Saturday, December 28, 2013

Caramelized Pork Chops with Onion Jam

I saw this meal idea when someone posted it on Facebook, and I thought the recipe looked super easy but super delicious.  And it is, both of those things.  Now, if you want your onions really good and caramelized, this will take a bit of time, but it's more waiting than working.  You just need some patience! This is a great pork chop recipe and it will likely become a staple in our recipe repertoire.  Here is what I did:

Caramelized Pork Chops with Onion Jam
(serves 2-3)
  • 2-3 pork chops (I used bone-in, but boneless is fine too)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Herbs de Provence
  • olive oil 
  • 1-2 T balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • splash of chicken stock (water is fine, too)
First, get started on the onions.  Slice the onion into thin slices and heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add a bit of olive oil, then toss in the onions.  Move them around a bit and cook them for a few minutes until they start to get translucent.  Season with salt, pepper, and some Herbs de Provence.  Continue to cook, stirring around occasionally, for about 30 minutes until completely caramelized.  Add the end, add the balsamic vinegar and stir it around, then let the onions sit just a few minutes longer.

As those cook, season the pork chops with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning on both sides.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add about 1 T olive oil.  Once it is hot, add the pork chops to the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side, or until browned.  Once they have nice crispy sides, pour a splash of chicken broth (or water) into the pan and cover immediately.  Steam the pork chops for about 5 minutes to cook them through.  It will be very hot and steamy in the pan!  Once cooked, remove them from the pan.

To serve, scoop some of the onions onto each pork chop, and serve with a delicious veggie side.  I roasted some butternut squash to go along with the chops.  The meal was super flavorful and delicious, and we would highly recommend it. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mashed Cauliflower

So I made this the other day, and then for some reason I have now been seeing it EVERYWHERE.  I guess it's the new thing??  Regardless, it is a great healthy alternative to mashed potatoes!  Now I am not going to lie like other people do and say this is JUST like potatoes. It's not.  But, the texture is similar, and the taste is delicious, so I think it is good enough!  It is pretty easy to do and is super healthy and Paleo.  Here is what I did:

Mashed Cauliflower
(serves 2-3)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into florettes
  • 1/4-1/2 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • salt & pepper
  • any other seasoning/toppings- I used green onion
Steam the cauliflower until soft.  I did this in the microwave-safe container with some water for about 5 minutes, but you can also steam it in a pot on the stove.
Once it is soft, drain the water and pour in some chicken stock.  You can keep adding more if you want it more liquid-y.  Use a food processor or blender or immersion blender to blend thoroughly until there are no lumps.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with green onions or anything else you like.

I served these with my Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and it was delicious.  Try it for yourself- maybe you will think it's just like mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Don't we all just love anything bacon-wrapped? The answer is yes, yes we do.  Bacon makes everything better!  I originally saw this idea on Pinterest, but the pin didn't actually have a link, so I had to figure it out myself.  I thought I wanted to do beef tenderloin, but to be honest, I couldn't find any at our commissary, so I opted for pork.  Plus, I love pork tenderloin!  So I finally searched and found this recipe which worked out really well- plus it is Paleo-friendly!  It was fairly easy and definitely delicious- a great "fancy" meal that anyone can do.  Here is what I did:

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
(serves 3-4)
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 t seasoned salt
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1 t black pepper
  • olive oil
Preheat oven to 375.  Combine garlic powder, seasoned salt, basil, oregano, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Rub seasoning all over the pork tenderloin. Wrap pork with bacon all around. If needed, secure with toothpicks (I just wrapped it around).  Coat the whole thing with olive oil.  Place in a 9x13 pan and bake uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pork is cooked through and the bacon is crisp.  Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

I served this with mashed cauliflower and it was delicious!  Try it out for yourself and enjoy!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pregnancy & Paleo (from a non-expert!)

For those of you who don't know me personally, I guess this is my big blogosphere announcement- I am pregnant!  I am now 20 weeks along (halfway through!), and trying my best to eat Paleo-friendly throughout my pregnancy.  As many of you DO know, I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor, or any kind of professional in the food world.  But I do have some experience with this diet, and I wanted to share some tips from what I have learned.  Remember, since I am NO doctor, take this all with a grain of salt.  I am just hoping to pass along my "wisdom" and experience at this stage of my pregnancy.  And of course, since I am only about halfway through, I may have to update along the way- you never know how things will change!  But for now, here are some tips/advice/general things I have experienced while trying to stay Paleo while pregnant:

Stick to your healthy eating habits as much as you can.
Experts can argue that Paleo isn't the healthiest diet for every person, and maybe that is correct.  But for us, it has involved cutting out junk and focusing on meats, eggs, and produce.  Since starting Paleo, we have been eating a LOT more fruit and veggies and replacing items like breads and pastas with produce.  Experts DO recommend that pregnant women eat as much natural/fresh food as possible, and for that reason, I have made the effort to continue Paleo.  Cutting out processed/junk food is never a bad idea in my mind.  This being said, there are some considerations...

Don't kill yourself to stay Paleo ALL the time.
Some of you may know that my husband and I decided a few months back to only do 80/20 Paleo.  For us, this looked like eating Paleo during the week, and then eating whatever we wanted on weekends.  It has been a good method, and I will admit that some weeks we are probably more like 50/50 Paleo.  We haven't killed ourselves or missed out on things we wanted to do because of our diet, and I am happy about that.  If we are on vacation or have special events, we do what we want, and enjoy life!

Now, when you are pregnant, definitely don't stress yourself to stay Paleo.  There will be some nights that you are just too tired to cook, and if your partner doesn't cook, you may have to get takeout.  I won't lie, this has happened a handful of times in the last few months (luckily my husband is great at picking up food!), and even though I may feel bad while indulging in my Five Guys, at the end of the day I am glad to not exhaust myself.  Obviously, this is NOT something you want to do EVERY night, but for the occasional fit of exhaustion, don't kill yourself over it.

Some days, you will also just have MAJOR cravings for non-Paleo foods.  Lucky for me, this hasn't been too extreme, and obviously you don't want to indulge ALL the time, but sometimes, do it.  Every so often I just HAVE to have a handful of crackers, so I do.  I remember one night I got home from a really long day of work, and all I could think was that I needed to eat a grilled cheese sandwich, or I would die.  Literally I felt like I would die without it.  Dramatic, I know, but I let myself have a grilled cheese, and I don't regret it.  Again, I am no professional, but sometimes you need to let yourself just eat what you crave.  Just don't go overboard!

In a related theme, there are also some foods/cravings that will just plain change, which may affect your ability to stay Paleo... so...

Be ready to switch up your go-to foods (and maybe not stay Paleo).
Though I never got any major cravings or food aversions, like I said above, I did have some minor ones, and I did have to switch up my diet a bit.  A couple examples:

-Pre-pregnancy, I would eat an apple and almond butter as part of my lunch every day.  It was my go-to lunch item for sure.  However, early on in my pregnancy, I started to feel revolted at the thought of my both those things.  For some reason I just did not want to even go near an apple.  So much for my standard lunch fare!  I had a little nausea early on (though no sickness- yes, you can hate me), which may have contributed to this, but I cannot really explain it.  Luckily, after a few weeks of that, I am now back to enjoying apples.  I can handle almond butter, but I still do not want it very often (so random, I know).  But at least I am back to eating my nutritious and fibrous apples daily!

-I have definitely been eating dairy.  I know, Paleo diets should not include this, but I feel like my body asks for it (okay maybe that is an excuse for me just wanting it...).  Regardless, I added in a string cheese (yes, I am an adult) to my daily lunches.  Partly because I needed lunch food that I could actually stomach, and partly because I love cheese.  I have also been eating yogurt fairly often, which I feel justified in doing.  I like having dairy because it helps with pro-biotics and is another source of calcium.  I know, I could eat veggies for my calcium, but I really enjoy the taste of dairy, and it has been an easy thing to eat when I find myself starving (which happens often...).  I also started craving salty foods like crazy early on in my pregnancy, and I found that cheese was a great way to indulge those cravings (rather than say, chips).  And I still cannot get enough cheese (even more than I already did in my life!).

-I had to get used to the fact that I started getting fits of starvation.  Right around 12 weeks, I needed to eat ALL the time.  I know I could have prepared better, but sometimes I just needed to eat, and the only food around would be non-Paleo.  Mainly things like trail mix (part Paleo) and crackers that were just ready to eat right away.  You could definitely do better than I did about having Paleo-friendly foods around all the time, but if you don't, just eat something!  Try not to indulge in 5 slices of pizza of course, but if you need to eat something right now, do it.  Regardless of what it is.  Again, not a doctor, but don't feel bad when you need food. The baby is growing so fast!

-Finally, I have switched up my breakfast a little bit too.  I used to eat my bacon-egg "muffins" every morning, but I read somewhere that too much bacon during pregnancy could be too much sodium and bad for the baby, blah blah.  I have no real basis for thinking this is true, but I thought I may try to cut out some bacon just in case.  (Don't get me wrong, I STILL eat bacon every so often).  Anyway, instead of the muffins, I started eating a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, along with a smoothie.  That way, my breakfast stays protein/nutrient-packed, while losing some of the sodium.  Again, this is not scientifically-based, just what I decided to do, based on the internet.  Gotta love the internet!

And finally...

Keep trying out and enjoying new Paleo dinners.
For me, dinner is still the chance to be the most Paleo.  During the week, I have still been trying out new Paleo recipes, and also going back to my old favorites.  (I mean, just check out my blog for recent recipes!).  It has been nice to keep trying out new, delicious foods, and it ensures that the main meal of our day is still meat & veggie-packed, and nutritious.  Though I won't lie, I have been adding little bits of cheese to a lot of our dinners- I just can't get enough of it!

I definitely think that we are maintaining a healthy diet, even with these new changes.  Yes, I have been allowing myself little treats throughout the day (bites of crackers, chocolates, etc), but for our main meals, I have been trying to keep Paleo.

It has been fun to keep trying out new recipes and keep blogging about them, and it is a nice way to enjoy healthy eating during pregnancy.

So there you have it- I think that staying as Paleo as possible (as well as staying very active) has really helped me stay healthy and kept me from gaining very much weight early on.  Though, I guess I should check back in a few weeks from now and see if it keeps up!  I am glad that I am getting so many nutrients from the foods I am eating (in addition to vitamins of course), and I still feel really good and healthy during pregnancy.  Again, take all my advice with a grain of salt because 1. I am not a professional and 2.  Every pregnancy is different.  Hopefully I am able to keep up with my mostly-Paleo diet, and I hope I have inspired you to not kill yourself to be perfect!  There is no problem with eating what you are craving IN MODERATION, but sticking with fresh healthy foods is a great way to help you and your baby.  Enjoy eating and enjoy your pregnancy!