My 2-week cooking challenge.

Having your own business, especially a new business, is tough. Every dollar made is put right back into the “this is what we need to survive fund”. Lately I have felt like I’m spending more and more money on food. I know that the price of food is going through the roof and we are feeling it in this house. I consistently strive to buy fresh foods and the healthiest cuts of meat I can find and afford but lately it’s been taking a big chunk of change to do that. A couple of things have me looking closely at where our money is going. The first one is a big one. My business is continuing to grow and this is a great thing but I am in a situation where it’s time to purchase more equipment and finish building out the garage. If we put a shed in our side yard, I can take over the entire garage and add two additional people to my classes. I have people waiting for spots to open up so the heat is on to get this done. Right now my list of equipment includes 4 additional women’s barbells, a couple of 45 lb. kettle bells and various size bumper plates. The other thing that is high on the list is a new lens for Sean. He’s been wanting one for awhile and it’s been pushed aside for too long.

The one area I feel we can save some cash or reallocate some cash is in food. I decided to take an inventory of all our food and cook meals for two weeks using only the food that we have. The only things that I am allowing myself to buy over the next two weeks are eggs, lettuce, coconut creamer and fruit for the kids.

My goal is to make enough food so that Sean will take his lunch 3 days a week. Between the money saved there along with the money saved by planning our meals and not popping in to the store a couple of times a week, we can save bunches. If my calculations are correct, I will have the equipment I need in three short months. Even sooner if I can find other places to start saving money.

If I was feeling like I was doing without, I no longer feel that way after writing down all of our food. Holy smokes. I went through the pantry, the fridge and two freezers. I wrote down everything with the exception of spices, oils and vinegars. I found food that I know I bought for a certain recipe but for some reason or another, I never made it. For example, I have 2 cans of tuna in olive oil, 4 packs of tuna in olive oil and 2 cans of tuna in water. Looks like I will be eating a lot of tuna over the next couple of weeks.

One of my struggles is that I find all these awesome recipes, write down the names of them in my notebook, make a grocery list and then I can’t remember where I found the recipe. Another weakness of mine is Pinterest. I had a genius moment and created a Pinterest board called “2-week cooking challenge” (brilliant name) and that is where I am posting all the recipes that I have found and will make. I have already made one and promptly deleted it. Homemade French vanilla coffee creamer. It was made with coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, honey and vanilla. Sounded great but I basically ruined perfectly good coconut milk by mixing it with almond. I also ruined a cup of coffee. Now I remember why I don’t do almond milk. Here is my Pinterest board if you are so inclined to see what I am making.

I’m not very organized and I really do have good intentions to be. Taking inventory of our food really got me back on that bus. I put everything into Excel so I have a running inventory that I can reference when I need to. Just working in Excel is a major accomplishment for me. I should get a medal for this.

Now that I have all of these fabulous recipes, it’s time to plan meals for the week. Here’s what is on the menu for this week:
Tuesday: Grilled chicken thighs, sweet potato fries, salad
Wednesday: Thai basil meat beef balls, zucchini noodles
Thursday: Chicken and vegetable lo-mein
Friday: Chicken nuggets, broccoli bacon salad
Saturday: Sirloin, roasted Brussels sprouts, salad
Sunday: Grilled chicken, grilled vegetables

That’s it for this week. I’m going to spend more time digging around for awesome recipes to try next week. Stay tuned for another post!


Paleo recipe site discovery!

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been “loosely” following the Zone plan and I have definitely seen and felt a difference in the way I feel and look. I recently saw a picture of a chick who did a strict 30-day paleo and Zone diet and the results were awesome. It was the motivation I needed to take this on myself. I know everyone is different and I may or may not end up with ripped abs at the end of 30 days but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Because I have to really plan things out, I’ve started digging around for new recipes and came across this awesome site. They have some really tasty looking recipes that I’m excited to try. I’m going to spend the next couple of days planning out meals in 2-week blocks. That way if there is something that we’ve tried (my family doesn’t realize it yet but they are doing this with me) and it is really great, I can make it again. It will also give me the chance to prep as much as I can. I do have to say that my family is 100% behind me on whatever I chose to do so this isn’t their first rodeo on going strict paleo.

It’s all going down starting February 25. I’m not going to fool myself and say I’m going to be good on my birthday weekend cuz I know I’m not. I’d also like for this to be the first big thing I do at the awesome age of 44.

Stay tuned for updates!

A paleo Thankgiving.

Here’s a quick post with some awesome recipes to show you that having a paleo Thanksgiving is easier AND tastier than you think!

Julie over at PaleoOMG has compiled a list of awesome breakfast, sides and dessert recipes. You can find it here. She also has a list of all things pumpkin. There’s some good stuff on there.

The Food Lover’s Kitchen has an entire Thanksgiving dinner menu. I have made the cauliflower mashers, the pumpkin chiffon pie and the cranberry sauce and it was all awesome.

That’s it for today! I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!



My new favorite drink.

How I did not figure this out a long time ago, I’ll never know. I am a carbonation junkie. I can go on a Diet Coke binge like nobody’s business. My adult drink of choice is vodka, soda and a squeeze of lime. We can get into how much I love those in another post. I don’t know why I never thought to just take out the vodka part and then I’d have a nice refreshing, sparkling, carbonated drink without the booze. Genius!

Kylie actually talked me into buying La Croix. I tried it once a long time ago and thought it was awful. This time around I added fresh lime and half a pack of Stevia. It is so good and refreshing! Try it when you are craving something carbonated but don’t want to blow all the good you have done on a soda.

One ingredient ice cream.

You read that correctly! One ingredient. Mine actually had two but you can totally make it with one. That one ingredient is BANANAS! I didn’t believe it until I tried it. It seemed way too easy to be true.

Here is all you need to make awesome banana ice cream:
4 bananas
Food processor

And that is it. Seriously.

Here’s how to do it:
Slice up your bananas into 1/4 – 1/2 inch discs. Do not try to blend or cut up a whole frozen banana. It’s nearly impossible. I also added strawberries to mine. If you decide you want to add other ingredients and you want them to stay intact, like chocolate chips, make sure to add them at the end after the bananas have been blended.

Put the kids to work!

Pop them in the freezer for 1 -2 hours.

Put them in your food processor. Make sure to PULSE and not turn it on all the way.
I turned mine on and it almost flew off the counter and the noise was crazy loud.
You are basically chopping rocks so be prepared! Pulse until you get banana “gravel”.

Keep pulsing and scrapping down the sides and eventually you will get smooth and creamy frozen bananas.
If it is really thick and not thinning out, you can add a splash of coconut milk to thin it out.
At this stage you can add whatever else you like: nut butter, chocolate chips, blueberries. You get the idea.
Pulse a few more times to incorporate your extra ingredients.

Scoop it out and eat it right away or put it in the fridge to harden it.
If you don’t eat it all right away, freeze the remainder.
When you are ready to eat the rest, thaw if for a few minutes before scooping. Enjoy!

A most awesome dinner.

I’ve been craving something light and fresh lately and salad just wasn’t cutting it and I also wanted soup. Hot soup – not a chilled soup. Not exactly the most appetizing thing to eat when it is 100 degrees outside but I was determined. Imagine my surprise when I came across a recipe for asparagus soup! My two FAVORITE things combined into one. Heaven! It was so easy to make and it was this beautiful bright green color that I felt healthy just looking at it. I was trying to come up with something that would go with it because asparagus soup alone just wasn’t going to cut it even if it did have bacon in it. Chicken sounded good but that meant defrosting and turning on the grill and going outside and getting hot. My next favorite food is chicken salad and I happened to have a rotisserie chicken in the fridge waiting to be made into chicken salad. One of the many great things about chicken salad is that it has celery in it. My kids love to help me cook and it takes a REALLY LONG TIME to chop celery with butter knives. It’s a great time killer for kids. SCORE!

What could be better than a light and healthy dinner? Light and healthy dessert! Woop! I love peaches. What goes great with peaches? Cobbler of course! Hmm – flour, milk, tons of sugar doesn’t really equal light and healthy. I went on the search for a paleo peach cobbler recipe. I thought it was going to be impossible but I found one and it is AWESOME. It uses a combination of coconut and almond flour for the batter and it came out light and fluffy with a great flavor. Top it with vanilla coconut ice cream and you have one amazing dessert.

Here’s the menu. Rotisserie chicken salad with home made mayo (this is a KEY ingredient). Mixed green salad tossed with olive oil and basalmic vinegar. Sliced avocado. Asparagus soup garnished with bacon and chives. Paleo peach and blueberry cobbler with vanilla coconut ice cream. Recipes follow the pictures. Try them and enjoy!

Close up of the awesome soup.


Home made mayo

Asparagus soup

Paleo cobbler – I sprinkled coconut palm sugar on the top of mine before baking to give it a little bit sweeter flavor to the topping.

Chicken Salad
1 rotisserie chicken diced
4 stalks of celery diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 – 1/2 cup home made mayo (depends on how creamy you like it)
2 – 4 tbsp dijon mustard (depends on your taste)
1/4 cup dill relish (make sure to find one that does not have high fructose corn syrup)
salt and pepper to taste

Put it all in one big bowl and stir gently. Enjoy!

What’s for dinner?

That is the question that gives me the most pain. I mean, we eat meat, fish, veggies and fruit. How hard can it be to come up with a new and exciting dinner each and every night that your family will love? Especially your kids. When we (me) decided to go Paleo, I got some moans and groans from the family but they eventually came around. Milk had already been cut out because of my son’s eczema so that was an easy one. We are by no means at 100% hard-core Paleo family. My kids still eat pizza at school every Friday and the occasional Sunday when we realize it’s 5pm and we haven’t even thought about dinner. Mac n cheese is still in our pantry. Organic of course. I can say that they do know that the reason we eat the way we do is because it is healthy and good for our bodies. When they see a McDonald’s commercial they say, “Ewww.” I love that. Because my kids were my hardest converts, I make dinner exciting for them. The look on their faces when I handed them tacos in lettuce leaves was priceless. After I told them that they were still crunchy without being greasy and they could eat even more, they were sold. I am still trying to find organic corn tortillas. I know corn is a grain but sometimes you just have to have a real taco. My daughter loves to have dinner parties so candles and low light always make food more exciting!

Here’s what we are having for dinner this week if everything goes as planned. Maybe you all can take away some of these recipes and try them out.

I made pulled pork in the crock pot about a month ago and ended up with a ton of it so I froze half the batch. It was so easy. I always thought pulled pork was this huge undertaking. Get a pork roast, butt or shoulder – it doesn’t matter. Poke a bunch of holes in it. Stuff the holes with garlic cloves. Put it in the crock pot with a couple of cups of chicken stock. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred and eat. Easy peasy. I defrosted it tonight and we had carnitas. I used big lettuce leaves for the shells and topped the pork with avocado, onion, cilantro and pineapple. So delicious but I should have eaten a lot more because now I am starving. Time for a snack.

I have some really nice t-bone steaks that are begging to be grilled. I’ll pair them with some roasted veggies. Probably zucchini, red onion, red bell pepper, sweet potatoes and broccoli. This is super easy too. Crank your oven up to about 425. Slice your veggies, toss with some olive oil and sea salt. Roast for about 30 minutes or until they have a nice little char on them. Tasty. I always make a ton of these because they are really good the next day on a tossed salad.

Crock pot lemon chicken from my favorite site – The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate. I’ve never made this before but it looks delicious. I’m thinking some cauliflower mashers would be awesome with this. These are also so easy. Cut up your cauliflower into small pieces. Put it in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Boil until pieces are tender. While this is happening, clarify about 2tbs of butter. To do this all you need to do is melt the butter and when the foam from the butter forms, spoon it out and you are left with amazing clarified butter. Add in a clove of minced garlic and about 1/3 cup of coconut milk to the butter. Make sure your coconut milk is from the can and not the carton. The carton stuff is still good but it has water added to it so you will end up with runny mashers. Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and and put into your food processor. Blend until smooth and then add your coconut milk/butter/garlic awesomeness in small amounts at a time. Blend until you get the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper. These are so good that my kids eat them knowing it’s cauliflower.

I’m counting on having some left over chicken so it will either be tacos or maybe some chicken soup. I think a cold front is coming through so I’ll probably go with the soup. Homemade chicken soup is extremely easy. Noticing a trend? Dice up an onion, a couple of carrots and some celery. Saute it in a little bit of coconut oil until the onions begin to soften. Add in 4-6 cups of chicken stock and shredded or cubed chicken from the night before. Simmer and season as needed. Depending on how much salt your stock has, you’ll probably need to add some salt and pepper for sure. A bay leaf will add some nice flavor too. Just make sure to take it out before you serve your soup. I’ve heard eating one of those can be bad news.

Open faced grass-fed burgers on a portabello bun. This recipe calls for turkey but I’m a bigger fan of beef. YUM. I may even add some bacon to this. Oven baked sweet potato fries for a side.

If you are craving something sweet, here’s a really tasty recipe for Paleo banana bread. I’ve made it several times and it is so good!

That’s it for now. Happy eating!