Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Busy Paleo Mom Go-To Meals

Today, chatting with a co-worker, I briefly lamented the end (or, to be more optimistic, the gap) in my days of challenging recipes, with long ingredient lists and tons of prep.  It was fun, it was a creative outlet for me, and it was always such a huge sense of accomplishment and pride when something I created out of thin air turned out great.  I think someday I'll get back there, but for now, I have to be a little more efficient with my time.  I can't spend an hour (or more) preparing something for just myself and my husband.  Not when there are three other little mouths that all need to eat in a small window of time.

Over the weekend, we were lucky enough to have some cousins in from Chicago that graciously spent an entire day with us at the house, helping with the kiddos, having dinner, making us feel unhurried and content to be at home.  It was lovely.  My cousin asked about dinner times, and did we ever wait until the kids were in bed to sit down and have a meal, just Mike and I.  That sounds lovely, in theory, but in practice is just not feasible.  By the time everyone is down for the night it might be 830, and to then have to sit down and eat, and then clean up, well it might be 10 o'clock before you're done in the kitchen.  And that's assuming dinner is ready and waiting once the kids are in bed.  Just doesn't work out for me- not when my alarm goes off at ten to 5 in the morning, 7 days a week.  So that means you have to get smart about meals, and have a good list of quick, easy, and satisfying meals at the ready.  These are just my humble suggestions:

  • As I've said, a big garbage salad, with leftover veggies and two proteins.  If this is your meal I believe that an avocado and TWO proteins is a necessity.  My favorite salad dressing at the moment is just Bragg's ACV and some EVOO and himalayan sea salt and pepper.  Throw in any leftover veggies you have, and some jarred veggies like artichokes, peppers, and capers, and you have a great salad in under a minute.
  • Chicken sausages and roasted veggies.  The sausages are pre-cooked so don't need to cook for ages in the oven.  Put your sausages on a sheet, and cauli or broccoli on another with some salt, garlic powder, and olive oil, and roast everything at 425 for 25 minutes and you are good to go.
  • Smoked oysters and avocado.  Slice your avocado, throw in your smoked oysters (or trout) and you have a filling meal in just seconds.  
  • Organic, uncured hot dogs have saved the day on more than one occasion
  • Tuna in olive oil is a great protein to have on hand- open the can and toss with greens, a squeeze of lemon, some capers, and maybe some defrosted green beans and you again, have an easy salad in no time.
  • Organic chicken thighs and mashed cauli.  Drizzle raw chicken thighs with some balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or so.  While the chicken is cooking throw some steam-in-a-bag cauli in the microwave and cook until tender.  Use your stick blender and toss in some kerrygold and you have mashed cauli in less time than it takes to cook the chicken.  
  • Organic, grassfed burgers from the freezer section are so great to have on hand.  Add a slice of tomato and a pickle and you're done!  
  • Cooked shrimp in the freezer only needs to be submerged in a bowl of cold water to thaw.  Shrimp is super versatile- you can throw it on a salad, some zucchini noodles, gluten free pasta if that's your thing, or just enjoy on their own with a side of veggies.  
  • I always always always have a large stash of frozen veggies on hand.  A package of fire roasted peppers in the frozen and some ground meat and seasonings and you have a meal in no time- with hardly any dirty dishes to boot!  Cook your ground meat, throw in your still frozen peppers, and you are done in 15 minutes.
  • Eggs. Bacon.  Duh.  If you are feeling adventurous add some spinach or asparagus (from the freezer of course) and you've got a fancy breakfast-for-dinner.  
While this certainly isn't an exhaustive list, it is good starting place.  The single most important part is having a well-stocked freezer.  I've said time and time again, yes, fresh is always better.  But in a pinch, if you have some good proteins waiting for you in the freezer, and you can think ahead and have them defrosted, you will have a good meal at your fingertips any night of the week.  I am not super into meal planning or menu planning- we've all seen the instagram pics of people's precious menus for the week written in chalk on their darling little chalkboard walls, that's just not me.  But if you can take two seconds on Sundays and throw some proteins into a defrost bowl in the fridge, you'll be so glad you did.  

I sure hope this is helpful!  Just remember to stock your kitchen with some basics, avocados, canned tuna and oysters, some basic proteins, and plenty of frozen veggies and you have an almost endless variety of quick meals.  No, they aren't the most creative, but they are tasty and healthy.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make Your Own Paleo Baby Food

The title of this post makes me sound crunchier than I am.  I never intended to be a "make your own baby food" type of gal.  It seemed like such a precious thing to do that uber-controlling parents did. But, my assumptions have been debunked.

I am now a baby-food-making convert.  The reason is simple.  It's easier.

I have two little mouths to feed.  I want to give them organic, natural foods.  Purchasing the quantity of organic baby food that I would need to feed two babies for a whole week would cost a fortune, and I'd have to go to multiple stores to find it.  What I do is way cheaper and way easier and creates far less waste.  It all started innocently enough.  I hemmed and hawed over what their first food should be for weeks, finally settling on avocados.  Mushy, full of healthy fats and nutrients, hermetically sealed in their own packaging, it seemed perfect.  I didn't have to steam or puree anything- just mush with the back of a spoon et voila!

So, we started with avocados.  Laziness meant that we stuck with avocados for three weeks before trying anything else.  In this time the babies went from sort of tolerating it, to tolerating it moderately, to enjoying it!  By this time both they, and I, were ready to try something else.  At that point I had decided a couple new foods to try.  First was egg yolks.  I simply boil a few eggs for three or four minutes and after the yolk has cooled a bit they slurp it up.  Not much chewing is involved so it is a relatively painless process and a great way to guarantee a lot of nutrition in short order.  The babies have really enjoyed yolks and I like to take the extra time to make it for them on my days off.

Next up was sweet potatoes.  I buy a big bag of organic sweet potatoes and steam about half of them. 35 minutes in the steamer and they are ready to be peeled.  My handy stick blender makes mush of them in no time.  Add a little formula or water to thin out the consistency and you are good to go.  I store mine in little snack containers that hold probably four ounces or so.  I don't make enough to need to freeze it- generally we have been running out every four days or so.  When that happens I go back to my trusty avocados if I don't have time to make something else until the weekend.

After they had mastered the consistency of the sweet potato I decided to let them try bananas.  This was their first fruit and naturally they quite like the sweeter taste!  Again, no steaming or pureeing necessary- just some mushing with a spoon and you're good to go.

But I wanted another veggie and something that I could be sure would be palatable.  I am sure there are plenty of moms out there pureeing kale and spinach for their babies but it is more important to me to make them food I know they are going to like and enjoy- and instill in them a healthy desire and appetite for real food, rather than force something down their throats.  So I decided on organic carrots. Do you know how much two pounds of organic carrots costs?  $1.89.  Do you know how much one pouch of organic carrots costs at Target?  $1.63.  You do the math.  All two pounds of it steamed in about 20 minutes, and only took a few minutes more to puree, and now I have six containers of carrots in the fridge, meals for the week!

The last food we have introduced thus far is organic applesauce.  I just got a big jar of it and have been adding it to different foods here and there.  I like how watery it is and its amazing ability to make practically anything palatable.  Applesauce was really the sole sweetener I used for Sara until she was two years old!  I added it to oatmeal, plain yogurt, even cottage cheese, rather than use sugar or another sweetener.  It's versatile, healthy, and cheap!  Can't complain about that!

We will probably work on carrots for a couple weeks and then add in something else.  The reality is that I will not be steaming and pureeing multiple vegetables at a time and doling them out into separate containers, or creating little custom combinations.  And frankly, I would rather move on to soft table foods sooner rather than later.  Poached chicken, soft scrambled eggs, some soft cauliflower, etc.  When there is one person feeding three people you tend to prefer not spoon feeding two of them, right?

Do you make your own baby food? Any suggestions for me?  I have to say, I approached this with complete and total nonchalance.  Not because I'm that cool, but because I devoted basically zero thought to it.  I was terrified what my grocery bill would be buying jarred baby food and frankly, did not have a high opinion of it from my experiences feeding sari.  Expensive, crappy tasting, and makes tons of garbage.  Um, no thanks?  So I started with avocado and assumed I'd figure out the rest later.  What started out as me just wanting to give them organic baby food turned into me becoming a weirdo crunchy baby food maker.  And you know what?  I think I'll stick with it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Product Review: Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation

#NotPaleo people.  This is a product review for Revlon Colorstay Whipped foundation.  I have worn the regular colorstay foundation in the bottle for quite some time- I like that they have two formulations, one for normal skin and one for combination, and I had tried the whipped version once before but in the wrong shade, so couldn't really make a clear decision on it.  As summer approaches I am rethinking my foundation collection- to include more BB creams and tinted moisturizers.  No one likes cake face in 80% humidity.  Ick.  So I have repurchased an old fave, Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer, and will also be using a lot of my IT Cosmetics CC cream and Benefit Better than BB.  But there will still be days when I want something a bit more full coverage and for those days, I picked Revlon Colorstay Whipped.  I find it is just as long-wearing as the regular colorstay foundation, and quite full coverage, but the formulation is totally different.  It is creamy, somewhat mousse-y and very thick, and a little goes a long way.  As you can see from the picture, it comes in a glass jar, so you have to scoop out product with your finger or brush or some other delivery system, which is not very sanitary and totally gross in my opinion, but whatevs.  The big difference for me is that this formulation contains salicylic  acid, which is a pore-clearing agent and sloughs off dead skin cells and generally works to clear skin.  For my skin, salicylic acid in the summer is a must.  Humidity tends to melt makeup and when combined with sweat, you have a recipe for clogged pores within five minutes of being outdoors.  Uh, no thanks.  So a foundation with some SA is going to help your makeup go the distance in the heat.

So for the review- here is what I like.  I like that is medium to full coverage.  When using a flat kabuki or dense buffing brush, it gives a flawless satiny finish, not crazy matte so you look dead.  I like that I have to do minimal concealing (well, I never conceal anything except undereyes so I guess that is stupid to say) and I like that it actually starts to look better at about hour 2 of wear.  It lasts an incredibly long time before it starts breaking up, on me.  I went about 10 hours before I needed a touch up, but by hour 14 it was looking seriously rough.  Normally I do not wear makeup for 14 hours straight but it was a very long day.  I think a solid 10 hours of wear is pretty great.  That is still quite a bit longer than I would normally have on a full face.  Mind you, most of the 14 hours were spent inside.  Would it hold up if I were outside all day? Hells no.  Coming in and out a few times during a hot summer day?  Maybe.  Probably.  More so than any of my other full coverage foundations.

All in all, definitely a thumbs up.  I would say this is a must-purchase drugstore product if you are like me and want a fuller coverage, long-wearing foundation and have combi skin.  In fact, drugstore or not, both the colorstay foundations are great purchases.

I wear Sand Beige, and am NC20 for reference.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Busy Week Eats- Paleo Garbage Salad, Chicken Hearts and Brussel Sprouts

We had a fairly normal week chez GFG.  Normal meaning crazed, chaotic, frantic, and maybe a little bipolar.  But that's ok!  It's Friday, and the forecast looks positively delicious.  You know what else is delicious?  Garbage salads.  So satisfying and yummy, but also a fantastic way to clean out the fridge/pantry.

Garbage salads never contain the exact same ingredients but do always contain a few key items- two kinds of protein to keep you full, flavorful greens, some roasted veggies, and a simple dressing of EVOO and red wine vinegar.  This week's salad was arugula, shrimp, pepperoni, black olives, avocado, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke, and cucumber.  If I have some laying around, I like to throw in a little broccoli too.  I will usually go for arugula because I find it lasts longer in the fridge and I really prefer the taste to plain old lettuce.

Some other great ideas for your big ol' pile o' garbage salad-
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • cauli
  • sweet potatoes
  • green onions
  • tomato
  • roasted eggplant
  • carrots
  • salami
  • chicken
  • spinach
  • nuts (if you aren't allergic, obvy)
  • basil, or other fresh herbs
  • asparagus
  • zucchini
  • kale
And the list goes on.  The secret to having a garbage salad at the ready at any time is all about what's in your pantry.  Yes fresh veggies FTW always but sometimes you just aren't that prepared.  So I like to keep olives, artichokes, red peppers, and capers around as much as possible.  With a protein or two and some greens you are good to go!  I have a feeling as summer approaches this will become more and more a part of our weekly menu.

We also had a quick meal of chicken hearts and brussel sprouts.  I know- chicken hearts EWWWWW I can hear you all collectively saying.  But don't knock it til you try it.  They are really good and cook up in a flash.  They have a taste slightly reminiscent of chicken liver but nowhere near as overpowering.  They are leaner and more muscly so won't make you feel full in 2.4 seconds like liver.  The best part is I roasted everything, the hearts and quartered brussel sprouts all together on one baking sheet at 425.  No messy pots and pans to deal with.  Just some olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper and you are good to go.  Chicken hearts are dirt cheap and crazy good for you.  You can buy enough for two or three people for like, $2.  Keep 'em in the freezer for emergency protein.  You'll thank me some day!

In other news, we are planning a little weekend getaway to Santa Fe, NM in October.  Anyone have hotel recommendations?  What else.... oh yeah... we are getting ready for a very large, and depressing purchase... a minivan...  Please excuse me while I go vomit/sob in the corner.  So some car shopping will probably take place this weekend.  After doing some exhaustive research on SUVs with a third row, I came to the conclusion that we really have no choice but to get a minivan.  We take quite a few road trips with the dog, and once you've got the stroller in, and the dog, and the luggage, and the kiddos, well- you get the picture.  So yeah.  Wish us luck!  

Have a great weekend GFGs! xoxo