So, I started this whole "clean eating" thing back in February 2011, after being really intrigued about a plan called the Whole30 . I decided to give it a go, but quickly realized that I needed to make it more adaptable to the way that our family eats and lives. I like my glass of wine at night. I don't think a piece of gum is going to sabotage me. I think that a DQ Blizzard is a good thing every once in a while. If my friend makes the most awesome jalapeno poppers you've ever had, you know I'm going to have one. But I also know that I feel pretty darn good when I'm eating quality proteins, fats, veggies, fruits and nuts, while leaving out dairy, grains, legumes (including soy and peanuts) and the big one, sugar, at least most of the time.
Here are some of the ways to do just that....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turkey Piccatta with Mushrooms

I wanted to take a break from chicken, so we decided to try some turkey cutlets.  I had some lemons, capers and mushrooms on hand, so this is what we came up with.  It has a small amount of white wine, so technically it's not "clean", but you could probably substitute or leave it out.

Turkey Piccatta 

juice of 1 lemon
2 TBS capers with their juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup EVOO
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
2 lbs turkey cutlets (we wanted leftovers, but the same amount of marinade would probably work for 1lb)

Mix first 7 ingredients well and put into a large sealable dish.  Add turkey cutlets and toss well to coat.  I let mine marinate overnight, but I'm sure whatever time you have will be good.  Grill over medium low heat until cooked--I think Jason said about 3-4 minutes a side would be about right (ours were overcooked a little, as it was the first time we were grilling turkey).  Serve over spaghetti squash with this mushroom sauce.

Dijon Mushroom Sauce

1 package mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 TBS capers with their juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TBS dijon mustard (no sugar added)
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Heat EVOO over medium heat and add mushrooms and garlic.  Saute for a minute or two and then add capers, wine, lemon juice, and mustard.  Cook over medium low heat until mushrooms are cooked, stirring often, and add parsley when almost done.

Spaghetti Squash

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 TBS coconut oil
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Heat oven to 375.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.  Pierce a whole squash several times with a knife so that it doesn't explode.  Place on cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour.  Cut squash horizontally in half and scoop out seeds (careful, it'll be hot!).  Use a fork to separate "spaghetti" strands and place in a serving dish.  Toss with coconut oil and salt and pepper.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Peel and trim Brussels Sprouts.  Cut in half and place in roasting pan.  Toss with EVOO, S&P, and garlic and onion powders.  Roast at 450 for 20 minutes, tossing once.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basil Burgers and Carrot "Fries"

This was our first attempt at a cleaner burger....and very delicious, although more of a fork and knife kinda meal.

Basil Burgers

1 lb ground beef
2 TBS chopped basil
onion and garlic powders

4 Portobello mushroom caps, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with S&P (we used pretty large caps and found them to be too big, so either use smaller ones, or else perhaps just one.

Mix and form into 4 patties.  Grill burgers and portobellos to your liking.  Place burger between 2 mushroom caps.  We served ours with leftover tomato and onion salsa and fresh spinach.

For the Carrot "Fries"

1lb peeled carrots.
Garlic and onion powders
1 TBS balsamic vinegar

Peel 1 lb carrots and toss with EVOO, S&P, and garlic and onion powders.  Roast in a shallow pan for 20 minutes and then drizzle balsamic vinegar over them.  Toss and roast for 3 minutes more.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ahhhh, time to get back in the groove!

So, you'd think that Costa Rica would be THE place for fresh seafood and vegetables...not so much.  Yes, they have some pretty great ceviche, but for the most part, our vacation consisted of Americanized fish tacos, weird "fajitas", and lots and lots of margaritas and Imperial beers.  We were ready to get back in the groove.  This is what we made for our first dinner home.

Foil Wrapped Salmon

1 fillet of salmon

Place fillet on large sheet of heavy duty foil and sprinkle with seasonings and wrap well with foil.  Grill for about 9 minutes per side and let rest 5 minutes.

Roasted Summer Squash

Summer squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
Olive oil
garlic and onion powders

Toss ingredients in large roasting pan and roast at 425 for about 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nancy's Dish (Veggies and Mince)

My friend Nancy was the inspiration for this dish.

Makes 4 servings (can be halved, but I wanted double for leftovers).  This would be really good with spaghetti squash too.

2lbs ground beef, preferably organic, no hormones, etc.
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano

Mix thoroughly and shape into 1" balls.  Place on a broiler pan sprayed with olive oil (cover bottom pan with tin foil) and bake at 350 for 30 min.
The fat that dripped off

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced

1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1TBS chopped basil
1 TBS tomato paste

green pepper, cut into matchsticks
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups baby spinach
Ground red pepper 
Saute onions and garlic.  Add next 4 ingredients until well mixed.  Add rest of veggies and saute until done to your liking.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Put the Lime in the Coconut Salmon

I needed to do something other than my usual baked salmon.  This is what I came up with.

1 large salmon fillet (2-3lbs)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 1/2 limes
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Coconut flakes and lime wedges for serving

Combine ginger, lime juice, zest, S&P in a dish large enough for the salmon.  Place salmon in, skin side up and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Place salmon (reserve marinade) on a cookie sheet (I covered mine in foil sprayed with olive oil) and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Place reserved marinade in small saucepan and bring to a high simmer for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with coconut flakes and serve with lime wedges.

I served mine with Roasted Summer Squash and steamed green beans.
Cut summer squash into 1 inch pieces.  Place in roasting pan and spray with EVOO.  Sprinkle with S&P and garlic powder and give it a good shake.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Uninspired, but will get back to it soon!

This week has been one of those clean-out-the-fridge weeks.  My hubby was out of town, so I haven't been making anything post-worthy, but stick with me--I have some things planned for next week!  We're taking a vacation to Costa Rica soon, so I hope to be inspired by the food there (and I'm planning on fully indulging in non-Paleo stuff while we're there!).  If you have any recipes that you'd like to share here, I'd love to have them and I'll give all the credit to you!

Sweet Potato Casserole

I needed a "dessert", so I came up with this...believe me, if you're not eating sugar, this tastes pretty darn good!

6 sweet potatoes (I like to make up a bunch at a time--I find that they keep for a good 5 days in the fridge)
1 TBS coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
S&P to taste
3/4 cup (more or less) Flaked unsweetened dried coconut (I find mine at the Fresh Market)
1/2 cup (more or less) Chopped walnuts

Bake the sweet potatoes at 400 for about an hour until nice and soft (I usually do it on a foil lined cookie sheet so that there's less mess).  Once you can handle them, peel them and mash them up, along with the coconut oil, cinnamon, and S&P.  Spread mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with the coconut and walnuts.  If you really want to get crazy, you can put that in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes or until the coconut starts to get a little golden.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Knock It 'Til You've Tried It Breakfast

Okay, so I know that this sounds pretty gross, but it's actually really good, especially after a good workout--it has carbs, healthy fats, and protein all in one.

1 baked sweet potato, warmed (I usually pull one from my pre-cooked batch and just split it in half and heat for 1 minute in the microwave)
1 (2 if you're really hungry!) hardboiled egg, chopped
1/4 avocado, diced
S&P to taste.

Place sweet potato on plate (or bowl).  Add egg and avocado.  Season.  That's it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Beef Carnitas

*Adapted from my Mom, who got it from "Perfect One Dish Dinners" (not sure of the author).

3 lbs boneless chuck roast
3 TBS olive oil, divided
1 TBS plus 1 tsp ground cumin, divided
Sea Salt and ground black pepper
1 4.5oz can chopped green chilis (could probably use the real thing...maybe 1 or 2)
1/8 cup chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
3 large onions, cut into 12 wedges
3 large green bell peppers, cut into 12 wedges
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges

Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and preheat to 450.  Place dutch oven (I used my cast iron one that has a lid) over low heat.

Meanwhile, place roast into large bowl and coat with 1 TBS olive oil and season with 1 TBS ground cumin, plus plenty of salt and pepper.  Mix chilis, chili powder, remaining cumin and oregano in a small bowl.
A few minutes before searing, increase heat to a medium high heat until nice and hot.  Add roasts and sear, turning once until it has a nice brown crust, about 8 minutes total.  Transfer roast to a place and add garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.  Add chili mixture and cook, stirring, about another 30 seconds.  Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Return roast and any juices on plate to pan.  Cover dutch oven with lid (or with a couple of sheets of heavy duty tin foil until well sealed.
Place on middle rack of oven and cook for a total of 1 hour 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, about 30 minutes before roasts are done, toss peppers and onions with remaining 2 TBS olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Place in a roasting pan and place on bottom rack of oven and cook about 20 minutes or until crisp tender.
Remove everything from oven and shred meat.
Serve with peppers, onions, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.  We also served mango/avocado salsa with it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pretty Awesome Stuffed Peppers with Guacamole

My sister in law makes an awesome stuffed pepper recipe (passed down from my mother in law) and I miss them!  This is what I came up with, minus the cheese, rice and black beans of course.  And they were delicious!

Stuffed Peppers

4 bell peppers

1 lb ground beef (the best quality you can find, but it doesn't matter about the fat content)
Garlic and onion powders
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, diced
1 cup mushrooms (I used a 4 oz can of organic mushrooms because that's what I had on hand, but fresh would be ideal)
1 mashed sweet potato (to bind everything together a bit better)
1 cup chunky salsa (sugar free)
2 cups "riced" cauliflower (chop cauliflower florets in the food processor until rice-like)

Cut tops off of bell peppers and de-seed (I chop up the tops and put them in a baggie and freeze it for another recipe).  Place them in about 1 inch of water in a pot and cover.  Bring to a boil and steam for about 5 minutes.  Remove to a casserole dish.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a medium saucepan.  Season with S&P, garlic and onion powders and add onion and celery.  Saute until soft.  Add rest of ingredients until well combined.

Place filling in prepared peppers (at this point, you can refrigerate them until you're ready to eat 'em).  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Top with guacamole.

2 ripe avocados, mashed
1/2 lemon
garlic and onion powder

Combine until seasoned to your taste.

My brain hurts!

Okay, so I've gotten a lot of good questions from friends about how I'm defining "clean" and honestly, it's sort of putting me into a tailspin.  I think eliminating grains, legumes, dairy and sugar has been implementable in me examining what and how I eat and beneficial in "rebooting" my system, but I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason why to leave them out indefinitely.  I've really enjoyed experimenting with different ways to cook things, new ways to eat vegetables, and last but not least, what it's done for my body. But I think that there's a place for whole grains, beans, and some dairy and natural sweeteners in my daily life (and of course, room for some pure sugar with treat meals).  I think that I'm going to continue eating Paleo for the next few weeks before our big Costa Rica (read: lots of time in swimsuits) vacation.  Once we get back, I'm going to look into reintroducing some stuff back into our daily diet....think of how many more recipes I can do!

I was re-reading some of the blogs on the Paleo sites and I have to say, a lot of them are really annoying!  I hope I'm not coming off as preachy as they are.  I just wanted to share some recipes!

Curried Tilapia

There used to be a recipe on the back of the bag of Tilapia that I use that I was able to make "clean".  Of course, I threw the last bag away without writing it down....I think this is close, if not better.  You can make it in the morning and let it marinate, so that way all you have to do at dinner is throw it in a pan.

4 Tilapia fillets

1/2 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 cup canned coconut milk (full fat)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a blender (I love my handheld one!), blend the shallot and next 8 ingredients until smooth.  Pour over tilapia fillets and marinate (if you have the time...if not, cook right then and there).  Heat large skillet over medium heat and cook tilapia (and marinade), covered, for about 10 minutes.  Flip fillets and cook another 10 minutes, covered.

I served it with stir-fried broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Okay, but why?

I think people get confused about why we're choosing to eat this way...and to tell you the truth, I don't have a great answer to give.  Over the last year I've been trying to educate myself a little bit more about where our food comes from and how things like feed lots are so horrific, not only to the animals that they produce, but to the environment as well.  I'm by no means an "activist" fact, I could probably do a lot more than I do to ensure that the next generation doesn't get screwed by what we're doing now.  It's just once you learn more about how stuff actually gets to your table, it's sort of hard to forget it.  We've sort of dabbled in vegetarianism and liked it (and I know, this is like the total opposite of that!).  We've never really kept soda or potato chips on hand.  We don't eat fast food a lot. We don't have any health problems, thank goodness.  So why go so drastic?

At first, it was to lose the couple of pounds I had put on over the holidays and just couldn't get off, regardless of the fact that I was working out probably 6 days a week (and not wimpy workouts either!).  I was looking into CrossFit and came across the Whole30 website, which is basically just a ramped up version of the Paleo diet.  Supposedly, by cutting out all grains, legumes (including soy and peanuts), dairy, sugar, and alcohol, I would "change my life in 30 days".  This left meat, chicken, seafood, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits and nuts. There's a whole bunch of science behind it, but I'll let you research that.  What spoke to me was that it was all about getting back to real, unprocessed food.  I thought I'd give it a go.

Here are some links to some of that research I'll let you go do. :-)


The Paleo Diet

The Primal Blueprint