I am taking a break from food today to say express my gratitude. I just have to get it off my chest, and nearly want to shout it from the rooftops!
I am thankful, every single day, for this life and what I’m creating for myself. Up until 10 months ago, I never knew life could be this satisfying and amazing. I was at a job that made me unhappy and stressed (stressed because I felt like I could never do anything good enough and I often felt like I was walking on eggshells), and I was not pursuing my passions or using my energy to its greatest capacity. I’ve said this before, but getting laid off from that job was the best thing that could have happened to me. Since that time, I’ve changed my attitude and perspective, surrounded myself with positive people and finally started pursuing things that mattered to me. And guess what? Opportunities fell into my lap effortlessly, and all the jobs I have now I did not apply for, but rather, they were offered to me: coaching at Recreate Fitness, making treats at Cultured Caveman, freelance writing for a former co-worker’s side business and now, doing some PR work for Jason Seib, my mentor and author of the fantastic new book, The Paleo Coach. Having people who believe in me and want ME is an awesome feeling. I am so blessed and I know it might sound sappy, but sometimes, all I can do is cry because I’m so happy. I also am a bit of a softy and show emotion easily. But, do you see how important it is to be pursuing the things that matter to you? Don’t settle for less…it’s not worth it and life is too short.
What are you creating for yourself? Are you pursuing the things that are near and dear to your heart? If not, what’s stopping you?
As you probably know, my birthday was this past Saturday, and boy, was it a good one! First of all, I had a wonderful night’s rest, which included sleeping with my bedroom window open, and woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside. It was a refreshing start to my day and made me smile. Then, I got ready for yoga and headed over to my studio. There’s nothing like a sweaty, challenging power vinyasa class to get the day going.
After yoga, I came home and made myself a wonderful breakfast. You may have seen it on Facebook, but if not, here’s what I ate:
Then, I got a surprise phone call from my 87-year old grandma and 90-year old grandpa back in Michigan. It was so touching and wonderful to hear their voices. Apparently, my dad was on the phone with them earlier in the day and asked if they wanted to call me on my cell and wish me a happy birthday. I’m so glad he offered up the idea! I love my grandparents dearly and they’ve always been a big part of my life.
Next on my agenda, a pedicure! I treated myself to a little TLC at a salon/spa down the road from us — literally just a 5-minute walk away. Lucky for me, I had a $20 off any service coupon that they sent me for Valentine’s Day, so my 50-minute pedicure only cost $20 (plus tip). Such a steal, and my toes look tons better. It was much needed.
The day continued with a drive up to Cultured Caveman for some chicken tenders. I LOVE their chicken tenders. They are crave-worthy. They’re dipped in a thin layer of coconut flour, egg white and spices, and then fried in grass-fed beef tallow. Garnished with course salt and dipped in homemade ketchup and/or aioli, they are divine. If you live in Portland and have not tried their chicken tenders and other delicious food, do it! And try some of my date/nut treats while you’re there…hehe.
Next, grocery shopping at Whole Foods.
Afterward, I hung out a home and did a itty bitty amount of homework. Then, I decided I wasn’t having any more of that on my birthday and put it away.
For my birthday dinner, we went to Cafe Nell, one of our favorite restaurants in Portland. We drank the loveliest chardonnay I have ever tasted and shared egg on horseback, minus the cheese. This is asparagus with a sunny side up egg and sage brown butter. For dinner, I had NY strip with roasted brussel sprouts. My phone pictures were really bad in here, especially the one I tried to take of my entree, so I don’t have a picture of that.
After dinner, we came home and ate some homemade butter pecan ice cream that I made earlier in the day, and watched the final episode of season 1 Downton Abbey. I had been wondering what all the hype was about this show and kept hearing people talk about it. Jesse and I finally checked it out on Netflix a couple weeks ago and loved it! I’m bummed that we have to wait for season 2 to come out on DVD before we can watch it, but oh well. That’s the nature of most everything we watch. You know what’s really funny? Up until watching this show for the first time, I thought it was called, “Downtown Abbey.” Am I the only one?
I had such a lovely birthday and feel so blessed. I’m just sad that it went by so fast. Now, it’s just a memory, but a good memory indeed.
Butter Pecan Ice Cream
- 1 14.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I use Natural Value brand)
- 2 pastured egg yolks
- 1 Tbsp raw honey (or more if you want it sweeter)
- 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Dash of Himalayan sea salt
- 1 cup coconut cream (I use Aroy-D brand)
- 2-3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
- 1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
- Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and let toast, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. The pecans will continue to absorb some of the butter while cooling.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, coconut milk, honey and sea salt together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream, vanilla and pecans. Place in the fridge to cool for a couple hours.
- Once chilled, add to ice cream maker and let churn for 17-20 minutes. Serve right away or empty into a container and store in the freezer.
Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was busy, but good busy. Saturday, I had an all day DVRT certification at my gym, which went from 9:30am – 6pm. We learned different assessments, progressions, techniques, cues and much more. It was a ton of information, and both mentally and physically fatiguing, but very valuable in more ways than one. Afterward, Jesse and I were really worn out, so decided to go out to eat. Then, we went home and relaxed for a bit before going to bed. I slept like a baby and it felt amazing to finally get a good night’s sleep. I hadn’t slept well in three nights because of my cold.
Sunday, I woke up refreshed and feeling better. My head felt less stuffy and heavy, and my cough was much better too. I drove to Recreate in the frozen fog (which made me a little disoriented) to help coach class, and then afterward, spent the rest of the day running errands, doing laundry (was way behind because our dryer broke, but our new dryer was delivered on Sunday), making 24-hour yogurt, making pork shoulder in the slow cooker (recipe to come!), getting all my ingredients in order for my treats at Cultured Caveman, and working on my taxes (what can I say, I got a head start).
Today, I have no school, in honor of MLK Day, but have enough to keep me busy. I’m replenishing my treats at the food cart bright and early this morning, meeting my friend, Laura, later in the morning for breakfast and conversation, doing homework, cleaning, cooking and either going to yoga in the evening or taking a rest day. That’s still to be determined.
In other, more exciting news, I have an awesome opportunity starting this week. On Friday, I took a leap and reached out to someone in the health/paleo/fitness world that I respect a lot about a potential mentor-ship opportunity. This person is Jason Seib, who owns Clackamas Physical Conditioning (about 25-30 minutes from me) and runs Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness with Sarah Fragoso. He also has a book coming out on March 5 called, The Paleo Coach, which I anticipate being fantastic. You may recall, that I attended one of his seminars this past September in Grants Pass, Oregon. I did a couple recap posts about it, which you can read here and here. I was also fortunate to interview Jason this past fall as an industry leader for one of my assignments in school.
Anyway, Jason surprisingly emailed me back within an hour of receiving my message, and asked if I could stop by his gym that very afternoon to chat about what he could offer me. Long story short, I’m going to be hanging out at his gym at least once a week to work with and learn from him! I get to join in on initial assessments, nutrition coaching, training, etc. This experience is going to be beyond valuable and I can’t wait to start soaking things up. To start, he is going to assess and train me (cool, right?). Additionally, we have a project in mind, but I need to hold off on talking about that for now. Oh, and I even got to meet the infamous, Deb while I was there. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the following posts from Jason:
I’m so excited and proud of myself for reaching out to Jason. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now, but for some reason, was a little nervous about doing so and held back. I think part of it is because I respect him so much and feel slightly intimidated, but I knew that I couldn’t let a potential opportunity pass me by. Seriously, his gym is 25 minutes from me…how could I not take advantage of such proximity?
Do you create opportunities in your life? What is something that you’re excited about right now?
I’ve been getting inquiries as to what my typical day looks like, so thought I’d give it a go. What’s laid about below is pretty typical, except I usually have school. It’s finals week, so my class schedule is different and actually, two of my classes ended last week. I don’t work at the gym on Tuesdays, and without school, I had a lot of time to do as I pleased. This felt great after all the end-of-term studying and chaos. I thought about posting this on Wednesday, but want to be consistent with the days I do and don’t blog, so decided to wait until today. Please know, some of these photos were taken on my iPhone, so pardon the grainy quality. Anyway, here’s how I spent my Tuesday this week:
- My alarm went off just before 5:30 a.m. My yoga clothes were already laid out from the night before on my dresser, and I got dressed in the dark. Then, I went to the kitchen, drank some water and took my Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil — cinnamon tingle flavor. This stuff actually tastes really good and I look forward to taking it every morning. Is that weird?
- I left my house at 5:45-ish and drove to my nearby yoga studio, Root Whole Body, for power vinyasa class from 6-7:30 a.m.
- I loaded up my car with my bag full of ingredients for my date/nut treats at Cultured Caveman before going to yoga, so I wouldn’t have to go back home. The new cocoa mint flavor sold out at the Hawthorne location in one day, so I needed to come in and make some more. You can learn how to make the cocoa mint truffles/bites here.
- I went home and made breakfast, while watching The Wonder Years on Netflix. I love this show. What’s funny is I never actually watched this show when it was on, but adore it now. I have a thing for old sitcoms. I do recall watching it occasionally at my friend, Sara’s house, in elementary school though. We’d usually watch it in bed at night. I remember being jealous that she had a TV in her room.
- Checked emails, blogged, perused articles and checked reporter inquiries for NightWave Sleep Assistant (I do freelance writing for them), listened to Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness podcast, social media stuff, etc.
- Showered, but didn’t wash my hair. There was no point because I knew I was going to Recreate later.
- Hand washed some swimsuits to take to Hawaii with me. I don’t like hand washing much, so these suits have been in my hamper since summer. I didn’t really have any need to wear them, obviously.
- Attempted making coconut flour cocoa banana bread. It tasted pretty good, despite falling apart when I tipped it out of the pan (should’ve let it cool a bit before doing so). It still needs some tweaking though, so I will not be sharing the recipe at this point.
- I wasn’t too hungry for anything else after eating a bunch of banana bread, so just ate some deli chicken slices and 1/4 of an avocado. Oh, and a spoonful of coconut butter too.
- Started packing for my Hawaii trip.
- Drank some Tulsi Holy Basil Tea and then a little later, some GT’s Synergy Kombucha (Trilogy flavor, my favorite) while watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on Hulu. During this time, I also looked through some cookbooks.
- Drove to Recreate for Jesse’s Primal Recess class from 4:30-5:30.
- Stopped at Food Front Co-op on my way home to pick up a couple ingredients for dinner. I also decided to buy a baby wreath while I was there. We decided against getting a little tree because of traveling and our two curious cats. We’ve yet to introduce them to a Christmas tree. I love the smell of Christmas trees and will miss it this year, since I’m not going back to Michigan for Christmas. I thought this would help … it’s no tree, but better than nothing.
- Made dinner and ate with Jesse when he got home, around 6:45.
- Watched a couple shows on Hulu with Jesse while drinking some more Tulsi Holy Basil Tea. Then, I drank the other half of my kombucha from earlier. I also finished folding laundry from earlier.
- Showered and got ready for bed. I was in bed just before 10 p.m.
That’s it folks. It’s nothing super exciting, but some of you asked, so I shared! It’s good for me though, and that’s what matters, right?
These taste like the holidays — minty and chocolatey. They’re different than your typical truffle — a bit more firm, but they are a tasty holiday treat, and great to bring to a party. In fact, I brought these specifically to take to my friend, Laura’s house, over the weekend for a Scentsy party she hosted. They were a hit and I also decided that they will be my next seasonal flavor at Cultured Caveman, along with my staple, salted almond bites (speaking of these, I should share the recipe!).
If you don’t have coconut butter on hand, I imagine melted coconut oil will work too.
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
- 1/4 cup softened coconut butter
- 1 cup medjool dates, pits removed (about 10-12 large dates)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
- In the food processor, combine the almonds, cocoa powder, coconut and sea salt. Pulse until well combined.
- Next add the pitted dates, coconut butter and peppermint extract. Blend until well combined. You may need to add half the dates, pulse, and then add the remaining. If needed, add more dates and coconut butter for added stickiness or sweetness.
- Once everything is mixed together well and there are no large chunks, dump the mixture into a large bowl. (Note: mixture may seem crumbly, but will stick together once you pack it. If it’s still too crumbly, try more dates and/or coconut butter as I mentioned above.).
- Roll into 1-inch balls (tablespoon-size) and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Alternatively, you can pack the mixture down into an 8×8 pan and cut into squares. These will keep for a 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can freeze them as well.
Total time: 20 minutes + time for truffles to chill
Yields: ~24 pieces
Cinnamon, grass-fed beef cheeks, and a slow cooker. A tasty fall combo if you ask me! This recipe was inspired by The Paleo Mom’s, cinnamon-braised beef cheeks. You may remember me posting it a few weeks ago on a list of fall-themed recipes. The main difference between my version and hers is that I used a slow cooker to cook the meat, and cooked the squash separately (also used delicata instead of butternut). Other than that, they’re pretty similar.
This made great leftovers, by the way. I ate the leftover beef cheeks with sunny-side up eggs and avocado for breakfast the next morning. It was fabulous!
This was the first time I ever made beef cheeks, but I have eaten beef cheeks before. Cultured Caveman makes an awesome grass-fed chili from beef cheeks! I love the tender and gelatinous quality of the meat (this is because it has a lot of connective tissue). It’s my understanding that it’s best to braise or slow cook this cut of meat, otherwise it can be quite tough.
- 1 lb grass-fed beef cheeks (I got mine from US Wellness Meats)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp grass-fed tallow or fat of choice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup homemade bone broth (or a decent store-bought kind)
- Delicata squash, halved and seeded
- Pat of grass-fed butter, optional
- Greens of choice
- Heat tallow in a pan over medium-high heat. Season the beef cheeks with sea salt and pepper. Once the tallow is melted, add the beef cheeks and sear for three minutes per side.
- Place chopped onions in the slow cooker and place beef cheeks on top. Pour in the broth and season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the cinnamon sticks and make sure they’re submerged in the broth.
- Set slow cooker to low and let cook for 6 – 8 hours or until meat is cooked through and tender. Alternatively, you can cook it on high for 4 hours.
- Once beef is done or just about done, cook the squash. Set the oven to 350 degrees F and bake skin side up in a shallow pan filled with a little water (about 1/4 inch high). Cook for 35 – 45 minutes or until squash is tender.
- While squash is cooking, remove beef cheeks from the slow cooker and chop into small pieces. Add back to the slow cooker and adjust seasonings if necessary. (NOTE: this is optional, you don’t have to chop up the meat into pieces if you prefer not to).
- Once squash is done, let it cool and then scoop out the flesh, unless you like to eat the delicata skin (I prefer not to eat it). Mix with a pat of grass-fed butter, if using.
- Heat a small amount of ghee in a pan over medium heat. Add your chopped greens of choice (I used kale and chard) and sauté a few minutes, until soft. Season with sea salt and pepper.
- Dish up your squash and greens, and top either or both with the beef cheeks and broth.
What a big weekend for the PDX paleo world! Check it out …
Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo was at the book signing at the very beginning too, but I missed the opportunity to meet and get a photo with her before she had to take off. I felt too nervous, shy and excited when we first got there and couldn’t get myself to walk up to her as she was chatting with Diane and Jen (of Jen’s Gone Paleo, also owner and coach at CrossFit Oregon City). I was totally (paleo) star struck! I know, I know … I’m a total nerd, but I’m okay with that. These ladies are some of my idols though and I look up to and admire them, so I felt slightly intimidated!
Anyway, Jesse and I gathered a lot of valuable info during the Q&A session, which took up nearly the whole two hours. It was great to hear about other people’s experiences, especially those new to the paleo world. We also learned some helpful tips for running a paleo challenge in a gym setting, which is something Jesse and I hope to do together sometime soon. Diane was insightful, smart, funny, honest and real. She was wonderful, and I look forward to the next time we cross paths. Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and go buy her book, Practical Paleo! It is an amazing, thorough and well-written resource. You will not be disappointed!
Happy Fourth everyone! I hope you all have something fun and some good eats on your agenda today. I have a great meal planned for Jesse and me this evening … check back tomorrow for a recap and pictures. Here’s a little forecast though: grass-fed tri tip steak, fresh and local veggies and berries, and 24-hour half-and-half yogurt. More specifics to come tomorrow!
Anyway, I had to go to Cultured Caveman this morning to replenish my goodies (also made a new flavor, choco cherry!), but before going, decided to jumpstart my day with an appropriate Fourth of July breakfast … a red, white and blue omelet. First, let me explain that this is not a savory omelet, but a sweeter one rather. I was inspired by Paleo Magazine’s Strawberry Applesauce Omelet recipe, but added an Independence Day twist to it. I ate mine with two of Applegate Naturals’s chicken apple sausages. See my take on the recipe below.
- 2 eggs, beaten
- dash of cinnamon
- dash of vanilla
- 1 tsp ghee
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 3-4 sliced strawberries
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh or frozen blueberries (thaw if using frozen)
- coconut butter for drizzling, to taste
- drizzle of honey (optional)
- Melt ghee in heated skillet. Meanwhile, beat together eggs, cinnamon and vanilla.
- Pour egg mixture into skillet. Cook until mostly set, then flip.
- Spread the applesauce, strawberries and blueberries over half the omelet. Drizzle on the honey, if using and coconut butter.
- Fold in half and slide onto a plate.
Today marks the first day that my treats are available for purchase at the Paleo food cart, Cultured Caveman! Wahoo … so thrilling!
I went in this morning and Joe (one of the owners) gave me the lowdown and more or less a tour of the cart. I mean tour in the sense that he got me acquainted with the space because basically, you walk in, look right, left, forward, up and around, and see it all. A tight space, indeed. It was neat to see how things operate though, as it was my first time ever setting foot inside a food cart.
Joe left me to do my thing, so I went to town. I brought all my ingredients with me and even brought my own apron (a pretty frilly one my sister bought me … I’ll get a pic next time). It was challenging working in such a small area without much counter space, but I adjusted and figured it out quickly. Before I knew it, I was processing, chopping, mixing and rolling. I made 99 cherry nut balls and 63 salted almond, which yielded 33 cherry nut packs and 21 salted almond!
The treats are packaged three per baggie and cost $2. Salted almond may always be one of my staple flavors, but the other flavor will rotate. I can’t wait to see how these suckers go over! If you live in Portland, I encourage you to go to the Cultured Caveman cart on NE 15th and Alberta, and check out my goodies. If you do, please give me feedback!
Taking a bit of a rest and recovery day today and having lunch in a bit at Cultured Caveman with one of my blog followers. I look forward to meeting a new like-minded friend!
Meanwhile, check out the Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo chart below. I came across it yesterday on a fellow blogger’s website.