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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Bulletproof Battle

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So, I have been hearing a lot about “Bulletproof Coffee” in the Whole30 and Paleo world lately. I have only recently started drinking my coffee black, thanks to my first Whole30 back in December. I never realized how much I loved the taste of just coffee. Before then, I always had it with 2 tablespoons of cream (yes, I measured it out). I thought I was pretty dark and bitter with just the cream since before then I always had it with equal or some other type of artificial sweetener.So, why not try another way to drink coffee in the morning since I’ve become pretty boring with my naked cup of black joe?

I have read many different recipes for Bulletproof Coffee….some including the addition of gelatin, or vanilla extract, or even something called Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil. However, all of the recipes have some type of healthy fat  added to hot coffee (must be hot) and then blended together. I decided to do a few different variations to see which I liked the best.

For my first bulletproof coffee, I added a tablespoon of ghee to my coffee and used a super easy Magic Bullet to blend it. It was so fun watching the color of the coffee change instantly from black into a frothy tan.

IMG_2400 IMG_2401My first sip was heavenly. I couldn’t believe how I have missed out on this until that moment. Seriously. The entire texture of the coffee had transformed into this buttery, creamy, foamy, deliciousness while not manipulating the flavor of the coffee itself. I knew I was hooked after that.

The second morning, I skipped the ghee and opted for coconut oil instead. The same transformation from black coffee to foamy concoction took place in the blender.

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I thought it would taste very different, but surprisingly it didn’t. However, I could still tell the ghee apart from the coconut oil. It was hard to determine which tasted better…especially since anything with coffee in the morning is a winner.

Now, it was time to blend both together. I added a tablespoon of both coconut oil and ghee together to see just how Bulletproof my morning could get.

IMG_2426 IMG_2427This recipe with both coconut oil and ghee was Heavenly. I seriously couldn’t remember sipping on anything more pleasurable in my life…except for peanut butter milkshakes (you get what I mean though).

However, if I had to pick a winner out of the three, it would be the first recipe with just the ghee!

Why? It gave the coffee not only such a unique taste, but a smooth texture as well. Also, the third coffee concoction with both ghee and coconut oil, was almost too good. I found myself slurping it up instead of savoring it, which is why I really love coffee in the morning.

I have really been going through my little container of ghee so much faster now that I just about use it every morning to make my coffee. It is so worth it though! I get these little 8 oz bottles at Trader Joe’s. After my Whole45, I am going to experiment with actual grass-fed butter though! The adventure continues…

 

Calcium-Rich Greens

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After writing my Got Milk? post, I went to the grocery store on a mission to buy produce that was specifically rich in calcium. It is great that I am eating all the right foods so that my body can heal as best as it can, but I wanted to try and do an even better job of making calcium more bio-available to my body in case it needed it. I know that cooked dark greens are great calcium-rich choices. I’ve always loved kale, but thought that straying from the usual and giving it more variety could do my body good. So I went back to my Southern roots: collards and turnip greens.

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Just one cup of cooked collard greens has 220 milligrams of calcium. Turnip greens have 99 milligrams of calcium per cup when cooked. Adding these rich greens into my meals along with my everyday cooked kale which has 93 milligrams of calcium per cup isn’t bad at all! I found these calcium milligram measurements on Eat Drink Paleo. I also picked up some broccoli and okra which also made the calcium-rich list.

For dinner last night, I boiled a pot of water and added the greens in it. I opted for the frozen bags because not only were they cheaper, but they are super splint-friendly in the kitchen. 😉 No chopping required, which means no ambidextrous skills needed from me!

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I let the greens simmer in the hot water for about 10 minutes and then drained them. While my greens were draining, I browned some veal that Hubs had put in the freezer a few weeks ago.

 

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I’ve never had veal. It was so juicy and tender; plus it smelled so good while browning on the cast iron.

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I removed the veal after it browned and cut them into slices. I then added the greens to the skillet and poured a cup or two of my home made bone broth in for the greens to simmer in. I also like to think that the nutrient dense bone broth enhanced my dinner to give me super healing powers.

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I then added the slices of veal back into the broth-simmering greens and covered it up for just a couple of minutes.

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Then dinner was served! I think pork would have been a perfect pairing with the cooked greens, but we didn’t have any in the house at the time. The veal was pretty damn good too! I have my second follow up appointment with the orthopedic specialist tomorrow morning and I don’t think I have ever been this excited to go to the doctor’s! I am really hoping I can get my splint off after tomorrow. That would mean it would come off a week earlier than the doctor said, but I am very optimistic about my recovery and from what my body is telling me, I am feeling great! Fingers crossed!

Bone Broth

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I have been waiting very patiently all weekend for my bone broth to brew. Since this was my first batch, I was a little intimidated by the challenge and I have been waiting for the right time to make it. Nothing like a broken bone to make brewing bone broth on the top of your agenda. Bone broth is exceptionally healthy for the body and is also known for helping with bone formation, growth and repair. Whole9 states:

“Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)”

See, why I was in dire need of some bone broth in my life? I had Hubs run by Whole Foods so I could pick up some beef bones last week; it was the very next day after my vehicle collision. I got about 2 lbs of beef marrow bones for 6 bucks. I figured for my first batch this would be perfect. I roasted the bones first, which was recommended by many on the Whole30 Forum.

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I didn’t roast them very long. Just long enough for me to dice and cut all of my veggies. This was also a great way to get ride of some prime real estate in the fridge, especially since some of my veggies were on their last breath.

veggiesbrothI chopped up onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and ginger root. I threw some rosemary, bay leaf and red pepper flakes in there too.

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I added the bones, some apple cider vinegar, and filled the slow cooker up with water. I didn’t fuss with measurements; I just added enough water to fill it to the top. Many recommended to use filtered water, but I decided to keep it simple for my first attempt.

brothcookI covered my bone bath on Thursday night and didn’t unplug the crock pot until Sunday afternoon. There were many resources on how long to cook broth for. I’ve read where some only cook for 12 hours but also read that some say that with beef you can go up to 72 hours. I kept my cooking around 50-60. Unfortunately my crock pot may have been too hot at times. I came home Friday after work to see it bubbling, which probably wasn’t a good thing. I would then play around with my pot to change its settings between cooking on low and then turning it off. I could never get it to not stop bubbling after a while so I just settled with my bubbling bone broth. Besides, I still needed to buy a mesh strainer at the store since I didn’t have one!

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My bone bath “shrunk” when I took the top off finally. The water volume had definitely decreased. The smell was rich and warm though.

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I waited till the broth had cooled a little, but it was still very warm when I used my fancy new mesh strainer. I had to get Hubs to help pour the broth out of the crock pot since I only had one arm.

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The broth had the most beautiful dark color. I was quite surprised at how dark it actually was. You definitely don’t see broth like that come out of a package you buy from the store.

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After the broth cooled, the fat congealed on the top. It was super easy to skim the fat off the top. I was a a bit disappointed to see that my broth didn’t become gelatinous like many would say it would. I’m afraid my crock pot gave it too much heat. Afterwards, I did some trouble shooting to find that most broths made in a crock pot don’t gel because of this problem. I am comforted by the fact that though the broth didn’t gel, it is still super nutritious. I was also a little confused as to why the volume of my bone bath decreased so much. This was also probably due to the high heat of the crock pot. I am going to still write this first time project as a success though because the broth was so deliciously smooth and flavorful! I’ve enjoyed a mug at night after dinner which just makes such a good ending to the day.

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For more bone broth readings that I’ve used visit:

The Whole9 Bone Broth FAQ

Nom Nom Paleo’s Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth

Wellness Mama’s Homemade Bone Broth Tutorial

Whole30 Forum

Rubies & Radishes Slow Cooker Beef Broth

 

 

Strawberry Spinach Salad

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Today was an awesome care-free day; waking up knowing I had crossed off a huge “to do” task of purchasing a car this weekend…and I still had an entire Sunday to enjoy until Monday morning came!

I have been trying to stay as active as I can while my left elbow heals. I have had to skip lunchtime sweat sessions at work, but I have substituted them with 2 mile walks outside which has been so enjoyable thanks to the nice weather lately. This morning I decided to go to the gym. I walked on the treadmill for 35 minutes and did the stationary bike for 25 minutes. I brought some reading material with me which made the time fly. I have still not experienced any pain in my arm. Sometimes, I will forget it is in a splint and I will instinctively do something (like clasp something with my hand too tightly or quickly) and then I will get a sharp twinge in it to remind me that I am getting too cocky. But that is it. The pain doesn’t subside and it goes away as quickly as it came. The band that goes around my neck that connects to the splint is starting to give me a bit of a chafe on the back of my neck. I wore a tank top yesterday and we were in the warm sun while car shopping, so I was probably sweating which caused the chafing to start. Today the weather cooled off and I’m making sure to wear material between the sling band and my neck. I also rubbed some Vitamin E on it this morning which felt incredible.

In North Carolina, this seasonal warm weather brings strawberry season along with it! I made a trip to the grocery store today and they had local NC strawberries on sale to highlight their debut.. They looked so plump and red and juicy! I also snagged two bags of baby spinach for a buck each along with a few radishes that were at the quick sale produce stand. Spinach Strawberry Salad instantly landed on the dinner menu for tonight.

The great thing about baby spinach is that I could just empty it all into a bowl without chopping or shredding the produce. The less I have to chop or slice, the better for my one-armed kitchen challenges. I sliced most of the strawberries (but saved a few for the dressing), the radishes and celery. I added some cooked chicken to it and topped it with sesame seeds, salt, and a handful of pistachios. To my personal salad bowl I also added some avocado (my husband doesn’t like it–more for me!).

For the dressing I blended a few strawberries, olive oil, lemon, a teensy weensy drop of apple cider vinegar, rosemary and black pepper.

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I blended my strawberry dressing in a magic blender. The flavor was delicious, but the consistency didn’t taste like a salad vinaigrette. It felt very “whipped”, which I actually kind of liked but had to get used to.

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And the best party is that there’s more to last for tomorrow’s lunch! So berry good. (I’m not deleting it)

Sloppy Joe Sweet Potato Dogs

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I’m ready to kick March in the rear….and hopefully the cold weather with it. I wouldn’t mind basketball season ending either since UNC has already lost. Although, I am sure I will regret saying that since my husband is taking work off to see the Red Sox opening game tomorrow afternoon. Baseball season is always an everlasting holiday in our household. This weekend’s chilly weather inspired me to make some chili…dogs!

I had about a pound of some grass fed beef that I bought on sale at Whole Foods (score)! All I did was saute some diced onion, bell pepper, and garlic clove. Once the onions were translucent I browned the beef and added chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. I then finished my Sloppy Joe sauce with a small 6 oz can of tomato paste and let my Joe-sauce simmer.

sloppyjoeWhile I was making my Joe-sauce, I took a sweet potato and cut it in half. I then roasted them face down in the oven at 400 for about 10-15 minutes.

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I was also cooking some hot dogs. Yes, that is right. I was simultaneously making my Sloppy Joe sauce, roasting sweet potatoes, and cooking hot dogs all at the same time. Just call me the Kitchen Kween. The hot dogs didn’t take long at all. I used Applegate’s Grass-Fed Beef Hot Dogs and I broiled them in the oven while the sweet potatoes were finishing up their roasting. I would have grilled them, but it was raining outside. I didn’t want to deal with that. Plus, it only took the dogs about 5 minutes to cook. Can you guess what I did next?

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Oh yeah. Is your mouth watering yet? Just wait.

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Wait there is just one more thing….

sloppydinnerAvocado to top it off! The Sloppy Joe sauce was so thick and juicy. It made the perfect leftover morning meal this morning with two fried eggs in it.

I am looking forward to April. I am hoping to not spend as much money this month, get some house projects accomplished, and finish my Whole45 of course! Hubs has also already requested another repeat meal of last night’s dinner, so I’ll throw that into the mix for April to-dos as well.

 

 

 

Beetspiration!

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I received some cute little beets in my mini CSA basket a couple of weeks ago and it was about time that I use them. I don’t know if I’ve ever had beets or not. If I have, I didn’t know it. Their rich hues can make any dish instantly beautiful, but also make them pretty fun to play with too (see photo below).

I had no idea what to do with these little guys. I searched the Whole30 Forum to get some beet-inspiration or “Beetspiration” as my title implies. I figured I’d just roast them in the oven since it was my first time. I sliced them and lined the baking pan with parchment paper first. I had no idea if the beets would end up dying the pan or not, so I played it safe! I drizzled some melted coconut oil onto the indigo dices and then came the salt and pepper. While they were roasting, I wondered how the shade of beet would look on me.

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I needed a little bit of a sharper beet to make sure I stay within the lip lines. Homemade lip stick could be a future project…or maybe I should get some more practice in with handling beets in the kitchen first?

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Hopefully practice will make less mess. Not that it was actually messy; I just had to make sure I didn’t become the beet version of Tobias during his blue man group phase.

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So, the verdict? At first taste, they were very earthy. However, I didn’t peel the skin off and these little red nuggets came straight from the farm. I am going to need a round two do give an objective taste test. I will plan on doing a redo. But for now, they added some brightness to my ground chicken and red onion dinner bowl.

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