Saturday, July 26, 2014

Paleo-Abiding Chocolate Chip Cookies??... Yes, Please!

I enjoy cooking.
Notsomuch with the baking though.

With cooking, you can throw things together, mix it up however you want... play with your food, as it were.

Baking is much more particular. Everything has to be measured out just right. Precise temperature. Precise time. Stars have to be aligned just right.

Mom, on the other hand, is much more comfortable staying within certain parameters. Being told exactly what steps to take.

So, she's been great about trying new Paleo baked goods over these past few months and letting me sample them.

So far, my favorite is the Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies that she found at SO yummy and the recipe makes a bunch of them! And all totally Paleo! Yay!

I might even break down and make a batch or two of these myself!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tossed Together

I found myself with some leftover spinach (from my sauteed version I now like to top my salmon off with) and leftover hamburger this week, so decided to build upon my yummy lunch at Terry O'Chele's and just throw the meat into my spinach and toss it together with a little bit of olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Granted, it looks a bit bland here, but hey, I only have about 30 min's at home for lunch, I only had a few things on hand and I was desperate just to dress up the hamburger a bit... (and use up my spinach before going bad.) But, it had true potential.

So, a few days later, I had some leftover chicken and tried to improve upon it some.

Definitely better. (Changed up the cheese to Swiss and threw some bacon in there, too.) But, still a little lacking. (Inspired as I was, I wasn't inspired enough to go get more stuff at the store to go on it.)

So, this weekend, when I headed to the grocery store, I actually picked up some veggies to further enhance my new concoction. 

Hard to tell from the picture, but I diced up some fresh tomato, avacado, red onion and banana peppers. And mom has been making a good vinaigrette lately that has honey in it, so I tried that version for my dressing and stuck with the Swiss cheese this time. 

.... Yummy! It's definitely come a long way in one week! It should be dang near perfected by the end of summer!  :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Support Local Business!

I've read where several sources have indicated that smaller, local businesses make it easier to stay on a more tailored diet. They tend to prepare food on site as opposed to the larger chains that have so much pre-prepared food. And generally more accommodating and understanding.

And I'm finding this to be true. 

But, some even go above and beyond.  :)

There's a sweet little place just up the street from work that several of us have really come to appreciate and enjoy for the past year or so of them being there. 

It's called Terry O'Cheles and they are always sooo nice in there... And have pretty yummy food, too! 

My favorite was once their best selling Bacon Lettuce and (Fried Green) Tomato on flat bread with an order of zucchini pasta. Yum. 

Unfortunately, the zucchini is about the only thing left that's actually 'legal' for me now. Boo.

But, I joined a couple of friends there for lunch a few weeks ago and I was able to get the burger (sans bun) and it was really pretty tasty! Served on a bed of greens and simply topped with veggies (tomato, peppers, avacado, onions, pickles). So tasty that I went home and (somewhat) replicated it that night! 

The fact that they'd prepared theirs in the design of a smiley face only served as sweet encouragement.  :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

As Seen on TV...

I've been wanting to try the whole Zucchini 'Pasta' thing.
So, when Mom saw the Veggetti at the store, she thought of me. And she gave it to me as a token for watching over the house, pool and yard while they were out of town a couple weeks ago. 

I'll admit, I've actually been a little intimidated by it, but decided I would give it a whirl this week. I bought a bunch of zucchini last night and finally opened the Veggetti up tonight. I found a little inspiration from for a Pesto Zucchini 'Pasta'. 

I thought just a plain pesto would need a bit more jazzing up, so roasted some cherry tomatoes... and it worked! Made the pesto I had done for the Spaghetti Squash a while back, stirred it in with the zucchini 'pasta' and sauteed that, just to warm it through and soften it up a bit. Then tossed in the tomatoes. (Topped it off with my old favorite 'Six Cheese Blend', though I don't plan on buying anymore of that. I just had a little bit left from my 'old culinary life'.)

It was pretty good! Very light and refreshing and what little bit is left will be good with some chicken tomorrow night. I think next time, I might throw it in the oven, because I'd still prefer a more tender 'pasta', but will definitely be revisiting this one!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Swimming Upstream... With Wild Salmon

I've never been a huge fan of fish; however, I do enjoy a good salmon every now and again. Which is lucky for me, since salmon is chock full of good stuff, namely Omega 3's. But, I have learned that you do want the wild variety, as opposed to the farm-raised. The wild is not only good for you, but the farm-raised can actually be bad for you. Where the wild has the Omega 3's, the farmed has Omega 6's. Not the same thing. ...or so I read.

Good enough.

So, I've been on a hunt for wild salmon. Had trouble finding it in my local Publix (aside from the kind in the bag in the freezer section) but did find it in Kroger. So, I've been on a kick lately with my new find.

First, I just grilled some and served it up with some sweet potato fries (fried in coconut oil - smelled overwhelmingly coconutty, but really wasn't too overpowering in the taste and crisped up nicely).

Then, I stumbled upon a picture of Crystal Evans Hurst's sautéed spinach and thought that sounded good, so gave it a try. Oh. My. Goodness. SO good! Since then, I've been on a sauteed spinach kick, too.

I just brown some fresh garlic up in olive oil. Once that gets good and browned, I throw in a handful of spinach (it reduces down to nothing in no time at all!) Then, right before it's about ready to come off and be plated up, I squeeze a shot of fresh lemon juice over it. SO good! Rich and yet refreshing. And balances out the salmon quite nicely. 

And all of it SOO good for the body! Win, win!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spaghetti Squash - God's Answer to Pasta-free Living

Okay. I'll be honest. I've seen them in the produce department at my local grocery stores for years. But, they always just appeared to be more of a Fall decor item than a potential dinner item.

I'm talking about the Spaghetti Squash.

And I had never given it a moment's thought - its name or its culinary potential... until I had to go pasta-free. And I came across this pesto version on Pinterest, so finally relented and gave it a second look and a serious try.

And although it was rather a task to cut into the darned thing, I will say I was more enamored with what it beheld inside than anything. It is seriously just like spaghetti noodles... all up one side and down the other. It was amazing! I still can't get over it. It's just one of those things you can't really picture in your mind until you actually see it for yourself. But, sure enough... you scrape the cooked squash down from the sides and it is every bit as much like spaghetti as anything you'd ever seen. Amazing.

And not hard to cook at all. 
Once you get past the cutting in half, you just scrape out the seedy innards and add some good ol' olive oil to either side of it, place them in a pan and bake. (I wasn't sure whether to cook them open-side up or down, so did one of each and it seemed to me that the one that was faced down held the moisture in it better.) Mine was still a bit crispy when I ate it, so not sure if that's how it always is or if I could've cooked it longer, but with some pesto thrown into it and served alongside some chicken with tomatoes... Mmm Mmm Good. I even made the pesto myself, too! So, it was very fresh and beautifully bright green from all that good basil! I just left out the pine nuts, because I didn't feel like I should add those back in quite yet.

But, I recommend trying this amazing often overlooked item in your local produce department! It really might surprise you!  :)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Lots of Catching up to Do!

Wow. Another six weeks, almost, since my last post.
Actually seems longer than that.

So glad to be able to say that I have been doing really well during this time. Much better than April and May.

The best part though is that I was able to make my trip to Boston! Three weeks ago now. (sighhh...) 
And it was SUCH a great time! Just as awesome as I had remembered it. We were blessed with beautiful weather... again. It was so good to have more time to spend there this time around. And we walked. And walked. And walked. And I didn't have to keep my sights set on public restrooms at all times. Yay! I was actually able to relax and take in all the rest of the sights!

I did manage to eat pretty well while there (wasn't sure what would be available for me to choose from while away from home - and my own kitchen - for 4 days). However, when we ended up staying at the Omni Parker House Hotel - home of the Boston Creme Pie - and they brought us each one up to our room upon arrival.... Well, I was strong and picked off the fresh berries that garnished the plate... at first. But, a while later, I caved. I thought "If I can't even try the original Boston Creme Pie at the Omni Parker House in Boston... well, then, why bother?" So, took some preemptive Prednisone and ate every last bite. And it was good.

But, I did try to be wise in any subsequent dining selections. 

The first evening there, we hit the Beantown Pub and I was able to get some delicious marinated steak tips and carrots. (Wish I'd gotten a pic of the carrots - those things were HUGE!) And I believe I had a salad in place of any carbs they offered. But, it was all very yummy.

That night, we found what's got to be the best little pub in town... the Hub Pub. It was great. We knew we'd found a good place when we were serenaded by the bouncer into the place, a Journey classic hit. {haha} Alcohol, in general, is a big no-no with Colitis, but again, I thought "Why even bother if you can't enjoy a little splurge now and again?" And I had taken the Prednisone. So, I ordered the driest white wine they had. And we had such a good time there. Everyone was so friendly. We (unknowingly) happened to come into town during their big Pride Week and the guy next to me was actually gay, but said "I'm gay, but I'm not proud. I tried to shut the whole thing down, but..." {haha} He was originally from upstate New York. The bartender was kind, too. When he heard that I had to watch what I intake, he even guessed "You have Crohn's?" I told him, "Close... Colitis." "Oh, that's the one where you can't have nuts and seeds." "No - That's diverticulitis." "Oh, yeah." {hahaha} So, he brought me water after that.  :)  Then, of course, the ever-entertaining bouncer periodically serenaded throughout the night. And everyone joined in on the classics. I had to laugh when a Bon Jovi song came on and only a few belted out that one and a guy behind us said "Wha? Am I the only guy from Jersey in here?!" {haha} It was great. Just so delightfully 'local'. We loved it.

Next day, upon the recommendation of our new friends, we had brunch at the Granary, over on Milk Street. I did good getting the eggs, but they came with homestyle potatoes that I just had to try. They were delicious, but I was careful not to overdo it and left more on the plate than I really wanted to. We also splurged and had sangrias. (We were sitting on the patio on a 75 degree morning - it just felt right.) Didn't finish the sangria though. Drank my probiotic grape juice and then carried the leftover sangria around with me the rest of the day, sipping on it.  :)

That evening, we had dinner at the Chart House, outside by the harbor. Again, beautiful weather and good food - I had a salmon with steamed broccoli. Service and 'work atmosphere' could've been a lot better, but aside from that, it was enjoyable.

The next morning, our very gracious hotel Manager suggested our hitting the Paramount for brunch. So, we did. It was in a section of town that we just love and the people there were so great. Had a yummy western omelette with bacon. And again, had brought along my probiotic-laced grape juice. (I was glad to have a Walgreens right around the corner from our hotel - where I was able to get my Welch's original to drink on those couple of days.) 

Meandered over to Charlestown (an area we had not made it to before) and then back down to the harbor-side to have one last late lunch at Joe's American grill before heading out. Another patio dining on yet another gorgeous day. I ordered their chicken sandwich, with no bun and sweet potato fries. (No mayo either, which is huge for me. But, the homemade pickles helped.) The fries were delicious and I just loved how they presented my bun-less sandwich.  :)

SO much more I could share about Boston!!! I love it every bit as much as the times I'd been before! Probably even more! But, these were the food highlights of the trip. And though I'm sure that my jumping back on some Prednisone had to have granted me an extra measure of grace, I can't help but believe that my eating better has allowed them to work all the more for me.

At any rate, I am SOOO grateful that it was a good trip. That my body held up. That I could walk endlessly (though not 100% painlessly - my feet took a beating!) for 3 days straight without having to worry about bathroom availability. That the weather couldn't have been any more amazingly beautiful. That I was able to enjoy some great food with a friend who has the same affinity for that city. And we met some of the nicest people Boston has to offer. 

So grateful.

Already looking forward to going back...