primal

Broccoli and Mushroom Chicken Soup

Don had broccoli cheese soup on the brain last week. After a review of our pantry, this was what he came up with. De-lish.

Ingredients
makes 6 servings

  • bunch of broccoli (2 large heads)
  • 1 whole sweet onion
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 2 12-oz packages of organic cream of mushroom soup (this stuff is CRAZY good!)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp garlic (we used our homemade chili garlic paste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of coconut milk

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The preparation process is relatively simple.

  • Chop the onion, celery, and broccoli roughly and then use a food processor to reduce it to a rice-like consistency.

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  • Dice the chicken into small pieces and brown slightly in a skillet over medium-high heat with a little olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Combine everything, except the coconut milk, in a crock pot. Add chicken once it’s cooked through.
  • Cook on high for about 4 hours.

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  • Add coconut milk. Stir to combine well.
  • Continue to cook on high for another 30-60 minutes to warm and incorporate all flavors. Serve or save for quick meals during the week.

We actually did make this over the weekend for ready-to-go weekday meals so we didn’t try it for a couple of days. Which is why I don’t have any photos of a bowl of soup to show off the finished look. I’m a bonehead and never remember to take a picture during lunch so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Our intention was to top it with shredded cheese that we could mix in and it would be more like a cheesy broccoli soup, but so far, I have had it sans cheese and it’s just fine without. I am certain we will make this again. I would like to experiment next time with adding arrowroot powder or tapioca flour to thicken the soup so it’s more creamy, just for a change of pace.

Oh, and a side note to mention that I was SUPER excited last week to find an organic cream of mushroom soup that isn’t laden with processed chemicals and flavors! Check out Pacific brand organic soups and broths if you are interested in organic products. It looks like they are available in a number of stores – Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods, and Amazon, to name a few. Yay!

I’ve Been Pinned!

I have been continually perplexed for some time that one of my very early recipe experiments (Beef Stew and Almond Flour Dumplings) was constantly popping up in my stats traffic. Like daily.

I kept wondering, what IS it about that recipe/page?

Did I tag it in some way that made it more searchable? I couldn’t quite figure it out. So recently I took a few extra minutes to dig around in my traffic stats to see if I could determine the source from there.

Lo and behold. It was PINTEREST.

Really? People are pinning my stuff? Aww, shucks. NOW I get it. And I suddenly understand how powerful Pinterest can be as a social media tool.

BTW, I’m completely humbled by this discovery. A very warm THANK YOU to all the folks who are pinning things I’ve shared.

It is a trip to see all the pins to my blog and to be able to see what people are pinning and saying. I didn’t even know you COULD see a summary like that. Apparently, you can.

Folks are pinning things like…

Pumpkin Chicken Casserole
Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
Pumpkin Pancakes
Cup of Spiced Pumpkin
(Of course, everything pumpkin in the fall. 🙂 )
Pear Muffins
Cucumber Relish made with honey
Chicken Parmesean
Spaghetti Squash (BTW, I’ve got something new to update how to cook your spaghetti squash and a new way to serve it! Stay tuned.)

As for the dumplings, which is why people are pinning that first post I mentioned, they are ok but not out of this world. Definitely not the first thing that would come to mind if you asked me to name my favorite dish or recipe. I’ve only ever made them a couple of times. I’m SURE there are other recipes out there that have better results. But if it helps get people interested in alternative ways of cooking and baking, or connects them to some other new idea, product, or food, and perhaps leads to something more, then I’m pleased to be part of that journey.

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.
~ Omar Khayyam 

Food Philosophy – A Work In Progress

Don and I thought that it would be hard to ditch processed foods, grains, and sugar. It really wasn’t. Not physically. Mentally it was little  challenging at first. Like cliff diving for the first time (which we haven’t actually done but I imagine that first step off the cliff is daunting) or jumping off a platform hundreds of feet in the air and ziplining through a forest (we actually have done this at Whistler and stepping off that platform was always the hardest part.)

Having conquered that initial first step of breaking away from processed foods, we have not wanted for anything in terms of flavor or variety. It is hard for a lot of people to believe and it’s equally hard to explain. People misinterpret that we are on a “diet”. People are starting to notice that Don’s excess weight has been falling off with little to no effort on his part and he’s often asked, “What’s your secret?”

So I’m writing today to tell you – there’s no secret. No meal regimen. No red or blue pill. We stopped counting calories. We stopped buying low-fat or no fat products. (Fat is good people! Carbs and sugar are not.) We eliminated rice, bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, cereal, oatmeal, all condiments with high fructose corn syrup, and a slew of other things. We eat larger portions of meat, bacon and eggs, lots of veggies, fruits, and nuts.

It sounds plain doesn’t it? That’s why I say it’s so hard to explain to people. It’s not plain! There is still so much you can do to dress up your food, to make traditional dishes in a new way (like no noodle lasagna, primal pizza, and mashed squash.)

Courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the amazing results of making this change is that fruit has so much more flavor than it ever did before! We can really taste the sugar and sweetness of fruit (which is ok because the fruit provides its own counter to the sugar – fiber – to allow your body all the nutrients it needs to process the fruit in a positive way.) Before, fruit was something we tried to get a little of every day, based on the traditional food pyramid (2-4 servings) but it held little interest. Now, my goodness, fruit is like dessert. It’s a little piece of heaven and we’re not even indulging in anything truly sweet, like cake, or candy. It’s just fruit.

Let me back up because I wanted to tell a little about how we got here.

In the beginning, we thought we would use up the rest of what we had in the house that was processed and that over time we just would not replace those foods and that in this gradual way we would transition to more whole foods, less sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, etc.

This really wasn’t effective. For us anyway. After a few weeks of half-hearted commitment and trying to juggle smaller amounts of processed foods in our meals (but still eating them) we finally said let’s just get rid of it all. We gave it all away and immediately we felt better for it. We could really focus on making meals with only the things we wanted to be eating and we were ready to spread our wings.

I want to reiterate that we are not dieting.

Our food philosophy has fundamentally changed and we are simply eating differently. Take a look at our food pyramid.

Courtesy of the Primal Blueprint and Mark's Daily Apple

We strive for an 80/20 approach to our food – 80 percent primal, 20 percent traditional. Meaning, there are some things we still enjoy that some people might argue are not “healthy” or not in strict keeping with primal or paleo ideologies.

Um, so? That’s our right to choose. Don’t criticize our choices because you don’t understand or agree with them. Oh, sorry, that was me on my soapbox a little bit.

We do still enjoy a glass of wine or a mixed drink when we want to. We eat out with friends or family from time to time and might take that opportunity to enjoy foods we generally do not eat. We eat cheese and peanuts which for some primal or paleo folks are on their do not eat list. I still LOVE cake more than anything and I will have some for my birthday next week. 🙂  Bottom line, we are not following a prescribed food plan from a weight loss program that tells us what we can and cannot eat. We are making those choices ourselves, based on documentaries, articles, blogs, and other resources that we have studied. And we will continue to learn and our choices might change. It is all a work in progress.

For those that are interested in numbers, Don has lost about 25 pounds; I’ve shed a few extra as well (I didn’t think that was possible at this point.) I am weighing in at about 147 – a number I’ve never seen as an adult. And to top it off, we feel more energetic and fit. Personally I feel stronger than I ever have in my life. This was all possible by simply removing a few things from our meals and replacing them with larger portions of meat and more veggies. We do get a lot of regular exercise too but we don’t go to the gym and punish ourselves for hours on end with relentless cardio activities. Our exercise plan (if you must call it a plan) is simple: get up and move around. As a guideline we follow Mark Sisson’s fitness pyramid, which really isn’t that much different from what we were doing already.

Courtesy of the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple

I will try to include more recipes or posts on what we are eating to help debunk the ideas that it’s too hard, too time-consuming, or just plain old boring. It’s not, I promise you. We don’t feel like we are missing out on anything and our meals are full of spicy kick, flavor, and nutrition.

And, get this, we aren’t hungry anymore! Did you know that carbs and sugar are processed by your body in such a way that it tricks you into feeling hungry when your body truly doesn’t need anything? Check out some of the things that started us on our journey if you’d like to know more. I can’t explain the science (I’ve probably gotten a few things wrong in my descriptions already.) But I can tell you, we feel amazing, we love to eat, and we enjoy the foods we are eating without a sense of loss for the things we are not.

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.
~ Julia Child

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m rattling around the house alone today, not really sure what to do with myself. After a sweat drenched hour or so of turning the compost pile, spraying weed killer in the tiny patch of grass that can’t be mowed with anything but a weed eater, spraying for bugs (spiders) in the “garage”, and blowing out the bug zapper with the air compressor so that it can still function, I’m not very encouraged to go outside. It’s just so damn hot! Don’t get me wrong, I would rather be somewhere hot than cold, but on days like this I want to be at the beach, in the water, on the water, something of that sort.

So, in an effort to entertain myself inside today, I tried a new recipe for Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies that a friend shared with me recently. (Thanks Di!) This recipe is adapted from a recipe, from another recipe, and rather than provide link after link to give credit to the original source, let’s just say these aren’t my own creation. I claim no credit to this recipe, just wanted to share it with others.

Here’s what you’ll need if you like to try these little delights:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsps of almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Mix in the egg. Then add the almond flour, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and almond butter. Once it’s all mixed together well, fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

I’ve recently learned the beauty of working with parchment paper, so I suggest that you line your baking tray with parchment paper, but if you’ve got a baking tray or a silicone mat that works wonders for you then by all means skip the parchment paper.

Scoop even sized portions (yeah, easier said than done) onto your baking surface.

(It’s been a l o n g time since I’ve baked cookies so my spatial understanding of how many I can get on the tray is a little lacking. This batter is also a little less firm than the average batter so there was really no moving it around once it was down on the paper.)

Bake your cookies for about 12 – 15 minutes. I checked mine at 10, just because I get paranoid with new recipes. But in the end, I did bake mine for about 14 minutes so the 12-15 is bang on.

The one additional thing I forgot with my oven is that it bakes faster in the back and we usually turn our dishes halfway through to get even baking. I forgot to do this so I got a few cookies that ended up a little crisper in the back.

They still turned out pretty darn good. I really like the light crispness of these cookies. You can see they are not plump and not very gooey so if you like that sort of thing, these might not be for you. I ate one while it was still warm and I thought it was perfect. Yummy goodness all around.

The recipe made the ten cookies you see here, as well as 13 more balls that I stored for quick cookie treats another day. Thanks to the tip from Mel in her Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies post on chilling your batter to make balls that you can store in the fridge and make on the fly another day. Such a clever girl.

Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.
~ Don Kardong

(I know my post didn’t have anything to do with ice cream, but the quote just really made me smile. And it’s sort of related. It’s a dessert anyway.) 🙂

 

Homemade Trail Mix

Check out the trail mix we made yesterday! Adapted from a recipe on Mark’s Daily Apple.

We added ½ cup shredded coconut and we used less salt because our pumpkin seeds were already salted. We also swapped out the fruit. We used our dehydrator to dry out some strawberries and bananas on Friday so we used those and also added some raisins. YUM!

  • ½ cup each raw walnuts, almonds, and pecans
  • ½ cup each raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Less than ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup dried bananas
  • ¾ cup dried strawberries
  • ½ cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roughly chop nuts and mix with seeds, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Spread on a cookie sheet or rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper. Toast in the oven for 2-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. I stirred every minute for the full five minutes.

Take pan out of the oven and drizzle the honey over the top. Toast for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute again. Remove from oven and mix with your fruit. Let cool. It will be clumpy and sticky and oh so dreamy. A sinfully easy, and healthy treat for in between meals.

And on a different note, my legs are so sore from our walk on Saturday! I am so surprised and pleased to see my body getting a workout when at the time it felt like a simple nature stroll, not a strenuous, butt-kicking hike.