Thursday, October 30, 2014

Zombie blog!

Guess what?  I'm alive!  

It's been nearly a year since I was actually here and thinking about food and recipes, versus just whining about life and the suffering of a Whole30 (no, really).  Lots has happened since then and I'm in a whole new place, mentally, physically and emotionally.  I'm finding my passion for food returning.  

In honor of this moments feeling, I wanted to bring back this blog and get back to SHARING my passion and my food.  I also wanted it to be special.  I am NOT a baker; I'm not good at it and I usually don't like it.  I've also realized today that I am no good at cake decorating, but we'll talk about that later.  But, celebrations call for cake, right?  So, I made a damned cake.  And it's tasty, even if it's not nearly as pretty as it was in my head.  Best part?  It's all real food.


Now hold on, first, I feel a rant coming on.  I WILL call this treat real food, but I will NOT call it "healthy".  I really hate the word "healthy" in terms of treats and desserts.  I see it happens a lot, particularly from Paleo bloggers or people who "clean-up" favorite treats.  While I love those people and their creations, I say desserts are more than just the sum of their parts.  Sure, they could be made with the exact same ingredients that you might eat separately on a day to day basis (in my case: eggs, plantain and nut butter, which makes a great breakfast!), but when you put them all together in a specific way, it creates a whole new flavor and texture that your brain will respond to differently.  This is more of an emotional health than physical. It creates an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food if you just live on two ingredient banana pancakes.  Am I babbling?  Probably.  But did I make a point?  I hope so.  I only say this to clarify that I will never refer to a dessert/treat as "healthy" and you should not consider them a substitute for an actual meal (except for those days where you decide to have cake for dinner... or breakfast... that totally happens).  You won’t see many desserts from me, I want to focus on whole, healing foods.  But, everyone deserves a treat now and then.

Rant.  Done.  I think.  Anyway, those of you from my absolute favorite app TwoGrand (seriously, check it out if you haven't), might recognize this cake as being very similar to the plantain mug cake that's become a recent craze (also seriously, I feel famous, no lie).  You are correct, I doubled the recipe and added more sweet (who don't like sweet?!) cus this is a dessert, gosh darn it!

I used a 8” cast iron skillet to bake my cake since I don’t have a full size cake pan.  It was the best choice I ever made, except that I really needed twice as much cake for a pan that size, it’s too thin for layering.  Either way, cooking in cast iron is a dream.

Festive Chocolate Plantain Cake with Pumpkin "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Cake

1 ripe plantain (yellow or black)
2 eggs
2 tbsp nut/seed/peanut butter (dealer’s choice)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp honey/maple syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Blend/thoroughly mix all ingredients, except baking soda.  Adjust sweet and salt to taste (it’s better if it’s a touch sweeter than you want, some of it bakes out).
Mix in baking soda.  
Grease 8” cake pan/skillet with butter or coconut oil (8” should make a thick enough cake you can cut it in half and add a middle cake layer, 10” makes a thin cake) and pour in batter.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I was so excited by this part.  Yay, cast iron!


Pumpkin “Cream Cheese” Frosting

1 cup raw cashews (soaked 4+ hours)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp coconut butter (coconut oil could work in place)
3 tbsp maple syrup/honey
1tsp cinnamon
salt to taste

Soak your cashews a minimum of 4 hours, up to overnight.  Refrigerate if soaking beyond 4 hours. Drain ands rinse.
Add cashew, pumpkin puree, water and lemon juice to a food processor or high speed blender, blend until smooth.  Add salt to taste, it should be tasting like pumpkin cream cheese now.  
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until fully incorporated.
Tada! You have frosting!
When cake is cool enough, remove from the pan. If you made a thick cake, cut it into two pieces to allow a layer of frosting in the center.  
Frost the darned thing.  Use lots of frosting.  Duh.


Optional Chocolate Ganache for decorating

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup/honey
2/3 cup cocoa powder
Mix all ingredients together well.  
Add to a piping bag with a really small tip, or a sandwich bag, cut the tip off.  

Decorate away!  Do better than I did… no, really.


Well... it was a nice idea, right?  I had to fix that mess somehow.  Worst.  Spiderweb.  Ever.














That's a little better, right?  More importantly, it's tasty.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Whole30 the Second (Whole45)

It's been a pretty intense holiday season, but I am back and Whole30ing again! Well, Whole45ing... Yeah. I had a rough month after I finished my last Whole30. Holidays, winter blues and some heavy emotional stuff took a huge toll on me and I broke down and just started eating. I just didn't care, essentially if I wanted it, I ate it. Even dairy... Though in minimal amounts. I'd have just a bite of frosted cake, a couple chocolate chip cookies, a tiny taste of that cheesy dish. But gluten, processed, junk filled things, also made their way into my body relatively often and in large amounts. My headaches came back, my motivation disintegrated and I got a pretty nasty cold that I am still recovering from. Ugh. Needless to say, my desire for comfort food is vanishing in the wake of my need to feel right again. 

So here's to day one. I've spent the morning fasting, drinking water and herbal tea, to give my digestive system a bit of a rest. Generally, fasting seems to be frowned upon by Whole30ers, but I use it only as an occasional break to reset my body and start fresh. I'm not even putting myself through a full 24 hours and am looking forward to a good lunch soon. 

I'm doing this just a little bit different this time.  First, I've joined the Whole9 forum and plan to keep a public log, similar to this, but much more intensive. Also, I am going to continue taking my supplements even though some contain non-compliant ingredients. Many people have asked this question and the response tends to be "doctor prescribed meds are forgivable, supplements are not" regarding ingredients, but I'm going to go ahead and consider these meds, since they are selected by my naturopath to conquer some issues that I don't think diet alone can remedy. So, I will be daily partaking in small amounts of rice flour, soybean oil and soy lecithin. I hope it doesn't really mess things up for me, but I just can't afford to replace 3 already expensive supplements with new bottles and I don't think I should go without. I haven't gotten any responses from others to give me more direction on it, so here goes. Clear skin, are you in my future?

I hope to have tasty recipes to share soon, I haven't been doing much cooking, but I do have a brownie recipe I am pretty damn proud of that will be going up eventually. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Post Whole30

So day 30 sorta came and went and I awoke day 31 with many plans to just have one or two treats, and return to Whole30 strictness for the next few days to detox said treats... I did real good for most of the day. I was spending the day in NY with my family, and then the night with a friend. I woke up, had a good breakfast of herbal coffee and cauliflower crust quiche and headed out with the fam. Lunch came far later than I would have liked and I ended up shelling out far too much money for a salad, as tasty as it was (kale, spinach, chicken, olives, butternut and avocado... Mmm). So when I was faced with a self serve froyo place that happened to have dark chocolate sorbet, I could not say no. I kept the portion small and topped it with fresh pomegranate seeds and mango. But, aside from the fact that I knew it was dairy free, I do not know what was in it.  Soy? Some sort of unnecessary preservatives? I hope not... But I'd already opened the floodgates. The treats I was accounting for were already planned out. When I broke away from my family to meet up with my friend, a shot of whiskey was pressed into my hand (also unaccounted for, I had done research on grain free vodkas and had planned to drink only that all night). The night continued with amazing Korean BBQ, more whiskey and plenty of vodka sodas. 
Funnily enough, my alcohol tolerance seems to have increased. I drank a lot more than I planned and ended the night quite sober. The next morning though, my stomach definitely felt unhappy. So breakfast was an egg and bagel sandwich to soak up the acids... So yet more indulgences. Aaand so the week continued, with me grumpily going "why not?"  In the end, I am very glad I am already planning on a take 2 come January. We will just have to call this past month practice, because I clearly need more than 30 days to truly affect my self control. While I was in the program, I was completely ok with saying "no" to myself, but once I do not have that excuse, I go overboard. Maybe next time I need a Whole45, or at least a more strict reintroduction to hold myself to because I clearly have control issues. 
Poor reintro aside, my specs from before and after are interesting. I did not exercise regularly and honestly did not think I had any weight left to lose, but I managed to drop 6.5 pounds and 2 percent body fat. I also banished my chronic headaches and haven't suffered body/back pain at work in weeks. These are both amazing, though I had higher hopes. My acne has remained the same, if not gotten worse. Fortunately, I know, thanks to my amazing doctor, that my hormonal imbalance is the issue here. I've got a load of new vitamins and a lot of hope. And plans to meditate to reduce my stress levels...

Verdict: Whole30 = Awesome. But I need to give it more time and dedicate myself more thoroughly. I need to set up regular exercise and possibly continue to take my vitamins, even if they are non compliant.  I'm excited for January, how about you?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rutabaga hash browns

Today was a rough day. I didn't sleep well last night and was headachy, grumpy and super distracted all day. With 5 days left to go, visions of chocolate and cookies have been dancing in my head. My brain is realizing that, pretty soon, I can let loose and eat "fun" things. I've thought through a list of junk and treats that I might POSSIBLY be interested in... and there's a surprising number I DON'T want. What I do very much, emphatically want, is something creamy and/or chewy and sweet and definitely chocolate. So I spent much of today thinking up exactly what treat I will be making for myself this time next week (I'm done in time for Saturday, but I already have plans involving alcohol, so I'll save the sugar for a few more days). In order to satisfy my creamy and chewy (the sweet and chocolate part is a given), I'm thinking a simple, quick paleo mug cake topped with cashew butter as frosting... Yeah, that's the ticket. I'm pumped. 
I've been eating lots of cashew butter alluvasudden. One to two spoonfuls a night, to be precise. I'm annoying myself with it, but I can't get the need for a "treat" food out of my head. I'm just ready for this to be over, particularly since I'm not currently feeling any of the benefits, only the downsides. 

On another note though I'm kinda obsessed with rutabaga latkes right now. They nicely fill that niche of crispy, tasty hash browns and are pretty simple to through together in the morning. And when cooking for one, a single rutabaga lasts a damn long time. 

Easy Rutabaga Latkes/Hash Browns

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and grated
1/2 small onion, grated
2 eggs
2 tsp coconut flour
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil

First, peel and grate your rutabaga, either using a grater or the grate attachment on your food processor (my mini food processor has no grating attachment, so I did this by hand... It wasn't too bad). Approximately half of a large rutabaga makes the 2 cups. 
Grate or finely chop onion. 
In a bowl, mix the rutabaga shreds, onion, eggs, flour and salt and pepper to taste thoroughly. 
Heat a skillet to medium heat and melt your coconut oil. 
Scoop a large spoonful of the rutabaga mixture into your hand and shape it into a thick disc before adding it to your hot pan. You should see the edges sizzling in the oil. Add more rutabaga discs and cook approximately 4-5 minutes before flipping and cooking another 4-5 until crispy (mine were kinda blackened, and I was totally ok with that). 
Should make about 6 latkes. Serve with whatever tasties you can think of.  Mine were great with guacamole, cranberry sauce and eggs (not all at the same time... But that's not a bad idea). 



Picture to follow, once I remember to take one after breakfast. Doh. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dairy and Grain Free Green Bean Casserole

Happy post thanksgiving, friends! I hope you had much delicious food. I certainly did, and all of it Whole30 friendly. I mean, I definitely over-ate, which is not really in the spirit of the program, and was uncomfortable after, but after I'd digested everything, I felt just as good as I always do lately. No bloating, cravings or food coma the next morning. Not to mention, TONS OF DELICIOUS LEFTOVERS 
(yes, the caps were necessary there, don't judge me). Seriously, I love leftovers. I love them almost more than the original meal. What's most exciting about thanksgiving leftovers, is that you don't have to just eat the same meal again, you can recreate them into a new delicious combination. 
For example, breakfast this morning was a sorta thanksgiving eggs Benedict. 


This triumph was achieved by mixing an egg into some leftover cinnamon butternut squash mash and frying it like a burger, then topping the thing with cranberry sauce and a fried egg. Magic! 
Dinner tonight is a turkey shepherd's pie... Or pot pie... Or just casserole, I'm not too sure what to call it. It's leftover green bean casserole mixed with turkey and gravy, then topped with a layer of the same squash mash (I had a LOT leftover) and baked till delicious. 

I was always a huge fan of the next day (or next three days) turkey sandwich, and don't get me wrong... I still think those are delicious... But who needs the bread? Lunch today was turkey and raw kale topped with homemade mayo. I am thankful. Thankful for leftovers. 

I contributed five items to my family's thanksgiving. Partly as an effort to minimize their work, and partly to ensure there'd be plenty I could eat. I shouldn't have worried, my mom cooked too much as usual (and I convinced her to try roasting her Brussels sprouts instead of boiling, success!), but I am glad for all the extra food. Most contributions were basic: cinnamon mash butternut, gravy, garlic mashed cauliflower and Melissa Joulwan's fantastic Whole30 friendly cranberry sauce, but I also wanted to recreate a favorite of mine from years past: green bean casserole. 

Green bean casserole is usually my contribution to thanksgiving, and I've always made it the "traditional" way, with cream of mushroom soup and French's fried onions. This year, that was off the menu, and I replaced it with this:

Dairy and Grain-Free Green Bean Casserole

2 lbs fresh green beans
1/2 medium cauliflower 
2 cups chicken bone broth
1 medium sweet onion
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Oregano
Salt and pepper
Optional: milk alternative to taste
Also optional: mushrooms

First, chop your green beans into 1-2 inch pieces and boil with one cup of chicken broth for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. 
Preheat oven to 350. 

Cream of cauliflower:
While beans are boiling, chop cauliflower into small florets, smash garlic cloves and boil both with second cup of broth until cauliflower is fork tender. 
Add cauliflower to food processor or blender with a 1/4 cup of the broth from the pot and oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth, add milk to increase creaminess if desired.  
If using mushrooms (I skipped them because my sister dislikes them), roughly chop and sauté in a tbsp of oil over medium heat and add to cream sauce. 

Crispy onions:
Chop onion into long thin strips. I cut rings and then sliced them in half. Heat oil in a pot over medium low heat. Add a layer of onions to the oil and let sit for 4-5 minutes until crisp, stirring once. 
Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel covered plate to drain and add another layer. Repeat until all onions are cooked. 

Assemble!
In a casserole dish, mix green beans, cream sauce and half the cooked onions. Top with remaining onions. 
Baked in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. 


Envision it with MORE onions on top, I definitely did not use enough with only 1/2 an onion. Also, envision a better picture, I'm a terrible photographer. 

Anyway, I was pretty proud of this, the flavor is light and oniony and the texture creamy. Not to mention totally dairy and grain free and optionally vegan. I can certainly see myself making this again... This time properly with mushrooms and not inviting my picky sister to try it... Yeah. 




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baked eggs and Mexican chocolate

Hello from Day 21! Three weeks in and going strong! Well, sort of... I'm honestly not feeling so amazing. My headaches are gone and my energy levels are more stable, also sitting through the day is easier. I should be over the MOON about this... But I keep going through waves of ridiculous cravings, things I couldn't eat even before starting the program like rich chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting, cheesy pizza and nachos... I think my brain is angry at me for trying to take control and it's lashing out by taunting me with these images. It's no fair. Also, my skin is just as terrible as it started, if not worse... and this past week, I've been beset by bloating and general discomfort. Humph. This all makes for a sad Kate. 
But, that aside, I have two new obsessions. First: baked eggs. I found a small ceramic dish in our cabinet that is the freaking perfect size. 


It's a ridiculously easy dish to make, with endless combinations. My favorites were leftover beef sweet potato hash with broccoli and cinnamon sweet potatoes topped with salsa and avocado. The only issue is it can be time consuming. Pro tip (ya know, from my huge experience making it... three... times... Yeah): have your bottom layers cooked ahead of time. Leftover veggies chopped small are GREAT, or some wilted spinach. 

Anyway, this ain't really a recipe, just a basic how to. Preheat your oven to 400 and fill your dish with a layer of veggies/meat. If they are not precooked, place the dish in your preheated oven till tender.  Crack a couple eggs over your filling and return to the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes until eggs are set. 
Try not to scarf it down. It's hot, for one.  For another, it's just unsightly. 

My second obsession: Mexican chocolate coffee. Chocolate, you say? How can this be, shouldn't you be having nothing sugary during your Whole30? (That's what you're thinking, right? I knew it). Never fear, I've not imbibed of the sugaryness. I simply desired something chocolate. Intensely desired. The smell and rich taste, I needed it. But it didn't need to be sweet, it just needed to be CHOCOLATE. 

The solution? Duh, I said it already. 

Mexican Chocolate Coffee 

2 teaspoons coffee grounds (real coffee, Teeccino or an herbal mix of carob and chicory)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (real cocoa powder, not hot chocolate mix)
2-3 dashes cinnamon
1 dash of cayenne pepper
Optional: coconut/almond milk to taste
Optional: honey to taste

Brew grounds and spices in a French press (if using a regular coffee maker, brew with cinnamon and cayenne, but save the cocoa powder for after). 
If desired, mix brew with milk to mellow and/or honey to sweeten. The honey will make it more like a mocha. 

This was deep and bitter and a touch spicy. And oh so soothing. Since I use herbal coffee, it makes a great evening drink in place of hot cocoa. 



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wooooah! We're halfway there!

Hello from day 15! I have officially survived the halfway point and I'm feeling pretty good! A couple things that are surprising me are a number of cravings that popped up randomly today even though I thought I was past the point and I'm having troubled getting out of bed mornings. The cravings, I feel, are more linked to my emotional state than the actual food though and same with the getting up part. I'm craving general tso's chicken, chocolate pudding and almond butter chocolate treats. These are my traditional "soothing" comfort foods and I think I'm craving how it made me feel when I'd eat them. This is why I am being so careful to not recreate any old comfort foods this month. I simply need to learn to handle my stress without food. Then again, I also had a craving for cinnamon toast crunch the other day... I can't explain that one. I hate the stuff. But, goddamn, I really want some general tso's. But how comforting would it be now or would I just feel sick? The morning issue isn't so much the waking up, I'm alert when my alarm goes off, I simply have no motivation or desire to move. I'm going to blame that on the cold though. Cold is dumb. Ugh. 
But otherwise, I'm doing damn good. This weekend my face broke out terribly and painfully, but I haven't had a new blemish in days and I appear to be quickly healing. Also, headaches are less often and my body temperature is more regular at work. I call this a success well worth another couple of weeks, yeah?
I've been eating pretty well too. Simply, but well. Last night I threw together a small butternut squash lasagna to provide lunches for the next few days and earlier this week, I was lunching on roasted chicken drumsticks marinated in coconut aminos and spices. I'm addicted to coconut aminos now. For breakfast yesterday, I had some cauliflower to use up, so I riced it and fried it up with some egg. Tada, fried rice brought to you by Coconut Aminos! 
It's funny, comfort food cravings aside, all I'm really missing right now, is just a glass of wine or two while cooking dinner. Which is funny, that's what most bloggers whose experiences I've read seem to miss, though not necessarily while cooking dinner... O:)  I know this one is a genuine, safe desire, rather than a craving, because I'm not envisioning how it feels or tastes to consume, I just miss its presence in my life. That will be my day 31 treat, for sure. 

I'll be experimenting with a chili recipe this weekend, so hopefully I'll have a recipe to share. In the meantime, happy eats!