Sunday, December 23, 2012

Paleo Gingerbread Waffles (and Merry Christmas!)

I made these gingerbread waffles as a treat for my family recently.  They are very filling and easy to make! 

This would not be something I'd eat every week.  However, I like these for a special reason or change from my usual eggs for breakfast especially around the holidays. 

Paleo Gingerbread Waffles
Makes 3 Belgian style or 4 regular waffles

olive oil for greasing waffle iron
2 cups of almond flour (such as Honeyville Farms blanched)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 pinches of ground cloves
4 eggs
1/2 cup of water
4 Tbsp of coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your waffle iron.  While it's warming up, mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl - almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. 

In a separate bowl, mix your wet ingredients - eggs, water, melted coconut oil, molasses, almond and vanilla extracts.  Stir well with a whisk.  Make sure all are combined well.  Some lumps are okay from the coconut oil but it should be blended. 

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix completely. 

Lightly grease your waffle iron with olive oil.  I have a Waring Double Belgian style that cooks two waffles at a time and I can flip them.  It's really cool and fun! 

Use 1/3 of your waffle mixture per waffle.  Spread it out across your iron.  Like this (see photo below):

Cook using your iron's instructions and until your desired brownness or doneness.  I was able to make three Belgian size waffles with mine.  If you have a smaller waffle iron, you may get four.

Top with your favorite toppings. My five year old girl likes maple syrup.  My husband and I drizzle coconut milk with a bit of flavored extracts on top. 

Mmmm, mmmm!  Good stuff! 

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a great start to 2013 too! 

From my family to yours, happy holidays!  :-)

I Completed the 21-day Sugar Detox (And I'm doing it again in January!)

In early December I revealed that I was doing a 21-day sugar detox.  This is where I consumed no sugars for 21 days.  Not even fruit.  No alcohol.  No stevia packet in my coffee.  No squares of my favorite dark chocolate bar.  Nothing!  Well I did it!  I completed the 21 days.  And do you know what?  It really wasn't that hard. 

I can't say it was totally easy.  I had a few nights where I really wanted a glass of wine or a tiny piece of chocolate.  But I resisted.  What can I say?  I'm pretty determined and dedicated when I want to be.  I think it helped that I was seeing so many positive results along the way.

First I found that I could go hours without eating or feeling hungry.  I could eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and feel satisfied until 2:00 p.m. 

Second and best of all for me, I lost weight.  I had reached a bit of a standstill on my post-baby weight loss until I did this detox.  I lost 8 pounds and went from a size 6 pants to a size 4.  Can I get a "OH YEAH BABY!" on that one!  Yes, that was a definite nice bonus for me. 

Third and last of all, I realized that sugar doesn't control me.  None of the foods out there do.  I'm in control and that's what I wanted most of all from doing this program.  I wanted to see that I don't need it.  I may want it.  Occasionally I may have it in natural forms like honey and blueberries but I only need that in minimal amounts.  What my body and mind really thrives on is protein and fats.  I'm at my best mentally and physically when I stick to a low-carb lifestyle and that's how I want to spend the rest of my life.  I've been doing this Primal/Paleo "diet" for over six months now and I plan on making it a permanent fixture of who I am. 

Thanks to those at the 21 day sugar detox program for your encouragement and uplifting words.  It was great to be a part of a group who eats the same way I do in a community and world where most people think I'm crazy!  :-) 

I plan to indulge just a little bit for Christmas.  I want to make coconut sugar cookies with my five year old after all and have chocolate waffles for breakfast that morning too. 

After that though, I'm going strictly no sugar again for awhile.  I intend to do the detox program again in January to see if I lose another couple pounds that I want to shed.  I may extend that longer.  We shall see.  It will depend on how I feel.  I'm just going to listen to my body, mind and heart and let those guide me going forward. 

That's all any of can do really.  Follow your own instincts.  Don't let any doctor, friend or celebrity tell you how you should eat and live.  Determine that for yourself.   Then do what works best.  That's what I'm doing.  That's what my family is doing. 

Cheers and be well!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole

I had one of my Mexican cravings over the weekend.  And since I couldn't have any dark chocolate or fruit since I'm doing a 21-day sugar detox, I needed to come up with some way to give into my fiesta urges.  I looked in my freezer - tons of grass fed hamburger beef.  I looked in my fridge - about six small yellow squashes just sitting in there all alone waited to be used up.  Surely I could come up with something that could blend the two together nicely. 

Challenge received and conquered with this delicious recipe!  I was even able to sneak in some eggplant too that almost got unnoticed.  It did get eaten though. 

Trust me, you'll like this one.  It will surprise you at how tasty and Mexican-flavored it is!

Mexican Meat and Squash Casserole

1 Tbsp of olive oil + more for greasing pan
1 pound of grass fed hamburger meat
6 yellow squash sliced into small noodles (about 4 cups)
1 can (14 oz) of diced tomatoes, mostly drained - read label carefully for no added sugar or salt
1 can (14 oz) of tomato sauce - read label carefully for no added sugar or salt
1 tsp of chili powder
2 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of garlic powder
2 Tbsp of taco seasoning, homemade (like in this recipe)
2 dashes of sea salt
1 dash of pepper

Variations/Ways to Mix it up:
2 links of ground up nitrite-free chicken sausage, such as Aidells brand (optional)
1/2 of a small eggplant sliced into shapes like the squash (about 1 cup) - optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 2 Qt pan with olive oil.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook your grass fed hamburger meat (and optional chicken sausage if using it).  Season it with 1 tsp of the onion powder.  Drain and set aside in a large, separate bowl. 

Wash, slightly peel and slice up your yellow squash into 2-3 inch noodle size pieces.  (Or the size of a typical french fry).  Like this:

Wipe down your skillet.  Add in the 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Cook your yellow squash (and optional egg plant slices if using them).  Sprinkle with the sea salt.  Saute them for about seven to eight minutes. 

Place the cooked squash (and optional eggplant) in the large bowl with the browned meat.  Open your can of diced tomatoes.  Drain almost all of it and toss over the meat and squash.  Now add in all your remaining ingredients - tomato sauce, chili powder, onion powder (the other 1 tsp), garlic powder, homemade taco seasoning and a final dash of salt and pepper.  Mix all ingredients well in the large bowl.  Scoop out into the greased 2 quart baking pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

We topped ours with a bit of all-natural Amish cheddar cheese.  This would also be great topped with avocado slices, salsa or all natural sour cream.   

Even my picky five year old daughter said she really liked this dish.  I ate it for three meals in a row and was disappointed when it was all gone.  Good stuff!  Who needs the tortillas or pasta when better-for-you vegetables like squash (or eggplant) work just as well?!  :-) 

Enjoy! And You're welcome (De Nada!)  :-)


Still craving more Mexican?  Check out my Mexican Meatza recipe too! 

What kinds of other foods do we eat within a month?  Here is my sample meal plan with recipe links!

Cheers and be well! 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Roasted Mixed Veggies

I'm really into roasting these days.  It has quickly become my favorite ways to eat vegetables, especially a blend of them that I often collect in my fridge.  It's easy to throw together while you assemble or prepare a main dish.  Here was a delicious one we enjoyed a few weeks in a row.

Roasted Mixed Veggies

4 cups of various cubed vegetables, such as a color blend of eggplant, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers
3 Tbsp of olive oil + a little more for greasing pan
1 Tbsp of minced garlic
1/2 tsp of ground rosemary (optional)
about two dashes of salt and pepper, each

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a large baking pan with a little bit of olive oil.  Set aside.

Cut up your various vegetables into small squares or cubes.  I like to use a variety of color - red (tomatoes), yellow or orange (bell peppers), green (zucchini or cucumber) and purple (eggplant). 

In a large mixing bowl, place all your chopped veggies.  Pour in your 3 Tbsp of olive oil.  Toss in your minced garlic and sprinkle over your ground rosemary.  Put dashes of salt and pepper.  Now use a large spoon to stir and blend your vegetables.  Make sure each piece is coated with oil and seasoning. 

Place each vegetable in a single layer onto your greased baking pan.  Try not to let the veggies touch each other. 

Bake (or the term is roast) at 375 for 25 minutes.  Check to see if the veggies are your desired crunchiness or brownness. 

I love, love, love this way of eating vegetables! 

Personal Eggplant Pizza

This is one of my new favorite lunches I make just for me while my husband is working and my daughters don't require my attention.  It's simple, easy and delicious.  And it satisfies me with that "pizza craving" I still get from time to time since I've gone Primal/Paleo. 

I typically eat just three slices for lunch one day then enjoy the other three the next day.  I top mine with a little bit of all natural, Amish cheese but you can leave that out if you can't tolerate dairy. 

Personal Eggplant Pizza

a small bit of olive oil for greasing pan
1/2 of a large Eggplant, sliced into six pieces
1 small can (4 oz) of tomato sauce (read label carefully to find no hidden sugar or salt additives)
6 slices of uncured, nitrite free pepperoni, such as Applegate Farms brand
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian, all natural seasoning blend
2 Tbsp all natural, freshly grated cheese (optional)

Set your oven to broil.  If you can adjust its temperature, I put mine to about 400 or 450 so it doesn't burn my food.  Each oven is different so watch your carefully. 

Grease your pizza or round pan lightly with olive oil.  Place your sliced eggplant pieces on the pan and spread them out so they don't touch.  Like this:

Broil anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes depending on how you like them.  I like mine slightly brown. 

Remove from oven when you have your desired consistency to make your pizza toppings.  I place my tomato sauce on each eggplant slice first.  I spread the sauce across to cover the entire eggplant.  Then I sprinkle each one with the onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning blend.  Lastly I add the pepperoni slices by Applegate farms.  They are the perfect size to cover an eggplant pizza.  Just one slice per eggplant is all you need. 

Now place back in your oven and broil for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Check it half way through to see if it looks done to your liking.

Remove from oven.  Top with your cheese of choice. 

Let it cool for two minutes.  Then eat and enjoy!

Mandy's Meat Loaf

My husband and I are one of those weird folks who happen to LOVE meat loaf.  It's such great comfort food.  We eat it at least once a month.  I love experimenting with different types of meat and making it in small or large loaf pans.  It never comes out quite the same.  But here is my basic, yummy recipe.

Mandy's Meat Loaf

Olive oil for greasing pan
2 pounds of meat (such as a combo of grass-fed hamburger meat and ground turkey or ground up chicken sausage)
1 cup of finely shredded carrots
2 eggs (from cage-free chickens)
1 Tbsp coconut aminos - (edited to add: this is an all natural replacement for soy sauce; see comments section)
1 Tbsp organic, all natural ketchup
1 Tbsp organic, all natural mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp all natural Worcestershire sauce
dash of salt and pepper

Glaze topping (optional):
1/3 cup of organic, all natural ketchup
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp of coconut sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease your regular bread loaf pan or a mini loaf pan with olive oil.

In a large mixing bowl combine all your ingredients listed in the order they appear above, beginning with your meat and finishing with your seasonings.  Use your hands to combine and mix until well incorporated. 

Press mixture into a loaf or into your mini loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Set a timer so you can keep track of it.

About five minutes before the meatloaf is done, make your glaze topping.  Mix the ketchup, apple cider vinegar and coconut sugar in a small bowl.  Stir until all blended. 

Once you remove the meat loaf from the oven, spread your glaze topping above it.  Just a thin layer will do.  Then bake at 350 degrees for another 20 to 30 minutes. 

Remove dish from oven and let it cool slightly before cutting and serving.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm Doing The 21-Day Sugar Detox

It's been awhile since my last recipe post.  I will make some time to get something new up soon.  In the mean time, I thought I'd share what I've been up to lately....

I'm doing the 21-day sugar detox.  What's that you may ask?  It's this crazy thing where you give up sugar (and alcohol) for 21 days.  I mean no sugar, not even in the natural things like honey, maple syrup, etc.  Nothing.  Nada.  

And I'm doing it in December, during prime time holidays and sweet circulations and parties galore!  Yeah, I'm completely bonkers!  Those people who know me well are not surprised.  (They're thinking oh geez, here is another of Mandy's hair-brained schemes again!)

I read about this detox program through social media channels just after my Thanksgiving indulgences.  But I was a little bit inspired by my husband's stepmother who was doing a specific diet for weight loss.  She ate only chicken and fish and vegetables while she visited; she shared with me how she lost fifteen pounds in three weeks.  Wow, I thought.  If this 64 year old lady could be dedicated to do that diet for 60 days, then surely I could try this program for 21 days.  After all, I've been mostly Paleo/Primal for six months now.  I'd already successfully given up grains, legumes, many carbohydrates, all processed foods, soy and more.  I still indulge occasionally in dairy (just organic whole milk or cream or Amish cheese) since I can tolerate it but my husband cannot. 

Well I'm doing the detox for two main reasons:
1. Vanity
2. Control

Let me elaborate further now.

1. Vanity - I want to look better.  I have a seven month old baby and a five year old daughter.  I want to be that hot mom, not just someone who "looks good for having two kids."  I've got another 10 to 15 pounds I want to lose to be happy in my skin.  And I want to be sexy, not just happy.   There I said it.  I admitted it out loud.  For women, it's not easy getting older.... wrinkles, crow feet around the eyes, etc.  I'm 34 years old so I'm not too old.  But I want to have a trimmed and toned body because my skin and hands aren't getting any younger.  So I thought, maybe if I don't have any sugar at all, that will push me past this plateau I've seemed to hit with my post-pregnancy weight.  I was doing so great losing it steadily just eating Primal/Paleo foods.  Then I was stuck at the same number on the scale for awhile.  And I know I shouldn't be hung up on that scale but after nearly two months of the same, I needed a new tactic.  Something more now needed to be done.  I hope this is it. Or at least that jump-start to being a "loser."  :-)

2.  Control  - It may sound odd but I have little control over what happens in my day.  I have two small children. I mentioned them above, remember?  One of them is a high maintenance but adorable baby, just seven months old.  The other is a constant chatterbox but wonderful five year old.  So they keep my life interesting.  I start each day with good intentions.  I plan to clean, cook, run errands, work on homemade Christmas gifts, etc. etc.  I keep a calendar.  I organize our events.  I make lists.  Yet somehow, things more than often just don't go as planned.  The baby's naps are thrown off.  My oldest is whining and wanting my attention.  The dinner I hoped to make hasn't been started yet and I'm missing ingredients.  And that's just to name a few short things that come to mind.  So much of my life can change and go outside the normal.  But no matter what, I can control what I eat.  I take charge of what goes in my mouth.  I have the complete say-so and ending note.  So it seemed that in my current, crazy chaotic state, I could restore just a tiny bit of balance by controlling what I eat and getting rid of the sugar cravings I often have.  Even though the sweets I've eaten over the past six months have been the healthier, all natural, homemade kind, I still need to stop going to that dark chocolate bar or that honey-infused almond flour bread that I spread all-fruit jam over.   I can rise above that.  I don't need it.  I may want it.  But I don't really need it. 

So those are the reasons why I'm doing it.  And I am doing it.... 
Today is actually day 12 for me.  I'm half-way done. 

Looking back at my daily notes, I can share the following:

Days 3 and 4 - I had pretty bad headaches. 

Day 6 - This was a willpower kind of day.  It required a lot of willpower to say no to holiday cupcakes at  party I attended.  However, I realized I lost four pounds so that was the motivation I needed to say "No."

Day 8 - I lost five pounds total since starting this journey and my clothes are definitely looser. 

Day 11 - I felt really down on this day even though I didn't cheat and have stuck well with the diet.  Perhaps it was hormonal or weather related for me.  I really wanted a glass of wine with my dinner because I had a hard day with my two girls.  I didn't have one though.  I'm stronger/better than that!  (At least for now!)

Overall, I'm doing great.  I write down what I eat in a journal everyday.  I'm exercising five days a week and I've discovered the following about myself so far:

- I don't need more than one cup of coffee per day.  And I can still enjoy one cup of coffee without any sugar (not even Stevia).  I do like my whole fat, organic cream inside it though.

- I missed my 90% dark chocolate the first week.  But this second week hasn't been so bad. 

- Being strong takes work but I can do it.  I'm a strong, determined person. 

- I may want something sweet; however, more than I want that candy bar, I want to look and feel my best.  I keep telling myself that sugar is not worth it right now.  After all, I am working toward being that "hot mama," not that "mama going to coffee shops for holiday indulgences that my hips and waistline don't need." 

- I can still kick ass at a challenge and/or contest. 

And that's about it from me for now.  I've got only nine more days to go but I may do an additional week too.  I may go for a 28-day sugar detox.... Because I can! 

When I have more time and my baby actually takes a long nap during the day, I'll write down what I'm actually eating each day of the 21-day challenge.  I'll try to include any tips and thoughts that may have helped me along the way too. 

But for now, just call me crazy.  Call me nuts.  I'm used to it.  Plus, normal is boring anyway.