What happens when you buy a bag of apples and don’t get around to eating them because you’ve behaved naughtily and eaten snacks that you shouldn’t instead of the bag of apples? Applesauce happens. Easy, quick, warm, yummy applesauce.
- 6 apples (these were Jonamacs but I’ve used all kinds)
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 tsp agave
- Peel and cut apples into chunks.
- Boil apples until you can pierce through with a knife.
- Drain apples and leave in pan.
- Mash apples until desired chunkiness (I like em big, I like em chunky – if you get that quote you win!).
- Mix in agave and cinnamon. Serve warm! Or cold. Enjoy!
So the other night I was watching Cutthroat Kitchen from Food Network (yes, I love all things Alton Brown and his ever-present sassiness). This episode was halloween themed. One of the things they had to make was a “Witch’s Stew.” Meaning, a big pot of something stew-like. I watched as the chefs sabotaged each other gleefully and then sat back and said to myself, “It is time to make a stew.”
Now, I had no sabotages or time constraints. Just about 10 minutes of prep, 6 hours in a crockpot, and a bowl full of warm goodness to enjoy on a nice, crisp fall evening.
Here’s hoping you get a chance to enjoy!
Witch’s Stew aka Steph’s Beef Stew
- 1 lb stew beef (meaning cubed beef)
- I get a package of cut-up roasting vegetables at the store – this is a variety of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips. It is all cut up and the perfect amount (yes, I know, I am lazy, but a girl has to work!)
- 1 onion, cut to same size as vegetables
- 1 15-oz can of diced roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup of coffee
- 2 cups beef broth
- Salt & Pepper
- A smorgasbord of spices – I used the following:
- 1 T cinnamon
- 2 T chile powder
- 1 tsp chipotle chile flakes
- 1 T cumin
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp All Spice
- 1 T paprika
You put all of that together in a crockpot and stir it up.
Then you put the crockpot on low, come back 6 hours later and scoop yourself a bowl of something awesome! This will feed you for a week, I promise!
I remember the marvelous Sundays of my childhood when we got home after church and could smell amazingness (spellcheck isn’t arguing that word hmm) in the oven. That smell promised a day of sweatpants and football and naps. Ahhhh. I’m sure everyone has their own idea of that smell. For me it was these five, scrumptious letters: G-R-A-V-Y. Yesss anything with thick, home-cooked, flavorful, gravy. In search for that same level of goodness and comfort, I came across this sweet and savory, Fall-ish creation.
3 Bone-on pork chops
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp Sage, dried
4 T Balsamic vinegar
2 T dijon mustard
4 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375, grease a pan with 2 T olive oil and place pork chops in pan.
- Whisk together garlic, sage, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and salt.
- Spoon or brush mixture over pork chops. Pour the rest into the pan.
- Roast for 35-40 minutes or until fully cooked.
My desire for comfort food was on 10 so I paired my chops with mashed butternut squash (cooking directions similar to spaghetti squash here) and corn. No butter needed! It is a yummy alternative to gravy-soaked mashed potatoes!
This is my favorite time of the year! With no intention of sounding braggy, I have to share that grocery shopping at my parents’ farm is awesome!!! They work insane hours as they plan, plant, weed, harvest, and can tons of vegetables, most of which for the purpose of giving away! Those are some serious givers…but that’s another post entirely.
Whether you have access to fresh groceries from a local farm or the grocery store, this is the time of the year for tomatoes and squash. Yum!
4 large Italian canning tomatoes (or Romas, or whatevs)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
Splash olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
- In a pot, boil water and add tomatoes once boiling. Keep an eye on the tomatoes (few minutes) and remove them from the water once the skin has broken (a little slit in the skin). Dump the water.
- While the tomatoes are cooling, splash some olive oil in the pot and add the garlic. While the garlic is heating up, skin the tomatoes, and then slice them right into the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Hint: I tripled this recipe and used the rest to make Around The Way Chili.
Squash & Shrimp
1 large spaghetti squash
1lb of shrimp
1 can of coconut milk
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400. Slice the spaghetti squash, scoop out the seeds and lay face down in a greased pan. Bake for 25-40 min, or until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife.
- In a skillet, add the butter and garlic. Sautee the garlic until golden. Add in the shrimp and cook (6-10 min).
- Add the stewed tomatoes to the shrimp, along with red pepper flakes if you want a little kick. Now add the pulp from one can of coconut milk (save the milk for countless other recipes).
- Once the squash is done, scrape out of the skin using a fork. Return it to the shell if you’re feeling fancy (or need a pic for your blog). Cover with shrimp marinara and top with a little fresh basil. Yum! Enjoy!
This recipe was fast (30 min tops) and tasted incredible! I grilled some portabellos over the weekend and had one left. The only other things in the fridge were some lemons, bacon, and eggs. Boom, protein-filled dinner! I doubled the recipe for you below:
For the poached egg
4 fresh eggs, large
1 T vinegar (rice or white)
For the Hollandaise
Pinch of salt
1.5 tsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp vinegar
1.5 tsp hot water*
2 egg yolks
5 T butter
2 large portabello mushrooms
4 long slices bacon
- Prepare your mushrooms by removing the stem and scraping out the black gill thingys (don’t know the real name). Spray the mushrooms with oil (or wipe oil on with a paper towel) & sprinkle with salt. Broil bacon & mushrooms, skin side down for 5 min, flip everything, broil for another 4-5 min.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 T vinegar to the water & reduce heat. (The vinegar stops the water from boiling a little.)
- Crack eggs into a small bowl, then slip the eggs into the water, one at a time. Turn off the heat, cover the pot & let them cook for about 3-5 min. (I did 5 min and the yolks were soft, not runny.) Once they’re cooked, remove them from the water.
- Melt the butter in the microwave until frothy.
- In the blender: the 2 egg yolks, 1.5 tsp hot water (*from the saucepan is faster), pinch of salt, & 1.5 tsp vinegar. Put the blender on the lowest setting & let it blend for about 30 seconds until the mixture gets light in color.
- Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the blender as it blends, then let it blend for a few seconds longer. Add the lemon juice & let it blend for a few seconds. Shut off the blender.
- On your plate, top the mushrooms with bacon, then layer the poached eggs, and drizzle with the hollandaise. Eat!
Spring has sprung and vacations are about to abound. What do you do when you travel? Are all bets off and the ice cream bar is open? How does that actually help you out and make you feel good while you are trying to relax and enjoy a break?
I have a few simple rules (yeah, you can call them guidelines if you want, but for me, I like the enforcement factor for my life) on how to handle when I am traveling that keep me healthy and not feeling horrible all vacation long because I binged on pizza, pasta and ice cream.
- Bring your workout clothes! Pack them and USE them. If the hotel doesn’t have a gym than do the 3-5oo’s workout – 500 squats, 500 sit-ups/crunches, 500 jumping jacks. This is a GOOD workout and will help to set you off right for your day. So, get it done right away when you wake up in the comfort of your own hotel room.
- Walk, walk, walk. Take that walk down the beach rather than laying on the beach for 8 hours straight. Walk through the entire tiny town and window shop. Walk the city home after dinner. Walk! You would be surprised, but you can actually get more steps in on your vacations than you do in your normal life.
- Enjoy special things, not everything. You’re on vacation, so you are probably going to be eating out a lot. However, you don’t have to get the fried chicken everywhere, along with the pasta salad and the mediocre ice cream that every restaurant will have. Instead, treat yourself once a day to something special and other than that, eat like you normally would – cut out the bread, the pasta, the processed – and enjoy great food that is out there. But, if you happen to be in Belgium, get yourself a waffle for goodness sake when you are out once. If you are in Canada, keep driving, don’t get the poutine. : )
Hope that this helps to give you some ideas. The biggest thing is that you should enjoy your time with your family and friends – not constantly have to excuse yourself because you ate too much or you are feeling horrible after the carb-binge.
Here’s to some awesome vacations for one and all!
One thing that happened once I went paleo was that my taste buds changed. I never used to have a sweet tooth but once I eliminated refined sugars from my diet, I started craving them like crazy! One quick solution I found was this chocolate bark recipe.
- 1/3 lb Chocolate (You can buy raw cacao nibs or 85% + cacao chocolate from a store)
- 2 T Coconut oil
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 2/3 cup almonds
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Variations that I’ve tried: dried apricots, cinnamon dusted on top, small cooked bacon pieces, a sea salt dusting, dried pineapple.
- If you’re like me and don’t have a double boiler, grab a glass bowl and place the chocolate and coconut oil in it.
- Fill a saucepan about 1/2 full with water and place your glass bowl inside, burner on medium-high. The water will boil, causing the contents to melt. Add more coconut oil if the chocolate does not become somewhat runny (you want to be able to pour out the chocolate). Warning: this step can get messy!
- While the chocolate is melting, assemble your cranberries, almonds, and coconut flakes onto a sheet of foil.
- Once the chocolate is melted, simply pour it over the mixture on the foil. Some people like to leave it as-is and some blend it up. I blended it this time.
- Toss it into a plastic bag and then into the freezer for about 30 min or until it becomes hardened. Break it apart & store in the freezer for a quick little sweet snack!
The chocolate is so dark that a little goes a long way! I usually make up a big batch like this and I’ve kept it for 5-6 weeks…depending on the need for chocolate!
This has to be one of my favorite side dishes to make. It is great if you are making a pulled pork/beef thing for dinner as it becomes a great topping to any lettuce wrap. But, it is also a great little side dish instead of always eating salad. Let’s grab some cucumbers and think of warmer days to come!
Crisp Cucumber Slaw
- 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- Cup of shredded carrots
- Handful of cilantro, chopped
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 2 T red wine vinegar
- 1 T sunflower oil (can use EVOO if you want instead)
- 1 tsp honey
- Salt & Pepper
- Pinch of onion powder
- Pinch of garlic powder
Mix all of your ingredients from the red wine vinegar down together in a bowl or tupperware to make your dressing. Add in everything else and mix together well. Chill in the fridge and serve with your favorite dish! Yep, that easy!!
Let me preface this meal by saying that I am not the pairing queen when it comes to meals! I’m learning, but usually, I just put together things that I like (peas & spinach, corn & scrambled eggs, etc.). Pairing colors and flavors is an art; someday I’ll get there! This meal was one where the pair actually turned out well! (FYI, the chicken recipe is usually for wings but it worked well here.)
Honey Sriracha Chicken Ingredients (heads up – need to marinate):
- 8 chicken legs (skin on)
- 1/2 cup Sriracha
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- 2 T honey
- 2 tsp ginger root
- one pinch of salt
- 4 T melted butter
- Poke holes in the chicken with a fork & place into a plastic bag (or container) to marinate. If you’re nervous about the spicy factor, don’t poke holes!
- Mix up the ingredients (except the butter) and add to the bag of chicken for 8+ hours in the refrigerator.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat oven to 375. Bake chicken for about 30-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
- Turn the oven up to broil. Melt the butter & drizzle over chicken.
- Let each side of the chicken broil for about 5-7 minutes, until it has a nice crisp skin.
Spinach Sweet Potato Salad Ingredients:
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- Olive or coconut oil
- 1 lemon (or lime)
- 1 – 6 oz. bag of spinach
- Preheat oven to 400-425.
- Peel & cut sweet potatoes into cubes. Chunk onions. Place into a dish to roast. Toss with oil.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender.
- While roasting, place spinach into a casserole dish with a lid. Cut lemon in half & set aside.
- As soon as the veggies are done roasting, toss them over the spinach. Squeeze your lemon halves over the veggies & spinach & toss quickly. Place the lid on the dish & let sit for 5 minutes so that the spinach softens somewhat.
Put these two recipes together or mix and match with your favorites! I will definitely be making these a lot more in the future! Sweet & spicy, just like Midwest Chicks!
How do you stay on track with healthy eating and exercise?
I’m on day 10 of The Whole 30…applause please. No cheating here. But I’m still fighting lots of cravings and old bad habits.
Tonight, I wanted a cheeseburger. But instead I made bacon wrapped, spinach stuffed chicken with steamed broccoli. Go me.
And instead of watching TV and being tempted to snack, I grabbed a glass of ice water and my new magazine…
…and decided to see how many paleo recipes I can find to make.
It’s all about finding your balance – knowing your weaknesses – and preplanning for success.
I think I made up that word preplanning. But hey, I like it.
Oh and someone told me I was looking thinner and “on point” today. That’d a compliment right?
So how are you going to stay on track this week? Let’s hear it!