The Great American Breakfast

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This was my absolute favorite flavor of PT’s and the only thing I ate for, oh, 20 years? Do I miss them? About as much as I miss being sick everyday. Okay, I do miss them a little bit. But, it’s food. So much more to life and happiness than food! Food might fill our bellies but it can’t fill our souls .

After punching the alarm clock in the face, taking a shower, and trying to find our other shoe while heading out the door, breakfast isn’t so popular. In fact breakfast is normally . . . 

1. Forgotten/ignored

2. Replaced with a smoothie/shake

3. Replaced with a convenience food (bagel, cereal, greek yogurt etc)

4. Handed to us over the Starbucks counter or through the Starbucks window

5. Or, if you’re me, you just eat pop tarts for every meal. 

I’m not here to make you feel guilty or tell you, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Um. I think they are all important and I think an occasional skipped meal can sometimes do the body good. Unless you have blood sugar issues . . . than let’s talk. 

However, I am here to share some quick breakfast ideas. Because I’m an advocate of eating real food, this is going to require real time. Maybe you stay up 10 minutes later or get up 10 minutes earlier. Perhaps you could do what I did this morning: Brush your teeth, cook breakfast and fill up the Brita water filter at the same time. End result: I forgot about the Brita and found it overflowing. 

Some “snappy” breakfast ideas

1.Crustless quiche. You can make all sorts of quiche with veggies, meat, and even some cheese (if you are cool with dairy).You can make one giant quiche or pour the batter into muffin tins for individual servings. Make this on a Sunday night while watching reruns of The Office and keep in the fridge for upcoming mornings. 

2. Hamburger patty with avocado and salsa. Gross. Wrong! Not gross. It just isn’t your typical breakfast food, right? If we are going to start overhauling our health, we need to start overhauling our thinking. The best thing you can provide your body with in the morning is fats and protein! I buy grass fed patties at Sprouts already frozen, throw them into a pan and cook while getting dressed etc. I sprinkle liberally with salt and butter, then add half an avocado (or a whole avocado depending on my day/activity level) and some salsa. 

3. Soup. Again, gross. Again, wrong! I am working on a post regarding bone broth as we “speak” but I wanted to go ahead and add this to the breakfast list. Soup is something you can (like quiche) make ahead of time and save for the upcoming mornings. Soup is incredibly versatile and easy to drink out of a thermos . . . just saying.

4. HASH BROWNS! This is my favorite. Use your food processor to shred sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots or all 3! Keep in the fridge for the upcoming week. I heat up a pan, add some fat (coconut oil, lard, butter) and throw some hash into the pan. Give it a stir every 5 minutes-ish so it doesn’t stick to the pan but you definitely want it to brown up. Don’t be afraid to let it hang in the pan for a little bit. Lots of salt. 

5. Left overs. What? Yup. This is actually my most popular breakfast dish. I have last night’s dinner for breakfast quite often. Why? Because it tastes delicious, nourishes my body and keeps me fueled for the long day ahead. The “eat various small meals throughout the day” method is a lie (“it was a lie Steven!” name that movie, anyone?). Eat meals that will keep you satisfied and satiated. 

5. Avocados. Hard boiled Eggs. Scrambled eggs. Homemade coconut milk yogurt. Small amounts of fruit. Sauerkraut. Ground beef. These are my go to, “convenience foods.” 

6. Shakes and smoothies. Not a fan. But some days they just sound good. Some days you went on a long hike and need something that feels “fatty.” That’s probably your body telling you, you need fat. If you’re going to have a shake, I would recommend something like this or this

A typical breakfast for us: I heat up a pan and add said cooking fat. Throw some stew meat (chopped up beef) and some left over veggies into the pan. While they cook, I scramble a few eggs in a bowl. Unload the dishwasher. Add eggs to the meat and veggies, mix it all together. Maybe add some avocado and salsa and/or hot sauce. Find what works for you!

 

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Current Reads

Here are some books (uhhh mostly cook books) that have been in my hands and scattered around the apartment the past few weeks . . . thank you Arizona public libraries.

Healing Your Body Naturally: Alternative Treatments To Illness. The chapter on mental illness is incredible.

The Flower Recipe Book. This book is both incredibly stunning and incredibly functional.

500 Cupcakes. I actually own this one and I can say with confidence that it does not, by any means, encourage the consumption of whole foods. It does however provide lovely inspiration and recipes for days when you just need a cupcake. Those kind of days are a real thing.

Momofuku Milk Bar. Holyyyyyyy cow. Christina Tosi is unreal . . . so is her work. Unreal in a “amazing!” sense and unreal in a “that’s definitely not good for my body” way. Junk food aside, this chick is an artist.

Ready for Dessert. Remember when I posted this guy on Instagram?

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Check out my adaptation of Lebovitz’s recipe here. This book is a gem. Mr. Lebovitz’s recipes are top notch because he uses top notch stuff. Top notch is code for “real foods.” Thus, his recipe for Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting (page 62) was quite easy to “paleo-fy.”

Ottolenghi. Let me just give you a sneak peak . . . “Figs with young pecorino and honey,” “Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts, and honey,” “Lime and basil macarons.” Enough said.

Freaking Great Fries and The Potato Complex

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There is much debate regarding the potato. Is it paleo? Is it not paleo?

When approaching food, the question(s) we ought to ask run much deeper than whether or not it is “paleo.” Paleo police only create dogma and stigma. No wonder people are confused and make fun of the “bacon freaks.” The questions we ought to ask when approaching food should sound something more like . . .

– Is it a “whole food?” Does it come from nature or man?

– Is this food going to hurt or heal my body?

– Do I (myself personally, not the people next door) notice any physical reaction (sleepiness, change in mood, change in digestion, change in BM, skin condition, difference in sleep, joint pain etc) when I consume this food?

Because of the individualistic nature of the questions above, everyone’s answer will be (and should be) a little different. If you are trying to lose weight, I don’t recommend potatoes on the “reg.” If you are suffering from joint pain or an irritable tummy, I don’t recommend potatoes. And yet, if you are happy with your current state of wellbeing and digestion, I don’t see any problems with potatoes. They are great sources of vitamins and minerals!

The “rub” with potatoes is their starchy nature. Some of us who are already dealing with tummy troubles can’t handle and shouldn’t try to handle heavy amounts of starch. Dense carbohydrates aren’t the most beneficial addition in this circumstance. Our focus ought not to be on elimination but rather integration. What should you be eating to help heal your belly? What should you be eating to encourage clear skin? What should you be eating to soothe your joints? What should you be eating to reduce bloating?

Every-body is different. Seek whole foods, listen to your body, and eat accordingly!!  . . . and keep your eyes on your own plate . .

Now, to the recipe!!

For, “Freaking Great Fries” you will need . . .

– Potatoes (I used about 5 small, yellow taters. This made around 2 servings. Adjust accordingly)

– 2 Tablespoons Cooking fat (lard, coconut oil, duck fat has the best flavor for fries, ever!)

– Salt/pepper and whatever spices you fancy (I had chili and powdered garlic on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Slice potatoes just like french fries. I’m all for individualism in cutting shapes but just remember it may affect cooking time. Skinny fries cook faster than chubby fries. It’s science.

2. Throw fries in a bowl and pour melted oil over fries. Give a good stir/toss. Sprinkle generous amount of spices. Toss/stir again.

3. Spread fries onto cooking sheet in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove foil (I’m not sure why, I read this “trick” on a random site but it works miracles!)

4. Slide fries back into oven and stir every 10 minutes or so until they are cooked to crispy perfection. This is really up to you. I’m guessing I cooked my own batch for 25ish minutes.

5. Enjoy!! You could DIY ketchup, grab a legit mustard from the store, or dip these babies in mayo and Frank’s hot sauce. Like us.

Real Life Meets Real Food

ballet

Have you heard of or seen, “City Ballet?” It’s a documentary featuring short “episodes,” peaking into the beautiful yet grueling world of ballet. Love it. Check it out here . This week’s menu is below. If you are interested in past menus or the madness behind, click here 

Monday: Kabobs with  mango, coconut rice on the side

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe’s over sweet potatoes

Wednesday: Dianne Sanfilippo’s “Five Spice” lettuce cups from Practical Paleo (which is worth every penny)

Thursday: Spaghetti and Meatballs (we’re having guests so I’ll be making rice pasta), salad and roasted, pesto potatoes? Or garlick-y biscuits? Not sure.

Friday: Grilled steak and veggies with lots of butter and salt . . . a good way to end the week.

S is for Sunday, not Saturday (or how to “kraut”)

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You too can look like a beautiful, barefooted contessa just by making your own sauerkraut. Or. You can receive a text from your husband while out of town that goes something like this . . .

Him: Is the sauerkraut supposed to smell?

You: Oh. . . . yes. Does it smell really bad or just a little?

Him: It’s fine. I wasn’t sure what the smell was but then I saw the jar in the cabinet. #paleolife

You: Thank you for not hating me

Make sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post . . . I am merely scratching the surface here in regards to fermentation and there are some crazy, fermentation “geni-ii” (plural of genius?) out there!

Now that we have discussed the role of “gut flora,” we can tackle the practical methods for cultivating and maintaining a healthy, diverse, species of gut flora. There are over 400 known (meaning, there are more!) types of beneficial bacteria. Our gut flora is like an orchestra . . . unique, independent instruments resulting in harmonious unity. We’re striving for diverse unity.

The best way to encourage the diversity of flora is simple . . . introduce bacteria to the body through diverse sources. This includes but is not limited to  . . .

– Sauerkraut

– Kimchi

– Kefir

– Kvass

– Fermented veggies (carrots are a great place to start. Low maintenance and easy on the taste buds)

– Fermentable fibers (sweet potato, plantain, berries, root veggies etc)

– My personal favorite . . . kombucha!

– SOIL!!! That’s right . . .straight up dirt. We will talk about this in the near future.

Today we’re just tackling kraut . . .it’s an easy, affordable, completely natural way to introduce and cultivate your gut health. Win, win.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

1. One head of green/purple cabbage

2. Salt (I prefer this stuff, also available on Amazon)

3. A wide mouth jar (I usually use an old marinara sauce jar)

4. Knife, cutting board, water

– Cut cabbage in half. Peel off two large leaves and set them to the side, do not cut them. With flat side of one half facing down on the cutting board, slice the cabbage into strips (like an onion). Slice those strips in half lengthwise, so they are shorter, not thinner.

– Throw strips into large bowl and sprinkle generous amount of salt. Allow cabbage to sit for 15-20 minutes. The cabbage should start to “sweat.”

– Using your hands, squeeze the water out of the cabbage. You’re not looking for tons of water or anything, just lots of moisture. This takes some work!

– Once you feel like you did your best, begin to fill your mason jar stopping every so often to smash the cabbage down. I use a random piece of my food processor (I’m not sure what to call it) for this. You want to pack the cabbage into the jar tightly and you should see some water start to rise in the jar, when you apply pressure to the cabbage.

– Leave an inch-ish at the top of the jar. The fermentation process takes place below water. Add drinking water (not tap) to the mason jar very slowly. You want the water line to reach just above the smashed cabbage. Take the large leaves you set aside earlier and cut them so they can fit inside the jars and over the cabbage, like “lids.” You still want an inch-ish of space between this “lid” and the mouth of the jar.

– Place jar in a warm, dry place such as in a cupboard or laundry room shelf. Check every 2 days. If you see cabbage making it’s way above the water line, simply use a (very) clean spoon and fish it out. No biggie. If you see mold, don’t freak out. Totally normal. You may be able to remove that part from the kraut without starting over or may have to throw out the batch and start over. This has only happened to me twice in 6 months. Again, no biggie, use you judgment.

– It will have an odor. . . welcome to the suburban frontier. It shouldn’t smell rotten but it should smell sour . . . sauer-kraut.

– The fermentation process really depends on where you live. In AZ, it takes about 2 weeks. During the hellish summers, it takes about 9 days. How do you know? After a week, give your kraut a taste. It should be sour and tangy! Like pickles. At this point, remove the “cabbage lids” and place a real lid on the jar, keeping it in your fridge. A lot of times I scoop out the very top layer of kraut, it just looks gross. It will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a much, much slower rate. If it doesn’t taste sour or tangy, give it a few more days, checking on it every so often.

Fermentation is indeed a science. Yet, every batch of fermented veggies, tea, or cabbage you create is unique. They are like fingerprints and snowflakes . . . no two batches are alike. Each batch has slightly different strains of bacteria. This is a beautiful thing! Bacteria is a living deal. Like people, they are unique and individual. You might have a great batch one week and a “so-so” batch the next. It doesn’t mean you did something wrong, it’s just, different.

HOW TO EAT SAUERKRAUT

For some people, it’s not rocket science. You just, eat it. With a fork. With a spoon. Whatever. Start out by eating small amounts . . . if you have any symptoms of gut irritation when you consume fermented foods, back off and investigate what is taking place. If you’re gut seems happy, slowly increase the amount. Try to include a fermented food/drink a few times a week and eventually, make it apart of your everyday meals.

For some people, it is rocket science. If you hate it and can’t get over the tang or smell or eating “bacteria,” I would encourage you to try mixing it into foods like ground beef or eggs or salad or guacamole. Give it time and allow your taste buds to change. If you still can’t handle it, that’s cool. Try something else! Try carrots or kefir, kombucha or kvass.

Please, please read, buy or borrow the book Fermented by Jill Ciciarelli

I also really enjoyed this book even though I wouldn’t agree with every recipe . . .I’m just not a fan of grains BUT some people feel and function well with grains in their diet and who am I to tell you otherwise? Listen your body, you know it best.

Learn more about how fermentation works

It’s also explained practically here  

All of The Paleo Mom’s articles are worth your time

And so are Chris Kresser’s 

I just stumbled upon this, anyone have thoughts? Have you heard or read it?

Hopefully this is helpful . . . the first few times I made kraut I was so scared I was doing it “wrong.” Now I barely have to think. It just becomes normal with time. Enjoy!

S is for Saturday (part 1)

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It’s also for sauerkraut (and the lost art of fermentation).

Do you know your body has 10 times more bacteria than it does cells? Think about that! Think how many cells are needed to comprise your entire body . . . now multiply that by 10. 10!!! That my friends, is the number of bacteria living within.

Wait, isn’t bacteria bad? Isn’t bacteria gross? That’s what our sterile, hand-sanitizer-happy country would like us to think. They’ve done a good job convincing us, too. Contrary to the infamous Clorox Wipes obsession, Bacteria is VITAL to your health and well being. I’m not talking on a simply internal level, I’m talking about skin conditions, dandruff, “IBS”, joint pain etc.

“Gut flora” is a fancy term for the trillions of bacteria living in your intestines. These species are responsible for a host of tasks. Interestingly enough, they train your immune system! Remember when we talked about the importance of gut health? God placed flora in our bellies for a reason and they are not to be messed with. Unfortunantly, they are messed with.

Stress (remember this post?), NSAIDS (Aspirin, Bayer, Excedrin), birth control, refined foods and toxins (this includes American-ized wheat, guys) and freaking (this post is clearly not very scholarly) antibiotics all play a significant role in altering and/or damaging the gut flora. Disturbed gut flora is like pushing the first domino . . . it leads to leaky gut which leads to an autoimmune response (ignored = autoimmune disease). Gut flora isn’t something to roll your eyes at. It would be like rolling your eyes at the kidneys. Flora is just as important but not as popular as the kidneys. Please don’t be fooled, just because you don’t have “tummy troubles” DOES NOT mean you don’t have tummy trouble. Leaky guts can expose themselves via acne, eczema, arthritis, autism . . . the list goes on to about every “normality” we are experiencing these days and every “medical” commercial shown during New Girl (what?).

Gut flora can also be disturbed quite early on, we’re talking very, very early on. When a baby passes through the vaginal canal, he swallows vaginal fluid containing the mother’s own flora. This is not happenstance. This is amazing! As babies enter into the world full of germs, disease, toxins and (yes) bad bacteria, his mama passes on some of her own defense system for his own little belly (bellies = defense system. Own this)! Sadly, the baby does not receive his mama’s flora when delivered via C section. As Hippocrates taught us many moons ago, “All disease begins in the gut.” He’s probably rolling in his grave as we pop Aspirin like candy, prescribe antibiotics for broken nails and so quickly result to C section deliveries.

What in the world does this all have to do with sauerkraut? I’m glad you asked because otherwise I would have gone into a C section rant. Here’s the deal . . .

1. You need a healthy gut in order to promote a healthy body. It all goes back to the gut, folks.

2. You need healthy, DIVERSE species of gut flora in order to promote this healthy gut. The problem with antibiotics is not necessarily a loss of flora as it is the loss of diverse flora 

3. The best way to promote diversity is to ingest and expose yourself to a diversity of bacteria

4. Sauerkraut (among many other types of fermented foods) is one of the easiest, cheapest, natural ways to do so!

Stay tuned for a special edition of “S is for Sunday, not Saturday” as we tackle the “how to’s” of sauerkraut