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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Beet It

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Remember that one time I tried beets for the first time? I had no idea what to do with the cute little root that came in my CSA basket, so I just ended up roasting them in the oven. I wasn’t crazy about the taste; however, I ate them with the skin on which could have added to their very “earthy” (dirty) flavor. Not dirty like “these beets taste gross and disgusting” but more like they literally were a part of the farm to table movement (literally). The fun thing about them was their beautiful hue. And also their lingering surprise days later whenever I had to empty my bladder….Yep, I Wikipedia’d it to make sure I wasn’t dying.

So, anyway, I thought I’d give them another try….store bought and plastic packaged without any skins and already flavored. I purchased a fancy little pack of vinegar-infused beets made my Love Beets at Whole Foods for $3.99. The only two ingredients listed were organic beets and organic mild vinegar. Have I mentioned how much I love vinegar?! I had myself a winner!

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I opened my beet-box yesterday afternoon when I got home from work looking for something to tide me over until dinnertime. The beets looked like adorable little plum-balls. They had their beautiful deep red color and the slight smell of vinegar was not too pungent (not that I think vinegar has a strong odor anyway….or maybe I do think that but I like the smell anyway!).

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I picked up my first beet-ball and popped it into my mouth. The vinegar definitely gave it a different taste than my roasted beets…..for a second.  That earthy tang crept right back up into my taste buds and wouldn’t go away…no matter how nice the infused vinegar added to the flavor (which it did).

Oh well….so I’m not crazy about beets. I like Brussels sprouts, kale, and mushrooms….Hell, I like every vegetable I can think of! I don’t have to like beets. So I won’t pretend that I do. I’m glad I tried! It’s not even that I don’t like them….I’m just not crazy about them.

I’ll stick to using beets as a natural lip stick  😉

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

 

 

Kombucha-Ha-Ha

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That post title was supposed to go something like this “Kambucha…[evil laugh]”

Last week my local Whole Foods store was hosting a Kambucha tasting. I’ve always wanted to try Kambucha but I was hesitant to buy a $3 bottle of it without knowing if I’d even like it or not.. I have browsed the Kambucha selections before, specifically focusing on the added ingredients to make sure it was Whole30 compliant or not. I had a hard time finding a brand without any added sugar. Although I have recently learned that GT’s Kombucha brand is Whole30 compliant.

At the sample table they had three different offerings of Kombucha brands. I didn’t want to be a pain in the ass and go behind each table to scour the ingredients of each brand of Kombucha, so I picked the one less crowded and started up a conversation with the woman filling up my cup. She let me be a pain in the ass and pick up all three bottles to make sure they were all compliant. Luckily they were! The brand I tried was Buchi, which is actually a local brewery based out of Asheville, NC. I sampled their “Fire” and “Seed” flavors. Both were very different but pretty dang delicious. I bought both and had my first one this afternoon with lunch.

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I had the “seed” flavor this afternoon. The listed ingredients included: “Organic Raw Kombucha, Organic Apple Juice, Organic Coconut Water, Organic Pineapple Juice, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Black Sesame Seeds, Perilla Seeds, Organic Tumeric Root and Organic Natural Flavors.”

It also had fun informative facts on its bottle like “Contains Live Probiotic Cultures” and “Preservative, Additive, Gluten, Dairy and GMO free!

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I poured the Kombucha into a glass to see its color. The soapy head instantly reminded me of beer, which felt really fun-like I was flirting with the black and white lines of Whole30. The beverage was immensely flavorful. The up front taste reminded me of apple cider vinegar (which is one of my favorite flavors ever!). It was bubbly, tart and sour yet it was balanced with sweet fruity flavors. It was also probably the most carbonated beverage I’ve drank since I gave up soda months ago.

All in all, two thumbs up! Especially after reading more and more about Buchi’s company. Not only are the local but they are also very dedicated to sustainability. Plus, they even distribute their Kombucha to local cafes, restaurants, pubs, and grocery stores that offer it fresh on tap! How cool?! Looks like I need to plan a trip to Asheville. Cheers!

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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What the Chayote?!

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I keep thinking that today is Thursday and when I think about tomorrow being Friday, my brain chimes into my wishful thinking with a “no, that can’t be right…” Dang it, it is still just Wednesday. At least today is the last day of winter! Right?! Oh, the weather forecast just may be on my side with this one! After the past four days of cold rain the high is supposed to get up to 70 tomorrow. Yay!

I’ve recently felt like I haven’t accomplished enough of what I wanted to have completed by now. The New Year felt like it just passed and we are already approaching the first day of spring! I had visions of freshly coated painted walls in my house, new efficient window treatments in the bedroom and bathroom, and a fence gate that actually closes properly. After the washer machine breaking this weekend and our fence gate falling apart from the harsh wind storm we had a few weeks ago; I have been beating myself up a little bit.

And now it’s time to acknowledge it and let it go! I’ve put a lot of time and energy into getting into a healthy routine and mindset this year and that should be the top of the “to do” list. With spring coming (tomorrow) and hopefully warmer weather right around the corner, I am hoping I will get motivated to head start the house tasks and get most of them accomplished before the fall.

So, to say goodbye to winter and set the new path for spring; I decided to plan dinner tonight around a new food item I’ve never tried: chayote. I’ve been pronouncing chayote like “coyote”, but my husband pronounces it “chai-oat.” However it is pronounced, it is super cute and looks like a cross between a pear and a squash.

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It were super easy to slice and its texture reminded me a lot of an apple or a pear. I ate a sliver of it while dicing and it reminded me of a sweet-pepper-pear.

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I sauteed them with onions, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. I then added my chayote combo to some grass-fed beef and mixed an egg, cumin, celery seed, coriander and oregano all together.

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I then chayote-stuffed some peppers. Chayote! It’s also fun to use as an onomatopoeia. But most of all, it was the perfect addition of flavor to our dinner.

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And 45 minutes later, it was finally time to enjoy.

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Goodbye Winter; welcome Spring.