Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where Have I Been? Part 1: Hospital Bedrest with Twins

This post was written in June of 2013- about 10 months ago!  I will be posting parts two and three over the next few days. XoXo, GFG

So, I've been gone for a good long while.  I know I know, since February ('13!!).  Things got pretty weird in 2013, not going to lie.  What happened you ask?  Well, long story short I guess, I got pregnant with twins and had tons of food aversions, so much so that the very idea of even reading a food blog, let alone cooking, made me queasy.  Just a handful of foods have been palatable to me for the last 6 months.  I was also a nervous wreck (surprised? haha) and just too jittery and on edge to focus on much.  Cut to 22 weeks or so when I started having cervical issues and started home bed rest, then 23 weeks and an emergency cerclage, and finally here I am at 25 weeks, in the hospital where I've been for two weeks and will remain for probably the duration of my pregnancy.  It has been a bumpy ride so far, to say the least.  Nothing we can't handle, and luckily I have a sweet husband, a helpful mother-in-law, darling little girl, and an incredibly generous and thoughtful mom who will be traveling back and forth from Chicago to KC, to thank for keeping me somewhat sane.

Hospital bedrest is no joke.  I have the utmost respect for women that have to do it for their whole pregnancies.  Whatever preconceived notions you may have about it, don't.  It's not only hard on you, but your whole family, household, your friends, co-workers, everyone.  Simple things like getting yourself something to eat, going downstairs to throw in a load of laundry, putting your child to bed, these things are just gone.  Everytime you get up to pee you wonder if you're putting yourself in jeopardy.  Maybe your little one at home is too young to understand, and has nightmares and develops separation anxiety.  Maybe your family can't visit often, and you spend most of your time alone, except for the staff.

If you're lucky, you are strong and can tell yourself this is only temporary, and for what better cause?You remind yourself that you won't even remember it when it's over, and will soon be something you can barely even recall with any clarity.  You'll emerge stronger and more resilient and more adaptive and, much, much more empathetic to others.  I know I'll be grateful for this someday.

What I won't be grateful for are some of the ridiculous things people think it is actually ok to do. "Some people would kill to be on bedrest!" is a nice little gem I've gotten oh so fond of hearing.  Oh really? You'd kill to be confined to a bed your whole pregnancy?  You wouldn't rather be enjoying it, preparing yourself and your family and household for what's ahead?  Enjoying what it's like to have a small, insular three-person familial unit.  You'd kill to miss months of work, family vacations, holidays, and your five year wedding anniversary because you were recovering from a terrifying surgery and then mandatory bedrest?

How are you feeling everyone says.  Get better soon!  I'm not sick.  I'm pregnant.  I feel pregnant.  I feel pregnant and sad that I can't enjoy it.  My daughter will be three in September and I am missing three whole months of her little life.  She flits in and out of my hospital room, chattering on and on about things I have no concept of, because I haven't been around enough to know what she's talking about.  How do you respond when someone says how are you feeling?  I can't say what I want to say, which is, I feel lonely.  I feel sad.  I feel hopeless.  I feel like no one understands.  Maybe these things aren't true, but I can still feel them, even if I know deep down these feelings are just me having a pity party.  Instead I have to fake it, and say, good, great, fine, because I don't want to upset anyone, make anyone feel bad or pity me, and I don't want people to think I'm ungrateful.  I appreciate the sentiment, it's better than nothing.  Get better soon! they say.  What does that mean?

People don't know how to act, I get it.  Especially people that have never faced any kind of adversity in their life.  They just plain don't know how to react.  They are dumbfounded.  So in their dumbfoundedness they say whatever comes to mind.  A good friend leaves messages saying, "Hope you're feeling great!  Hope you're doing well and having a good day! Hope you had a great July 4th!" I appreciate the effort, I truly do.  But did you really think I had a great July 4th?  I was alone, in a hospital, knowing everyone I loved was somewhere else, without me.  I could hear fireworks going off in the distance but couldn't even sit up to try and spot them out my window.  And yes, it's one holiday. Just one.  I'll get over it.  But in this moment, I am just trying to claw my way out of this little hole I've found myself in.  I'll get out.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  If I can make it 9 more weeks, I'll be great.  I can do it, what's 9 weeks right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 Absolute MUST HAVE Kitchen Splurges

Three recent purchases have completely revolutionized the way I cook.  I could not be happier.  If you are not in possession of these items, go out and get them pronto.
Silicone Baking Mat:  I go through a ton of parchment paper.  I use every single time something goes in the oven, unless I'm broiling something.  And now that I have a silpat, I still use parchment for odd sized things (lining a loaf pan for instance) but this silpat is a game-changer.  Bake cookies, cakes, scones, chicken, fish, cauli pizza, vegetables, roasted whatever you got, it's amazeballsUSA.  When you're done, rinse it off and stow it away.  No more going through aluminum foil like it's going out of style, or spending oodles on pricey parchment.  It's a god send.  Stop wasting time scouring baking sheets and losing half your cookie because the bottom is stuck to the pan.  Get a silpat.

Big Bad Cutting Board:  I have a nice little collection of cutting boards.  A flexible plastic one that's nice for chopping veggies and then siphoning into your pot or pan, but that's seen much better days, a thick plastic board, a small wooden cutting board, and a medium cutting board.  But my new giant cutting board is on a totally different playing field.  It stays where it is, I don't move it.  I cut veggies on it, put eggs I'm about to bake with in the grooves so they don't go rolling around, roll out cookie dough, assemble seasoning mixes so I don't get my countertops dirty, cut fruit, make snacks for S, and pile things on so I can clean the rest of the kitchen.  It's big, so I don't move it around, which means cutting up healthy stuff is easier, more convenient, and requires less steps.  It is large enough to accomodate my biggest mixing bowl, so that when I'm stirring I don't get raw batter all over if it spills over the edge.  It makes prep work and clean-up so much faster and easier.  It also means that the rare instances when MKG is going to cut something up, he doesn't make an enormous mess and leave it for me to deal with.  Of course, if you are putting raw meat/fish/poultry on it you need to sanitize it, but other than that a quick wipe will do.  It's amazing.  And it was only $13 at HomeGoods.  Similarly sized boards at Williams Sonoma I recently saw for $98.  No thanks.

Extra Virgin White Truffle Olive Oil:  If you distill heaven into a liquid, you'd have truffle olive oil.  This stuff is gold.  It has made plain, steamed vegetables a delight and something I look forward to.  Boring steamed cauli, broccoli, green beans, in just a few minutes you turn a bland veggie into something rich and extraordinary.  You don't need a lot, just drizzle a bit and you're good to go.  It's incredible over plain, raw arugula and baby spinach.  With some sea salt sprinkled on top, you are seriously going to have a culinary meltdown.  So simple and so good.  It's not as expensive as you'd think.  Whole foods sells little bottles like this for $5.  I'm not quite sure how they bottle "truffle aroma" but they do and it's f*cking delicious.  Get some.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seafood Soup

This seafood blend is a wonderful product.  Shrimp, calamari, and little baby scallops.  Throw in some fish, or some extra shrimp, and you have a ton of protein for an easy, quick meal.  I've made this seafood soup twice in two weeks now, and served it once to company.  It is a yummy and filling soup for any seafood lover.

Seafood Soup
1 32. oz container fish stock
1 can light coconut milk (or regular)
2 cans water
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup fish sauce, like red boat
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag trader joe's seafood blend
1 bag shrimp, chopped fish, langostinos, etc
1 bag frozen cauliflower florets

Saute your veggies in some EVOO until translucent, 5-7 minutes, in a large stock pot.  Pour in your seafood stock, coconut milk, and water, and add your garlic and salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Add your fish sauce, and taste.  Add more, or more seasoning, to taste.  When you've gotten it right, add in your frozen seafood and cauli.  Bring back up to a simmer and you're done!  This tastes great right away, and really good after a day in the fridge.   Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paleo Banana Bread, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Grain and Gluten-Free

I am kind of weirded that I don't have a banana bread recipe up on the blog.  Banana bread used to be a staple chez GFG.  I would make it a few times a month, with regular SAD ingredients, or sometimes half whole wheat flour and half AP, or even a tablespoon or two of flax meal and think I was really badass.  Well, times have changed, and there's a new banana bread recipe in town y'all.  This recipe is so stinkin' easy and so stinkin' good.  It does not have a weird mealy coconut texture like so many coconut flour baked good can have.  It is delicious, and sugar free to boot.  It is sweetened with the bannas themselves, and stevia.  Think stevia isn't paleo?  It is.  Check out Mark's Daily Apple if you don't believe me.  And it is safe for diabetics.  I have tested it on myself, and I have pretty much no insulin.  So there.  This would make a great dessert, but frankly, I'll be giving it to S for breakfast, as it is perfectly healthy.

Paleo Banana Bread
2 medium bananas, mashed
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup walnut or coconut oil
3/4 cup nutmilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp butter extract (optional)
4 droppers nunaturals alcohol free liquid stevia
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut flour

Mash your bananas in a large bowl, add in your eggs, extracts, stevia, milk, and oil, stir well.  Add in your dry ingredients (try to get coconut flour lumps out prior to adding) and combine well.  I lined my loaf pan with parchment, but you can grease yours if you prefer.  Pour your batter into the loaf pan and drop on the countertop a few times to get out any air bubbles.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon if you like!  When a knife comes out just clean, take it out.  It will firm up a bit as it cools.  Mine was still pretty squishy in the center.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  This is now your go-to, easy peasy, one bowl banana bread recipe.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pizza Kale Chips


Kale chips are a fun, easy, delish way to shovel in lots and lots of veggies.  I like the plain old EVOO and salt kind as much as the next guy, but when I recently saw a recipe for pizza kale chips, I knew I had to try them out.

Here's the thing about kale chips though.  It bugs me that most recipes call for large quantities of cashews.  I eat enough nuts throughout the week, I don't want to drown my veggies in them too.  I get that the creaminess is needed for that cheesy coating that we all love, but seriously, I just don't need MORE nuts in my diet, trust me!  I get enough as it is.

So I decided to try the recipe without cashews.  It works great.  I imagine even better if you had a proper dehydrator.  But no matter, you can have nut-free pizza kale chips any time you like.

Pizza Kale Chips
1 bag washed/chopped kale, from Trader Joe's for instance
1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup EVOO

In a mixing bowl, combine your paste and seasonings and EVOO.  Dump your kale onto a baking sheet, and then dollop the pizza sauce onto the kale by the spoonful.  Using your hands, work the sauce into the kale, making sure to coat all the leaves evenly.  Bake at 400 until crisp.  This will depend on how much you have, how big your baking sheet, etc.  Took me about 20 minutes.  These will taste even better the next day!

In other news, I decided to get a juicer.  I am primarily a 2 meal a day kinda gal, and I admit it can be tough to get in enough veggies in two meals.  Plus, I am hoping I can get my family to partake too, although I doubt either of them will drink straight veggies like I plan to.  But hopefully with a little apple or some berries thrown in food good measure, I can get everyone on board.

I researched juicers for about a week.  It was clear to me in the end that the best kind was probably the Omega J8006.  But for about $250 or so, kind of a steep entry point for someone that doesn't even know if they'll like the stuff.  Finally, I settled on a clearance juicer from BBB, and I figure, I'll learn on it and see if it's something I even want to do on a regular basis.  If it is, I will upgrade to a nicer one, and if not, it wasn't too big of an investment.

I had my first juice experience today, and it wasn't bad!  Actually, wayyyy sweeter than I was expecting.  I used too many tomatoes and too many carrots, because I was running low on veggies.  But it was fun and clean up wasn't too terrible.  Unfortunately S was not a fan, and spilled more than she drank.  Ahh well.

I also tried my hand at some stevia sweetened chocolate truffles this week, in honor of Valentines Day. Surprisingly, using nunaturals liquid (alcohol free) stevia produces a really decent flavor.  I am just as shocked as you are!  They are in the freezer right no, firming up for later.

I hope you all had a great vday and enjoyed no matter how it was spent!  Hallmark holiday or not, we could all use a little more LOVE in our lives amirite?

XoXoGFG

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paleo Sauteed Chicken Hearts


Hmmm...  Ok, so this pic is truly one of the most unappetizing pics I have probably ever posted.  Sorry about that.  The arugula looks tasty at least, right?  Yikes.

Anywho.  Chicken hearts are a fantastic source of nutrients.  They are HEARTS after all!  Containing very high quantities of the following nutrients, you really can't argue with 'em:


And for those of you who aren't big fans of liver, hearts have a much milder flavor and are also way less chewy and dense.  I suspect broiling or grilling them would be amazeballs.

I picked up about 1 lb and three quarters of the stuff at Whole Paycheck for about $1.40.  Certainly enough for two people, with leftovers for the dog.  At such a low price point, may as well give it a shot right?  Preparation is a snap.

I know it sounds weird.  But when you eat a paleo, primal, or ancestral diet, focusing on getting lots of protein, you really have to branch out sometimes.  And I am not a big steak eater, so that basically means poultry, fish, seafood, and some pork occasionally.  Sh*t gets old eventually.  So what the heck?  Try something new.

Paleo Chicken Hearts
1.5-2 lbs chicken hearts
1 yellow onion
garlic powder
salt
pepper
EVOO, or ghee

Saute your yellow onion in EVOO until its translucent.  Season with salt and a bit of pepper.  Add in your chicken hearts, and season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Cook for about 7-9 minutes until hearts are completely cooked through.

Easy peasy folks.  You've got nothing to lose! Try it out!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paleo Spicy Asian Cole Slaw


I dig coleslaw.  I dig asian flavors.  I really dig cabbage.  Cabbage is cheap.  Do you agree with these statements?  Good.  Then try this yummy asian slaw.  We had ours with some of nom nom paleo's delish damn fine chicken, second time i've made it in as many weeks.

As you may have noticed, I am really not much for measuring, especially in recipes like this.  I'd rather eyeball everything and taste as I go.  So this is not so much a recipe as it is guidelines.  But spiceyness is such a personal thing anyways!

Paleo Spicy Asian Coleslaw
half a bag shredded carrots (about 1 1/2 cups)
small-med head of cabbage (or use red if you like)
1 small red onion, chopped/diced
3 tbsp EVOO
salt and pepper
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (or more!) sriracha.  There are paleo varieties out there, or you could make your own.  Again, nomnompaleo.com to the rescue.  I probably used more like 2 tbsp sriracha, but I really like spicy foods.
10 drops alcohol free liquid stevia- NuNaturals is best

In a small bowl, mix your wet ingredients.  Taste it!  Is it yum? Want it sweeter?  Spicier? Tangier?  Adjust accordingly.  Now is the time to do it, before adding to your slaw.  Pour over your chopped/shredded cabbage, onion, and carrots.  Season, and mix well.  Depending on the size of your cabbage you may need a bit more liquid.  Let this sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can come together.  It is really good folks.

I know I haven't been awesome in the full disclosure department.  January has been.... interesting.  Honesty and truthiness aren't at the top of my list right now.  Hope that's cool.

How has your January been?  2013 treating you right so far?  Anyone doing any cleanses or detoxes worth sharing?  I myself am dying to do one of those 3 day veggie juice cleanses, but the juice can be quite carby, and no protein, so I'm not sure it's a good idea.  Thoughts?

Thanks GFGs.  Much love!