Kale and Bacon

YUM! This is my favorite snack now a days. It’s really filling without being an energy drainer.  It’s also pretty quick to make.  Here is where I found the original recipe.  Check out her helpful pictures! I will have to add some later.  I wanted to eat it, not take pics of it…

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (think medium-sized bowl full), thinly chopped (take out big stems)
3 slices of nitrate-free bacon cut into 1/4 inch pieces
lemon juice to taste
sea salt
ground black pepper

  1. Cook the bacon in a non-stick pan until crisp.
  2. Add in kale (medium heat). Stir for a few minutes until slightly wilted.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over the top, serve in bowl or on a plate.

I bought a bag of kale from Trader Joe’s.  It lasted forever and was pretty cheap.  I think this would also work well as a side dish.

Paleo Cinnamon Bread

Here is where the recipe came from.  You have to scroll down a ways to see it.  I’m reprinting it here to make things easier!

**Important note: The first time my family made this, we used Trader Joe’s Almond Meal. It’s a great price, but if you look at the stuff you can see the skins mixed in with the almond meat (unblanched) and it’s pretty coarsely ground.  The bread came out really heavy and it dried out by the next day.  The next time we made it, I bought almond meal/flour at Whole Foods in the bulk section. Way more expensive, but it was also very finely ground with no obvious skins included.  The bread came out light, soft, and stayed moist for several days. The taste was also better and more balanced! This is a great article on how to buy almond flour.

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour (see note above)

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

5 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your bread pan, with enough sticking out on either side to make “handles” to pull it out
  3. combine almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl
  4. combine eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) until all ingredients are well incorporated
  5. slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, and continue mixing
  6. once everything is well mixed, add raisins and walnuts
  7. pour batter into bread pan
  8. bake for about 40-45 minutes. test with a toothpick in at least two places to make sure it’s clean

Discouragement, Honestly… and always some hope

Ok, so I knew this was going to be hard.

I was wrong. It’s been even harder than I thought.

I knew it would be a huge adjustment to cook basically every meal. (My life before now was an embarrassingly haphazard combination of cereal, canned soups, random fruits and meats, breads, crackers, and drive-through meals.) I knew I would have to learn some more advanced cooking skills.  (I’ve never enjoyed cooking, so I’ve always left the complicated stuff to the professionals.) I also knew I would need to plan and prepare more than I ever have before.

What I didn’t understand was the big picture of putting this all together.

This is not a part-of-my-life change. This is an all-of-my-life change. (This is where all of you say, “Well duh! We already knew that!”) I guess I knew that in theory too. Now I am experiencing it!

Just in case you were wondering, let me describe for you what I and one other family member have been doing the last three weeks:

  • Looking at endless paleo recipes on pinterest and other websites.  Printing and organizing them into a binder, then making a meal chart for the week.  Then, taking all those recipes and writing out every ingredient I need to buy. With the quantities (which I forgot several times, so I had to go back through and find the ingredients again). Then, trying to organize that massive list into something that I can actually use in the grocery store.
  • Visiting three different stores, reading labels and perusing produce carefully and cautiously. Checking my list three and four times. I’m not joking– each two-three hour trip left me feeling slightly dizzy with a massive headache afterwards.
  • Learning all about vegetables that I’ve never eaten before.  For example, I had no idea how to pick a spaghetti squash or a butternut squash. I didn’t even know what they looked like! There are tons of types of sweet potatoes out there. Which ones will my family eat?  Why does this store have only two types of lettuce, and this store has five? Which ones do we like?
  • Reading America’s Test Kitchen’s reviews on all kinds of fancy kitchen equipment that I now need and trying to find the best prices for those items, either online or in stores. I don’t have the luxury to just buy things without paying attention to the price.

At the end of round one or two of this, I realized that making basically 21 recipes every week was just not going to cut it.  (A more astute person would’ve figured that out right away, I’m sure.) The most logical thing was to try the “weekly cook-up method” in the “Well Fed” cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. However, I always make things harder than they are and even this has not been easy. It still requires going to at least two stores.  I have been comparing prices online for some items, like coconut aminos and almond flour, with prices in stores. I’m keeping track of prices in three different stores plus online for eight or more items, and my head hurts.

For the weekly cook-up, you need to have a day for shopping and a part of a day set aside for prep.  However, with my Fibro, I don’t have enough energy to get everything done in two days.  The method starts to fall apart in some ways if you don’t have everything there and ready.  It’s also very experimental.  It’s quick and easy (after the shopping and prep work) and requires you to be willing to try a lot of different mixtures of spices, meats, and vegetables.  My family is still getting used to this idea. Honestly, I’m still getting used to the idea.

Surprisingly, in the three weeks that I’ve been at least 60% paleo, I haven’t missed bread or other grains really. I haven’t had any bread in at least three weeks, maybe longer.  I’ve had rice only a handful of times.   I’m truly and thoroughly convinced that gluten and grains have done me much more harm than good.  I’m happy to leave them behind. I’ve learned that I can feel satisfied and full without them.

What I’m really missing is the convenience.

The convenience of grabbing whatever and eating it.  With Fibro, I already feel exhausted most of the time.  Planning and preparing meals is just one more burden.  The shopping, at least right now, is the biggest burden. My grocery bill has tripled, which is causing some sticker shock.

However, my whole family is determined that this is still what we need to do.  We’re surprisingly and stubbornly positive about the whole thing. We are praying hard and doing our best to love one another and ourselves through this process.

The planning will get easier. We’re already learning how to eyeball the amount of vegetables we need per week (it’s astronomical!!!), and I know how to pick a spaghetti squash now. I know where to buy coconut milk and I will remember to stock up so I don’t have to go back more than once a month.

Finally, we aren’t as hungry as we used to be.  Eventually, I know that all this good food will give me more energy. Eventually, I’m praying that the pain will be more manageable.  Even if eating paleo doesn’t change my pain levels, I know I will still be healthier and happier.  And so will my family, which is even more important.

Organization: Helpful Blogs

As I’m researching how to eat paleo, I keep coming across wonderfully helpful blog posts and sites.  Here is a list of a few that I plan to refer back to regularly:

  • Meatified has some great tips to eat Paleo without breaking your budget.
  • 30 tips from Rubies and Radishes
  • A ton of slowcooker recipes, also from Rubies and Radishes.  Slow cooker recipes can save time and money.
  • Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan’s awesome Paleo Intro has links to her great ideas for prepping a week’s worth of food. Her book and blog are quickly becoming a necessary part of survival!
  • A friend of ours uses this subscription service. They send you an email each week with recipes for 6 meals and a grocery list for a pretty small fee. We are thinking about trying this.

Sweet Potato Apple Hash

We got the outline for this recipe here. (You have to scroll about half way down the page to find it.)

However, our kitchen and our taste buds changed the recipe some.  Here is what we did instead:

3 small organic sweet potatoes, diced small

2 red delicious apples, diced small

1/2 yellow onion, diced small

2 tbsp. bacon grease

1 package bacon without nitrates

1. In a large nonstick pan, cook the bacon and remove it. Remove all but 2 tbsp of the grease.

2. Sautee potatoes and onions until potatoes just begin to soften. (I was surprised that the onions and the potatoes finished at about the same time.) Cut up bacon into bite size pieces after it has cooled.

3. Add the apples, after they have softened add back the bacon pieces. Serve.

I think it would have tasted a lot better if we had followed the recipe. The green apples would have had a better flavor.  The sausage may not have overpowered everything like the bacon did.  However, I’m still not used to such rich foods at breakfast.  Maybe I can adjust… or maybe I can find something that is more to my liking.

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