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. ūüėČ 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‚Äôs 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, ‚Äúsoup bones‚ÄĚ 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)

Silver Lining

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The car I was driving before it was totaled on Tuesday night was kind of on its last leg and we were going to look at getting a newer one this fall. This silver lining in this past week’s unfortunate events is that we got a bit more money for the car than if we would have traded it in and that I get a new car now instead of waiting for the fall.

Today’s goal was to browse for cars and hopefully pick a few out in order to narrow down a winner. My mom drove down this morning to help me since Hubs had to work. The first thing I had her do when she arrived was to get my hair off my shoulders! I can only just brush my hair with my right hand. I sat down and handed her the hairbrush and asked her to put it in a pony tail. She hasn’t done this since I was in elementary school! She got very nostalgic and turned my pony tail into a french braid. All I cared about was getting my hair out of my face and off my shoulders. Mission accomplished! Then we went on tending to the yet unaccomplished mission of car shopping….

After a few discouraging visits, we went to lunch where I called my husband to whine and pout about how I hated car shopping and how I needed him with me. I wanted to stop and go home but my mom convinced me to go to a few more places. Luckily we did because the next place we went ended up being our last place! I found my car!

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A 2013 Mazda CX-5 with less than 20,000 miles on it for the same price as a 2011 Honda CRV with 48,000 miles on it that I was initially looking at. I was pretty specific with wanting a CRV, but once I saw this pearly white gem right next to one, I knew it was mine! Dan and Lady approved as well.

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Car browsing isn’t the most fun idea of “shopping” I can think of. Fortunately, we lucked out. I am looking forward to settling into my new car tomorrow. I will need to run a few errands tomorrow…especially because I still need to buy a strainer for my bone broth! I meant to get one while out in town this afternoon, but then I bought a car so….yeah.

I ended my afternoon with a celebratory “sparkling” Kombucha. My husband drank a pale ale. I love how I can sip on a Kombucha with my husband sipping on a beer and not feel like I’m missing out on anything.

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It’s been a great Saturday!

Got Milk?

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Nope! My husband has been having a ball making fun of my “weak brittle bones” that I have which are due to the “obvious” fact that I don’t drink milk or consume any dairy. His sarcastic humor is undermined though by the amazing fact that my entire injury was simply just a hairline fracture in my elbow when it could have been so very worse. He likes to pick and get a rise out of me; but there is no way I’m eating cheese or drinking milk anytime soon. I found a great blog post on Eat Drink Paleo that sums up the Paleo Diet and Calcium very nicely. Not only does Irena give a nice list of food groups with their corresponding calcium milligrams; but she explains why eating a Paleo diet is already Calcium-friendly just in itself. The fact that I have not been consuming grains and legumes already helps my body absorb Calcium in my daily meals. She explains:

“There are also a few enemies to watch out for. Phytates or phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in grains and legumes (not a problem for paleo folks), ¬†seeds, nuts and some vegetables. The body binds phytates to calcium as well as other minerals, which prevents their absorption. Soaking, aslo known as ‚Äėactivating‚Äô, nuts and seeds and cooking vegetables removes most of the phytates, making the calcium and other minerals more available to the body.”

This information regarding phyates was also clearly summed up in “It Starts With Food”.¬†There is a great section on dairy in Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s book. I can’t recommend reading this entire book enough! Just a few interesting points to take away from their dairy section regarding Calcium:

  • Our body’s hormones and anti-inflammatory status play a role in bone health.
  • Chronic blood sugar and coritsol levels (and systematic inflammation) all accelerate bone breakdown and inhibit the formation of new bone cells.
  • The US has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world, despite having one of the highest calcium intakes.
  • Too much calcium can be a bad thing; this generally happens when we are consuming dairy, plus calcium supplements, plus calcium that is naturally available in produce.
  • Calcium is most bio-available to the body in produce.
  • Weight-bearing physical activity stress our bones in a healthy way so they respond by becoming more dense.

So, maybe that Got Milk? campaign should be changed to Got Real Food?! Thanks to the Got Milk? campaign, it is no wonder why we all think our bones are going to become brittle and dissolve the minute we stop consuming dairy.

By the way, I had the biggest crush on JTT when I was in elementary school! You better believe I would have made my mom go out and buy all the gallons of milk left in the store if I had seen this ad back then!

I have been getting plenty of veggies, but it looks like I can make more of an effort to focus on the more calcium-rich greens like collards, kale, cooked spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and okra. I have included cooked collards, broccoli, and kale in my meals since my fracture so I am on the right track! Also, I didn’t realize how rich in calcium seafood and fish are! Sardines are pretty high on the list with 382 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams. I foresee a sardine recipe search in my future….I’ve actually never had sardines before. I will just have to add it to my Whole30 “First Timers” list!

In all seriousness, I have been very happy with my progress so far. I was told by many people that the third day after a vehicle collision is when your body feels the worst. I have honestly not felt bad at all. Yesterday (the second day) my neck was very stiff; but no pain at all. Not even in my broken elbow! I haven’t taken any of the pain meds prescribed to me….nor needed the huge bottle of Motrin I purchased just in case. At my¬†doctor’s appointment with the orthopedic specialist on Wednesday, I was told my left arm and hand would continue to swell up before it getting better. It hasn’t swelled up any more since that day! I am 100% convinced that I am experiencing such a smooth post-collision experience(not only with my body but also with my mind)¬†because of my Whole30 diet.

My next appointment with the orthopedic is on Wednesday. They are going to hopefully take another set of X-Rays¬†to make sure my elbow is healing well. I am really looking forward to it! For now, my arm’s soft cast is apparently the perfect pillow for Lady ma’am…and I’m okay with that!

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Tomorrow’s one-armed adventures include finishing up my homemade bone broth, car shopping with my mom, a hair wash and trim with someone’s hands that aren’t my own, and getting a rental car!

Vroom, vroom, baby.

Curve Ball

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Well my week sure did get a huge curve ball thrown at it (you can thank my Red Sox-loving-husband for the baseball analogy)….maybe more actually like my whole entire month of April. I was unfortunately rear ended on Tuesday night coming home from band rehearsal. I am not going to get too much into the details because #1) I am kind of sick of talking about it and #2) it is difficult to type for me due to my fractured elbow. I will just say that while it was a pretty traumatic episode; it could have been very much worse and I am lucky to be at home typing this awkwardly with the right side of the laptop propped on a pillow and my left arm in a splint. I was given good news at the orthopedic specialist that my fracture should heal quickly in a couple of weeks and I won’t need a cast (Hallelujah!).

It is so crazy because right after my collision I didn’t think I needed to get checked out at the hospital. My left elbow bruised instantly and started swelling but my adrenaline was taking over. I then felt a bump on my forehead and started limping on my right leg and realized we better go to the ER just in case. Luckily we did because a few X-rays later showed a fractured elbow. I instantly thought of how lucky I was to be on this Whole30 program. Yes, finding out I had a broken bone sucked, but I took comfort in the fact that I was giving my body the best nutrients I could to help it work its magic! I also didn’t freak out like I thought I would about not being able to go to the gym to take high impact cardio and strength training classes during my body’s time of healing. My only plan is to give my body what it needs now: recovery through rest and nutrients. I can also thank the Whole30 for my peaceful mindset through this very stressful time.

So, what’s my plan? To keep on! I got up extra early this morning to give myself enough time to make my lunch and breakfast. I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be with one arm (more like one and a half since I can use my left hand). Chopping red leaf lettuce is difficult…or really any kind of produce. But the softer it is, the harder! Dicing the cucumbers for my salad was a bit easier since they are sturdier on the cutting board. I am learning to use my mouth as a second (third?) hand which works out quite nicely. I have always wanted to make homemade bone broth and now seems like the perfect time. I could definitely use the extra nourishment that the bone broth will have to offer. This is going to be my next “to do” task aside from all the insurance claims, doctor appointments, car shopping, etc. I made my husband take me to Whole Foods to pick up some beef bones while we ran errands yesterday. Now all I need to do is teach him how to put my hair into a decent looking pony tail….

Salt & Vinegar

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So, my husband conveniently had the day off from work on Opening Day and went to watch the Red Sox play at our local Buffalo Wild Wings joint. He has been planning this for weeks. He is from Boston and loves all New England sports teams but nothing holds a candle to Red Sox baseball. I worked today and went to the gym afterwards so we both ended up getting home around the same time. He asked if I wanted anything from Buffalo Wild Wings. He is so cute; he even thought if he ordered some chicken wings to come “naked” they’d be compliant. I had to break the news to him that he also had to make sure the cooking oil that the wings are cooked in isn’t processed or refined. He then¬†reluctantly gave up…but it is the thought that counts!

I do remember the Salt & Vinegar chicken wings I had ages ago the last time I ate at Buffalo Wild Wings. I really liked them. Of course I did….I love vinegar! Remember that one time I posted a picture of my empty unfiltered apple cider vinegar bottle? I go through them so fast!

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Anyway, I got to thinking of recreating my own Salt & Vinegar chicken wings at home. Except, I didn’t have any chicken wings at home. But I did have drumsticks….frozen drumsticks! I didn’t think about defrosting them earlier today so I decided to boil a pot of water. I threw the drumsticks in once the water was boiling and let them defrost and simmer for a good 10 minutes. I then let the drumsticks dry and lined a pan with parchment paper. I also melted some ghee and mixed it with a good amount of apple cider vinegar and a bit of poultry seasoning. I then patted down the drumsticks to make sure they were dry and lined them on the pan making sure they didn’t touch one another. I brushed the vinegar mixture onto the chicken and gave a few good churns of salt before baking them in the oven. After 30 minutes I flipped them over and cooked for 10 extra minutes.

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They came out quite nicely! I wished for a stronger vinegar taste, but Hubs said it was very flavorful (granted he is a vinegar wussy and has the palate of a 5 year old). The texture was perfectly crispy though which was great! Not a bad alternative compared to the list of added ingredients that go into the BWW Salt & Vinegar wings: “SALT,SOYBEAN OIL, SODIUM DIACETATE, SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, SPICES, CITRIC ACID, MALIC ACID, DISODIUM INOSINATE AND DISODIUM GUANYLATE, AND SODIUM ACETATE and Less than 2% Silicon Dioxide to prevent caking.”¬†

What’s crazy is that this list of ingredients was probably one of the most minimal compared to the other flavors.

The Red Sox lost today; but luckily I am winning. ūüôā