Eating Paleo in Iceland

This post has been a long time coming and after much chipping away, it’s finally done! Anyway, as many of you know, my husband and I traveled to Iceland this past March and had an amazing experience. We loved it all — the scenery, the food, the people, etc. It was incredible and we’d go back in a heartbeat. I imagine many of you wonder more about the food though and specifically, if it was easy to eat paleo there. The short answer is yes, it was easy and I had no problems with the food situation. Trust me…I ate very well!

Icelandic horses in field

I ate a lot of fresh Atlantic fish (Arctic char, ling, other cod varieties, salmon), pickled foods (beets, cucumbers, fish), root vegetables, potatoes, greens, tomatoes, and plain Skyr (traditional Icelandic yogurt). We ate a big breakfast every morning in our hotel, had a snack in the afternoon (generally macadamia nuts and/or an Epic Bar that we packed with us), and then went out somewhere for dinner. One night though, we had an awesome buffet dinner (followed by soaking & sauna) at the Laugarvatn Fontana, about an hour out of Reykjavik and afterward, went on a guided Northern Lights hunt (it was too cloudy to see them that night, but we did see them another night). There was fish, root veggies, salad, chicken, tomato basil soup, etc. It was delicious!

Jesse and me Iceland

You may or may not know this, but despite its cooler temperatures (it was mainly in the mid-to-upper 30s while we were there), Iceland actually grows a lot of its own produce in geothermal-heated greenhouses. Additionally, Iceland is self-sufficient in producing meat, eggs, and dairy products. Iceland’s food is centered around purity and sustainability. They do not use hormones or antibiotics, and the use of herbicides and pesticides is very restricted. They also have very low pollution, and the water is so pure and fresh (no need to buy bottled water here — get it straight from the tap). Iceland for the win!

Meanwhile, my breakfast included lemon water, black coffee, smoked fish or lox, hard-boiled eggs, pickled veggies (sometimes a bite of pickled fish too), fresh tomato slices, potatoes, and a bit of bacon. It’s not pictured below, but I usually ate half a banana and some plain Skyr as well. Oh, and a shot of Icelandic fish oil some mornings since they put the bottle and little shot glasses out each day. We looked forward to coming down to breakfast every morning in our hotel and having this traditional Icelandic spread. If you’re wondering, we stayed at Center Hotel Thingholdt in Reykjavik. It was a great hotel and fantastic location. Breakfast was included in the stay too.

Below are some of the places we ate in Reykjavik that I recommend. We had fantastic food and zero problems ordering!

Glo: we ate here multiple times because the food was so amazing. Most everything is gluten-free and while there are a lot of vegetarian items (some incredible vegetable sides!), a chicken dish is available as well. The food is SO good and fresh! And, don’t even get me started on their gluten/grain-free raw desserts. We tried many and all were incredible! The second photo below is their pecan pie (grain & dairy-free – it was an almond and egg white base) with fresh whipped cream. I think I could eat that pecan pie everyday. It was unbelievable. Their raw tiramisu (don’t have a picture) was my other favorite. The first photo below was our actual first dinner in Iceland. I don’t remember the exact details of what was on my plate, but there’s curried chicken, cold root veggies, mixed greens salad, cucumber salad, and cold potatoes with some sort of amazing raw sauce (I think it was either either almond or cashew-based and had coriander seeds in it). It’s definitely food that makes you feel good!

Messinn: We had our favorite meal of our whole trip here, and that says a lot because everything we ate was amazing. I had Arctic char that was served with honey, almonds, cherry tomatoes, lemon, and butter. It came in a big cast iron skillet with baby potatoes and a generous pile of arugula on top. Jesse ordered their cod, which had different elements, but was served in the same manner. He thoroughly enjoyed it as well. We went back on our last night (I planned to get the same thing again because it was that good), but they had to close for dinner that night due to some sort of unforeseen situation or emergency. We were so bummed!

messinn arctic char

Bergon Mathus: this was a meal for two that we shared, which was not only delicious, but a really good deal too. It was whole cod with roasted vegetables, and also came with two small sides of our choice. We went with a sweet potato mash and cucumber/tomato salad. The restaurant itself was adorable and had a lot of character.

fish aftermath Iceland

Helisuhusid: this is a great little health food store right next to Glo. We had packed a lot of our own travel snacks, but it was handy to have a spot to re-up our supply, as needed.

Photo credit : foursquare.com

Saeta Svinid Gastropub: we ate here one night for dinner and I had a lovely meal of ling with mashed potatoes, caper flowers, and Dijon-butter sauce. We were in close quarters with the table next to us and couldn’t help but strike up conversation with each other. We ended up having not only an enjoyable meal, but a great evening with an English couple. They were a hoot and our interacting with them is why I did not take a photo of my meal. Oh, and Jesse had a bun-less burger here, which he greatly enjoyed.

Kryddlegin Hjortu: the soup and salad bar here is where it’s at, and this place is extremely gluten-free friendly. In fact, the majority of their menu is gluten-free or can be made gluten-free. And, all four soups on their soup bar are gluten-free too. The very fresh salad bar was almost all gluten-free, except for the homemade spelt bread and a couscous salad. But, these things were clearly labeled and obvious. We ate here two different nights and I got the soup and salad bar both nights. My favorite soups (which rotate, except for a homemade mushroom soup that they always have) included a vegan coconut curry soup and a spicy Indian chicken soup. The salad bar was loaded with fresh veggies, herb-infused oils, fish, fresh fruit, etc. Unfortunately, I never got any photos here, so you’ll have to use your imagination!

Joylato: Three words: nitrogen ice cream! Pick whether you want an organic cow’s milk or coconut milk base, choose your flavor, and any mix-ins. They add the milk base to a mixer bowl with the necessary flavoring and turn it into ice cream in an instant with liquid nitrogen. Then, they mix in the topping(s) of your choice and serve it up with a homemade piece of gluten-free waffle cone. I had coconut milk chocolate ice cream with almonds and Jesse had coconut milk vanilla ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce. It was SO good and fun to watch the process. This place was busy though and took a while to get our ice cream. They have a line-up of 4-5 mixers, but can only make it so fast. When we were there, one person was taking orders and one person was making all the ice cream.

joylato iceland

nitrogen ice cream

joylato

Reykjavik Roasters: homemade coffee Skyr yogurt with maple syrup and almonds. I got this twice while visiting – once on our first day as an afternoon snack and another time after soaking at one of the local thermal pools. Their coffee was also excellent!

Booja Booja: this is an incredible England-made, non-dairy ice cream we found at the health food store above and also at a convenience/mini grocery store in Reykjavik. Most flavors are sweetened with agave, but the one below was sweetened with coconut syrup. These are a cashew base with 5 simple ingredients and no gums, preservatives, or weird stuff. It was so divine and creamy! It tasted very much like a rich, classic chocolate ice cream and the smooth texture was all there.

As you can see, it is easy to eat well in Iceland! I was always satisfied and did not eat a bad meal anywhere. Ordering was simple and I was always well understood when asking about things like gluten. I actually didn’t have to do any complicated ordering or even substitutions when dining out. Again, Iceland for the win!

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Sausage, Apple & Walnuts

brussels-sprouts-salad-2

This recipe was inspired by a Brussels sprout salad from Danielle Walker’s, Meals Made Simple cookbook. When I was home over the holidays, my mom and I were looking for a winter side dish recipe to take to my aunt’s for Christmas dinner. Upon looking through her copy of Danielle’s cookbook, we decided on the Brussels sprout salad recipe (had leeks, bacon and pomegranate seeds in it!). It ended up being a huge hit! Afterward, I knew I wanted to create my own variation and that it was a priority after getting back to Portland.

I went with the idea of this being a complete one-dish meal versus a side, but it could be served as a side, if desired. It’d be a great side for a holiday meal, actually! Surprisingly, this dish held up well the next day too, though I don’t recommend letting it sit in the fridge for too long. There are so many possibilities for a meal like this, so feel free to get creative and make it how you like it!

Cheers and enjoy!

brussels-sprouts-salad

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed & shredded in a food processor or with a mandoline
  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee (or avocado oil if you don’t tolerate any dairy)
  • 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 pink lady apple, chopped
  • 1 12 oz package chicken apple sausage, sliced (I recommend Aidell’s or Applegate – both of which have 4 pre-cooked sausages in each package)
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • Grated raw parmesan cheese for topping, if tolerated and desired

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Then, add the leek, garlic, Brussels sprouts, sea salt and black pepper. Sauté about 5 minutes.
  2. Next mix in the chicken broth, apple and sausage. Add more sea salt and black pepper, if desired. Place lid on pan and let cook 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts. Top individual serving with desired amount of Parmesan, if using. Serve warm.

Yields: 3-4 entree-size servings

Pizza Burgers

pizza-burgers

Holy cow, I’ve been meaning to share this recipe all summer…oops! Summer somehow slipped by me, though we’ve technically got a couple more weeks. As much as I like fall, I enjoy summer more and I’m not ready to move into the next season yet. We kinda had a weird summer here anyway, so it doesn’t feel like it should be over yet. Since we’re down to our last couple weeks of official summer though, it’s not too late to share a burger recipe, right? Really, I’ll eat a burger any time of year, so I think it’s okay.

Anyway, as you may recall, this year has been a huge transition for me, and it continues to be. That’s definitely been the priority, so my poor little blog has been on the back-burner, but it still lives on and so do I!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb grass-fed ground beef (I used 15%)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 15 oz can no-sugar added pizza sauce (I used this one)
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese, preferably grass-fed
  • 4 slices Applegate pepperoni (large size)
  • Sprinkle of fresh-grated high-quality Parmesan cheese, if desired
  • Mixed greens and veggies of choice, for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill for burgers. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together ground beef, Italian seasoning, sea salt and pepper. Form into two even sized patties.
  2. Once grill is hot, throw on the burgers. Cook to your preference. We usually do about 3.5 minutes each side for medium-rare. Once done, remove from grill.
  3. Warm up a little bit of the pizza sauce on the stove or in the microwave and spread a layer of sauce on top of each patty. Add the cheese and pepperoni to each. Dollop a little more sauce on top and garnish with Parmesan cheese, if using.
  4. Place burgers on top of a bed of mixed greens or veggies of choice for serving.

Yields: 2 servings

 

Ark Elements Review

slide_1

I was recently contacted by Ark Elements to try out their meal service and am excited to share my experience with all of you. Please know, the thoughts expressed in this post are my own and even though I received a week of complimentary meals, I was not compensated in any way to write this review.

What is Ark Elements?

Ark Elements is a Portland-based company that creates locally-sourced, well-crafted paleo foods in small batches. Their foods make evolutionary sense and are minimally processed for maximum progress.

They seek true health and sustainability, and created the Ark Elements as a guide. They believe these Elements are the foundation for optimal health:

  • we feel better when we move, so we practice functional fitness.
  • we feel better when we eat well, so we nourish ourselves through whole eating.
  • we feel better when we’re outside, so we play in our world.
  • we feel better when we’re with people, so we build a like-minded community.

To read more about Ark Elements, visit HERE.

IMG_4353

How does Ark Elements work?

Each week, a new menu is posted on the Ark Elements website and you can go in and place an order between Sunday and Friday. You do not need a subscription to order and there are no strings attached. The only requirement is that you order a minimum of $55 worth of food, which is easy to do on your own, but you could also split it with a friend, roommate, family member, etc. After your initial order, you do not need to place reoccurring orders. You can truly order as little or often as you want.

During the checkout process, you select a pick-up location where you’ll retrieve your food the following Tuesday. But, guess what? Starting sometime this month, Ark Elements will do home deliveries, so the process will be even more convenient!

My Experience

I tried the grilled chicken Waldorf kale salad, grass-fed beef meatballs with figs and bacon over yam and zucchini noodles, yam hash with sage apple sausage and a baked egg, red curry chicken over almond and green onion cauliflower rice, and fennel and herb crusted pork tenderloin with roasted seasonal vegetables. I also ordered a batch of almond flour biscuits and grain-free pumpkin seed granola. The online ordering and checkout process was so easy and took me a matter of minutes. Also, all the ingredients were listed online for each menu item and macros too.

Ark Elements hash

When I got my order, all my meals were clearly labeled and in their own individual containers. As I started tackling away at them each day, I was surprised how much food each container actually contained. It looked like a decent amount in the container, but it always amounted to much more when I emptied it into a dish to reheat. It was actually a real serving size and enough food! Often, it seems like these sorts of things can skimp on serving sizes, but Ark Elements does it right. Each meal was satisfying and I didn’t feel like I needed to eat more with it, other than maybe an almond flour biscuit to use as a vehicle to scoop up bites with (those biscuits pair well with everything too).

Ark Elements pork tenderloin

Also, all the food (that needed reheating) reheated very well with no weird taste or texture afterward. I enjoyed all the meals a lot and felt very spoiled with this service! If I had to pick a favorite out of everything I tried though, it’d be the meatballs (pictured below). Those were unbelievable. The pork tenderloin (see photo above) was a close second, but like I said, I liked it all. In case you’re wondering, the granola was nice as a treat and not something I ate as a meal. That stuff is dangerously delicious and pretty darn dense too. I liked sprinkling a couple tablespoons into a small dish of plain whole milk yogurt as a little post-dinner treat.

Ark Elements meatballs

All in all, I would definitely use this service again because the food was incredible. And, really, you can’t beat the convenience. With that said, if you live in Portland, I highly recommend giving Ark Elements a try sometime. You can even buy some of their items directly at New Seasons — the grain-free granola (cereal aisle) and a selection of meals too (in the grab n’ go refrigerated section). So, if you don’t want to commit to placing an order just yet, head to New Seasons and check out the selection.

Ark Elements Curry

The Times They Are A-Changin’

f88296ec0eb9c913a97cbc6e9cfc25f0
Photo credit: cityfarmhouse.com

It’s been a year of big change, and it’s only April. As I said the last time I posted, things have been crazy. Finally, there’s a bit of relief and the waters are calming down, but I continue to move forward and open the door to new opportunities. Lots of good is flooding in and more lies ahead.

So, what exactly is new with me? Here are the biggies:

  • Recreate Fitness, the gym I’ve worked at for nearly the last 4 years, closed its doors on March 31. It was emotional, stressful and hard. I am grateful for all the time I had there and the relationships, community and opportunities presented to me.

FullSizeRender 4

  • Since closing, I started renting space as an independent contractor at a private training studio not far from where Recreate was located. I am grateful that all my existing clients came with me. This is an opportunity for me to really build my business, which is scary and exciting at the same time.
  • Through a client of mine, I got acquainted with the strength & conditioning coach of the Portland Thorns FC (our professional women’s soccer team) and started helping him with a local gym he’s taking over in Lake Oswego. So, I’m going out there 3x/week and coaching semi-privates, and have been doing so since the end of January. No, I’m not training the soccer players. There is room to grow out here too, if I choose.
  • I’m going to NYC at the end of this month for the Yoga Tune Up® Breath & Bliss immersion. I loved NYC when I was there in the fall and need to keep moving forward with my Yoga Tune Up® studies, so it seemed like a win-win. I need continuing ed credits now that I’m a licensed teacher and wanted to do it regardless. After all the chaos that’s ensued since January, I am greatly looking forward to this getaway + learning experience!

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in my life. One door closed and another one opened, but in-between, it was quite hectic. Extra work, networking, planning, looking for a space to go, emotions, etc. As hard as it was, I’m relieved to have the gym stuff behind me. Change is hard, but also good and I am not worried. Everything will be great.

Meanwhile, if any of you live in the Portland area (specifically NW Portland since that’s where I train clients) and are looking for a personal trainer, feel free to give me a shoutout. Now that I’m not teaching 11 strength & conditioning classes/week at Recreate, I have more room in my schedule and am taking new clients. Visit my contact page to get in touch with me.

Cheers and happy weekend!

Cottage Pie

cottage pie 2

Wow, it’s been over a month since I posted, though it feels like it’s been even longer than that. Life has been a bit crazy for me so far this year — changes, growth, opportunity and lots of things to think about. Seriously, the month of January alone felt like it was a year long. In reality, it’s all good — it’s just been a bit exhausting and slightly chaotic. Anyway, onward and upward!

Meanwhile, I never really knew what the difference was between cottage and shepherd’s pie, but apparently, cottage pie is typically made with beef and shepherd’s pie made with lamb (not sure why the whole shepherd and lamb thing never occurred to me). So, I guess I’m naming this one appropriately. I do have other variations of shepherd’s pie/cottage pie/whatever you want to call it in the archives as well. Check those out HERE and HERE. One is made with ground turkey and has a winter squash topping, and the other is made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and has a cauliflower mash topping. All three versions are a little different, but all delicious!

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place sweet potato and russet potato pieces in a steam basket and bring to a simmer on the stove. After 5 minutes, add the cauliflower florets and steam for another 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.
  2. Add the cooked vegetables, butter, sea salt and black pepper to a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Set aside.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1.25 cups chicken bone broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tube tomato paste (~5 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 12 oz bag frozen green peas
  • Paprika for topping, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 385 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If you’re using leaner ground beef, add a little bit of fat to the pan (i.e. butter, coconut oil, etc.). If you’re using fattier meat (like 85/15 or 80/20), you won’t need any additional fat in the pan, but may want to drain off a little bit of the fat after browning the meat, otherwise the filling can be too runny/greasy. Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the chunks of meat.
  3. Next, add the carrots, dried thyme, cayenne, sea salt and black pepper. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the broth, vinegar and tomato paste, and stir well again. Once mixed together, add the arrowroot starch and stir until dissolved. Finally, add the green peas and let cook for another minute.
  4. Pour filling evenly into a 9×13 pan. Top evenly with the cauliflower-potato mixture and sprinkle with paprika, if using. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
  5. After baking, cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and then serve.

Yields: 6 servings

Sun Basket: Healthy Cooking Made Easy

Spring Banner w copy_logo

I was recently contacted by Sun Basket to try out their meal delivery service and am excited to share my experience with all of you. Please know, the thoughts expressed in this post are my own and even though I received a complimentary Sun Basket box to test out, I was not compensated in any way to write this review.

What is Sun Basket?

Sun Basket is a new healthy meal kit service that delivers organic ingredients and delicious, easy-to-make recipes for cooking at home. Sun Basket makes it easy to cook healthy, with Paleo, Gluten-free and Vegetarian options, plus healthy breakfasts. Get 3 recipes per week for 2, 4 or 6 people, delivered to your door in recyclable packaging that can be shipped back – free- for reuse. Recipes are created by Executive Chef Justine Kelly, formerly head chef at James Beard award-winning restaurant The Slanted Door in San Francisco.

My kitty, Frankie, was curious about the Sun Basket box.
My kitty, Frankie, was curious about the Sun Basket box.

 

Sun Basket food:

  • Organic non-GMO produce from the best West Coast farms
  • Sustainably sourced, hormone-free meats and seafood
  • Easy, healthy 30-minute recipes designed for minimal cleanup
  • Recipes developed by an award-winning San Francisco chef
  • All recipes are approved by our in-house nutritionist

IMG_3897

Sun Basket meal plans:

  • Healthy meal plans including: Paleo-friendly, Gluten-free and Vegetarian options, plus breakfast
  • 3 recipes per week, with meal plans for 2, 4 or 6 people
  • Choose any meals you like each week. You can even double or triple up on a recipe. Currently shipping to CA, OR, WA, CO, UT, AZ, NV and ID

Sun Basket packaging:

  • Carefully packaged to stay fresh in the box for 8 hours after delivery
  • 100% recyclable packaging
  • Free delivery and free return shipping so we can recycle and reuse the materials

FullSizeRender 3

My Sun Basket Meal Review:

Naturally, I opted for the paleo meal options, which included kale, butternut squash and Italian sausage soup, braised chicken arrabbiata with celery root mash, and steak with purple sweet potato and roasted red pepper sauce. This is the first time I’ve ever experienced a meal delivery service and I must say, it was awesome. Everything was delivered in one organized box and it was all fresh! Ingredients were already measured out for recipes and in individual bags (meat was separate though), so it was easy to keep track of everything.

Kale, butternut squash and Italian sausage soup

All the recipes were delicious, especially the soup and chicken arrabbiata. We were actually surprised how incredible they tasted — even better than we imagined. I’ve actually made the soup again on my own since then. The sweet potato and steak meal was alright, but we both had a lot of grizzle on our sirloin steaks, especially Jesse. I think it would have been better with a different cut of beef. The roasted sweet potatoes and mushrooms were great though.

I can totally see myself using this service again. I enjoy cooking and creating on my own, but this is so handy and a nice break from having to think about what I’m making for dinner. It’s also great for getting new and easy recipe ideas. For those of you with extra busy schedules, lack of direction or motivation in the kitchen, not knowing what to eat, poor cooking skills, etc., I highly recommend trying this out. Sun Basket makes it so easy. And, it’s good! The meals actually look like the pictures too!

Interested in trying Sun Basket for yourself? Visit HERE to learn more and sign up now to receive $30 off your first box!

For more information, please visit https://sunbasket.com/home or Facebook, InstagramPinterest or Twitter.

Whats In Your SunBasket DiptychWEB