Christmas week: highlights and plans

Christmas week is here! I spent the past two days holiday-partying before everyone heads out of town to spend time with their families. My “festive” holiday sweater got a lot of wear… maybe too much wear. I opted for the unflattering, Fair Isle cotton-blend sweater that was on sale at old navy:

Perhaps the best $20 I’ve ever spent. It was warm, it was comfy and it was festive in a subtle way. Brava, Old Navy! Needless to say, others thought this sweater was awesome, too:

FOT82C4At the second party, which was Elf-themed, we drank some delicious Portuguese Douro red wine and at the end of the night were bequeathed with personalized mixed-drink recipes as a parting gift:

IMG_7510It suffered a little on the way home, hence it’s crumpled appearance. Not sure when I’ll have all the ingredients listed here but it sounds fabulous.

After the party we made a dinner trip to Big Star. We got Cheladas, the queso fundido and *all* the tacos de panza (pork belly) in the place. Mmmmmmm

original_Taco_de_Panza-Edouard_Pierre_resizeOn Sunday, I went a little crazy with the baking. I needed to get rid of a can of pumpkin I had in my pantry and decided why the heck not make a paleo pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie muffins from Elana’s Pantry recipes. After using canned pumpkin against Elana’s recommendation, I ended up with slightly soggier muffins and bread, but they were still delicious. One successful modification I always do to paleo breads from Elana’s website is adding about twice as much salt as she recommends and I think it tremendously enhances the flavor. I cannot recommend her paleo bread enough. I make it literally every week, which is why I require the Costco-sized box of eggs for my baking needs at home at all times.

From Elana’s Pantry

Later, I tried making sweet potato chips using the recipe on PaleOMG, but had varying degrees of success. I seriously need to get a dehydrator, my life would be so much easier! At least I had an opportunity to use my spiralizer, so that was exciting.

Other cool things that I enjoyed this weekend:

1. Finding the softest pajamas at Target

2. Finding out that I can get cans of Thai Kitchen coconut milk at Amazon for cheaper than my local grocery store

3. Finding out that I have a new little niece:

IMG_4351Baby Leia! Cutest little black lab puppy in the world. I can’t wait to meet her when we head to Pittsburgh this week for Christmas. I am beyond stoked.

Cyber Monday Manager’s Special: the new TV

IMG_7438Yesterday we got a TV that’s about as big as I am. Alex was beyond stoked. I was just happy that we finally have a “Netflix” button on the remote control, instead of having to turn on the X-Box every time I wanted to watch Gilmore Girls. I really have simple wishes.

After a delicious dinner of Italian Bell Peppers (from Practical Paleo; if you haven’t gotten the book already, you might want to consider your life choices), we unwrapped the beast:

IMG_7442(yes, I am working on a jigsaw puzzle at the moment and I am the biggest nerd that ever lived) It looks a lot bigger in person. And we’re hoping to get a sound bar and ditch those dumpy old speakers.

I then proceeded to savor my delicious dessert consisting of organic dark chocolate with almonds from Trader Joe’s and organic blueberries, the best combo:

IMG_7441I’m telling you guys, organic berries taste about A MILLION times better than not organic berries. They’re like a dollar or two more but sooooo worth it. Trust me on this.

I’ll review my other Cyber Monday picks as they arrive in the mail, hopefully a Friday roundup will be up this week. Can’t wait to see if all these sale items are what they’re hyped up to be!

Flash sale: The Primal Blueprint and Paleo Girl are just a dollar!

I’m sort of going to play the town crier role here today, but just wanted to write a quick post letting you all  know that today The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and Paleo Girl by Leslie Klenke (the teen version, in a sense) are on sale on Amazon today at 99 cents each for the Kindle version! How awesome is that? If you’re curious about paleo or primal eating, this is a great way to get started. I’ve linked the pictures below to the Amazon page for quick access. Hooray for deals!

P.S. If you do get Paleo Girl, try the Better Than Oatmeal recipe for a great breakfast staple. Happy paleoing.

Kelp Noodles and Kombucha

I’m feeling a bit exotic this week…in terms of my food choices, that is.

On Tuesday I made myself a kelp noodle stir fry for lunch.

I used the recipe in the back of the bag!
I used the recipe in the back of the bag!

They were actually pretty good! A bit crunchy, but very tasty. At 12 calories per bag, 4 grams of fiber and pleasant taste, I think these are a winner! Just scramble them up with some sauteed veggies and broth and you are good to go.

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I threw in a bit of Raspberry Chia Kombucha for good measure:

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This drink is a powerhouse in terms of nutrition:

IMG_7363And it’s all thanks to those wonderful little chia seeds. It’s probiotic, of course, so it has excellent digestive benefits. This is good if you’re lactose intolerant and can’t get these probiotic benefits from yogurt or kefir, and you are wary of fermented veggies (like me). I must say, while kombucha is rather tasty, I do feel a little woozy after I drink it. I was feeling a  bit concerned about this, so I went over to the Synergy website and alas, it turns out their kombucha actually has a measurable amount of alcohol.

Woops.

I am, all in all, trying to keep healthy in light of this weekend being our first Friendsgiving! I’m very excited. Any activity that involves pies and friends is just swell in my book. As I mentioned before, we are doing Thanksgiving in Arizona, so we won’t have an opportunity to really prepare a turkey ourselves that day. That’s why this year Friendsgiving is where we will really go all out in our culinary experimentation. It will be a Christmas test run, for sure.

Apologies for today’s short post, but the days have been shorter with all the holiday prep and business a work.

There’s always enough time for a good throwback Thursday memory:

Who didn’t love this game?? I’m bringing it to Thanksgiving, for sure.

Until next time.

Scenes from Paradise

This is seriously one of the suckiest things about having an adult job: I have to come in to work on Veteran’s Day. Womp Womp. No better way to honor those who served our country than to champion that puritanical work ethic that keeps our ‘Merica great.

America.

I celebrated this morning by making myself a variation on the Swirly Quiche from Practical Paleo and created a patriotic frittata, which consisted of two eggs, rosemary, sun dried tomatoes, shredded zuchhini, salt and pepper. I cooked it on a frying pan for about a minute (buttered up of course) before transferring the pan to the broiler for about another minute, and voila:

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I paired it with some Simply Balanced Spinach and Garlic Chicken Sausage from Target. Check out the simplicity of these ingredients. I’m impressed… who said rampant capitalism would lead to a deterioration in the quality of our consumables?

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I was basically trying my darndest to make this morning a little more special since it is a holiday after all, and it is like beyond super gloomy here in Chicago. So for today I decided to share some scenes from our honeymoon in Punta Cana where we went this past September. We stayed at Secrets Royal Beach in a beautiful ocean front suite

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View from our cabana by the beach.
View from our cabana by the beach.
Hello ocean.
Hello ocean.
HOLA!
HOLA!

The best part: all inclusive. We just sipped mojitos by the beach for a week straight. It was fantastic. Highly recommend.

Day 4 of Paleo and ACV (<—what is that??)

There’s nothing more awesome than throwbacks… I was going to hold on to that last video for Throwback Thursday, but it’s not really a throwback to my era. That would be more along the lines of this:

Oh, dELiA*s.

Or, really, this:

Sh*t you guys, I’ve never had straight friends before!

But let’s get back to business! Today marks Day 4 of my Paleo pursuit. I must say, I already feel less bloated and generally my digestion is agreeing with me. Which is probably why I was able to resist that hump day glass of wine I was scheming to have, telling myself, hey! red wine is Paleo! Well, sure, but, let’s be real, I don’t think that’s really the point of a detox.

This morning was Pesto Eggs with Cilantro-cauli Rice:

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The pesto was easy- just throw in the macadamia nuts and olive oil in equal parts (about half a cup) with a bunch of cilantro in the food processor, a clove of garlic (salt and pepper to taste) and blend away!

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Then you just add about a tablespoon or so to your scrambled eggs while they cook. I am fortunate that I get my eggs from an awesome local farm (the Moore Farm) and they are beyond delicious. I can’t tell you what a difference getting fresh eggs makes. I’ve met Diann Moore and visited the farm- I even saw the little gals that lay my eggs!

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I feel like such a muppie saying stuff like “farm to table” and “clean eating” sometimes, because, let’s face it, it’s a total privilege to get to do stuff like get meats from your local farm, while still living in an awesome foodie metropolis like Chicago. I’m just countin’ my blessings…

Speaking of health-obsessed, quasi-orthorexic trends, I had a little request to talk about ACV. What is that lingo you may ask? (I don’t know if it’s a thing, but that’s what my friend Val called it, and Google agrees). I’m referring to Apple Cider Vinegar- the dieter’s dream. I’ve seen tons upon tons of diets incorporate this stuff into their guidelines- from Tone It Up (which I will probably do a post on later) to Jillian Michaels to, of course, Paleo and Primal.

People (by which I mean Cross-fitters) do things like, take shots of this stuff in the morning. While it’s very possible it will give you a little wake up call (this stuff is, well, it’s vinegar people), there are apparently some scientific findings that it does lots of good things, like have an anti-glycemic effect by blocking some of the digestion of starch, preventing a spike in your blood sugar. Don’t believe me? Just ask WebMD. They recommend unfiltered ACV, since it has a “blob” they call the “mother” and it’s full of probiotics. Sounds sketchy to me. I’ll stick to:

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Kombucha!

But seriously, use that ACV as a salad dressing or in cooking, and it sounds like it will help mitigate damages from a carb bomb. Tubular! Nothing worse than a sugar crash and subsequent cravings for, well, more carbs.

Alright, time to head to work once more. Countdown for the weekend…

Squats and Squeaky Clean eating

I woke up today with a strange sore feeling in my right hip flexor. I think it might be from the squats challenge we’re doing at work… sometimes I get a little too competitive. It’s in my nature, and it also doesn’t help that I’m fitness, well, not obsessed, I’d say I used to be, but now fitness inclined might be the right word. Luckily I popped two Advil, moved around, got my morning coffee in and dove right into my morning.

I started off with some leftover Swirly Quiche from Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo book, which I just started following yesterday. I’m doing her “Squeaky Clean Paleo” 30 day plan, or at least trying. I went down a similar road before, trying to do Paleo, but I don’t think I was mentally ready for it. Sometimes you have to fail at something a few times before you’re in the right place to start fresh and determined. I’ll make whole post on the journey once it has come to an end…hopefully 30 days from now. I must say, though, I don’t feel deprived or hungry on the plan so far. Grains can be a bit overrated.

I got the Kindle edition

I guess a deviated a little from the plan in that I put some half and half in my coffee, but it’s not just any half and half!

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It’s non-homogenized, local, organic, etc. I feel that gives me a little bit of wiggle room. Eataly impulse buys really can pay off!

Skye is a little restless this morning, so I’m going to take her to her favorite little spot, the Pooch Hotel. She really gets tired out there, which is great since she gets to play with all her buddies and get out all her puppy energy. And off to work I go!