Monday, April 27, 2015

Challenges in Creativity #4 - Mojito Shrimp Salad

Since starting this elimination diet I've been trying to increase the variety of proteins I eat.  Some of this is by necessity since I'm currently not allowed salmon or tuna.  Apparently I was eating too much of those.  To replace these two fish I've been eating more shrimp, sardines, kippered herring, and will soon be trying canned mackerel.  I've also bought ground bison the past couple weeks to sub-in for ground turkey or beef.  Ryan doesn't love fish as much as I do, so canned versions of sea food work well.  I can buy it when it's on sale, and eat it when I don't feel like cooking for one.

Even though I'm focusing on healing my gut and balancing hormones, I have allowed myself about 1 alcoholic drink on the weekend.  Not that this is actually cutting back that much from what it was, but instead of 1-3 glasses of wine now it's 0-1 cocktails.  Last weekend Ryan and I invited his brother and girlfriend over to play Settlers of Catan, eat horderves, and drink a few drinks.  So that I could partake Ryan whipped up some delicious Mojitos; outrageous settlement and city building ensued.

Not knowing how much lime juice or mint we would need, we were left with about 1/3 a bottle of lime juice and 1 package of mint.  Neither of which I wanted to go bad, since I hate wasting food.  Naturally I made a salad dressing out of them.  In my last post I wrote about how it's been difficult making a really tasty dressing without vinegar or mustard.  Well this dressing is even better than my Suja juice dressing.Wild planet makes canned shrimp, like the tiny kind you find on salad bars, that is very affordable.  Living in Minnesota means that any fish/sea food not found in a lake, and even the lake fish can be astronomically expensive.  Anytime I see canned fish on sale, I stock up.  For a quick and portable lunch that used up a few leftovers, I threw together spinach, baby kale, and a yellow bell pepper.  At work I topped my salad with 1/2 an avocado, 1 can of shrimp + 4 bigger shrimp I had left in the freezer, and my mojito dressing.  The sweet, tangy, minty-ness paired perfectly with the shrimp and avocado.  I didn't really measure my ingredients when I made the dressing, but here's my best guestimate:

 It's super delicious, refreshing, and just a tad sweet; but what kind of meat to serve it with?  SHRIMP!

Mojito Dressing
1/3 cup Lime juice
2/3 cup avocado, grape-seed, MCT, or lite olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1.5 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a bottle and shake it up until the honey is dissolved.  Or combine ingredients in a blender and blend till combined.

If you are allergic to shell fish, I think tuna, salmon or just about any other fish would be delicious on this salad.  Of course, if you don't like anything that swims, chicken or pork would work too.

Now back to those shrimp.  I'm not going to get too technical or political, but please buy wild caught shrimp.  Shrimp and seafood from Asia are typically farm raised.  Meaning the little crustaceans are raised in a cesspool of their own fecal matter, they are fed food that is not actually their normal diet, most of the ponds are contaminated with other toxic materials.  Also, many of the "farmers" raising these critters are being held in forced labor camps which are basically forms of modern day slavery.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Challenges in Creativity #3 - sauces and dressings

Imagine having to make a salad, but you cant use olive oil, vinegar, butter milk, or egg yolks.  And being the wise person that you are, you refuse to use canola oil or soybean oil.  Hmmmm.... what are you going to dress your salad with?  Sure lemon or lime juice work, but it's not quite the same.

Since starting my 8-12 week elimination diet to help heal my gut and reset my hormones I've cut out among other things: all cows milk dairy (except ghee), olives, anything fermented including vinegar, eggs, sunflower seeds,  sesame seeds, almonds, garlic, coconut, and ginger. The biggest challenges I've had in the past month have been figuring out what to dress my salads with and what kind of sauces to put on my meats.

I picked up a bottle of Walnut oil and Avocado oil at Whole Foods just to begin experimenting with.  I actually like the Avocado oil better since it has a very neutral flavor.  After using up the avocado oil I caved in and bought a bottle of grape seed oil because it's about 1/2 the price of avocado oil.  I don't love grape seed oil and never recommend it to clients because it's high in omega 6 fatty acids which oxidize very easily.  I have no plan to cook with it, but figure using it a couple times a week as a dressing it's not going to cause me any real damage.  About the time I was checking out and giving up on my quest to find something besides lemon juice to add pizzaz to my salads I spied the chilled beverage section at the end of the refrigerator aisle. After looking through about 15 flavors I finally found one without apple juice. (No apples either).  This Suja detox juice beverage is just what I needed.  The combination of strawberries, raspberries, tart cherries, and pinch of cayenne has really helped jazz up my otherwise very boring and dry salads.  I have a small glass bottle I mix the juice and oil in and then tote it to and from work.  Mmmmm... Delicious.

Next, while my parents were visitng the other weekend we grilled chicken thighs which are delicious on their own, but are definitely better with a little BBQ sauce.  I found a recipe for tart cherry sauce in Mark Bittman's 'How to Cook Everything' iphone app and decided to simply replace the tart cherries with frozen cranberries which we've had in our freezer since last November.  Dad really enjoyed it, Ryan was more partial to his BBQ sauce.  For me, it was nice to have something other than just meat with a vegetable and no sauce.

Tart and Spicy Cranberry Sauce.
1. Sautee 1 diced shallot and 1-2 diced jalapenos in a medium saucepan in 1 Tbs of ghee or red palm oil for 3-5 minutes.

2. Dump in 2 cups Frozen cranberries, 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, 2-4 Tbs brown sugar depending upon how tart you like your sauce, the juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Stir everything together and simmer covered for 20-30 minutes until the cranberries have broken down and the sauce is thickened.  

4. Serve warm or room temp with chicken or pork.

Serves 8-10 depending upon how much sauce people eat with their meats.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Challenges in Creativity #2 - Lamb Hash

It's typical for Ryan and I to spend holidays going between his dad's for brunch and his mom's for supper.  In the past we have done egg bakes and waffles for brunch, but with me not eating eggs right now, that breakfast is out the window.  Now that we have our own kitchen, Ryan and I thought it would be a great idea to host Easter Brunch at our house.  To cut down on stress and prep-time we asked our family members to help pitch in and bring a dish.  Ryan's youngest brother and girlfriend brought a delicious salad of baby greens, goat cheese, strawberries, and chopped pecans; paired with the Bolthouse Farms classic balsamic vinaigrette.  Reggie was in charge of the egg bake which Ryan said was really tasty and contained asparagus, kale, and bacon.

Ryan made "special" bacon from the Primal Cravings cookbook.  Some slices were spiced with Penzeys Northwoods Fire seasoning and others with maple and brown sugar.  The first batch of maple bacon was so sweet it was like candy.  A lot of the "syrup" ended up on the pan, and the second batch of bacon that baked in it, came out perfect.  Just the right amount of sweet.

I wasn't about to only eat bacon and salad for brunch, so I thought about making a wild rice casserole, but didn't want to put that much work into it.  Then I got the bright idea to make a hash!  Instead of beef or pork, my hash was made with ground lamb.  It was Easter, and lamb just made sense.  All the recipes I found online for lamb hash included apples which are a no-no for me right now.  Pears seemed like an easy apple substitute, and they were.  A sauce of some an egg yolk (another no-no) would have been really nice; perfect actually, but the final result was enjoyed by everyone.

Lamb Hash
24-32oz ground lamb
3 ripe pears chopped into 1/2" pieces
4-5 small purple potatoes chopped into 1/2" pieces
Butter, Ghee, Lard, Coconut oil.... whatever fat you use
Nutmeg (use sparingly-don't go crazy)

Preheat oven to 350*
1. Brown the lamb in a large skillet, season with all the herbs/spices remove and drain off any grease.
2. In the same skillet melt 1-2Tbs of fat and begin browning the potatoes for 5 minutes.  Season with the herbs/spices.
3. Stir in the pears, (also seasoned) and place in your oven for 15 minutes.
4. Remove skillet from the oven and stir in the cooked ground lamb, to re-warm it.

Serves 6-8

There was just enough leftover for me to enjoy some this morning after my workout along with a little arugula salad topped with walnut oil.
Mmmm.... Leftovers!