Mexican Pork and Pepper Stew with Avocado-Citrus Cream

I love pork for its incredible versatility. Depending on the spices you use, you can travel the world with this meat – and that makes me happy. Tonight I wanted to make an avocado-citrus cream I’ve been thinking about, so I went south for the flavor profile. I served it on top of butternut squash noodles but it was also great on its own. Depending on your chili powder, this can be quite spicy or not at all – so feel free to add more spice if you need to kick it up. Either way, the cooling avocado cream will round everything out perfectly.

Pork and Pepper Stew with Avocado-Citrus Cream 2013

Mexican Pork and Pepper Stew

3 lbs. of pork loin, cut in 1 inch cubes

1 T. ground cumin

1 tsp. granulated garlic

2 tsp. salt, divided

1 T. + 1 tsp. coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. chipotle powder

28 oz. diced tomatoes

2 c. water

Directions

1. In a large bowl, massage cumin, garlic, and 1 tsp. of salt into the cubed pork loin.

2. Melt 1 T. coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pork without crowding the pot and brown well. This may take several batches. Set aside.

3. Melt 1 tsp. coconut oil in the pot and add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and 1 tsp. salt, stirring and scraping up any brown bits until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, then add the chili powders and coriander. Return the pork to the pot with its juices and pour in the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium to keep a lively bubble.

4. Leave the lid off and allow the mixture to bubble until most of the liquid is gone for a thick stew. This will take about an hour. Check the tenderness of the pork and when ready, serve with a generous dollop of Avocado-Citrus Cream (recipe follows).

Serves 4-6

Avocado-Citrus Cream

1 avocado

1/2 c. cilantro

Juice from 1 lime

Juice from 1/2 an orange

1 clove of garlic

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 t. salt

2 T. water

Directions

1) Place everything in a blender and blend until very smooth and silky. I used a Magic Bullet, but you could even mash it with a fork. A little chunkier but still tasty!

Whole 30: Day 5 Recap

Whole9

I’m doing a Whole 30 for a couple of reasons: 1) I want to feel great from the inside out, 2) Putting some stricter guidelines around my food choices keeps me from getting distracted by things that might otherwise tempt me, and 3) Sometimes it takes a while to reap the benefits of a change and having a timeline provides the structure and encouragement I need when I begin to feel impatient.

I plan to share what I eat each day to help me accurately judge what my body needs and to, hopefully, provide a little inspiration or planning assistance if you’re trying to figure out your day as well. If you have questions about anything, please leave me a comment.

Everyone is different, so I hope you don’t judge me too harshly by what I eat. And maybe you’ll see something that resonates with you and, in that case, excellent! If not, I’ll be posting different recipes on the blog too, so don’t despair!

Here’s to the journey!

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4:45 Black coffee

8:30 Kale and eggs with salsa and avocado-citrus cream

11:30 Pork and pepper stew on butternut squash noodles with avocado-citrus cream (recipe coming soon!)

2:00 Small handful of grapes, a teaspoon of coconut butter, coffee

6:00 Pina Colada Chicken (from Well Fed 2) on my Creamy Allspice Cauliflower Rice (another recipe coming soon!)

Creamy Allspice Cauliflower Rice 2013

8:00 Hot tea

Food I miss mints! I’m not a mint junky or anything and I brush my teeth a lot, but sometimes I just want to pop in a mint. Maybe it’s for the sweet taste, maybe it’s to keep my mouth busy without eating, I don’t know – I just want a mint! Today when that happened, I stopped and recognized it for what it was. An urge. Food urges are easier to handle than true cravings (there’s a difference – believe me!) and I had just handed a mint to my son, so of course I wanted one. I waited it out, thought of something else and it passed. But I can already tell, that one will be coming up again.

Mood I was at the pumpkin patch with my kiddo and a bunch of school friends on a gorgeous fall day. I’d say my mood is pretty good today!

Sleep 8 hours. A complete accident because I shut the alarm off and we fell back asleep. I guess that extra hour was definitely NEEDED.

Exercise Generally I work out nearly every day. This week’s craziness made that hard. I am really craving a good workout and I’ve got it on the calendar for tomorrow morning, early, because the rest of Saturday doesn’t have room. When my days are overbooked, I have to the get my workout in at the crack of dawn!

Well Fed 2 Review: If I had to pick just one cookbook…

There’s no getting around it – I LOVE cookbooks. Since before I was really cooking, I used to read them cover-to-cover when commuting on mass transportation. I check them out at the library, I ask for them as gifts, I purchase them (my husband might say “with abandon”). I devour them before bed at night, in front of the TV I’m not really watching, whenever I have a spare 5 minutes. I truly love them.

So you can imagine, picking just one out of the many that I have come across would be extremely difficult. And right now, there are a number of paleo cookbooks that have either been released in the past couple years (I have several) or are about to be released (I have one currently on pre-order). It’s a very exciting time in the paleo culinary world! I can honestly say, though, that I waited for Well Fed 2 to be shipped to my house with nearly as much excitement and anticipation as its fabulous creator, Melissa Joulwan from TheClothesMaketheGirl.com. All but one of the recipes are Whole 30 compliant, too. As soon as I got it, I stayed up late, totally engrossed and wondering, “When am I going to have time to make my own recipes to share? All I want to do is cook from this book!”

WellFed2_cover72dpi

The Burgers, Balls & Bangers section alone will keep you busy. Taking different ground meats, adding spices from around the world, and serving them up in various shapes is something I do all the time. When following a paleo lifestyle, you learn to love ground meat for its versatility, quick prep time, and relative affordability. When I saw this section with 15 different combinations (15!), I realized that even if I made just one recipe per week, that’s nearly four months of different ways to eat ground meat! And it doesn’t include changing up the shape, which truly can transform the exact same ingredients into a different eating experience. Genius!

Then there’s the Sauces & Seasonings section. I immediately went out and bought two little sauce dispensers so that I could squeeze my ketchup or lizard sauce or mayo variation onto the plate in any design I want. Or just squeeze it because it’s fun! I stopped buying salad dressing a long time ago because it just has too many ingredients that don’t make sense to me and often there is a lot of unnecessary sugar. I am eager to try Melissa’s Go-To Vinaigrette – it looks like it has the perfect amount of zing!

Finally, there are a few recipes that have an incredible way of concerning me and intriguing me all at the same time. I sort of look at them as the You Want to Make What?! category, and I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t really like liver, generally, but the recipe for Crispy Chicken Livers looks amazing and as soon as I can get my hands on some chicken livers from a source I like, I will be making them. Sardines are another of those foods – but there you go. I actually have some sardines on hand because I have been wanting to love them and I think Pan-Fried Sardines might be the ticket! A little credit must go to Melissa’s partner-in-crime David Humphreys who photographed all the food. It’s pretty incredible how he makes food jump off the page and leave an indelible mark on your brain.

Seriously, how could you not want to eat this?

Seriously, how could you not want to try this?

Clearly, I’m a fan of Well Fed 2. But don’t just take my word for it – get a free PDF sample HERE and check it out for yourself! In case you’re wondering, I also have the original Well Fed and when I look at all the cookbooks I’ve accumulated and loved over the years, if I had to pick just one, I’d pick Well Fed AND Well Fed 2. You have to get both.

Whole 30: Day 4 Recap

Whole9

I’m doing a Whole 30 for a couple of reasons: 1) I want to feel great from the inside out, 2) Putting some stricter guidelines around my food choices keeps me from getting distracted by things that might otherwise tempt me, and 3) Sometimes it takes a while to reap the benefits of a change and having a timeline provides the structure and encouragement I need when I begin to feel impatient.

I plan to share what I eat each day to help me accurately judge what my body needs and to, hopefully, provide a little inspiration or planning assistance if you’re trying to figure out your day as well. If you have questions about anything, please leave me a comment.

Everyone is different, so I hope you don’t judge me too harshly by what I eat. And maybe you’ll see something that resonates with you and, in that case, excellent! If not, I’ll be posting different recipes on the blog too, so don’t despair!

Here’s to the journey!

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4:45 Black coffee

6:30 Berebere collard greens with sweet potato and eggs

11:00 1/2 apple, small handful of raw nuts

2:30 Salad with salmon, hb egg, tahini dressing and Casablanca carrots, decaf. coffee

4:00 Banana

6:45 Mexican pork and pepper stew with avocado-citrus cream

8:00 Hot tea

Food Feeling good about my choices, just scattered about my schedule.

Mood My mood has mostly been fine, but I have to admit, I’ve had a few grouchy moments. I have no idea why this happens.

Sleep 7 hours. Good sleep! I was a little tired when I woke up but have felt fine the rest of the day.

Exercise Yoga in the morning. Yay! The rest got crazy. I DID make it to the gym, but things happened and I really can’t count a 5 minute cardio burst as a workout.

Yesterday’s note: Day 4 and 5 are rumored to make you want to punch things in the face. I say, “Bring it!” But I might regret that… Today’s note: Um. Yup!

Whole 30: Day 3 Recap

Whole9

I’m doing a Whole 30 for a couple of reasons: 1) I want to feel great from the inside out, 2) Putting some stricter guidelines around my food choices keeps me from getting distracted by things that might otherwise tempt me, and 3) Sometimes it takes a while to reap the benefits of a change and having a timeline provides the structure and encouragement I need when I begin to feel impatient.

I plan to share what I eat each day to help me accurately judge what my body needs and to, hopefully, provide a little inspiration or planning assistance if you’re trying to figure out your day as well. If you have questions about anything, please leave me a comment.

Everyone is different, so I hope you don’t judge me too harshly by what I eat. And maybe you’ll see something that resonates with you and, in that case, excellent! If not, I’ll be posting different recipes on the blog too, so don’t despair!

Here’s to the journey!

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4:45 Black coffee

6:30 Berebere collard greens with sweet potato and eggs

11:00 (pre-wo) 1/2 c. Brussels sprouts with HB egg and hazelnuts

1:45 Sesame cucumber noodles with chicken, bell pepper and avocado, 1/4 c. butternut squash noodles

Sesame Cuc Noodles WF 2013

2:30 Black decaf.

7:15 Semi Sabich and Casablanca Carrots from WellFed2

Food Better workout snack today made for a more stable and consistent day. It seems easy. Dare I say that?

Mood I still feel really good. In fact, it’s comforting to know that even though I was not eating according to my goals for a while (ie. cocktail hour and ice cream), I didn’t revert back so far that I got hit with significant carb-flu. I have had a few moments where a headache threatened, but it hasn’t been bad at all.

Sleep 6.5 hours. Where are you weekend? Enough said.

Exercise Yoga in the morning. Dog walk. Strength workout (pull) at the gym. I feel lucky today!

Day 4 and 5 are rumored to make you want to punch things in the face. I say, “Bring it!” But I might regret that…

Italian Scramble

Egg recipeI have had this for breakfast 3 days in a row. I have some form of eggs and greens or eggs and veggies nearly every morning. Because I change up the flavor profile so often, I never seem to grow tired of it. On days when you are feeling more or less hungry, or are cooking for more than just yourself, it’s easy to scale – just add eggs! Delicious and quick to make, this also uses some leftover rosemary from my Leek and Cauli-Squash soup, just in case you have some sitting around. With a few advance prep steps (clean greens and a stash of vinaigrette), putting this together in the morning is a snap. But it would also be right at home for lunch or dinner too!

Italian Scramble

1/2 tsp. coconut oil

1 1/2 c. kale, chopped

1/2 c. cherry tomatoes

1/4 tsp. rosemary, minced

2 eggs

1 tsp. balsamic vinaigrette

1/4 of an avocado

Directions

1. Melt coconut oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add kale, 3 T. water, rosemary, a pinch of salt to help sweat the kale, and the cherry tomatoes. Stir it around to coat everything in the oil and put a lid on it. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then press down on the tomatoes with the back of a spatula to pop them and release their juices.

2. Push veggies to the side and add 2 eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. Scramble a bit and once the eggs are nearly done, fold them into the kale-tomato mixture.

3. When cooked to your liking, about 1-2 minutes, plate and drizzle with 1 tsp. of balsamic vinaigrette. Serve avocado on the side.

Serves 1 but this recipe can easily be expanded to feed more!

Balsamic vinaigrette – I used some leftover vinaigrette, but in a pinch, I put about 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, and 1 T. extra virgin olive oil with a little salt and pepper. I tend to like my dressing on the pucker-up side, so feel free to adjust to your tastes.

Whole 30: Day 2 Recap

Whole9

I’m doing a Whole 30 for a couple of reasons: 1) I want to feel great from the inside out, 2) Putting some stricter guidelines around my food choices keeps me from getting distracted by things that might otherwise tempt me, and 3) Sometimes it takes a while to reap the benefits of a change and having a timeline provides the structure and encouragement I need when I begin to feel impatient.

I plan to share what I eat each day to help me accurately judge what my body needs and to, hopefully, provide a little inspiration or planning assistance if you’re trying to figure out your day as well. If you have questions about anything, please leave me a comment.

Everyone is different, so I hope you don’t judge me too harshly by what I eat. And maybe you’ll see something that resonates with you and, in that case, excellent! If not, I’ll be posting different recipes on the blog too, so don’t despair!

Here’s to the journey!

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4:45 Black coffee

6:30 Italian scramble (recipe coming soon!), 1/4 avocado, a few grapes

11:00 1/4 c. of sweet potato and a small handful of raw nut trail mix

1:45 Sesame cucumber noodles with sautéed shrimp, hard boiled egg, pear

2:30 Black decaf.

6:30 Baked chicken, braised brussel sprouts, butternut squash noodles (love my spiral slicer!)

I ended up eating a second piece of chicken because my protein was a bit low and I was still hungry.

8:00 Small handful of nuts, banana

Spiraling bnut squash 2013Spiral Squash in pan 2013Dinner with spiral squash 2013

Food I feel good about my choices today but I was noticeably hungry. It Starts with Food (the book behind the Whole 30) recommends a pre- and post-workout snack that do not count as part of the meals. I wasn’t prepared enough this week to do that so grabbing a handful of nuts has been my go-to. It’s not ideal so I’ll be giving that some thought this weekend.

Mood Pretty good! I still feel confident and strong. Just busy and looking for my rhythm.

Sleep 7 hours last night but I am definitely still catching up.

Exercise Strength workout at the gym. Push day felt great, and I’ll still feel it tomorrow!

On to Day 3!

Whole 30: Day 1 Recap

Whole9

I’m doing a Whole 30 for a couple of reasons: 1) I want to feel great from the inside out, 2) Putting some stricter guidelines around my food choices keeps me from getting distracted by things that might otherwise tempt me, and 3) Sometimes it takes a while to reap the benefits of a change and having a timeline provides the structure and encouragement I need when I begin to feel impatient.

I plan to share what I eat each day to help me accurately judge what my body needs and to, hopefully, provide a little inspiration or planning assistance if you’re trying to figure out your day as well. If you have questions about anything, please leave me a comment.

Everyone is different, so I hope you don’t judge me too harshly by what I eat. And maybe you’ll see something that resonates with you and, in that case, excellent! If not, I’ll be posting different recipes on the blog too, so don’t despair!

Here’s to the journey!

***************************************************************************************************************

4:45 Black coffee

6:30 Italian scramble (recipe coming soon!), 1/4 avocado, apple slice

11:00 Tuna-Sweet Potato mix, pear

3:00 Celery, cucumber, dip & small handful of raw nut trail mix

8:00 Paleo Cottage Pie, salad

This has been a crazy day! The third Monday is always busy for me with some standing appointments, but today had a few extra items too. I had to resort to one of my fuel-in-a-hurry snacks and was very grateful for dinner already being made. That just needed heating up and a side salad. This is not a typical day, though, and I’m looking for a calmer rhythm soon.

Hunger One of my favorite things about paleo eating? No blood sugar crashes. I’ve been eating mostly paleo for a while so my body does a pretty good job waiting for the next meal and not screaming for a carb/sugar hit every two hours. It’s especially great because I don’t go into panic mode if I don’t have something to eat. I was hungrier than I’d like to be because my food was light mid-day, but I’m feeling pretty good.

Mood Great! I love Day 1 because I always feel charged up, committed, and ready to succeed. Change can be scary, but once I’ve decided, it just feels good.

Sleep I’m burning the candle at both ends these days and will have to fix that. Can’t be energized without the rest I need.

Exercise Morning yoga – yes. I wasn’t able to get a full workout in today but tomorrow should be better.

Spicy Pepper Meat Sauce

I always find it handy to have a meat sauce in the freezer to throw on top of zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash at any time. Sometimes I’ll just eat it like chili or put it on sautéed kale or a sweet potato. Whatever you choose to do with it, you can’t go wrong making a big batch and saving some for later.

A few years ago I stumbled across a light pasta recipe in Eating Well Magazine that wowed me with its use of pepperoncini. For my paleo-eating ways, though, I like to have a meaty sauce that fills me up because it’s almost always the main event. While I’m smitten with my zoodles or spaghetti squash as a base, they’re pretty light so I’m looking to the sauce for the oomph.

I assure you, this recipe does not disappoint! The sauce gets its heat and a vinegar-tang from a whole jar of hot banana peppers. You could easily swap in pepperoncini here as well. Don’t worry about the heat too much because the meat will absorb a lot of it.

IMG_0152

Hot Pepper Meat Sauce

4 slices of bacon

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 lbs. ground beef

16 oz. jar of hot banana peppers, sliced, stems and seeds removed

28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

15 oz. jar of tomato sauce

1/2 c. water

Directions

1. Chop the bacon and brown over medium heat until crispy. Set aside, reserving 2 T. of the bacon grease in the bottom of the pot.

2. Add chopped onion and garlic, sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.

3. Add  ground beef and cook, breaking it into chunks, until browned, about 8 minutes.

4. Add all of the sliced hot peppers, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1/2 c. water, and the reserved bacon.

5. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Even longer is great!

Serves 6-8

Whole 30 Fast 5

What a wonderful weekend! I was up in Denver for the Denver Rock-and-Roll Marathon and 1/2 Marathon. My husband was running in the half, and we had some other friends out there as well. It was BEAUTIFUL – a spectacular Colorado fall day! Afterwards, we visited some friends and had a little lunch before making the drive back home. When I got back, I had to bathe the dog, take care of a few chores around the house, etc. and so here it is, rather late in the day and I STILL need to prep for my Whole 30, which begins tomorrow.

Maybe you don’t think this is a big deal, but I am a planner, so when I don’t get to plan and prep, it makes me a little anxious. And you see…a Whole 30 is kind of a big deal. I also know that tomorrow is generally my busiest day of the week, so if I don’t have a few things ready to go, I might have some challenges to overcome.

So I sat down and thought for a minute, “What can I do in the least amount of time that will have the greatest impact on the success of my Whole 30 starting tomorrow?”

I came up with my WHOLE 30 FAST 5

CLEAN GREENS Many people immediately think “cereal” when you mention breakfast. When you eat paleo, though, cereal is generally a no-no. There are very few options that don’t include a bunch of grains or added sugars so you have to look at that meal a little differently. I almost always think “eggs.” And for me, I love adding greens to my eggs. But when I’m in a hurry in the morning, the last thing I want to do is wash a bunch – or even a handful, frankly – of kale to add to my greens. And when I’m starving at lunch, if I’m going salad, that lettuce had better be ready!

So here it is – a bunch of kale, a bunch of collard greens, and a head of lettuce washed and ready to go! Easy.

Stored greens

PALEO MAYO If you were to ask me about something that I never thought I’d do pre-paleo that I will never stop doing now that I know how easy it is, that thing would be homemade mayo. Hands down. Check out this post by one of my very favorite paleo bloggers and authors, Melissa Joulwan. (She just released a new cookbook, WellFed 2, that was on my front porch when I got home and I am aching to open it!) Her mayo recipe from her first book, WellFed, includes a variation with apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, and that’s what I use, but seriously – Pass by the processed jar of you-don’t-know-what and make your own mayo! If you have a stick blender, it takes 10 SECONDS. No joke.

Then all week long, in a matter of minutes, you have tuna salad, egg salad (because of Fast 5 #3), creamy salad dressing half-way made, lettuce wraps with a dollop of something, tons of options!

HARD BOILED EGGS When you are hungry, about to workout, just post-workout, needing a snack, looking for extra protein for a salad or main, hard boiled eggs are the way to go. They’re quick and versatile and can be made in advance.

The method that works best for me is to put several eggs in the pot and cover them by about an inch with cold water. Bring it to a boil over high heat and then immediately turn the head to the lowest possible setting, put a lid on them, and set the timer for 9 minutes. Some people take them completely off the heat, but I’ve found it works best for me when there’s a little something happening underneath. After 9 minutes, remove them and run them under cold water for a second and then put them in an ice bath for at least 10ish minutes – I’ll often leave them for a bit. Peel them and store them in a storage container with a tightly fitting lid and a piece of paper towel to soak up any excess moisture. Hard boiled eggs all week long. Excellent!

BAKED SWEET POTATOES Paleo carbs are different from what you may have previously thought about carbs. The idea isn’t low-carb or no-carb. It’s about finding the right amount of the most nutrient-dense carbs to fuel your activities each day. I work out nearly every day and some days are quite intense so it’s important that I have some healthy carbs to refuel, otherwise I won’t have enough energy the next day. In come sweet potatoes.

I plop a few into a glass baking dish, stick them in the oven at 400 degrees until they’re soft (time will vary depending on size) and then stick them in container in the fridge. I will mix them with things or cut a chunk off to eat with a meal. It doesn’t really matter as long as I don’t have to wait for them to cook when I’m in a hurry.

ONE BIG DINNER = LEFTOVERS FOR THE WEEK If I’m busy all day tomorrow, what will I have for lunch? Or maybe a last-minute dinner? Ummm…leftovers! I don’t acutally think of my pre-prepped meals as leftovers, especially when it’s something that tastes better the next day, like soups or stews or “pasta” sauces. Tonight I made a delicious meat sauce that will go on top of zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. Don’t worry – I’ll post the recipe tomorrow because it’s definitely worth making.

The idea is to make something you like and either eat it and save some for lunches, therefore saving you time, or make it simultaneously so that you can have it as your main meal when you need a break during the week. Double cooking or batch cooking are really helpful when you have a lot going on in your life but still want to eat right.

There they are…my Fast 5. That’s what I’m tackling tonight, and I know you can too! A little preparedness goes a long way for a successful adventure. Let me know in the comments below if there are things you like to do to be ready for the week. I’d love to hear them!