whenever I work Saturdays, it doesn’t feel like a normal day of the week, so I fly through my day without thinking of it as a work week day but also not identifying with it as a Saturday. Kind of like a half day in school used to feel like. Anyway, I’ve got one more day to work tomorrow and then I am off Sunday and Monday. But then the following week is going to be the real tough one. I’ll be working at least one 12 hour day and at least one 16 hour day! I am already trying to mentally prepare myself for the battle of April 21st-26th. Plus, that will be my last week of Whole45! Note to self: spend your Easter Sunday and following day off work prepping meals for following work week. Blah.

Anyway, we will be leaving for my parents house tomorrow afternoon right after I get off work. Hubs is ecstatic to be spending Easter with them, because my mom will make sure there is a glazed spiral ham and a homemade coconut cake and Easter Bunny-delivered-jelly beans. I was originally going to host the Sunday lunch, but then I got in a car accident and broke my elbow and I happily let go of any plans I made that involved tons of cooking for people. This will be a perfect alternative because I can make a few side dishes for myself that nicely blend into the rest of the entrees. I have a few recipes in my head such as deviled eggs, sweet potato salad, pureed carrots, and I even purchased a lamb rack to roast so that I can have some protein that isn’t sugar-infused.

Anyway, I will stick with the retelling of tonight’s dinner recipe for now. I purchased some very colorful Rainbow Swiss Chard the other day. I have never had it before and it is so beautiful! It is one of those dark green veggies that I’ve been eyeing lately due to their Calcium-richness along with others like collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens.

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I took the leafy parts of the chard and threw them in a heated skillet with some coconut oil. At first, I thought I had way too much chard for the skillet; their leafy layers are thick and bountiful. Sure enough though, after a few simmering minutes, the chard shrunk in size and became deeper in color. Their taste and texture reminded me of collards but on a whole other level; thicker! I added some grilled chicken with just a slice of bacon to the mix. While my chicken and chard was cooking, I had a lovely NC-grown purple sweet potato I needed to use. At least I am assuming I needed to use it since mine had started sprouting! Crazy!

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How cool is that!? I peeled and chopped the potato and roasted it in the oven. I read only after I ate them that it was okay to actually eat a sprouted sweet potato. Ha! Apparently, it sprouted because of the humid environment it lives in. Anyway, the purple sweet potato was definitely another colorful addition to my bright dinner template.

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I diced it and then roasted it in the oven.

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I then plopped my rainbow chard chicken on top of my purple sweet potato in a (blue) bowl and ate it all!

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Now I’ll hopefully be glowing bright colors after I turn the lights off to go to sleep ;). Either that or tie-dyed like an Easter egg.

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St. Patty’s Potato-Free Irish Colcannon

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Happy St. Patty’s Day! Instead of suffering from the Irish flu, I put some green socks on and wore a Celtic knotted headband to work and had a productive Monday that flew by. I woke up this morning ready to go! I made a festive breakfast for Hubs: green eggs and kegs (minus the kegs)!

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I scrambled a couple of eggs together and squeezed a few drops of some green food dye in it. I was curious to know what was in the food dye: “water, propylene glycol, and propylparaben” to name a few. I wish I can figure out a way to use a natural green colored food dye. Maybe crushed up herbs or something? Hmmm…a project for next year! After reading the scary ingredient list, I decided to skip the green chemical and try out an equally festive theme: Taste the Rainbow!

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I added some parsley later to give it some green. I added yesterday’s Everything Green Salad to some lettuce with baked chicken this afternoon for lunch and it was delicious! Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I feel like I am getting better and better in the kitchen with each day. I’m not needing to rely on recipes as often as I was and I have been very happy with going rogue on certain meals in the kitchen! Or maybe it’s just St. Patty’s Day luck?! We shall see….

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My two first meals of the day were pretty festive. I had “Taste the Rainbow” for breakfast and the greenest salad ever for lunch (with mint!). I had to end today on an Irish Bang! Thanks to yesterday’s rain I was able to get some much-needed prep time in the kitchen for tonight’s dinner. I recently bought a mini CSA basket from a local produce shop. It came with the cutest head of cabbage ever and lots of little tiny turnip roots and rutabagas. I actually had to study and examine the roots to figure out what they were because they look so different than when they are all shiny and polished in the grocery store!

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I peeled and diced all of my root vegetables yesterday, so when I got home from the gym this evening I went right to the kitchen and put a pot of water on the stove to boil. I then played around with some scallions.

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Okay, enough of that. Once the pot came to a boil, I put the root veggies in there and let them simmer for a good 20 minutes. While they were simmering, I diced the photoed scallions with some onions and sauteed them in some ghee.

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I love the smell of onions being sauteed. Mmmmm…. Once my root veggies were soft and tender, I emptied them into the Ninja blender and pureed them. I kept the water in the pot and put the stove on high heat again. I sliced the cutest little cabbage into quadruplets and put them in the hot water along with some sliced leeks. I found this frozen bag of sliced leeks at Trader Joe’s. I was so happy to find it for my recipe!

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Once my cabbage and leeks were soft (which didn’t take long at all), I added them to the blender with the mashed roots. I also added a few garlic cloves here as well. I pulsed the blender a few times to make everything nice and mixed, but I did intentionally avoid trying to puree the entire thing. After a few rounds of pulsing, it was nicely blended. I poured it into a baking dish and then added the sauteed onions and scallions to it and gently mixed it. To top it off, I put a few extra diced scallions on top with some melted ghee. I must admit, it looked quite aesthetically pleasing for an Irish dish.

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I popped the dish in the oven for 20 minutes and then pan fried lamb chops simply with salt and pepper.

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After listening to several different versions of tin whistles and bag pipes playing on the TV music channel, it was time to take the Colcannon out of the oven!

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I added salt and pepper to taste and let it cool. After tonight’s kitchen fun, I think it is safe to say I will survive if another Potato Famine strikes–maybe even thrive!? My Irish husband is playing trivia tonight, so it was just me and Lady-dog playing in the kitchen. She enjoyed licking my plate when I was finished, so I am going to assume that she approves. I am excited for the leftovers to be recreated into new meals and am already thinking of what I can use the Colcannon for. Its starchiness will make a great post-workout meal. Or even better, its grits-like texture would make a perfect combination with bacon in the morning! I’ll keep you posted. See? No more searching for recipes; I am inspired! Then again, there is that chayote in the fridge still that I have no idea what to do with….

 

Evergreen Salad

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After such a beautiful and sunny day yesterday, this Sunday has been gray, rainy, and cold. II am so grateful I spent most of the day outside yesterday after seeing the rain fall all day. The rain has made a great day for watching movies with Hubs and Lady. I am trying to fill as much Irish culture as I can into today since St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. We have watched “Waking Ned Divine” and “Far and Away” so far. That is my paleo version of “Irish culture” since I am choosing not to drink Guinness with my husband. I’ve also gotten some quality prep time in the kitchen as well. I have been roasting, slicing, peeling, and dicing! I also became inspired to throw in every green colored edible item I found in my kitchen to make a luscious lucky leprechaun loot of a salad.

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I had about 6 kiwis in my fridge. I peeled and diced them and tossed them into a bowl (which was also conveniently green-colored).

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I then diced some celery stalks and threw those in.

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Next came the avocados. I peeled and diced two avocados. They were the perfect ripeness too which made me super happy!

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I then poured a half cup of pistachios. These have been my go-to nut recently. I purchased these that already come un-shelled at Trader Joe’s for a great price. I hate fidgeting with the pistachios trying to get them out of their shells. I always have to end up using my teeth and then the cracklings of the shell fly everywhere and then I cuss out loud.

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To top it off, I added some mint flakes and squeezed some lime juice onto it. I also threw in a bit of fresh kale to give it a crispy texture and stirred it all up. I put some plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to let all the flavors meld together.

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I wasn’t sure how this salad was going to taste, but I figured it’d be fun to make. Surprisingly, it has the perfect variety of flavors and texture. The pistachios, celery and kale really help balance the mushiness of the avocado and kiwi. If you aren’t taming a sugar dragon, it would be divine with honey drizzled on it. I think I will put some chicken breast on it and eat it for lunch tomorrow!

I received a St. Patty’s Day present from a leprechaun this morning. I am so glad he knows me so well!

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I received beautiful wavy fresh red lettuce, scallions, dried apple chips, a green bell pepper and a chayote. I’ve never eaten or cooked a chayote. In fact, I had to look up what in the world it is. According to Wikipidia, a Chayote is in the gourd family closely related to melons, squashes and cucumbers. Fun! It kind of looks like a hybrid between a pepper and a pear. f anyone out there has any good ideas for ways to cook it, please let me know. My leprechaun received Guinness and a Mint Cookie Chocolate Bar. I’m not kidding when I say we love holidays. Happy St. Patty’s Day Eve!

12.5 Miles

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I just took a 6 hour nap and it isn’t even tomorrow yet! I just meant to take a catch a few Zzz’s before eating dinner…Woops! Hubs woke me up when he got into bed and turned on his lamp to read and he smelled like hot dogs. At first I thought it was sausage, but then my brain realized he isn’t that fancy in the kitchen to cook himself sausage at night. I realized how thirsty I was and couldn’t believe the time. I am glad to be squeezing in this blog post before the day is over. I’ve always hated sleeping through the evening when only expecting to nap for a bit but then waking up the next day. It makes me feel like I’ve missed out on precious time. But then again, I’ve also come to realize how important sleeping is–and I obviously needed it.

My plan for this morning was to wake up around 5:30 and be on the island by 6:45 for the Lo Tide Run. I was volunteering time by help setting up a booth as well as a sponsored water station for our work–as well as getting a team together to run the race! I must have been excited because I woke up at 4 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I made a huge breakfast: bacon, turkey, some leftover green bean with sweet potato, eggs and pistachios to top it off. The pistachios gave me some green St. Patty’s mojo for the race.

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I packed some leftover chicken to eat after the race as well so I wouldn’t be tempted by the sugar-filled muffins that volunteers would be handing out. It was still dark when I arrived. The beach was windy, but I knew it was going to be absolutely beautiful once the sun came out.

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After running around for about an hour making sure everything was good to go, I met back up with our team and we walked over to the starting line. I must have been too busy before, but there were now so many people out that I hadn’t noticed earlier. There was green everywhere, kilts, dogs, babies in strollers, and even bagpipes! If I’d only seen a leprechaun it would have been perfect.

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3.1 miles later, we finished by trekking the last bit of the course on sand. A perfect way to end! It was gorgeous weather, good times, and there were even dolphins to greet us at the finish line. I even got a surprise good luck “dropping”.

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Thank goodness I didn’t lean to my right in the same instance the seagull decided to grant its luck onto my shoulder. It was a perfect day for a 5K–and apparently also for an excursion to bike myself home from the south end of the island. I put my bike in the back of the car because I thought it would be cool to try and bike home from work since I had to drop everything off after the race and I didn’t want to have Hubs take me home. Once the 5K was finished I tried talking myself out of it! I knew I wanted to at least try it out though because I’ve wanted the opportunity to try and ride my bike more, especially on the island. This was it! Plus, the weather was perfect. I grabbed a banana from one of the food tents just in case I’d need it. I dropped off everything back at work and hopped on my bike without thinking too much about it. About 5 miles later I found Hubs at one of the local bars where the after party was at. I stayed for a bit and then pushed through. I had to go over the bridge, which really sucked because they are down to one-lane traffic due to construction. After I crossed the bridge, the terrain was a lot worse. No pavement, all dirt and sand. I finally made it back home: 9.4 miles in a little over an hour. Not bad for a beach cruiser! No wonder I was exhausted at 4pm. We tried watching “Waking Ned Divine” on Netflix, but I crashed somewhere in the early middle of it on the couch. Lady started barking at a car which helped my decision to move to the bedroom. I was done for!

It has been a long time since I have ran a 5K. With that said, I didn’t do as well as I’d hope. I started off doing really well and was able to keep a consistent fast pace for a while. Then about halfway, I started feeling lightheaded and hit a wall. I’m going to have to work on that! Especially since Hubs came out of nowhere in the last mile and passed me. I will just blame it on last week’s strep throat ;).

Mean and Green

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So, I bought some fresh mint (since my own planting herbs are no where near growing this season yet) in honor of the upcoming St. Patty’s Day….which basically means the weekend before St. Patty’s Day–because who likes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on a Monday?! I just realized though that if I’m buying mint to celebrate SPD instead of a case of Guinness like I have in years past I really don’t need my festivities to fall on any specific day of the week. Ha!

In the spirit of celebrating holidays (which my Hubs and I love to do–Christmastime requires a different Hallmark movie every night of the week), I am kicking off the end of my week with Nom Nom Paleo’s Green Chicken. I had two out of the three green herbs the recipe called for. I went to a grocery store that I despise going to, but it was on my way home from work, and I was optimistic that they would at least have fresh basil available. Nope. Well, at least I had mint, cilantro, and dried basil in the spice cabinet. I also had lime in the fridge which I can add towards my greenness.

This morning while my breakfast was cooking I blended all of the ingredients together: onion, garlic clove, lime, cilantro, mint, and (dried) basil. I didn’t have any Fish Boast sauce, so I just put some Coconut Aminos in it. I also didn’t put any of the apple juice the recipe called for so my puree ended up being less liquid and more chunky. I threw the mean green marinade in a bowl with my chicken drumsticks and let it sit for the rest of the day in the fridge.

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I was tickled that the chicken actually looked green! While the drumsticks were on the grill I sauteed some green beans in coconut oil with some diced sweet potato. Hubs and I are running a 5K in the morning and he mentioned wanting to “carbo load” tonight, so I threw in the sweet potato-ha! It definitely wasn’t his idea of loading on carbohydrates, but it suited me perfectly.

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The chicken came out absolutely beautifully. Once I saw how awesome they looked I forgot about worrying about my basil-to-mint ratio.

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Hubs was the first one to taste and I knew it was going to be good by his reaction.

ImageI made more green beans than I anticipated, so I have plenty of leftovers to carry me through my celebratory green weekend. I’m looking forward to our 5K tomorrow. Hubs and I haven’t ran a 5K together since April of 2011! It’s a huge local event that people go all out for. There will be tons of green and hopefully even bagpipes!

Mardi Gras

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Fat Tuesday is an understatement….

Or at least that’s how I feel anyway! I had a great weekend but have missed my routine like crazy! I feel like I’ve gotten off on the wrong start to this week and it has been a challenge trying to get back into my groove. I really miss the structure that the Whole30 had given me and even though it has only been a week since I completed my 30 days, I am already pseudo-planning on going back again. And maybe even longer this time. I felt so amazing at the end of my 30 days and kept recalling how I felt like I was just beginning. Maybe 30 days isn’t enough for me. I’m coming from a past that has had my fair share of disordered eating, so I truly believe that a Whole60 would give me more time to tame my sugar dragon. Then again, maybe I am being dramatic. Anyway, it is something I am thinking more and more about it.

For the time being, it is Mardi Gras, and I have made a delicious compliant dinner to celebrate. Hubs loved this one! It was super easy too. I diced an onion and sauteed it in coconut oil. I then added some minced garlic to it. I emptied a bag of frozen chopped okra into the mixture and let it cook with a pound of Andouille sausage. I also added a bit of cayenne pepper to give it a Cajun kick! When the the sausage was browned, I added a pound of shrimp to it and let it cook until the shrimp colored. While everything was cooking, I pulsed a head of cauliflower in the blender and folded it onto a baking dish. Then I poured my Cajun concoction on top of my wannabe rice pilaf. I drizzled some melted ghee on top and put in the oven for a good 20 minutes.

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I was worried that my Hubs was going to see the slivers of Okra peaking out of the top and run. He does not like okra. Somehow, he didn’t notice and ate it up. He is having more tonight too. Score!

A Very Compliant and Chocolateful Valentines Day

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This post is going to be short and sweet. I just finished dinner and I have 20 minutes for the Valentines Day episode of Modern Family to finish before my Valentine starts to complain about spending our V-night with me on the laptop. Oh I love him! I seriously just “crave” blogging about my Whole30 experience (just like my body’s been craving running)! I was super excited about keeping the Valentines Day theme going on throughout the day in spite of being in the thick of my Whole30 (I really, really love holidays!). So, lets get started with the recap!

Not like the picture above, it was actually really hard to make a heart-shaped fried egg. My little heart shape cutter is really more suitable for thicker breakfast molds like pancakes so it didn’t keep the thin layer of egg from frying beyond the heart’s edge. So, I improvised.

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It was still delicious on top of my leftover bison-stuffed bell pepper!

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In the afternoon, I enjoyed a hot cup of Numi Organic Chocolate Tea. This was so savory! I remember buying this months ago and trying it, but not really thinking much of it. It is amazing what the Whole30 has done for my taste buds and my appreciation for flavors and tastes. It tasted rich and creamy. It does have a mild amount of caffeine, so it is not going to be an every day thing (at least not in the afternoon). It was the perfect Valentines Day treat for myself.

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My Valentine gave me some pretty flowers. I lit the candles when I got home and got ready for dinner. I made the well-raved Chocolate Chili recipe from Well Fed. I prepped everything for the crock pot this morning (which is actually NOT the recommended way of cooking it) and turned it on low before leaving for work this morning. When I got home this afternoon, the smell of the chili was so flavorful and it welcomed me before I even walked through the front door.

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The chili tasted way better than this picture looks. It was perfect!

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My Valentines Day ended with the perfect box of chocolates: an empty one! However, it was still full of chocolate. My Valentine got us concert tickets to the Carolina Chocolate Drops playing next week. He is the BEST! Now I’m returning to his crook for some V-Day cuddles.