It is all about the INGREDIENTS!

We are happy to report that we have been busy in the kitchen and have continued purchasing seasonal basket ingredients from Red Hills. This has helped force us to cook with new ingredients, and techniques while trying to use each of the ingredients in different ways.

A recent friends Birthday grill out and beer tasting last month helped us eat through some of our ingredients. We made German potato salad made with roasted baby potatoes, and a salad with local greens and veggies from our Red Hills purchase. We even jazzed up each dish with some hibiscus leaves which had a pleasant citrus like bitterness, and edible flowers!

scallopsWe have also been able to experiment with making some sauces and purees with our meals.  This included a roasted butternut squash, and carrot sauce that complimented seared scallops nicely.  On the side we pureed some turnips for garlic turnip mash served along with kale, mushrooms, and roasted brussel sprouts.

stir-fry

pastaSundays have become our best day to do some meal prep. We prepared a stir fry that was a little heavy with ginger (opps!) which also had garlic, beautiful watermelon radishes, onions, greens, and green onions. Another meal made was some Italian “pasta” served with meatballs which were made using breadcrumbs from our homemade bread. Zucchini noodles were used for pasta, topped with sauce, local mushrooms, onions and roasted peppers.

This wild style of cooking with sometimes random ingredients has helped keep our interest in eating healthy food lately. We want to challenge you with the following cooking assignment, and please let us know what you picked, and what you made. The next time your in the grocery store pick out one ingredient you have never cooked with. Do not be afraid if you cant think of something to make with it immediately just remember you have it and every time you cook that week think to yourself “Will this flavor work with what I am cooking?”. If you are unfamiliar with the taste, taste it and if the answer is yes then and only then try to find out how it will fit. Whether it’s a sauce, vessel, or just diced and put in. Creativity has helped us continue on our diet goals and not succumb to diet food boredom. Get out there and try some new stuff!

Chasing Diets, Chasing Life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilt free Cooking, Dining, Shopping

Happy Friday everyone!

We have a lot of things to cover in this post but we included some pictures to keep you reading 🙂 Overall, since our last post things have been going well.  We have been cooking 5-6 nights a week or eating pre-made leftovers. On off nights we have been dining out responsibly and trying some new ingredients.

imag0883 imag0886We have been on a sourdough making kick since being inspired by watching the series Cooked on Netflix. Matt’s office had a chili cook off event scheduled and he wanted to bring in some rolls to have with the chili. Unfortunately the event was cancelled 2 days prior due to lack of participation. So…we made lemonade out of lemons or rather pizza out of all of the extra sourdough batter. Having delivered pizza in the past Matt has made his fair share of pies.  The pizza we decided to make was topped with house made garlic butter, pesto, mushrooms, bacon, roasted chicken, and goat cheese. It was delicious but we overcooked the crust a bit due to the thinness of it. Next time we will try for either a thicker crust or reduce the cook time.

 

imag0894We have been limiting our portions but still love sampling food and beer which can be challenging in most restaurants due to large portions. Backwoods Crossing has been able to keep date night a part of our weekly tradition by offering our favorite unique dining experience.  “Taste of the Garden” is a hidden gem on their menu.  The chef will create 6 unique dishes featuring ingredients from the restaurants very own garden. We may or may not do this every time we go now because it takes the guess work out of ordering and it is fun to try each dish and discuss it with each other.  We have not been disappointed and are full after sharing and tasting each of the dishes. Since the dishes are composed of ingredients from their garden each meal is unique and seasonal. The chef delivers the meal Himself and gives a detailed explanation of each dish and the ingredients origins. If you’re in Tallahassee you owe it to yourself to try this at least once.

imag0867 imag0868 imag0892

imag0896Yesterday, Matt prepared dinner while Emily was picking up groceries for the weekend and next week.  He made a recipe we have been meaning to try which was the firecracker salmon that we posted on Facebook a while ago.  He used Trader Joes hot sauce and coconut sugar (a 1/2 portion) instead of what was suggested in the video.   It turned out really good and on the side he made stuffed squash with mushrooms and carrots topped with a little cheese.

imag0895Emily has developed a passion for supporting local businesses and farms over the last few years and has been meaning to get back on the bandwagon of ordering from the Red Hills Online Farmers Market.  The online farmers market is very easy to use and they even have an app for your smart phone (android / itunes)  where you can place your order. Orders can be placed between Sunday at 8am and Wednesday at 8am. On Thursday, your order is ready to pick up at a variety of locations of your choosing, or you can have your order delivered to your home.  Emily picked up our order and was pleasantly greeted with RHO bags ready to put in my car.  A gentlemen even assisted in bringing them out to her car.  We would highly recommend supporting them.

Thank you again for following our journey, please let us know if you have any of your own experiences with the recipes or businesses above.

Chasing Diets, Chasing Life!

Fire, Air, Water, Earth….SOURDOUGH BREAD

Hello again, and thank you for following our blog. As you may have noticed posting has not been as regular as we hoped but we plan on scheduling more time for updates! A lot has changed in our diets the last few months and the results have been fantastic. The previous months of changing diets for 30 days at a time was a great experiment and taught us a lot about what works for us, our bodies, and attitudes. We also learned that we are much stronger than we thought and fight off urges easier than we could have ever hoped.

We transitioned from “tasting” beer multiple times a week to having it only on occasion and in smaller quantities. Not only have we reduced our portions in drinking but in our daily diet as we try to be more mindful about how we eat. Since our last check in Emily has lost a total of 28lbs and Matt 40lbs. We are pleased with our progress and we are finally getting excited about cooking again. Great support and encouragement came from our close friend Mariann Grantham D’Arcangelis who is now accepting pre-orders for her book that will be release this fall called Eat Less Get More: Achieve Health Through Mindful Eating.

Part of our lifestyle change has included rolling up our sleeves and getting back into the kitchen. Some inspiration came from watching the series Cooked on Netflix.  Each episode highlights one of the natural elements – Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The Air episode explores bread making and the gap between modern consumer breadbreads and traditional bread making. We were amazed to learn that the only ingredients required to make sourdough bread are water, flour, and salt. Astoundingly consumer breads often have 30 or more ingredients and are more taxing on the body to digest. We have noticed that we do not have bloating after consuming our homemade bread and do not experience the same carb crash.  The bread on the left is our 4th attempt at a rustic sourdough loaf. We have learned something new each time we make it and are continuing to improve. It is doubtful we will ever buy another loaf of bread again because this is such a simple process and the flavor is great. Previously we would have cut bread completely out of our diet but do not feel the need with this wholesome way of making bread.

tomato-soupTo celebrate the cooler weather, for brunch today we made homemade tomato soup using overnight chicken stock that we previously made, tomato sauce, basil, pepper, and some coconut milk to cut out some of the acidity. On the side we toasted some of our bread in the oven with shredded Kerrygold dubliner cheese, and prosciutto.

Tonight we will be using our pressure cooker to prepare beef ribs that have been marinating in the fridge overnight. We will also be roasting potatoes with apple cider vinegar and rosemary.

Thank you for continuing to follow us as we continue chasing diets, and chasing life!

 

Eat Less, Get More: Achieve Health Through Mindful Eating by Mariann Grantham D’Arcangelis

Update 10/18/2016 – Mariann’s book is now available!  Eat Less, Get More: Achieve Health Through Mindful Eating 

Our friend Mariann could not have come to us a better time as we have felt like we have slowly been falling off the healthy bandwagon.  July was the month of Pescatarian diet and we were able to be mindful and cut out red meat significantly, but processed foods kept seeping into our diet and lifestyle because they are easy.  Emily was out of town for 10 days this month and Matt was on his own to fend for himself so the kitchen was not used much.  Had we been mindful, planned ahead, and made better choices maybe this past month would have been different.  But guess what?! – next month is only a couple days a way and it is time for a new diet and a new mindset. Coincidentally our long time friend Mariann is publishing her first book which just so happens to be about mindful eating.

In her book, Mariann begins by explaining the secret to losing weight and getting fit is to be less focused on the future and more mindful.  “Mindfulness basically means devoting your full mental attention to the task at hand, whether that task is self-reflection, doing homework, daydreaming, or making the bed. Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment, and accepting what you feel and think in that moment. We can be mindful; we can also be mindless. And we can eat mindlessly.” We sure could have used this mindset for July however part of this adventure is to have struggles and not to get discouraged when we get off track but rather to document our slips and to learn from them.

Each section of her book is broken out into different topics for each week so that you can implement these ideas slowly and really think about them with the reflection questions she provides.  Some of the tips and guidance that really hit home for us was get to know when you are hungry, eat food that makes you feel good while you are eating and when you are finished eating it, be in the moment, and love yourself.  The world is a busy place and we are all trying to find balance.  She also suggests breathing exercises which help you be in the moment.  Emily has downloaded the app suggested “Calm” and has used it and it has really helped her be more centered and in the moment.

This month we took to heart the section on getting started with a little exercise.  We found an activity that we both enjoy and has been in the news quite a bit – Pokemon Go!  Matt has walked over 25 miles since the release of this new game.  It has given us the opportunity to get out and about.  Mariann explains, “Find some kind of exercise you like at least some part of, and keep doing it. Don’t go jogging “because it’s healthy” if you don’t like anything about jogging. If you dislike eating kale, it doesn’t matter if it’s “healthy”—you aren’t going to be very motivated to eat it. This same logic applies to the exercise you pick. Enforcing some kind of exercise is important, because regular exercise, even after you finish your diet, is going to help you maintain your weight loss.”

Great recipes are also included in this book and we have gotten to try a few.  The chicken a la crockpot is great for a busy week at the office or a slow rainy day at home.  The coconut flax bread is a great bread replacement when you are craving breads.  Theres even a salsa which was delicious and seved on fish tacos.  Even desert gets a showcase in her new book with watermelon ice pops which were light and refreshing on a hot summer day.

The combination of us reading this book and us not feeling so great has resulted in us deciding to do a reboot with the Whole 30 diet for the month of August.  On this diet we will eat, meat, seafood, eggs, tons of veggies, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, nuts, oils and seeds.   We will cut out dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods.

 

Paleo: Day 28 – Getting back in the swing of things and starting a new diet!

This past weekend was a lot of fun.  We had the chance to take a break from cooking, and eat at a few new places both in and out of town.  Friday night we decided to try out the Edison which has great ambiance but was a disappointing experience for the money you spend on the lackluster food.  The drinks were pretty good though. We got to try a smoked margarita and a couple others, but their craft beer list left much to be desired.   For food we got the Southern Board to start with fried Apalachicola oysters, bacon, pimento cheese, pickled veggies, and english muffin bread which was drenched in butter or some kind of oil.  I think the bread and cheese is what made us feel not so good later in the evening.  For entrees we got the Edison Burger which tasted like an average burger  We also had the pasta special for a spurge because it had homemade noodles with a vodka red sauce and chicken. The noodles were weird and had and appeared to be macaroni noodles but spaghetti length.  So least to say the least we were not impressed and will not be returning to the Edison anytime soon.

We left Saturday morning to Panama City for a work sponsored deep sea fishing charter. We made sure to pack water and Paleo friendly snacks for this fishing excursion so we were not tempted with what was offered on board although we planned to splurge some this past weekend.   We packed some apple sauce pouches, homemade jerky, nut, raisins, and plaintain chips.  That was pretty much all we ate during the day until dinner.  Read about our dinner splurges for the weekend on our Chasing Brew post!

So our next diet we have chosen for the month of July is Pescatarian.  We want to see how our bodies do with cutting out meat besides fish and eggs.  We will also try to limit dairy and the processed foods like before.  If we do have dairy we are going to try grassfed.  We may try a little rice with sushi but not much.  Here we go for diet number 2!

Paleo: Day 24 – We gave in to WINGS, PIZZA, DESSERTS but…

We are finally getting back on track since last weekend where we decided to splurge a little but and realized that sometimes after splurges you don’t feel so good.  We are going to keep this in mind for this weekend when we go out of town to Panama City for a deep sea fishing trip hosted by Matt’s Employers.  Last Friday night we gave into Matt’s wing craving by getting baked naked take out wings (plain hot sauce on the side for dipping) from Geos and some baked fries as well.  Emily went to Jason’s Deli and got the salad bar with a friend.  13432148_10208685065077544_3152523053620317696_nSaturday we were in the cooking mood in the morning so we made some really tasty Tom Yum soup with homemade shrimp stock, shrimp, mushrooms, lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, and chilis. This meal however was completely paleo….But THEN we had family in town, and when family comes to town its become a tradition to go to Momos Pizza and enjoy pizza and BEER!

We didn’t feel the greatest Sunday morning so we made a healthy breakfast and began our food prep for Fathers Day.  We made Paleo coleslaw with apple cider vinegar and olive oil, we also made dill potato salad, and smoked chicken thighs.  The Paleo splurges that day were – Trader Joes mac n cheese, tiramisu, fudge cake, and ice cream.  We sent the non Paleo items home with our guests and were “mindful” of our portions ;). We have noticed it took a little bit of time to get our energy back but our sleep has been deep. IMAG0611For dinners this week we had steak fajita night. We cooked up some onions, peppers, and mushrooms and pan seared the steak to medium rare. Then we used our Paleo wraps, added some sour cream (made with coconut cream, lime juice, and salt), hot sauce, salsa, veggies, and steak.  13465985_10208725596130795_7586194429447975765_n

 

Another meal we made was pork marinated in coconut aminos, maple syrup, and spices with sweet potato mash, caramelized apples, and asparagus.   We also got to try out Backwoods Crossing this week and it was delicious and paleo friendly! It was so neat sitting out on the air conditioned front porch and look out into their garden.  We will definitely be back for sure.  This morning we were in a hurry so we didn’t get to make breakfast so we enjoyed Catalina coffee and split their crustless quiche that had asparagus and a little feta.

We are learning as our diet progresses not to completely deny ourselves occasional splurges with family and friends on special occasions. After all this is a lifestyle change for us we want to maintain the rest of our lives.

Chasing diets, chasing life!

Paleo: Day 17 – Wings ! Fries! BEER!!!

We are enjoying our diet, but our moods have been out of whack lately and our patience with each other is thinning.  By out of whack we mean freaking crazy cravings for all things bad like WINGS, FRIES, AND BEER !!!  There have been a lot of ups and downs so we think our body is just taking its time to repair from all our bad eating and drinking in the past.  Sometimes cooking at home feels like a chore, but we are trying to help each other out with the planning and cooking of meals.  IMAG0599 (1)We had some really good meals this week.  We had crockpot rump roast (from Orchard Pond Organics) with mushrooms and onions.  It was nice to come home to dinner already prepared! Also the cajun mahi mahi turned out really good with sauteed squash from Orchard Pond as wellIMAG0598 (1). We plan to make both recipes again.

We are trying not to weight in every morning but it is hard.  We want to see progress but the progress is slow.  It took time to put on the weight so it is going to take time for us to take it off.  Our bodies are working hard and we are trying our best to be patient.

This weekend we have family coming into town so we are splurging a little bit.  We will be sending the non Paleo food home with family for sure.  Saturday we will be going to Momo’s (plan is to get salads and maybe baked mushroom with no cheese) and then Sunday we are firing up the smoker and smoking chicken thighs, pork belly that we have been curing in the fridge with our own spices (no added sugar). For sides we are making potato salad and coleslaw. Store bought splurges will be Trader Joes mac and cheese, desserts, and ice cream (these are mainly for the guests and not us). We will also be sharing some of Emily’s very own cucumber home brew, let’s hope we do not get too off track.

 

 

Paleo: Day 12 – TACO NIGHT!

IMAG0596Who doesn’t like a good taco, nobody that’s who. Unfortunately you can’t have tortillas on Paleo, or can you? Not only did we manage to make tortillas but they were actually some of the best tasting ones we’ve ever had, and 100% Paleo. These were so good we plan on making them even after Paleo instead of using flour or corn tortillas.

Best of all they are easier to make then you may think. As long as you have a food processor you can make these tasty treats. To begin you will need 4 large plantains (2lbs), 3 green and one yellow (ripe). The ripe plantain will add a nice sweetness to the tortillas while the green ones will aid in binding the tortilla together. In a food processor blend the peeled plantains along with 2 eggs, salt, and 4 tablespoons of avocado oil. Once thoroughly blended add small splashes of water while blending to IMAG0593loosen up the mixture a bit. Your goal is to have a smooth batter like paste with no chunks. Once you’re happy with the blend take a large spoon and scoop the mix on to a baking pan with parchment paper (we use an ice cream scooper and silicone baking mats).  You will then want to use the curved end of the scooping utensil to move in circles creating the shape of a tortilla. Make sure to keep them apart from one another or they will merge together while baking.

IMAG0595These bake at 400°F for 10 minutes and then they are flipped once and cooked for another 7-10 minutes to desired texture. Once finished load these delicious tortillas up with your favorite toppings and enjoy. Emily made some “sour cream” out of coconut milk, lime, and salt to go with our tacos. We also used shredded chicken, tomatoes, guacamole, 2 types of salsa, cilantro, and hot sauce.

 

Please comment with any questions about this or any other post.

Chasing Diets, Chasing life.

 

Paleo: Day 9 – One Week Down!

Wow is feels like we have been doing this longer than a week but in a good way. Since we have done the Paleo diet before we think our bodies accepted and adapted much sooner than before.  Emily can tell a difference in her appetite and she often has to remember to eat though to keep her metabolism going.  Foods we are eating are filling us up more and when Matt does eat he feels energetic. For exercise, Matt has to do a half mile walk everyday to and from work and it is getting easier and easier. The gym for Emily is getting easier as well.  We have a long ways to go but things are going well so far. Emily is down around 5lbs and Matt is down 10lbs. We know a lot of this is water weight but it feels good to see the scale drop some.

IMAG0582Breakfasts we have been having eggs with either leftover chili, frozen kale, or avocado and fruit as a side. We do have a ham steak that we picked up at the farmers market that will be a splurge one day this week. We need to figure out some other things to have in the morning besides eggs though to keep things interesting. Last night we started some marinara sauce with olive oil, fresh onions, garlic, tomatoes and basil.  IMAG0583Emily’s coworker whose parents grow organic veggies was kind enough to share her tomato bounty with us which included lots of delicious ripe tomatoes. After the onions were caramelized we added the diced and salted tomatoes and let them stew. Once soft we pureed them with our immersion blender.  (If you do not have one of these handy tools, you should get one!) After we pureed the sauce we added mushrooms and pork sausage that was purchased from Whole Foods.  Once the sausage was cooked we removed the pot from the stove to allow the sauce to cool. Once cooled the pot was placed in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld together for 24 hours.

wp-1458582295618

Tonight we had some good news and wanted to celebrate! We decided to splurge and make NorCal Margaritas.  We also are making our zoodles (zucchini noodles) and had our marinara sauce. They are so easy to make with this julienne peeler which works great. The noodles come out perfect every time.

Snacks have been filling us up when we get peckish at work and we have started using smaller snack bags from Publix.  It is ensures we are doing a smaller portion for things like berries and nuts. We bought a big bag of organic carrots at Costco this weekend so we tried an experiment that failed.  Baby carrots + the dehydrator = chewy nastiness. It is amazing how small they get though. IMAG0581 We were hoping to get carrot chips and actually had the dehydrator going for 48 hours but still no luck.  Oh well.  Experiment 2 happened today with green beans and they were a success (even if EMILY forgot to salt them!).
Tuesday for dinner chopped up leftover pork and apples from the other night, mayo, mustard, prosciutto and pickles for a Cuban wrap on our Paleo coconut tortillas.  They were a huge success which we will definitely make them again in the future if we have spare pork.

Well that is all for now.  Chase diets, Chase life!

 

Paleo: Day 6 – “Amazing strawberry cheesecake!”

…Nothing like hearing that line at Costco and seeing all the free samples as we are suffering from the Paleo Flu!  We have been feeling the changes with our new diet and the sugar cravings are kicking in! We have been irritable, foggy headed, and tired.  However we have also made some delicious meals this week which have satisfied us. We have also tried to stay hydrated with water, and coconut water.  We plan on weighing in once a week so we do not get discouraged and even this may be too often. We are both a couple pounds down. Emily plans on going to the gym two to three times a week and went Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.  Matt has a long walk to work everyday so that is his exercise for now.  We also got some exercise walking around Costco and dodging free samples this weekend.

We have done a lot of cooking this week and have enjoyed the meals and leftovers. Mid week we made chili in the crock pot which was convenient so we could just come home to dinner already made instead of having to cook each night.  Chili and eggs for breakfast this weekend was also a nice treat.  Thursday we prepared chicken legs in our pressure cooker with kale then mixed with a sauce of almond butter, and coconut butter.  IMAG0564Using the chicken leg bones and leftover veggie scraps that we saved in our freezer we made overnight chicken stock for carrot soup that Matt made this weekend.  When we went shopping this week we noticed the chicken stock that is at the store has a lot of added ingredients.  The overnight chicken stock makes a lot so we always freeze some for the next time we need it for a recipe. IMAG0566Friday night Matt made chicken wings with a Thai sauce made with almond butter, coconut milk, lime and spices.  It turned out really good.  We also added some cilantro to top it off and had carrots and celery as a side to dip in the sauce.

Saturday was fun because we got to stock up on fresh local produce, eggs, pork and beef from Orchard Pond Organics and also made our aforementioned Costco trip.  We knew we would feel better about our splurge later at Pints for Paws (read about the event in our other blog if you are interested) if we did some errands and walked around.  IMAG0568IMAG0567 Our fridge, freezer and pantry are stocked with leftovers and meal options for this next week. For lunch before the event, Matt made curry carrot soup and Emily made coleslaw with broccoli slaw and cabbage slaw bags from Trader Joes.  IMAG0569 IMAG0571The coleslaw also had dried bing cherries, ground up macadamia nuts, and some leftover bacon.  For the dressing Emily used avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and coconut aminos.  We wanted to get a good solid meal before being out in the heat and having beer.  Emily used our dehydrator to make some jerky for snacks for the week. The jerky was made with ground beef and we chose to use old bay as the seasoning. After Pints for Paws, we knew we would be hungry so we IMAG0573planned ahead by finding Paleo friendly sushi takeout at Japanica.
We got the Naruto roll made with cucumber on the outside, and your choice of fish with avocado.  We also got seaweed salad.  At home we had the sushi with coconut aminos since we cannot have soy products on this diet.  The seaweed salad may have been prepared with some oil and sugar but we are trying to not be overly strict so we can stick with the diet.

IMAG0575IMAG0578Sunday we tried the video recipe that we first posted on our Facebook page with pork loin and apples.  It turned out a little dry so IMAG0572we will probably not cook it so long next time.  Emily went to Whole Foods because Costco did not carry the Paleo Approved Avocado Oil Mayo and she found it there.  It was $10 at our local Whole Foods and $14 on Amazon. We also found these Paleo Wraps that we had ordered on Amazon before and liked.  IMAG0576The wraps at Whole Foods were $11 for a 7 pack for the regular ones and the turmeric ones.  The Turmeric Paleo Wraps are the same price as Whole Foods so we will probably just order them from there moving forward because we have free 2 day shipping with Amazon Prime. Emily also picked up some pork belly because we plan on seasoning and smoking our own bacon for Fathers Day weekend along with some other meats. It is very hard to find bacon that has no sugar added so we are going to cure our own. Our favorite bacon that we have found in the stores is the end pieces of applewood smoked bacon from Trader Joes so we are going to try to recreate that bacon without the sugar.  Have a great week everyone!  We will have to post more often so there is not so much to share! 🙂