Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One-Skillet Pork Chop Dinner with Sauteed Cabbage, Apples, and Onions

The only time I get to exercise is after work, so by the time I come home I am super hungry. I usually have the foresight to put something in the crockpot in the morning, but sometimes I fail at that and end up kicking myself when I come home and have to stare in my fridge as I try to come up with something quick. If I didn't have the foresight to crockpot it, I most certainly did not have it to at least get some meat out of the freezer to thaw, so it's like a double fail. Anyway, one day last week after going to the gym I was sort of lucky because I happened to have just bought some pork chops and had not frozen them yet. My favorite cut of pork is the sirloin, and I like sirloin chops for quick meals. I think sirloin has more flavor than the loin, but I like both depending on what I am preparing. I also like sirloin chops because the bone is still in, and even though it takes longer to cook I think it adds flavor to the pan juices. So, for my fast dinner I only wanted to use one pan because I dislike doing dishes. I seasoned up the pork chops and got them cooking, and while that was happening I chopped cabbage, apples, and onions. I think they all go well with pork, plus sauteed cabbage is one of my new favorite side dishes.. This was a fast meal and I was able to take the other half for lunch the next day. Admittedly, I couldn't eat as much for lunch as I did for dinner, so this can serve 2-4 people depending on their appetites. This is hardly a recipe because I didn't measure my spices...I just covered the surface of the meat evenly. Therefore the sodium level in this recipe is going to be a bit variable on account of the rough estimate of steak seasoning. Sorry about that....I was too hungry to measure, but it's a good recipe nonetheless!

One-Skillet Pork Chop Dinner with Sauteed Cabbage, Apples, and Onions
Printable Recipe

2 tsp rendered bacon fat from nitrate-free bacon
1 lb bone-in sirloin chops, about 3/4" thick (2-4 chops)
crushed sage
dried minced onion
steak seasoning
black pepper
1/3 small cabbage, shredded
1 medium tart apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water

1. In a large lidded skillet, heat the fat over medium heat.
2. Season both sides of the chops evenly with the sage, steak seasoning, paprika, and black pepper. Sear the meat on both sides.
3. When the meat is flipped to the second side to brown, sprinkle the cabbage, apple, and onion evenly over the top. Add the water, cover with the lid, and cook until the meat is cooked through and the apples and vegetables are tender.
4. Remove the chops to a plate to rest, then stir-fry the apples and vegetables until the cabbage is lightly golden, the onions are translucent, the apples are soft, and all the water is evaporated. Serve immediately, with a whole chop or slices of a pork chop.

  • Servings per recipe: 2-4
  • For 1/4 of this recipe:
  • Calories: 339.9
  • Fat: 19.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 7.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 95 mg
  • Sodium: 115.4 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 10.3 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Sugar: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 29.9 g

Southwestern Turkey and Vegetable Soup

The last two weeks have been pretty crazy between studying for an exam and working on a project. Luckily I made it through all that work and gave myself a break this weekend. I also caught up on some much-needed house cleaning, and while I was cleaning I thawed the last bit of Thanksgiving turkey--the two legs--and shredded them to use in meals this week. I also made some turkey broth from my Thanksgiving turkey bones that I had stashed away in the freezer. I always save bones from my roasted chickens and turkeys, and when I build up enough gallon-sized bags of bones in the freezer I make a lot of broth at once. To make the broth, I don't really use a recipe. I just fill up the stock pot with bones until it is full, then cover them with water and simmer for an hour and a half. I also season the broth with celery, onions, carrots, thyme, sage, garlic, pepper, and bay leaves. I don't add salt because if I choose to reduce the broth in a sauce later, the sauce may become too salty. In my opinion, homemade broth is much better than store-bought in flavor and texture. While the bones simmer in the water, the connective tissue denatures into gelatin, which yields a richer, silkier texture.

Because I've been so busy the last couple of weeks, I have been relying on my crockpot slow cooker a lot. Preparing a meal in the crockpot is so easy and it's such a gift you give yourself because you can come home and your meal is ready. Of course, that is assuming you turn the crockpot on...last week I made some chicken and I turned the machine on, but didn't plug it in, so I came home to cold, raw chicken. I knew something was wrong when I came in and the aroma of cooking chicken didn't come to me. It was so disappointing. Luckily I had some ground buffalo in the freezer so I made some burgers (no bun) and piled them with lettuce, tomato, and avocado, which made a good meal despite my setback.

I used my homemade broth and the shredded meat in a soup this week. It's a good thing I had some foresight in preparing this soup to eat for several meals because I have been working really hard the last few days on a scholarship application. I wanted to do something different so I gave the soup a southwestern flair with spices and salsa, plus vegetables. This is a high-protein, low carbohydrate soup. I found it to be perfect after my workout. It's nice to garnish the soup with more salsa and some cubed avocado.

Southwestern Turkey and Vegetable Soup
Printable Recipe

2 cups shredded cooked turkey
5 cups turkey (or chicken) broth-low sodium
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup prepared tomato salsa
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in your crockpot slow cooker.
2. Cook for 6-8 hrs on high or 8-10 hrs on low.
  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 152.6
  • Fat: 2.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 48.3 mg
  • Sodium: 561.9 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 7.7 g
  • Fiber: 1.9 g
  • Sugar: 2.6 g
  • Protein: 24.6 g

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shredded Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Last week was my first exam of the semester and as such I didn't do a lot of cooking because I was studying so much. I just made simple things, like salads, and I also pieced together one of my older recipes, my One-Pan Spice Roasted Chicken and Vegetables from things I had at home. I altered the recipe because I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs because I had those in the freezer. I also changed the vegetable ratios because I had one small, lonely sweet potato and half a bell pepper. I omitted the white potatoes, too. It was still very good, and honestly I think it's my favorite recipe from this site of all time. It's easy and you only have one pan to clean...and if you use foil clean-up is nearly a non-issue. I roasted broccoli and green beans on the side, again because I could use a foil-lined baking tray.

Now that my exam is over (and though I have a project to work on) I managed to get to the grocery store and throw a soup together in the crockpot. I made this recipe last semester because I needed something comforting to eat when I was so stressed out. A warm bowl of soup has to be one of the most comforting foods to eat! There was a time when I would have made chicken noodle soup, but now that I eat Paleo of course noodles were out of the question (now that I think of it, isn't noodle a weird word?). But I digress...I replaced the noodles with squash and kept the classic mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onion. Shredding the meat, in my opinion, makes the soup look a little more special. I like how the shreds of meat soak up the broth, almost the way noodles would! I added a lot of herbs because they look pretty in the broth and of course they add flavor. One of the best things that has happened since I have started eating a Paleo/Primal diet is my experimentation with herbs and spices. Herbs and spices are necessary to keep your food interesting and are an easy way to add variety to your meals. The first time I made this soup, I had eaten it just after the gym, and it made me feel so energized. For my body I think protein and vegetable-based carbohydrates are the perfect fuel after exercise.

Shredded Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Printable Recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (leave them whole)
1 small zucchini,cut into thick matchsticks
1 small yellow summer squash,cut into thick matchsticks
1 small onion, finely diced
1 carrot, julienned
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cups chicken broth (I used my own homemade)
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried dill
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker/crockpot and cook for 4-6 hrs on high or 6-8 hrs on low.
2. Before serving, remove the bay leaf. Also, remove the chicken breasts and shred with two forks. Return the chicken to the soup and serve.

  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 181
  • Fat: 1.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 68.4 mg
  • Sodium: 170.1 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 9.1 g
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Sugars: 2.7 g
  • Protein: 31 g

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dinner Last Night

Coming home to the aroma of food cooking in the crockpot after a hectic is sort of like walking into your house and receiving a big hug. It's like someone is there preparing dinner specially for you, except the person who prepared the dinner was you...9 hours ago. Bursts the welcoming bubble a little bit, but then you start eating the meal and can feel relaxed for the first time since you woke up in the morning.

Yesterday I knew I would be away all day, so I prepared a recipe from paleOMG for Easy Paleo Shredded Beef. The cut of meat I chose was a rump roast because it was pretty cheap and looked good at the market that day. The only deviation I took was to place a layer of large chunks of peeled sweet potato in between the top layer of sliced onion so they would steam along with the meat and give me one less thing to need to prepare in when I got home. The aroma was amazing! Onions, beef, was a beautiful thing. The broth in the bottom of the dish was so rich, and after I shredded the meat, the meat absorbed all of the liquid. This was such a great meal!

I roasted some broccoli spears from the Food Lovers' Primal Palate alongside, and while they cooked I shredded the meat (step 8, which helped me release some aggression from a stressful day) and let the meat sit in the broth to absorb the flavors. I also extracted the sweet potatoes and some of the onions and topped them with about a tablespoon of butter. They were so tender and absorbed some of the meat broth so they were really delicious. Step 9 was the best part...I totally ate it like I meant it!

I highly suggest you check out this recipe!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Snack Time!

Lately I've been trying to come up with some new snacks to take with myself on campus and anywhere else I need to be. I typically always have one snack with me no matter where I go, whether it's in my backpack or purse. It's such a bummer when I get stuck on campus with nothing remotely healthy to eat, because then I have to go to the student union and read the packages of nuts and/or dried fruit carefully and hope I make an ok choice. I've been stocking up on easily portable stuff...some unique things I can't get at my local health food store. I've also been trying to incorporate some new snacks and bringing back some old favorites. Here's what I've been snacking on lately:

Last weekend my friends and I drove to Austin, Tx to see Wicked, which was awesome! For the trip, I packed, apples, bananas, clementines, raisins, and mixed unsalted nuts. For the first leg of the journey I packed a yogurt parfait thing. I still eat yogurt on occasion because it doesn't bother my digestion. This is full-fat Voskos Greek yogurt mixed with the non-fat. The non-fat has a lot more protein, perhaps because the fat has been removed, so I just mix the two to get the best of both worlds. I mixed the yogurt with blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, sliced almonds, ground flax seeds, and a little honey. It made a good mid-morning snack that wasn't too heavy on my stomach as we were traveling.

Wicked! It was such a great show! I would love to travel back to Austin sometime.

One night after a workout I indulged myself the other night by making ants on a log, a childhood favorite. It's celery with crunchy almond butter and raisins. This hits the spot if you are craving pb and j because for me the bread (or celery, in this case) is just a carrier for the yummy goodness inside!

Finally, I made some purchases from two websites. One is Sophia's Survival Food Grass-Fed Jerky Chews*, which, in my opinion, has reasonably-priced grass-fed jerky. I haven't had any jerky since starting Paleo, and I have been wanting to incorporate it into my diet because I want more protein-based snacks. I got two packages of each of three flavors: original, lemon, and mild. I got the lemon and original in 2 1-oz packages and 2 2-oz packages of the mild. I thought I would like the mild most, but I wanted to give the other flavors a chance. All are good, and I was pleased that the lemon flavor was not too overpowering. These made a great snack while I was studying at a coffee shop this weekend, and honestly the cost of the jerky was about the same as the cost of a piece of cake. Of course the jerky was better for me, and even though 1 oz does not seem like a lot of food, with the raisins and half a pack of jerky I was quite satisfied; I didn't eat the mixed nuts this time. For me, a snack is just to tie me over, so I try not to stuff myself!

Mild flavor

Original flavor

Original flavor with lemon

The little snack pack I made for myself with jerky, nuts, and raisins

My final purchase was a huge one from*, which has a great array of gluten-free snacks and no sugar added dried fruit. I got two of my favorite dried fruits without sugar, banana chips and dried pineapple. The dried pineapple also did not have added sulfur dioxide, which I thought was good. I was pleased with their reasonably-priced coconut flour, and I got the small no sugar added coconut flakes that I can't find where I live (I can only find the big shreds). I also got something novel, sun dried red bell peppers, which I suspect would be great in a meatloaf! All of these bags are a pound, so they will last a long time. In the half pound bags are energy squares, which are sort of like Larabars, just in cubes with a lot of interesting ingredients like chia seeds and goji berries. Luckily the ingredients are listed for those so it's easy to find the gluten-free, soy-free versions. In the round container are no sugar added apple chips, which are delicious! I think they are my favorite of everything I have tasted so far, mainly because they are crunchy! The small bags are the samples, which only cost $2.50 each. I was nervous getting these because I thought they wouldn't be worth the price and quite tiny, but each portion is surprisingly generous! They even threw a free sample of quinoa in with my order. I don't normally eat quinoa, but since it is a pseudo-cereal seed more closely related to beets than grains and is gluten-free, I think it would be nice to try it out. It will be a treat that I earn after a tough workout. I appreciate that they added it to my order! I'm really pleased with this huge order and I can't wait to experiment with the peppers and coconut flour! These are going to be great snacks to keep in my office, too!

Everything I got

Organic Raw Cacao Goji Energy Squares. A change from my usual Larabars.

Sample bags: (top L to R) pistachios, macadamias, cacao energy squares, goji berries. (bottom L to R) quinoa, cacao nibs, chia seeds

(L to R) banana chips, coconut flakes, sun-dried peppers, dried pineapple, coconut flour

Center: apple chips. On either side are the energy squares

Their little logos are so cute!

I hope this review helps you by livening up your snack choices!

*These are my personal opinions. I am not sponsored by any of these companies.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Muffins

I've been spending a lot of time cooking other people's recipes that I haven't been making any of my own! I am fortunate enough to have a lot of fabulous cookbooks, and I have been enjoying trying new things. For instance, I made Grandma's Easy Pork BBQ from Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint cookbook. I adapted the recipe for the slow cooker...meaning I just thew all the ingredients (not the oil to brown the meat in...didn't bother to brown it) in my crockpot with little care and came home to an awesome dinner. I am going to start preparing more meals like this because on Tuesday and Thursday I have yoga class right after being on campus all day and I want to eat immediately when I get home. I used a 1.5 lb pork sirloin instead of the cuts he suggested because that's what I had on hand. I didn't carefully alter the proportions of ingredients I just kind of winged it. I also added paprika, which was not in the original recipe (I have to have paprika with bbq!). Next time I will add a good amount black pepper, because I think it would be a nice addition. It made an amazing, fast dinner.

Afterwards I decided to catch up on some much-needed apartment tidying up. This week has been really busy for me, but honestly the thing I've been wanting to do most is bake. I seldom bake, and not for the fact that I don't eat grains, but because I make a huge mess. I have tried to train myself to clean as I go, and I am getting better at it. For instance, last night I succumbed to my urge to bake and made some apple cinnamon muffins out of coconut flour. I at least tried to get all the ingredients put away and all the dishes in the sink before the timer went off so I'd have some place to set down the hot pan when I took it out of the stove. I am notorious for stacking things everywhere, then having no place to set my hot pan...which results in me quickly pushing things aside before the heat transfers through my oven mitt. In the process I make an even huger mess...which would probably be funny to watch. But if you were at my place and watching me with a hot pan and not helping me out with it, you're not really my friend anyway! (no baked goods for you!)

I haven't had muffins in so long I kind of took an obsessive number of macro shots...I won't overload you, so I am only posting one.
I have been cooking a lot with coconut flour, only you haven't seen it because the reaction I've given most of the things I've made is "meh." If that's the reaction I have with anything I've made, I don't post it on here. I only post things that I think are worthwhile to make. The only coconut flour creation that hasn't been "meh" has been my Chocolate Coconut Cake. It's taken a lot of experimentation to come up with this muffin recipe. Some coconut flour recipes come out so springy, others have a really fibrous texture. Some recipes crumble and fall apart! With trial and error, I have learned a few things about working with coconut flour. Below are my personal observations, which may differ depending on the climate you are baking in:

-Assuming you aren't cutting the flour with almond meal or other nut meal, the perfect ratio for flour:eggs when you are making approximately 10-12 muffins in 1/2 cup coconut flour to 6 eggs
-Always sift the flour before you use it because any lumps do not work out when you stir the will get a really crumbly product
-Coconut flour stays freshest when stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container
- Allow all baked goods to cool to room temperature before putting them in a storage container
-Baked goods should stay at room temperature no longer than 24 hours. After that, store them in the refrigerator because they sour easily
-Coconut flour can hold a lot of liquid, so if the batter seems really stiff, don't be afraid to add more liquid. All the coconut fiber soaks up any moisture rather readily

So if you have been working out some coconut flour recipes, I hope these few observations help you. After some practice, I was finally able to make one of my favorite muffin flavors of all time: apple cinnamon. I used a Granny Smith apple because to me it has the strongest "true apple" flavor in baked goods--as in, the flavor doesn't dissipate. I love the little specks of chartreuse peel in the muffins, too. I added both walnuts and pecans for texture. The raisins are for a little extra sweetness, and...why not add them? They were sitting next to the walnuts and pecans, so I just chucked some in. I couldn't believe how moist and how close they mimic traditional apple cinnamon muffins. The texture and flavor are right on...not too fiber-y, heavy, or dry, like some of my previous experiments were! I'm proud to post this recipe because it took a lot of practice to make exactly what I wanted.

My breakfast this morning: muffin with nitrate-free, uncured bacon. It was awesome!

A nice change from my usual breakfast!
Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Muffins
Printable Recipe

4 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted but not hot (plus more, for greasing)
4 tbsp honey
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Granny Smith apple, grated with the peel on
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used approximately equal parts unsalted walnuts and pecans)
2 tbsp raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Blend the coconut oil with the honey. Blend in each egg one at a time, along with the vanilla extract. The coconut oil may curdle, but that's ok.
3. Fold in the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. It may clump a bit, but just use a wire whisk to whip the mixture about 10 times, or until the batter smooths out.
4. Fold in the apple (including any juice that may have come out), nuts, and raisins.
5. Lightly grease 12 paper muffin cups with coconut oil. Place one into each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin. Divide the batter evenly amongst each cup and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

  • Servings per recipe: 12
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 144
  • Fat: 9.4 g
  • Saturated fat: 4,8 g
  • Cholesterol: 92.5 mg
  • Sodium: 104.3 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 12.5 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Sugar: 8.0 g
  • Protein: 4.1 g
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