Monday, May 14, 2012

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Winner at....Making Sweet Potato Hash

This is one of our favorite recipes now that we are 7 weeks into our new Paleo diet/lifestyle:

Sweet Potato Hash Ingredients:
2-4 large (or 3-5 medium) sweet potatoes
2 cups chopped spinach (fresh)
6-8 slices of bacon
1/4 cup coconut oil (or olive oil or butter)
1/8 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans
Wash sweet potatoes, vent with knife and microwave on high 3-4 mins for medium potatoes and 7-8 mins for very large potatoes. Allow to cool slightly, then peel & dice into cubes. Potatoes should still be very firm, but peeling will go much easier & cooking will take less time by microwaving them for a few minutes first. Set pan temp to just above medium and cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan & set aside.  Add coconut oil (or olive oil or butter) to bacon grease & bring heat up to medium-high. Add onion and sauté until soft (approx 2-4 mins). Optional - we also occasionally add either minced fresh garlic, raisins, dried cranberries and/or pecans at this point, particularly if using butter (preferably Kerry Gold grass fed butter!).  Next, add diced sweet potatoes to pan. Salt & pepper liberally. Cook on med-high for 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly browned, then cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes.  Remove lid and stir in chopped spinach.  You may have to do this 1 cup at a time and then cover and wait 1-2 minutes in between to allow spinach to wilt - it will cook down VERY quickly!  Once all spinach has been added, re-cover and allow to simmer at medium to medium low for another 5 minutes until sweet potatoes are nearly mush but with larger solid chunks still visible.  Crumble bacon over mixture. Stir thoroughly and simmer uncovered 3-5 more minutes to allow flavors to blend. Remove from heat & serve warm.  For breakfast, this is delicious served with an over-medium egg on top!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winner at.....Healthy Eating!

After reading a fascinating book called "The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet", by Robb Wolff, and finding little argument with its reasoning (thanks to the fact that it is well-supported by a great deal of scientific research), I embarked 2 weeks ago on a new and somewhat innovative healthy eating/healthy living plan. I've always been "health focused", but that has led mostly to athletic conditioning (running, yoga, light weight-training) on a somewhat consistent basis over the last 10-15 years more so than me following any kind of specific diet or eating plan.  A lot of that has to do with my lack of knowledge of, interest in and natural ability to cook - until now!

To give a little backstory....the main components of a "Paleo" diet are that you should eat hormone, preservative and nitrate-free, preferably grass-fed meats and eggs, plus lots of fresh veggies and fruits, while avoiding gluten/grains, sugar, dairy and overly processed foods.  Although that may not sound appealing, it certainly didn't sound complicated.  So imagine my surprise to discover just how many products contain gluten and sugar! Eating out - something we did far too often - became a huge challenge since there was no way to know for sure what was in every recipe. This was a HUGE problem.  Cooking, for the better part of 20 yrs, was for me like scuba-diving or running or yoga might be for others. It seemed foreign and intimidating, too time-consuming and not at all appealing. I had so psyched myself out to NOT like it, that I never really even tried it. Imagine my surprise then that as of two weeks ago, I have been cooking like a mad-woman, trying out new recipes, experimenting with spices and different cooking methods....and ENJOYING the heck out of all of it!!  Who knew cooking could be so fun??!!? 

While I think the above book should be required reading for EVERYONE on the planet, and especially anyone with Type 2 diabetes, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol or other eating-related health issues, the bigger lesson here for me is that people really can change and you just never know what you might like (or excel at) if you go are open-minded and go into it with the right attitude.  When i committed to my new eating plan and realized I wouldn't be able to eat out (or get carryout) 5 nights a week anymore, I told myself, "I can do this!  I'm smart and successful and capable and cooking is not a big deal."  I went into it with the intent to have fun with it and focused on the health benefits i would gain vs. how much work it would be or time it would take and it worked like a charm. It's amazing how a tiny shift in perspective can make such a big difference.  Now I'm wondering how I can apply this insight to other areas of my life.  Where have I been avoiding things that would make my life easier, just because they are unknown or intimidating? I say, let's all get out there and try something new today! I'm off to explore what's next.  I'll keep you posted.