Last week I recapped the best recipes from the first week of Quantum CrossFit‘s GET REAL nutrition challenge.  Once again, I am so impressed by everyone’s skillz in the kitchen!  People have been scouring the internet and Paleo cookbooks and posting their amazing creations.  In addition, they’ve been channeling their inner Julia Child to come up with some Haute-Ass original recipes.  Without further ado, here is the rundown of the ‘originals’  from this week (in no particular order):

Marina’s “Spaghetti” & Meat Sauce

Ok this was from Friday night and was relatively mundane but so delicious I have to post it. Basically meat sauce with zucchini spaghetti, idea I shamelessly appropriated from Jason and am keeping.

–      1 half pound natural bacon
–      1 onion
–      3 cloves of garlic
–      2 cups cremini mushrooms
–      2 lbs lean beef
–      
1/2 can crushed tomatoes
–      chili powder
–      
cumin
–      salt/pepper to taste
–      about 5 grated zuccchini for noodle simulation

Directions:
Basically I just sauteed bacon, onions, garlic and mushrooms, added the beef and spices until cooked through, followed by tomatoes. Picture is sans zucchini. I was going to pour the sauce on top of the noodles but then decided that was too much work (I know, that lazy) and mixed it all together into one big pot of delicious.

Only took 15 minutes to put together, so will definitely be making it into the staple category.

 Jodi’s Awesome Quiche

Mmmmm (with warnings that I never measure when cooking)

Ingredients:
Crust:
About a cup of almond flour
Egg white

Quiche:
Dozen eggs
1 cup almond milk (approx)
coconut oil
12-15 sliced mushrooms
1-2 cups of spinach (cooked and chopped)
4-6 chopped shallots
salt and pepper

Directions:

Mix together almond flour and egg white so that the almond flour is damp but not overly wet and spread over the bottom of baking dish (I used a 9 X 13 pyrex dish). Bake in oven for 8-12 minutes at 375 until crust hardens.

For the filling, I started by cooking the shallots and mushrooms together in coconut oil and then steamed the spinach and chopped it up into small pieces seasoning with salt and pepper while cooking.

Beat the eggs together and add the almond milk. Add a few spoonfuls of the veggies and mix together. I added them slowly and missed because i didn’t let them cool and didn’t want the eggs to cook before it hit the oven, but if you let the veggies cool I don’t think it would be a problem. Not sure how much of a problem it would have been anyway but the baker in me always says if you are adding hot things to egg, do it slowly.

Once everything is added together to the mixture, pour it on top of the crust and bake in oven at 375 for 40 – 45 minutes until firm.

I finished by dividing into portions and wrapped them in saran in individual servings. Cooking for one means I left a few servings out and froze the extras individually ready to be taken out as needed!

Enjoy!

Anne’s Fav Breakfast – Ham Hock & Collard Greens
“The secret recipe for getting HUGE” 

My favourite breakfast.

Slow cook one smoked ham hock from pastured pork in broth, with a chopped onion and garlic, some Frank’s Hot sauce for a few hours. Add two bunches of chopped collards for another few hours. Remove meat from bone and if you like serve with eggs.

Jason’s Shrimp Volcano

My Gameday Submission…

Ingredients:
–      1.5lb bag of shrimp
–      
1/2 head of chopped rainbow chard
–      1 chopped onion
–      1 chopped red pepper
–      
lots of fresh chopped garlic
–      2 tsp curry powder
–      1 can coconut milk
–      parsley or cilantro

Directions:
Made this in maybe 20mins…toss it all together and used some spare pureed cauliflower from last night to put it in the center of.

Just finished watching a flick that was based in Hawaii (The Descendents), made me think of volcanoes I guess when I fired this together.

James’ Chinese Siu Yuk (Roasted Pork)

The best part of this is the crispy skin (crackling). That is what you are striving for when you’re cooking a slab of pork belly for Siu Yuk.

Ingredients:
3-4 lb Pork Belly (I order from Healthy Butcher)
2 tablespoons fermented red bean curd/tofu (optional since it is not strictly Paleo)
(You can get this from T&T or most Chinese/asian specialty stores)
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp white (or black) pepper
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
A little bit of butter or coconut oil
coarse kosher salt for sprinkling

Day Before:
1. Prepare marinade by mixing (be a curd, five spice powder, salt, honey, pepper, garlic together)
2. Boil enough water for pouring over pork belly (I use a tea kettle’s worth)
3. Put belly skin side up on a cooling rack in the sink
4. Pour boiling water slowly on top of the skin to blanch
5. Dry skin with a paper towel
6. Stab the skin all over with a sharp knife – You need lots and lots of holes … (take out your frustrations)
– Try not to stab all the way through the fat layer to the meat
7. Flip pork belly so that meat side is up
8. Every 1-2 cm’s, slide half a cm deep gashes with a sharp knife
9. Rub marinade generously into meat side
10. Flip back onto an oven tray skin side up. Wipe up any moisture or marinade that is left on skin surface. You want it to be completely dry.
11. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Day of:

1. Preheat oven to 410 C
2. Prepare a roasting tray with a rack raised 2-3 centres. I use four small metal ingredient cups placed under the rack.
3. Oil the surface of the skin lightly with butter or coconut oil keep it from sticking to the rack
4. Place belly skin side down onto rack
5. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes
6. Take the roast out and flip the belly to be skin side up.
7. Stab some more holes with a sharp knife.
8. Sprinkle some coarse kosher salt on top and place back in oven for 15 minutes.
9. After 15 minutes, raise temp of oven to 430 C.
10. After 15 minutes, turn your broiler on to high.
11. Watch for the skin to crackle/crisp up to a golden colour….it is ok for it to burn a bit.
– Keep an eye on this … it can happen very quickly (within a few minutes)
12. Once you are satisfied with the crackle(ness) … take out
13. Using a butter knife, you can carefully scrape off the burnt areas.
14. Let cool a bit and then cut up into small rectangular bite sized pieces.

Mary Anne’s “cure for the common cold” – Sausage & Kale Soup

Stupid cold just doesn’t want to go away so here’s what’s for dinner: a hearty sausage and kale soup.

– remove casings and brown sausage (I used the garlic farmers sausage but I like it best with a spicy Italian) then throw in onions and garlic until translucent
– throw in a can of whole tomatoes and juice, mash them up a bit. Add broth (I used chicken)
– bring to a boil then simmer for a bit, stirring in chopped kale at the end

Quick, easy and delicious! I love tomato based soups.

Christine’s Gazpacho

I teach an all boys class. 
I am tired a lot (all) of the time and like to have as many ‘sides’ ready to go as possible. There are different ways of making your own tomato juice but I used a bottle.

Ingredients:
-1 cucumber halved and seeded but not peeled ( i have used both field and english versions)
-2 red bell peppers cored and seeded
-4 plum tomatoes
-1 red onion (small)
-garlic (i use 2 small-med or one giant clove)
-3 cups tomato juice
-1/4 cup white wine vinegar
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
Roughly chop the cuke, bell pepper, tomatoes, and red onion into 1 inch cubes. Put each veg separately into a food processor with steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Do NOT overprocess!
  After each veg processed combine them in a large bowl, add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and CHILL (the mixture) before serving. The longer is sits, the more the flavah develops!

Sam’s Bad Ass Bacon & The Most Beautiful Breakfast Bowl Ever

This is less of a recipe and just more of a cooking technique. I love oven roasting my bacon. No spattered cook top and it turns out perfectly every time.

Here is how I do it:

Lay bacon on a foil lined baking sheet. Place in a cold oven and set to bake at 400 degrees. Set a timer for 16 minutes. At 16 mins. Take out and flip. Bake for another 2 mins then check on it. Cook another minute or two depending on how crispy you like it. Keep in mind it will also crisp up a bit more when placed on paper towel for a bit. It’s important to use a timer as you will get it right every time and it leaves you free to prep other food without forgetting what’s in the oven. One last note, if you usually have thin sliced bacon you may want to reduce the initial time to 14 or 15 mins until you see how it cooks.

Breakfast salad: baby spinach, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, chopped hard boiled eggs, blueberries and raw pepitas.

Stay tuned for more GET REAL recipes next week!!

We have just finished the first week of Quantum Crossfit‘s annual GET REAL Food Challenge.  I am so impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm thus far!  I am even more impressed by the fancy schmancy cooking skills that people are busting out…people have been pulling together some pretty epic meals!  As a result, I wanted to share some of the awesome recipes that some of the participants have been whipping up.  Without further ado (in no particular order:)):

Jason’s “curried meatballs dragged through the garden”

Meatballs:
– 
1lb grass fed ground beef
– 1lb naturally raised pork
– 1/3 med onion
– 1tsp minced fresh ginger
– 
1 clove minced fresh garlic
– 2 eggs
– 2tsp coconut flour
– 
2tsp coconut oil
– handful chopped fresh parsley
– salt, pepper
Directions: As you see fit

, mix all the stuff together, pack the 12 slots on a muffin tin. Toss it in oven at 300 for 15 mins or so and flip over in muffin tin once with a fork.

The Garden:
– 1 can coconut milk
– 
1tsp curry powder
– 2tsp minced fresh ginger
– 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
– 
1 bag fresh spinach
– the rest of the onion
– 1 pint mushrooms halved
– 1 pint grape tomatoes (as is)
– 
handful of chopped fresh cilantro
Directions: Toss the stuff in a stir fry pan with 2 Tbsps of coconut oil, along with onion, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms. Then coconut milk, tomatoes and curry powder. Spinach and cilantro go in when you take meatballs out of oven.

Throw it all together and you’ve got yourself a magical meal.

Ashley’s Murg Kari (slightly modified from a retro Time Life book collection circa 1969…true story)

First, some curry-warrior tips from the master (aka: Ashley):

– Prep it all first, then start cooking.
Turmeric stains like red wine on white carpet at a Twister party. Beware! Plastic utensils, countertops, containers, fingers, you name it. It’s also really good for you.
– Replace the oil using whatever your Paelo-ness level dictates. Use the full 1/2 cup though, as the it remains in the pan to fry the onions etc.
– I left the skin on the chicken (out of forgetfulness vs. savvy adaptation). It still worked, it just sticks to the pan a bit. I also just used thights & legs.  I’m not a breast man.
– Use the individual spices (and fresh coriander a.k.a. cilantro & ginger), it makes a difference. On the other hand, buy the Garam Masala premixed at a store, or just leave it out.  I also used chili flakes instead of hot red pepper.  You can get chopped ginger in a jar, or grab a knob from any supermarket – use the back of a spoon to scrape off the skin.
– I leave out the yoghurt now, and it’s still @#%&ing good.  I served it on Cauli Rice, which I finally tried making in the Magic Bullet. It was @#%&ing magic.
– I always forget the lemon, so you may as well ditch it.
– Use a big skillet with a lid. It’s the only pan you’ll need.
OK here we go.

Murg Kari – Chicken Curry (To serve 4 to 6)
–  2 to 2½ pounds skinned chicken legs and thighs and boned, split chicken breasts
– 1 tsp ground hot red pepper
– ¼ tsp ground fennel, or fennel 
seeds pulverized with a mortar
 n pestle
– 3 tsp salt
–  ½ cup oil (Summer: I’d recommend coconut oil)
– ½ cup water
– 1½ cup finely chopped onions
– 1 cup finely chopped fresh tomatoes or substitute 1 c chopped, drained
–  1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
– 1½ tsp scraped, finely chopped fresh ginger root
– 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1 tsp garam masala
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons of the salt. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over high heat until a drop of water flicked into it splutters instantly. Add the chicken and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, turning the pieces about with a spoon until they are white and somewhat firm. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

2. Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the oil remaining in the skillet and, stirring constantly, fry for 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Reduce the heat to low, add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, red pepper, fennel and 1 tablespoon of the water, and, stirring constantly, fry for a minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the fresh coriander, the yoghurt and the remaining teaspoon of salt.

3. Increase the heat to moderate and add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated in the plate. Pour in the remaining water. Bring to a boil, meanwhile turning the chicken about in the sauce to coat the pieces evenly. Sprinkle the top with the garam masala and the remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander, reduce the heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.

To serve, arrange the chicken attractively* on a heated platter, pour the sauce remaining in the skillet over it, and sprinkle with the lemon juice.

*I love these home-maker directions calling out to us from 1969.

Garam Masala (just in case you’re crazy enough to make it yourself)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1  teaspoon grated nutmeg

In sauté pan, over medium heat, add everything except for the nutmeg. Toast until dark, about 12 minutes, shaking the pan often.  Remove and cool.  Grind the spices in a spice mill or coffee grinder into a powder. Remove and stir in the nutmeg. Yield: about ½ cup..  Source: http://www.Foodnetwork.com

Amanda’s “pot of awesomeness”

no picture, but I’m sure it will make you do this….

I just made a pot of easy seasonal deliciousness (that turned out kinda borscht-ish), so I thought I would share. Food processor required or it is no longer easy!

Ingredients: Shred or thinly slice: leeks, carrots, a sweet potato, shallots (or onions), fennel bulb, beets (I used golden because I’m fancy).

Directions:
Sauté the leek and shallots in a big knob of gf butter or ghee, add other veggies after that magical thing happens when butter and leeks get together over some heat.

Throw in some garlic, a litre of veggie stock (and some water if you need more liquid), and 1 or 2 craploads of dill (bonus points if you have fresh. I used dried) and a can of coconut milk, salt and pepper. And probably more dill.

I like one pot meals, so I mixed and egg with some dill and garlic and s&p and made teeny meatballs that I dropped right in the simmering soup to cook.

It’s pretty boss, you guys.

Lisa’s “Fancy Pork Chops w/ Cauli-Mash Faux-tatoes”

Pork Chops – Ingredients:
– Pork Chops
– Onions
– Garlic
– Lots of mushrooms
– coconut milk
– mustard powder
– Salt and pepper

Directions: Fry some onions, garlic, & LOTS of mushrooms, remove that & brown the chops, throw it all back in and add a cup of coconut milk and mustard powder, S&P, simmer covered for about 10-15min. Serve on cauli-mash.

Garlic Mashed Cauli-tatoes
– 1 head cauliflower
– 2-3 cloves of garlic (your preference)
– grass-fed butter
– nutmeg
– pepper

Throw everything in a steamer until soft (really soft – mine was a little too firm and I ended up with a cross between cauli-mash and cauli-rice), then toss into food processor with a couple nubs of grass fed butter. Some nutmeg and pepper to taste. Process until really smooth.

Jack’s “Tower O Veggies” and other fun stuff

Layer one: Paleo Slaw
1 head cabbage
2 lg carrots
1 cup paleo mayo(homemade)
1/4 grated onion
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp powdered mustard
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt

1. Shred cabbage and carrots and onion in food processor.
2. In another bowl combine other ingredients.
3. Slowly add resulting mix to ground veggies.

Layer Two: Gai Lan (chinese broccoli)

Fry chopped Gai Lan in coconut oil with garlic and salt.

Layer Three: Burger!
1 lb ground beef
~1 cup almond meal
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

Mix in bowl, made four patties.

Layer Four: Garnish

Chopped onions fried in coconut oil
Half an avocado, sliced.

I would have added more meat in the form of bacon if I did this meal again.
Original Recipes made paleo from old recipes.

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things….”

With our annual GET REAL Food Challenge at Quantum Crossfit under way, I figured it would be a good time to post some of my favourite pantry (and other) staples.  I know it can be daunting to ditch all your packaged foods and cook everything from scratch.  I also know firsthand that not everyone has time to cook every single thing from scratch.  While I would love to say that I make my own salsa and nut butter, I don’t….at least not while I’m still juggling 15,000 things.  Perhaps in the future I’ll have time to grow my own herbs and make coconut milk, but right now I rely on a few packaged things so that I can create amazing meals and still have a few minutes to see my husband and dogs each day.

Here are some guidelines that I use when buying something from a package:

1)   It must contain 100% real ingredients.  The only exception is my coconut milk which has guar gum in it….since I don’t have any negative reactions to guar gum, I am not going to sweat this.

2)   I aim to avoid packaging that contains BPA

3)   I pick Organic whenever I can afford it.

Here are my pantry staples:

1)   Native Forest Coconut Milk – Native Forest is one of the only canned coconut milks (to my knowledge) which has BPA free cans.  Coincidently, their coconut milk is so creamy and best to make ‘whipped’ cream.  Apparently the Arroy-D brand (which is much cheaper) is also BPA free.

2)   Eden Organic Crushed Tomatoes (and Tomato Sauces) – Eden is also one of the companies aiming to go BPA free and they are one of the only brands that offers Tomatoes in a glass container (vs canned).  It is not guaranteed 100% BPA free because there is some which coats the lid (which is then covered by another protective layer), but as you can read here it’s likely the best option available (aside from making your own).  I find it at Whole Foods for about $6.49 a jar so it’s not cheap….my chili is now a luxury meal.

3)   Wild Planet Canned Tuna and Salmon – Wild Planet also makes the list of companies going BPA free, however at this point only the canned Tuna is BPA free.  I keep this on hand in case of emergency….I rarely eat tuna anymore due to the mercury content (and when I do, it’s sashimi).  I should note that Wild Planet claims to have less mercury than other tuna brands.  In any event, I have switched to buying frozen wild pacific salmon filets when I need something in a pinch…you can bake it in 10 minutes.

4)   Whole Foods 365 Salsa (Hot or Medium) –  As George Costanza said, “salsa is now the number one condiment in America”…I tend to agree that it is definitely one of my favourites. I put it on plain roasted chicken, eggs, veggies….you cannot go wrong with salsa.  Plus it is just fun to say “SALSA!”  Pick a brand that does not have sugar or any other questionable ingredients.

5)   A few good spice blends – I have a few from The Healthy Butcher which I LOVE. It makes seasoning something so much easier…sprinkle and you’re good to go.  The ONE Rub and FIRE Rub carried at the Healthy Butcher are my 2 current favourites.

6)   Bubbies Pickles and Sauerkraut – These are not your average Snooki pickles….Bubbies are all naturally fermented, so they carry lots of the beneficial bacteria that your gut loves.  I do not eat burgers unless they are paired with a Bubbies pickle…running out of these creates an emergency situation in the house.  Bubbies Sauerkraut is also delish.

7)   Frank’s Red Hot – Yes, I would put that sh*t on everything.  In fact, I have to try not to….it’s an addictive substance.  I try to limit my Red Hot use to my weekend eggs and when I eat plain roasted chicken.  Too much of this stuff is not kind to your gut (and shouldn’t be used if you suffer from gut issues), so it should not be used liberally.  I have tried other (more premium) hot sauces, but this one is still my favourite.

8)   Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste – Add some coconut milk and you have a fast and delicious curry.

Here are a few other things that I always have stock of – you can find all of these at Whole Foods (except maybe #10 which I get at the Healthy Butcher or local farmer’s markets):

1)   Raw Organic Cashews – generally I’ll have a small handful pre-workout with a bit of meat.

2)  Cashew Nut Butter and Hazelnut Butter – Hazelnut butter tastes like Nutella….spread some on a baked apple with cinnamon and you have dessert.

3)   Kicking Horse Coffee – when you’re drinking coffee or espresso black, it’s got to be good quality.  Since I do a half-caf, I like Kicking Horse because they do not treat their caffeine free blends with any chemicals.  Running out of this would also create a major emergency in the house.

4)   Frozen Rapini – because you should never go without your greens and sometimes you just don’t have time to wash, chop and steam.  These work great in chili’s, soups and stews.

5)   Acropolis Organic Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar – I got hooked on this brand when I was introduced to it while cooking with my friend Greg Carver.  The balsamic is AWESOME…it has a wonderful natural sweetness…I swear you won’t go back to another brand.

6)   Simply Natural Organic Mustard – Much like my Frank’s Red Hot, I put this sh*t on everything too…..for dressings, with salmon, on burgers….in place of Jager shots.   This brand is my favourite.

7)  Coconut Aminos – I use this in place of Soy Sauce and Tamari….it works better in sauces than for dipping sashimi as it does taste a bit different from Tamari.

8)  Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar – I like Bragg because it is raw and unpasteurized (aka: it’s not processed).  I mix 1 Tablespoon of this with equal parts mustard and lemon juice to create a mean salad dressing that goes with just about anything.  This is also good to take diluted with water prior to eating to stimulate stomach acid secretion.

9)  Private Stock Chipotle Aioli – OMG this stuff is such a treat….on burgers, roasted veggies (especially sweet potatoes) etc.  I use it sparingly for special occasions only (because it’s not cheap)…usually with my ritual meal of bison burger with Bubbies pickle and roasted root veggies (drooool).

10)  Mad Mexican Guacamole –  This is by far the BEST guacamole I have ever tasted….I’m sorry, but it probably beats your homemade stuff.  I have yet to taste anything better.  They must inject it with crack because it is not only addictive, but it also costs quite a bit…….This is on my worth it list because it tastes sooooo gooood.  This may not be a staple, but it’s definitely something I pick up every once in a while.

Yes, I’d love to be a 100% Paleo elitist who makes every single thing from scratch including grinding up cumin in a mortar and pestle.  Perhaps one day I will achieve this Cave-Martha Stewart status.  In the meantime, I am thrilled that there are some companies that make foods which meet the real food criteria and make me very happy.

Did I miss anything?  What’s in your pantry?

Served with a bison burger and "Bubbies" pickle.

It is rare that I post a Veggie only recipe which is odd because I love to get creative with my veggies.  Whole Foods has a pre-made root veggie cake that looks amazing (and apparently tastes pretty good too based on FPH’s feedback), but contains some questionable ingredients so I’ve never touched them.  I decided to try making my own version.  This one is definitely going into my book of favourites…..I am addicted to these suckers now.  You can use any root veggies, but I like the celery root because it’s not as starchy as some of the other root veggies and it pairs nicely with the carrots and parsley.

*Note: This recipe requires a food processor.  If you do not have one, I am sure you could grate the veggies if you’re up for an arm workout.  Hey, maybe you could sub this in favour of your shake weight routine.

Ingredients:
– 1 large (or 2 small) celery root – outer skin/knobs removed
–  3 large carrots or 12 baby carrots – peeled (if regular carrot)
– 3 parsnips – peeled
– 1/2 Cup parsley – chopped
– 1/2 red onion
– salt and pepper
– 1 Tbsp coconut oil
– 2-3 egg yolks

Directions:

1. Grate all the root veggies and onion in the food processor.
2.  Mix them together with the parsley and salt/pepper in a bowl.
3.  Add the egg yolks…start with 2 and then add a 3rd if needed.  You should be able to mould the mixture into patties and if it is not sticking together, add another egg.
4.  In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil.  Also, heat your oven to 375.
5.  While the pan is heating, make patties with the root veggie mixture.  Squeeze out the excess moisture while you are shaping them.
6.  Fry them in the skillet for about 2 minutes per side, until they are brown.
7.  Transfer them onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and pop them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  This helps to finish cooking the veggie all the way through.
8.  Enjoy!

Fully Primal Husband gave the following testimonial, “These are really good!  They taste better than the Whole Foods patties.”  Nice.

It’s that time of year again…New Year’s Eve!  Perhaps you are wallowing in misery over the fact that you weigh more than you did at the beginning of last year when you promised yourself that “this year is going to be different!”  Or you’re in the midst of inhaling every last bit of sugar because “starting January 1st, you are going to be perfect so you might as well enjoy the sugary bliss now!”  Or perhaps you’re setting a bunch of resolutions that you will likely never follow through on and you’ll be beating yourself up about come April.  This is why I am proposing to ditch the resolutions.  It seems to me that every year around this time, I see people who spend more time commiserating about their failures and punishing themselves for their self-proclaimed under-achievements vs reflecting on things that they actually did accomplish.  It is a horrible negative feedback loop of self-punishment that does not get you anywhere.

Rather than beating yourself up for riding another year on the treadmill of failure, take a few minutes to write down the things that you DID achieve in 2011.  Unless you are Rob Ford (the horrible Mayor of Toronto), you likely have many things that you accomplished.  These things can be as simple as, “I ate more Kale” or “I took my Vitamin D supplements” or “I made an effort to see my friend’s more often.”   Take a few moments to pat yourself on the back for the things that you did achieve.  Here are a few of mine:

– I made it through another year of school, working full-time, working part-time and being a good wife without having full-blown adrenal fatigue! YAY!
– I gave up Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore in order to spend more quality time with my husband
– I became comfortable with the fact that I will never fit into my size 28 jeans again because increasing my back squat is WAY more important to me
– I ate way more organ meats that I ever imagined
– I became a Coach at Quantum CrossFit and love every second of it
….and the list goes on.

Back to resolutions….I am not saying that you should ditch the commitment to bettering yourself.  I think this is important, but it is also something that should be done continuously throughout the year….Don’t save your commitments to 1 time per year.     Rather than setting specific goals this new year (which is something that Krista at Stumptuous wrote a great piece about), try creating some mantras for yourself instead.  Create a set of mantras which will act as your guideline to living the best you in 2012.  Mantras will help to create self-awareness around some of your short-comings and will also help you to consistently better yourself by acting as reminders for how you can be a better person.

Create your mantras and write them down….take a few moments first thing in the morning or before you go to bed at night to say an affirmation to yourself as it relates to your mantras.  Affirmations are an excellent way of shifting your mindset and will help to create long-lasting changes.  Here are my mantras for 2012 and in classic CPG style, I have related them to my hero’s of the 80’s and 90’s hair metal movement:

#1 – Axl Rose  “I am OK with not being perfect.”

Remember how Axl Rose took 15 years to finish the much anticipated album Chinese Democracy?  His addiction to perfection prevented him from releasing it any sooner because lord knows he was probably tweaking every last note trying to achieve perfection.  I wrote about my addiction to perfection  in this recent post.  My affirmation will read something like this, “I am not perfect and I am OK with that.  I do the best that I can and this is something I am proud of.”

#2 – Slash “I will make a conscious effort to collaborate”

Slash has collaborated with everyone from Michael Jackson to Fergie.  I must admit that I have not done the best job of collaborating with others.  This is partially because I often perceive collaboration as kissing someone’s ass.  It is also because I feel that unless I am 100% aligned to what other people are saying, I do not tend to support or collaborate with them.  I will make more of an effort to support others and find the commonalities in our principles. I will #FF and “Like” other people’s projects.

#3 – Vince Neil “I will be aware of negative self-talk and stop punishing myself”

How often do you find yourself punishing yourself via negative self talk?  Seriously, how much time have you wasted in your life punishing yourself by putting yourself down?!?!  Unfortunately I still do this often and much of this stems from my addiction to appearance (which is a whole other post).  Look what happened to Vince Neil! He’s a plastic surgery victim….his addiction to appearance has moulded him into a geriatric Ken doll.  I will make a conscious effort to become aware of my negative self-talk.  When negative thoughts pop into my head I will stop myself and question them.  I will use affirmations to love my imperfections and release myself from my own criticism.

#4 – Bon Jovi “I will make this career last”

“Who-ooohhh, we’re half way there….Whoaaa-aaaaahhh, livin on a prayer!!!”  I am 8 months away from being a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and this is both very exciting and terrifying.  Exciting because this is my passion and what I am meant to do in life.  Terrifying because at some point I am going to have to cut ties with my cushy corporate gig and take the leap to commit to this career full-time.  Like Bon Jovi, I am seeking longevity through this career change…not a one hit wonder.  I will let go of the fear that I have and get comfortable with the risk.  I am confident that this is my destiny and by gosh I will make it happen!  Lastly, “I will hold on because ready or not, I live for the fight when that’s all that I’ve got.”

What are your mantras for 2012?

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!

XOXO

Served with roasted butternut & acorn squash with apples

“She’s got legs….She knows how to use them…”  ZZ Top anyone?  We bought 1/2 of a lamb from my friend’s farm back in August and have had the leg sitting in the freezer for the past few months.  I had never cooked a leg of anything before, so I was hesitant to try it out for fear of messing up the entire chunk of meat.  Then we found a good recipe for Crock Pot lamb shoulder in a local magazine, so we used that as inspiration for this dish.  The meat was so tender and amazing!  It’s the perfect winter dish and I am now officially a leg girl.  Bonus points if you rock out to ZZ Top whilst doing the reduction.

NOTE: You don’t need a crock pot to do this recipe.  You can easily braise it in the oven and I’ve provided some guidelines for this in the instructions.

Ingredients (serves 6-ish)
–  1 bone-in leg of lamb (pastured)
– 1.5 Tbsp of butter or coconut oil
– 6 cloves of garlic – peeled
– 1 onion – sliced
– 1 celeriac (aka: celery root) – peeled and cut into bite size chunks
– 1 leek – sliced
– 1 can of diced tomatoes – 796mL
– 1/2 Litre chicken stock
– 1 Bottle of red wine
– 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
– 4 sprigs of rosemary
– 4 sprigs of oregano
– 2 bay leaves
– salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Leave the meat out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the entire leg.
  3. In a large and deep skillet (we used a large cast iron skillet) heat the butter/oil.  Once it starts to smoke, add the lamb and sear it for 3-5 minutes on each side or until you get a nice brown crust.  Make sure you sear it everywhere….this may require you holding the leg with tongs in an awkward position, but you do not want to leave any piece un-seared.  NOTE:  It’ll get smokey, so removing your fire alarm is recommended.
  4. Put the seared leg into the Crock Pot or into a large/deep baking dish
  5. Let the pan cool down for a couple minutes.  Then add the garlic and onions, sautéing for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the celery root and leeks and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  7. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan.  Let the red wine reduce until it is almost like a paste – Simply let it simmer for about 10 minutes or longer.  Stir and scrape the bottom every minute or so.  Don’t get anxious….let it reduce!
  8. While the wine is reducing, add the tomatoes to the Crock Pot on top of the lamb.  Also add the herbs and bay leaves.
  9. Once the wine has reduced, add the red wine vinegar and stock.  Bring it up to a simmer and then pour it into the Crock Pot or baking dish. The liquid should just cover the leg.  If it doesn’t, you may need to add a bit more stock.
  10. CROCK POT: Let it cook on high for 8 hours or low for 12-ish (we used high, so I don’t know the exact time for low).  It is done when the meat is tender.  Not completely falling off the bone, but you should be able to tear it apart pretty easily with forks.
  11. OVEN: Cover the baking dish with foil and braise it in the oven at 300 for about 4-6 hours (I think…you’ll have to check it every hour to get the right time).
  12. Try your best to pick out the rosemary, bay leaves and oregano stems.  Serve with the celery root sauce on top
  13. Enjoy!

Fully Primal Husband provided the following testimonial, “Oh man, this is good.  This might be my new favourite dish.  The flavours are amazing.”

This is my contribution to my Christmas dinners this year….a Cranberry Orange compote to go with the big bird.  I love cranberry sauce, but most cranberry sauce recipes are loaded with refined sugar….and the pre-made cranberry sauces use high fructose corn syrup which is deeees-gusting.  I decided to take the reins and make a much healthier version of cranberry sauce.  This is a modified version of my late Grandmother’s recipe and I think she would be proud.

Note: There is maple syrup in this.  That being said, the amount of sugar is much less than a traditional recipe and you could probably omit it all together if you are OK with a more tart taste.

Ingredients (makes LOTS…you could easily 1/2 this recipe):

– 3 Oranges – very sweet – peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
– 1 Cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
– ~7 Litres of cranberries (2 bags of the fresh cranberries)
–  2 cinnamon sticks
– 5 cloves
– 2 tsp of dried ginger – or use 1 tsp of fresh grated
– 1/4 Cup of maple syrup (or more/less to taste)

Directions:

  1. Boil the orange juice,  maple syrup and spices for 5 minutes
  2. Add the orange chunks and simmer over med-low heat for 3-4 minutes….until oranges become soft and begin to break apart
  3. Add the cranberries and cook uncovered for about 7 minutes or until all of the cranberries have popped.
  4. Cool and store in the fridge.  Tastes better as the days go on.
  5. Enjoy with a cooked bird!

Fully Primal Husband provided the following testimonial, “Cran-f*ckin-tastic.”  Enough said.