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.

April Showers Pour

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So many things are flying through my head right now. I am trying to think of what to blog about. There is soooo much going on! This April is probably the craziest month of all time. There are at least 5 huge things going on at work simultaneously that I have my feet dipped into that will no doubt be putting me in overtime these next couple of weeks. I wrecked my car, then bought a new one all within 4 days. I fractured my elbow and while I am happily out of my splint, I am still healing and have my follow up appointment on the 30th. My new car payment has inspired me to look into consolidating my college loans, which I am going to apply for as soon as I get some spare time in my day. I am still trying to hold on to getting some household goals accomplished before this month is over in spite of my elbow setback. I’m hoping to paint my kitchen so that when our new patio glass sliding door is installed in May, it will give the space a brand new face lift!

I find myself wishing April away and looking forward to May. I instantly feel guilty afterwards and remind myself to embrace the moments, no matter how chaotic they are. I’m sure May will be just as crazy in its own way. It will be right before June which is a very busy time for me at work, I have two weddings to attend to and a trip to Atlanta with the family. I am so lucky to be feeding myself whole foods that give my mind stability during crazy times like these.

In spite of eating whole foods, I still had another nut-case fiasco two days ago, where I decided to finish a bag full of sea salted almonds with a spoonful of sunflower seed butter. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as that other time I ate too many nuts. No doubt the urges to binge eat on something fat-dense was from little everyday inklings of stress growing on me. I can actually feel the anxiousness right now as I type. My husband is pacing back and forth in the kitchen while watching Jeopardy and it is making me so damn uneasy. That sounds so ridiculous, but it is true! And you know what? I really want to eat some fat-filled coconut butter and nuts.

That would just be a temporary distraction though. I am going to instead choose to stop typing, put my laptop away, and leave the room for some me time. Maybe run a bath? Ciao!

Bubbly or Bust

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I just looked at the calendar to see when my Whole45 is finished and I have exactly 2 more weeks to go! I have been a little distracted with the past week and a half’s events to really notice how many days are left (I wouldn’t recommend people getting in car crashes and breaking their elbows just to help pass the days along in their Whole30). The Whole30 has certainly contributed to my easygoing attitude and peace of mind throughout all of the insurance company phone calls, bank visits, car down payments, medical specialist co-pays, etc, etc, etc. I haven’t really been paying too much attention to my elbow. I sometimes forget that it is still healing…that is until I extend it too far or too quickly. My body promptly lets me know that I’ve overdone it. I am able to use it more and more each day. Today I could rotate my arm further than I could before. I can also extend my arm a little bit more….although it still won’t unbend and straighten all the way. I’m making progress though! My next appointment is on the 30th; so I have plenty of time to unbend my elbow by then 🙂

I’ve also been able to get a fair amount of exercise in. If I’m not able to do an actual workout, I am making sure I am at least walking a few miles at lunchtime. I was able to modify the T25 workouts this past week and it felt so good to sweat! I wasn’t able to attend a spin class this morning at the gym because I had to work today. I am going to try and attempt a run outside tomorrow. The running will require my arms to move around a lot, so I will just have to make sure I ice it afterwards. I’ve been icing it about once a day or so and it has really helped with the swelling and the soreness, especially after a workout.

On my way home from work, I was really craving a Kombucha. I didn’t have anymore at the house and did not want to drive to the grocery store and shell out 4 bucks for one. The sunny spring day just had me itching for something bubbly to quench my thirst. After walking Lady and eating dinner, I was still unsettled. For a second, I instinctively thought about grabbing the nut butter and bananas when I realized what I really wanted was something bubbly to soothe my hankering. I then remembered I had a leftover can of La Croix from a case I bought months and months ago. It was in the deepest corner in the back of the fridge.

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In spite of the many months it has rested in my fridge, It totally hit the spot! I am noticing that my need for bubbles has been frequent with the warmer sunnier weather. Looks like I need to stock up soon since we are nearing the end of April. I bet it would be delicious mixed with Kombucha. That reminds me! I have a co-worker who makes her own Kombucha, and she is going to help me make my own. I am super excited to grow my collection of do-it-yourself experiments.

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!

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)

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 ‘activating’, 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.

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. 🙂