Ark Elements Review

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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.

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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

Intro to Essential Oils Class in PDX

If you live in the Portland area and are interested in learning more about essential oils, I am hosting a FREE class on Sunday, February 1st at 1:30 p.m. The class will take place at Studio Blue in NW Portland. Arsy of Rubies and Radishes and Katja of The Savory Lotus will be presenting the class. If you want to come, please RSVP at the link below. Also, you are welcome to bring guests — just be sure to add them to your RSVP please! The class will last 90 minutes to two hours. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Hope to meet some of you there!

RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intro-to-essential-oils-portland-tickets-15095517098

On another note, if you don’t live in the Portland area, but are interested in getting started with essential oils, please visit here for more details. You are also welcome to email me at paleoinportland@gmail.com

EO class flyer

Salted Almond Bites

Salted almond bites

This recipe has been long in coming, and I am finally sharing it. I used to make these for Cultured Caveman here in Portland and they would then sell them at their food cart. I started making them a couple months after they opened their first food cart back in 2012. I always usually had two flavors — this one and a rotating one. The salted almond was always a big hit and also my favorite, which is why it always remained a staple flavor. As Cultured Caveman grew and opened more carts (and now a restaurant!), they took over making these for me instead. My schedule got a bit more hectic and it became easier on both sides for them to take over, so I handed over the reigns this past November. It is still my original recipe though and you can still find them at the carts. Bill and Hayley of Primal Palate even tried them during their visit to Portland and liked them (and posted about it on Facebook!). That made me happy and was so cool to see!

Meanwhile, these are super easy to make, as long as you have a good food processor (I use this one). They’re great for traveling, kiddos or as a little sweet treat for yourself. They are not a staple by any means, but something to be enjoyed on occasion or shared with others.

Feel free to make the bites whatever size you desire. If you’re pressed for time or just prefer it, you can pat the mixture down into a small pan and then cut into squares. Either way, make sure to store these puppies in the refrigerator.

Bite of salted almond

Ingredients:

  • 12-14 large medjool dates (get the ones with pits)
  • 1 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond butter (this brand is my favorite)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Remove pits from dates and place dates in the food processor. Process/blend about 30 seconds or until dates are chopped up and starting to clump together.
  2. Then, add the remaining ingredients. Process again until everything is mixed through. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl and then blend again.
  3. Chill processed mixture in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Then remove and roll into desired sized bites. I made mine a generous 1/2 Tbsp size. Again, you can pat into a pan and slice into squares too. Quantity will vary deepening on size and shape. Store in the refrigerator.

 

Weekend Highlights: Workshop, Spirits and Grain-Free Lasagna

A silly group shot at the Gold Medal Bodies seminar. It was the end of the day, so we were pretty wiped out. (Photo credit: Gold Medal Bodies).
A silly group shot at the Gold Medal Bodies seminar. (Photo credit: Gold Medal Bodies).

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, Jesse and I had an all day Gold Medal Bodies seminar in the Seattle area on Saturday. We got up around 5:30 that morning, or at least I did (Jesse slept until 5:45), got dressed, packed a cooler for lunch and made breakfast for the road. I can’t eat that early in the morning, so instead, I drank some cold-brew with coconut milk at home and ate my 2-egg and banana pancake with chicken apple sausage in the car, about an hour into our drive.

Breakfast in the car: Applegate chicken sausages and a 2-egg/banana pancake with unsweetened sunflower seed butter on top. No sweetener in the itself pancake either.
Okay, this looks terrible, but I swear it tastes better than it looks! This was my breakfast in the car: Applegate chicken apple sausages and a 2-egg/banana pancake with unsweetened sunflower seed butter on top. No sweetener in the pancake itself either. (Taken on iPhone).

In our cooler, I packed carrots, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, freshly sliced Applegate deli chicken, castelvetrano olives, sprouted almonds and white nectarines. Perfect and easy. On our lunch break, I combined a bunch of stuff in a dish and gobbled it up. It was simple good and just what I needed to refuel.

Mmm....lunch. Plus, a nectarine afterward.
Mmm….lunch. Plus, a nectarine afterward. There’s avocado somewhere in there too. (Taken on iPhone).

The seminar was fantastic and we learned and worked on a lot: locomotion (crawling) progressions, handstands (with one-on-one coaching), a little bit of ring work, stretching/mobility, a one-on-one structural assessment, and some other gymnastic moves. It was really, REALLY great and Jesse and I both came away with a lot, and enjoyed ourselves too. The Gold Medal Bodies team is phenomenal. For more info and details about the seminar we attended, check out their recap here.

You may have seen this shot of me from the seminar on my Facebook page, but just in case -- it's me holding top position on the rings. (Photo credit: Gold Medal Bodies).
You may have seen this shot of me from the seminar on my Facebook page, but just in case — it’s me holding top position on the rings. (Photo credit: Gold Medal Bodies).

We wrapped up around 5:30 and afterward, Jesse and I headed to Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, for dinner. We found a great Thai place called, Chantanee Thai Restaurant and saddled up for a glass of Montinore Estate Pinot Gris, Tom Yum soup and red curry with chicken — at least that’s what I had. It was delicious and satisfying after our full, very physical day. It was hard getting back in the car for a 3-hour drive home after that because we were both ready to sleep and call it a day. Alas, we carried on.

This Pinot Gris from Montinore Estate in the Willamette Valley was out of this world. Jesse had it too and agreed. (Taken on iPhone).
This Pinot Gris from Montinore Estate in the Willamette Valley was out of this world. Jesse had it too and agreed. (Taken on iPhone).
Tom yum soup -- loaded with mushrooms and big pieces of chicken.
Tom yum soup — loaded with mushrooms and big pieces of chicken. (Taken on iPhone).
My red curry with chicken. Gluten-free and no rice! (Taken on iPhone).
My red curry with chicken. Gluten-free and no rice! (Taken on iPhone).
Jesse, eating his soup. He got a different kind of soup and had to be careful, as there were a lot of inedible things in it (lemongrass stalks, dried hot peppers, bones from pork ribs, etc.). (Taken on iPhone).
Jesse, eating his soup. (Taken on iPhone).

We got home around 10:30, unpacked the car, showered and went to bed. We both had to work in the morning, but thankfully, I didn’t have to work until 9, whereas Jesse had a client at 6:30 a.m.

After work on Sunday, Jesse and I did some stuff around the house and then went grocery shopping. Then, we went for a hard cider at Reverend Nat’s. This is the third weekend in a row we’ve gone there for a cider. It’s a little too convenient having it right in our neighborhood, but we love it.

My favorite Reverend Nat's Cider -- the Newtown Pippin. Crisp, refreshing and dry. (Taken on iPhone).
My favorite Reverend Nat’s Cider — the Newtown Pippin. Crisp, refreshing and dry. (Taken on iPhone).

After we got home, I whipped up the bechamel sauce from Sarah Fragoso’s new cookbook, Everyday Paleo Around the World: Italian Cuisine, but made it with frozen butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes, since those are a no-go for me. It turned out heavenly — creamy, slightly sweet, thick and buttery. Let me tell ya, this stuff is gold! Then, I proceeded to use the sauce to make her grain-free lasagna. It was a lot of work and time consuming, but delicious. It did not hold together like a lasagna at all (nothing like her picture in the book), but tasted wonderful. The portabella mushroom “noodles” were tricky and didn’t work very well for me. They’re  difficult to cut thin and I’d maybe get three good pieces from one mushroom, with a lot of little scraps leftover. The recipe made a big and REALLY FULL pan too (I had to have a baking sheet underneath to catch overflow juices). We have a lot leftover, which is great, but plan to eat the remainder as sauce over zucchini noodles because of its lack of shape. I’d still make it again because it’s tasty, but wouldn’t expect to hold shape. I honestly don’t understand how to get designated pieces out of a lasagna like this because of all the sauce — meat sauce and bechamel alike. Whatever though, it’s still awesome.

Whisking the bechamel on the stove, post blending. (Taken on iPhone).
Whisking the bechamel on the stove, post blending. (Taken on iPhone).
Really and I mean REALLY full pan of lasagna. The orangish-yellow on top is not American cheese or canned Nacho cheese! It's the squash bechamel sauce! (Taken on iPhone).
Really and I mean REALLY full pan of lasagna. The orangish-yellow stuff on top is not American cheese or canned nacho cheese! It’s the squash bechamel sauce! (Taken on iPhone).
The lasagna, once
The lasagna, once “sliced.” (Taken on iPhone).

What did you do this weekend? If you have Sarah Fragoso’s new cookbook, have you tried anything yet?

Simple Supper Friday: No-Noodle Sausage Goulash

 

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Wow, it has been such a fun and productive morning, and it’s not even 11 a.m. here in Portland yet. I got up at 6 a.m. with Jesse and headed to Recreate with him. He had to teach class this morning and I decided to take the 6:30 class since I was meeting a client at 7:30 anyway (my internship project client — gets to work with me on form/mechanics/mobility free-of-charge!). It was a great workout and a deadlift day, which I was excited about. Afterward, I had a short 30-minute session with my client in which we did some mobility, foam rolling and myofascial release with a lacrosse ball. When I was done, Jesse asked if I wanted to hang out for the next class to finish and go out to breakfast with him. Um, yes! There was no hesitation on my end. I love, LOVE going out for breakfast and we went to our favorite place too since it’s right nearby – Besaw’s. So, I did my own foam rolling and soft tissue work with the lacrosse ball while I waited.

Then, there was breakfast. Over easy eggs, seasonal vegetables, bacon and avocado.

My favorite breakfast at Besaw's. (Taken on iPhone).

I dropped Jesse back off at the gym to teach the 10 a.m. class and then drove to Whole Foods to get some food for our day tomorrow and for dinner tonight (fresh wild Coho salmon is on sale for $9.99/pound today! Guess what we’re having?). Tomorrow, we’re headed up to the Seattle area (Redmond) for an all day Gold Medal Bodies seminar. It’ll be a quick trip and full day because we’re not spending the night, so need to leave by 6:30 a.m. to get there just before 10 a.m. The seminar goes until 5 p.m. or so and afterward, we plan to head back home and grab a bite to eat somewhere along the way. We’ll probably just eat somewhere in Seattle because there will be more options. Plus, we haven’t been to Seattle in well over a year, so it’ll be fun to hang out, even if it’s only for dinner.

The workshop should be fun and useful, but also a bit tiring. We’ll be doing parallette work, gymnastics skills (rings, tumbling, handstands, etc.), hand balancing and more. Good stuff and I’m looking forward to the opportunity. It’s really cool to do this kind of stuff with Jesse too.

Anyway, now I’m home drinking some cold-brew with coconut milk and relaxing. I have some other work to do at home before going back to the gym to teach the 5:30 p.m. class.

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Meanwhile, go make this no-noodle sausage goulash — it is super. I actually feel kinda funny sharing an Italian-style recipe because of Sarah Fragoso’s new Italian cookbook, but the recipe is too good not to share. Speaking of Sarah’s new cookbook, if you haven’t purchased it yet, I HIGHLY recommend it. I still have yet to make anything from it because of my schedule and maybe a little poor planning, but the recipes look phenomenal and the pictures will seriously make you salivate. There’s tons of other useful information in the book too, such as tips for traveling to Italy (where to stay, visit, etc.) and there’s also a background story with each recipe, which is enjoyable to read. This book is SO beautiful altogether and not only that, but Sarah is just such a downright cool and inspiring woman.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp grass-fed tallow or other fat of choice
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced in thin half moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh Italian pork sausages, sliced OR removed from casing (buy these from Food Front if you live in PDX…so good!)
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 pint sliced tomatoes (I used my mom’s fresh canned, but a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes works too)
  • 3-4 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp dried oregano, rubbed between hands
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat tallow in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and garlic. Stir and saute for a couple minutes. Then, add the pork sausage and ground beef. Break up the ground beef with a spatula (and the pork sausage if you choose to remove it from the casing) and continue to cook for several minutes, until meat is browned.
  2. Once the meat is nearly cooked through, add the tomatoes, coconut milk, oregano, sea salt and pepper, and cayenne. Stir well and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once mixture has thickened up a bit, remove from heat and stir in the fresh parsley and basil.
  4. Serve atop vegetable of choice. I recommend roasted green beans, steamed kale or zucchini noodles.

Yields: 4-5 servings

Simple Supper Friday: Sirloin Green Curry

Sirloin green curry.

Remember the sirloin curry I mentioned in Monday’s post? Well, here it is, as promised! If you don’t already know, I have a weakness for curries and just can’t seem to get enough. Curries are often one of my defaults and always seem to satisfy. I guess I have a big place for curries in my heart. I prefer to eat my curry over zucchini noodles, but cauliflower rice works too. Heck, you can really eat it on top of any vegetable.

On another note, I have some fun things planned this weekend. Tomorrow starts out with some time at Clackamas Physical Conditioning with Jason Seib and then afterward, Jesse and I are having lunch at Dick’s Kitchen with a friend of ours (also a client of Jesse’s) and her husband, who we’ll be meeting for the first time. They’ve never eaten at Dick’s, so they’re in for a real treat! I always look forward to a good grass-fed burger there. When I was there last a few weeks back, I had my first experience with an elk burger and it was fantastic. It did not disappoint.

Aside from that, Jesse and I both work briefly Sunday morning and then talked about going for another round of blueberry picking later in the day. We might not pick as much as we did a couple weeks ago (15 lb), but want to get at least half that amount. We want to add to our supply in the freezer, but keep a little bit more out for eating this time around.

Also, I wouldn’t mind going back to Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider taproom in our neighborhood and having another cider. This sounds like a good Saturday thing to do, after a nice long walk . Jesse, if you’re reading this, it’s a big hint.

Oh, and get this, I have jury duty on Monday and Tuesday. I was summoned a few weeks back. I’m not really looking forward to being confined and sitting all day, but hopefully I’ll get out early or won’t be a fit for the case. I won’t find out until they do the questioning that first day though. If I do have to stay, I’m at least hoping for an interesting case!

What are your plans for the weekend? Have you ever served for jury duty?

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced in half moons
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lb petite top sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp green curry paste (I use this brand)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 8 oz can bamboo shoots, drained
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (use Thai basil if you can find it)
  • Sliced green onions, optional

Directions:

  1. Melt coconut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the garlic, jalapeno and onion. Saute a couple minutes and then add the sliced sirloin. Continue to saute for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, coconut aminos and cayenne. Add to the pan with the meat and onion mixture, and stir.
  3. Add the carrot, cabbage and cauliflower and stir. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  4. Next, stir in the bamboo shoots and stir. Once heated through, mix in the chopped basil.
  5. Serve straight up or atop of zucchini noodles. Garnish with green onion, if using.

Yields: 4-5 servings

Weekend Photo Recap

I had a lovely weekend — the weather was warm and sunny and I did a lot of enjoyable things. Here are some highlights:

Reverand Nat's Hard Cider, a local cider company, just opened a tasting room/bar a few blocks away from our house. We walked there Saturday before dinner and shared this sampler platter. All of their ciders are dry, which is right up my alley. I liked most of these with the exception of the second from the left. It was an heirloom cider that tasted smokey and odd. I ended up ordering a glass of the Newton Pippin, the last glass on the right. The seasonal hybiscus (red one) was really nice too.
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, a local cider company, recently opened a taproom a few blocks away from our house. How convenient, right? We walked there Saturday before dinner and shared this sampler platter. All of their ciders are dry, which is right up my alley. I liked most of these with the exception of the second from the left. It was an heirloom cider that tasted smokey and a little too odd for my palate. I ended up ordering a glass of the Newtown Pippin, the last glass on the right. It was crisp, light and refreshing, especially on a hot day. The seasonal hibiscus (red one) was really nice too.
My glass of the Newtown Pippin. Jesse drank two ciders in the time it took me to finish this. I really liked it, but when I drink, I get chatty and full of ideas/inspiration.
My glass of the Newtown Pippin. Jesse drank two ciders in the time it took me to finish this. I really liked it, but when I drink, I get chatty and full of ideas/inspiration, so it takes me longer. I am also good at savoring my drinks (not to the point where it becomes warm though…ick).
Went to the farmer's market and bought fresh eggs from this man. (Taken on iPhone).
Went to the farmer’s market and bought fresh eggs from this man. (Taken on iPhone).
I bought some fresh boysenberries from this vendor too.
I bought some fresh boysenberries from this vendor too. (Taken on iPhone).
Pretty flowers at the farmer's market. They're very tempting to buy, but one of our cats loves to eat them. We end up having to hide the flowers, so it's kinda pointless. (Taken on iPhone).
Pretty flowers at the farmer’s market. They’re very tempting to buy, but one of our cats loves to eat them. We end up having to hide the flowers, so it’s kinda pointless. (Taken on iPhone).
Washing my car (grandma's car) the real way.
Washing my car (my dear grandma’s car) at home in the driveway, the real way.
Can you tell I used to be a dancer?
Can you tell I used to be a dancer? What’s funny, is that I didn’t even know I was doing this!
All shiny and fresh. Grandma would be so happy.
All shiny and fresh. Grandma would be so happy.
Made this tasty curry for Sunday dinner -- recipe to come later this week!
Made this tasty curry for Sunday dinner — recipe to come later this week!

What did you do this weekend? Please share!