Thursday, April 19, 2012

Legumes & Stuffed Mexican Peppers

 Well, it happened..... I had my first major kitchen injury and it was NOT fun. I've had the occasional burn (once, when pan searing a steak - I grabbed the cast iron handle with my bare hand to take it out of the 500 degree oven, that injury comes close to this one) or the chopping "cut" (usually happens with stubborn fruit) But, this one has terrified me of my medallion...  I was slicing sweet potatoes lengthwise to make enchilada "shells" and wham my middle finger met the blade. It was such immediate pain, I had it off the blade before the blood began to poor. I'll leave the gory details out but it took off such a chunk, there was nothing left to stitch back together. I am going to have a Rachel Ray finger( she has no finger tips left due to all her chopping, slicing and grating injuries). Do you know how sensitive your finger tips are? Well, I found out for you! It was hard to function - washing my hands, taking a shower, writing, typing, you name it, you use your fingers for it, and even though you have 9 others, they only seem to work correctly as a complete team. It's been almost a week and it's finally starting to numb a little. I actually caught a ball in kickball last night and didn't want to scream from pain, so I guess we're getting somewhere. Regardless, take my advice and use EXTREME caution when using anything with a blade, really let me reiterate - EXTREME caution!!! 
 I saw a quote recently that said "vegetarian is just another word for bad hunter" and I couldn't help but laugh out loud. To each his own, but how in the world could anyone function on rabbit food and legumes/beans. Legume (or in the south lAygUume)... it's such a fun word to say but we stay as far away from them as I do my medallion slicer. But, what exactly is a legume and why are they forbidden? I wondered the same thing, and even though I still have a lot to learn about the curious, toxic little creatures, here is some information I have gathered thus far..........
Legumes are either the actual plant or the fruits of plants categorized in the Fabaceae family. AH HA! It all makes sense now doesn't it? Kidding, kidding, I have no idea what that really means so in my terms a legume is a family of pants including beans, garbanzos/chickpeas (which is what hummus is made of) lentils, peas, peanuts and soybeans. Farmers use legumes as a rotational crop to replenish soil that is lacking in nitrogen because they fix the depletion with the bacteria found in their roots, and because of their deep roots, legumes are also used in erosion control (imagine the "erosion control" it's doing to your intestines). Legumes give you gas (we'll save this for another day, but for the most part gas is just about eliminated while on paleo). In their raw form they are extremely toxic and even through all the sprouting, soaking, and cooking they still contain toxic traces.  Legumes contain phytates which inhibit nutrient absorption and can cause inflammation.  They also contain the devilish proteins we call Lectins. Lectins are believed to have something to do with the survival of the plant, in other words they protect the plant and wreck havoc on your digestion. They move through your body intact causing everything from autoimmune issues (hence, a reason why Doctors recommend a Paleo type diet for anyone suffering from diabetes, celiac, lupus etc) to leaky gut. Uh, do you want leaky gut, because I sure as heck am going to avoid it. (Lectins dredge across your intestine walls and after so many disruptions, the healing process is no longer able to occur.) Leaky gut is how food sensitivities begin, ever know anyone who was just all of the sudden allergic to something... Think on that for a minuet.
As far as soy as a separate intity goes, I personally always thought it was one of those really good for you, healthy things (like tofu & soy milk) WRONG. As well as all the issues listed above, soy also comes with new research that has found it tempers with the bodies hormones. More specifically, a soy compound in the body behaves like estrogen. It simulates the hormone and in some cases causes the estrogen-receptors (hello, biology class all over again!) to become temporarily blocked. One article I found said their research supported that soybeans and processed soy products (which are even worse) were linked to longer and more painful menstrual periods in females and a decreased sperm count in males. Remember that next time you go to drench your food in soy sauce! I do believe there is still a lot of research to be done on this subject, but as far as the Martins go - we will try and be 1 step ahead of the following :) (SIDE NOTE - when eating out, attempt to avoid places that cook their food in soybean oil, Chili's is a big culprit of this. At the least, ask them to cook your food separately)

So, what can you eat!?!? Here is a yummy recipe that is super simple and has no legumes in sight! (It's not spicy as written, but I added some diced jalapeno to mine!)

Stuffed Mexican Peppers
Here's what you'll need...

~5 poblano peppers (look for the full ones, not the ones with a side caved in)
~1lb. chorizo sausage (you could use less, but we liked our peppers overflowing)
~1 yellow onion thinly sliced
~ 1 large tomato diced
~ half of a bunch of cilantro finely chopped (optional) 
~garlic powder

Here's what you do.......

Preheat the oven to 425 & line a baking sheet with foil (unless you want to scrub pepper pieces all night)

Start browning the sausage & crumbling the pieces as they cook (I love my pampered chef mix & chop for this) when the sausage is about half way done, add the onions then as they cook down add the tomato. If you are using the cilantro add it and the cumin & garlic powder to taste (I load the spices on)

While the "stuffing" is cooking, begin preparing your peppers (Don't look at these things like they are indestructible, they need care when being handled so you don't rip them to pieces!)
Cut the tops of the peppers off, remove the seeds and gently cut a slit on one side (not a rip the whole way down giving you 2 pieces, just a slit)

When the stuffing mixture is done, stuff your peppers (duh, I guess you kind of figured that part didn't you?)

Bake the peppers for 20 minutes

I added diced jalapenos to mine (Perry hates hot) and served them with some homemade salsa!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Clean up & have a drink!

     GOOD MORNING! What a fast week it has been, (It's Friday in our house!) I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter as much as we did. Speaking of Easter, we used it as a cheat day, well P used it as a cheat day, I used it as an indulgence day. NEVER again (to that extreme at least) I was sick as a dog. Word to the wise, after you have eaten Paleo for over a month, I don't recommend indulging in each food group you have given up all at once. After having croissants (coated in a yummy sugar, butter paste) & sausage balls, potato salad, deviled eggs, green beans (the rest of lunch was Paleoish) angel food cake, a few Hershey's Kisses and a packet of cotton candy pop rocks (the Easter Bunny had no trouble finding us & I told you, I took it over board) I was DOWN for the count. I almost didn't make it to my class presentation Monday night. It was that bad.  BUT, I look at it this way, at least my body has truly taken to my new lifestyle, it doesn't want anything that is not beneficial and it's going to do what it has to in order to get rid of it..... Which leads me into my next rant........ getting rid, repairing, detoxing, cleaning up and cleaning out. These are all phrases that have been clouding my thoughts lately. We are putting so much effort into "cleaning up our diets" (diets as in food consumption, not diet as in restrictions) but what about cleaning up our lives as well. NO, it's not that bad. I didn't just reveal some big life secret. I don't have any addictions (after giving up my sugar/cupcake addiction, the only one I have left is to my chapstick, honestly I don't know how anyone could possibly have a narcotic or extreme alcohol addiction & actually live through a WOD) I'm referring to the general environments and themes we live in on a day to day basis.
     See, as a side note - let me explain some of where I am coming from. As most know, I am a working on a Master's in Counseling (as well as being a BIG people pleaser). As a therapist, we do feelings. We learn about them, dissect them, analyze them, talk about them, question them and strive to understand where they came from. Some people can travel through their day without acknowledging a single emotion/feeling they experience. NOT me, I can barely make it through a fleeting thought or action without at least doing a quick emotional inventory. I do the same with others outward expressions. I feed off of others, which will be great when I have an emotionally distraught child in my office, but as far as daily life I have to learn to be less affected by people who are negative, harsh and condescending.  Basically, others have too much control over my mood and experiences. As humans, we all suffer from this to an extent, (ever tried to be a beam of sunshine with the biggest Debbie Downer on Earth? It's not easy) some of us just "feel" it more intensely.
      SO... how do I begin to fix this? Well, for starters I turned to Facebook. Duh, where else do you make a life change? It's time to de-friend the negative. (Okay, to be honest, some come with strings, and in defense of not causing a world war, they may just get the "unsubscribe" instead of the de-friend. I know, I know, I'm a sissy & need to practice all of what I preach, but let's take this in baby steps. Give a girl a break!) No more adverse and cynical statuses on my feed. There are so many people who's mouths need a good washing, and others who are just looking for someone to be miserable with, not to mention the people who just get under your skin and remind you of things you never wish to think of again.
    Alright, so step one = in process. Next comes the polite distance in the real world. Ugh, this could be ugly (but only momentarily) Sometimes, I see/think of people who have relationships that are nothing but detrimental (this includes actual relationships as well as friendships) and wonder why in the world they would continue to associate and try with that person (then I secretly analyze & diagnose the situation)  It's time to start cutting the strings. You (I) have let it get there, you (I) lost your (my) boundaries...... Think on that for a minuet. You have an exact situation in your mind don't you?
  Toxins in your life do not come just from direct relationships. It may be a condescending radio segment, a twitter feed, a hostile work environment, etc. etc.   Respect your well being enough to let it go! As for me, I know it's not realistic to think I can just rid of everyone and everything "bad"so I have to learn not to let others have as much of an influence on me and my feelings & thoughts.
As I rid of toxins in my life, I hope to be a positive influence on everyone I come in contact with. We all have the right to be happy. We have the right, but we also have the control. We have to give ourselves the gift of control.  Ah! This is getting deep, I need to stop while I'm still ahead - but really, when you find yourself in a noxious situation, instead of throwing a pity party & looking for company to share your misery with, put your energy into making it better for YOU. (DISCLAIMER - obviously, I'm not talking about situations such as grieving or unavoidable "deadline" pressure or stress, I'm simply referring to the baggage we carry as a result of others and completely avoidable situations).
Alright, I'm stepping off of my soap box now.
     One of the main questions I get from people about the Paleo diet is "what about alcohol?" Well, my guess is cavemen didn't have the luxury of a million different types of beer, wine and liquor - but if I had to guess, I would venture out and say they found some grape or berry to "enjoy" :) In all of my research, I have found that if you are going to drink (in MODERATION, and over the age of 21 of course - don't go getting all legal on me) then you should stick to the non-sugary (mostly red or dry white) organic wines or 100% pure agave tequila. We have found a couple wines we enjoy at whole foods and Publix also has a select few. My recommendation is the Frey white table wine or the Pacific Redwood Pinot Noir. Both are made with organic grapes and neither have any added sulfites (the red actually has no detected sulfites what so ever)
I also like the Pacific Redwood "RED" but Perry thinks the Pinot is one of the best he has EVER had! So even if you aren't Paleo - you can definitely enjoy the benefits of a sulfite free wine! The bottles are about $11.00 - $15.00 depending on where you get them (which is a little more than I used to spend, but we TRY not to finish a bottle in 1 sitting!)  

If you looking for a little more ZEST in your "consumption" - I may have the answer for you! I've yet to come up with a good name for it, so suggestions are welcomed! 
I took the basic recipe for a NorCal margarita and made it a little more me. A NorCal consists of 2-3 shots of agave tequila, juice from 1 lime and soda water to taste. If you can handle a tiny drink that tastes of straight Mexico, then have at it. That is the drink for you, but as for me - I'm working on my acquired taste and trust of tequila (we met in college and had a non existent relationship for a long while) As yall know, we play in a kickball league which could also be called drinking ball 101, so I needed something I could take with me in a larger thermos & enjoy for 7 embarrassing (example -last night I somehow got plowed over and ended up on my back, then after actually making it to a base, practically slid in a SPLIT into second - had 2 people fall on top of me and still managed to be called out. UGH) 

I went to work, I pulled out our handy dandy, Battery operated, Margaritaville, Margarita machine to do the job (Which I highly recommend - it is a tad smaller than the original, but has a much smaller price tag. AND since its battery operated, it can conveniently travel and work anywhere we want it to! We got ours at Sam's club & have gotten every penny we paid for it!) Now, much like my real cooking, I don't really measure anything out, so bare with me. Play around with the recipe and make it to your liking!

*100% agave nectar tequila
*Club Soda (I buy the small bottles, you don't need a lot)
*Coconut water (I just buy the individual ones that have an added flavor too! We used the Pineapple infused one last night) 
* 100% agave nectar 

For our concoction, we cut up the mango (click HERE if you need a mango cutting illustration) put it in the bottom of the blender, squeezed 3 limes onto the mango pieces, used enough coconut water to cover the pieces, eyeballed about a cup of tequila (maybe a little more, I let the Hubs do the pouring) counted to 3 while squeezing in the agave nectar and topped with a splash of club soda (this makes the consistency & cuts down the acidic taste) filled the top of our machine with ice & let it do what it does best. I put a lime half in each thermos bottle then topped the mix off with an extra shot of tequila! VOILA a YUMMY, refreshing, Paleoish Margarita! (if you just love tequila or club soda, you could leave the coconut water out - I just haven't gotten to that point yet) WOOO HOOO for summer concoctions!

Whew - that was a long post - I'll try and work on that for next time! Have a great, toxin free (he he) weekend! 

         You may not really be what you eat, but what you eat can really affect what you are.


Friday, April 6, 2012


 WOOOOO HOOO for Friday! What a week it has been, I am almost done with all of my projects/presentations/papers that my teachers like to cram in during the last few weeks of school. I think, if I were a professor, I would give all of my assignments the second week of class.. Just saying.
 I am highly impressed with the response to "say no to dairy" I'm telling you, it makes sense and as surprising as it is (I ALWAYS cooked with & ate cheese) I don't miss it at all, even my craving for frozen yogurt has passed :) While we are on the "say no to ___" boat, lets travel down the gluten road.
 First off, what exactly is gluten you ask? WELL.... Most people associate it with grains, which is correct, sort of. It is actually a protein composite, and even though it is most commonly found in wheat and grain products, gluten sneaks up everywhere. Basically, gluten is what makes foods thicker, sticky, chewy, gooey,  or "fake" flavorful. Even if you were not born with a direct gluten allergy, many people will develop an intolerance because it is so destructive on our bodies. We were not meant to ingest gluten, our bodies freak out when we flush our system with it and it does whatever it takes to get it the heck out. Major issues can arise when this becomes a vicious cycle, never giving our bodies time to heal from the shock we gave it.  If you want to do some more research Click here for an easy to read Paleo based article. Or here for a Women's Health article.
My two cents on this, in case you were wondering.....
 Just because you claim to eat "gluten free" doesn't mean you are eating healthy, or that you are going to lose weight. Actually, my guess is you would probably gain weight and end up being more out of whack than before you started. Gluten free does not = healthy or calorie free. You take away something (gluten) you have to add something in it's place, and from the labels I've read, that something seems to come in the form of empty fat & calories. In today's bandwagon market there is everything from cake mix to ice cream marked with the infamous gluten free banner, but HELLO how does that even make sense in the grand scheme of health? If someone is restricting their diet because of an allergy or disease they suffer from, they need to be as conscious as ever about what they put into their bodies. People who are just trying to be the healthiest they can, well Gluten is a good thing to limit, but there is so much more to balance everything out.  Now, don't get me wrong or label me the nasty food police, I understand needing a special indulgence EVERY NOW & THEN. The issue comes with our society's backwards way of thinking. We as humans have a hard time owning our feelings or taking responsibilities that go against the normal daily grind. We are flat out scared, but it has to change.
What does all of this have to do with Paleo?!? My rant was a long way of saying, going Paleo isn't just changing what you stuff your face with. It's a complete, complicated lifestyle change. You HAVE to change the way you think and be ready to be snuffed by someone who will probably never care enough to understand.
 WheW, I feel better now :) So, on a lighter note, as a whole the hubs and I are really starting to notice a difference with our Paleo lives. Not only do we both have more energy (which was something he was really striving for) and better digestive "procedures" but our workouts are starting to show improvement as well. Last week I conquered the band free pull ups and last night I battled double unders. I still hate double unders with a passion, almost as much as running, and they make me say things that would embarrass my momma (of course I married the double under king, which just makes me more aggravated at the situation) but even with a healing quad, I didn't scale them and it didn't take me 5 hours to complete. That right there is proof my body is improving. I've been working on those stupid things since week 1 of crossfit. This video here is an example of someone I would like to hit in the face. He makes them look so easy, and this is after he did a WOD. Seriously, him and Perry can go live on an island together and have double under competitions all day long...........  

Last week I said my amazing crock pot was slaving away on our dinner, and it did a wonderful job. So easy and tasted wonderful. It may even be cooking right now to be enjoyed again tonight :). It's just too easy for when you are too busy to spend an hour in the kitchen! Even non-Paleo eaters can really enjoy this one! They will never even know you are feeding them right ;)

Easy pulled pork

2-3 lb. meat (we used a boneless shoulder roast)
2 yellow onions - sliced
1 green pepper - sliced (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup organic chicken broth
garlic powder
black pepper
white pepper
chili powder
( I also used my rosemary grinder, garlic sea salt grinder and Perfect Pinch's roasted garlic and bell pepper seasoning - apparently I like to season with garlic!)

*When I made it this time, I did not use a green pepper because I was serving Basalmic acorn squash chips with it. If your not doing a side, add the pepper to give you your greens and make a complete meal!  

Get ready for some complicated instructions....... here we go.......

1) put 1 of the sliced onions on the bottom of the crock pot.
2) Season your meat then put it on top of the onions
3) pour the broth over the meat. (If you have meat on the 2lbs side, use about a 1/2 cup. If you have closer to 3 lbs. use about 1 cup.)

4) put the other sliced onion on top and add some more spice

5) Cook on low for 8-10 hours (more like 8 hours - if you are going to be gone & let it cook for more than 8, I would add a little more broth to it)

6) No peeking :) when it's done, shred with 2 forks 

Enjoy this beautiful Easter weekend and take a second to reflect on all it means. We are all so blessed!

You may not really be what you eat, but what you eat can really affect what you are.