Paleo Eats: 12/27/11 

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I’m heaving big sighs as I type this post because I resume my graveyard shifts tomorrow night. I know I need to quit my whining since I had three weeks off, but I’m still sad that I’ll be sleeping during the day while the boys are on vacation.

Today, I crammed in lots of good eats and playtime because I didn’t want to waste my last day of PTO. For brunch, our family stopped by Café Borrone in Menlo Park and I ate a scramble with Swiss chard, green onions, and bacon.

Then, we wandered into Kepler’s Books where the kids pored over Tintin comic books and I browsed the cookbook section. I can never have enough cookbooks. It’s a sickness, I know.

I was dead set on making some Vietnamese beef phở broth today, so we stopped by Penzeys to stock up on my missing spices.

I’m a huge fan of this spice emporium, as is Big-O.

In the afternoon, I took my old pressure cooker out of the appliance graveyard in the garage to make a pot of Vietnamese phở beef broth. I’d put it away two years ago when I stopped making my weekly pot ‘o beans. Recently, my sister told me about her quick and easy technique of making beef broth using her pressure cooker and beef cross shanks. Intrigued, I made a few batches of broth this week and the results were fantastic. The soup is super flavorful and the meat on the shanks is moist and tender. Did I mention that it takes less than an hour? Amazing.

For today’s soup, I toasted the spices…

…seared the shanks…

…and tossed the rest of the ingredients into the pressure cooker.

In about an hour, I had a pot filled with rich stock and hearty, fork-tender meat. After I strained the broth and reserved the beef, I stored both containers in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.

What did I eat between brunch and dinner? Uh…mac nuts, dark chocolate, and some coconut cream. I saw you rolling your eyes…

For dinner, I baked an oldie but goodie: Super Porktastic Meatloaf.

Gotta catch some zzz’s at night for the last time this week!

Dining Out Paleo: Café Borrone (Menlo Park, CA)

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I’ve been a regular grazer at Café Borrone for over twenty years(!). It’s a large airy cafe, with tons of indoor and outdoor seating, located next door to Kepler’s Bookstore. Back in high school, I used to come here on weekend nights — dressed in all black and donning Dr. Martens boots— to gossip with my gal pals while we downed frosted mochas and pastries. Egads.

These days, I come here with the family to enjoy hearty, Paleo-friendly breakfasts al fresco.

In the morning, they always offer six or seven different scrambles filled with seasonal veggies, cheese, or meat. My favorite one is the #6 scramble which has Swiss Chard, green onions, and bacon.

Normally, I also add a hot Italian sausage to my order…

…and a steaming mug of java.

The kids split an order of scrambled eggs…

…and a cup of fruit salad.

The counter service is always friendly and efficient and we’re in and out of there in a flash. It’s totally an oldie, but goodie — just like moi.

Paleo Eats: 11/26/11

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Today, we pressed the play button and tried to resume our normal routine. The kids had a play date with their friends and I spent the majority of the day tinkering in the kitchen.

For brunch, I sautéed 4505 Meats merguez sausage (out of the casing) with onions… 

…and ate it with leftover braised cabbage

In the afternoon, I cooked up a storm. I think I just wanted to keep my mind and hands busy.

I made a batch of macadamia nut oil mayonnaise… 

…a dark chocolate and coconut milk ganache… 

…which I’ll form into truffles if the ganache sets up properly…

…and curried cream of broccoli soup

Plus, I’ve got a seasoned grass fed beef cheek soaking in the SousVide Supreme that I’ll fish out tomorrow afternoon.

At dinnertime, I sliced up the leftover 4505 Meats Turducken Junior and pan-fried them in duck fat. 

We gobbled it up (heh!) with the rest of the braised cabbage and a bowl of soup.

Goodbye for now!

Paleo Eats: 5/28/11

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I had a fun-filled day eating clean grub, but dude — I’m tired. Here’s a quick recap of my day:

We ate brunch at Rick’s where I split a couple of protein-packed dishes with my hubby: Wteak and eggs with a side salad (hold the dressing)… 

…and a crab, avocado, tomato and onion scramble (hold the cheese).

For dinner, we hosted a Paleo meal with The Lazy CavemanR, and K. The Lazy Caveman is, of course, CrossFit Palo Alto's resident Paleo guru and personal health and wellness coach. We'd been planning to pull off an ambitiously high-concept blog-crossover meet-up, complete with cooking and science and a workout. And how could we not include our blogging 'n pork-curing pals R. & K., who were going to haul away some of our pig and turn it into salty, fatty goodness? But in the end, with our nutty schedules this week, we ended up just enjoying a low-key, casual evening of food and conversation. 

The Lazy Caveman’s in the middle of another round of the Whole30, so for tonight’s meal prep, I left the butter in the fridge and…that’s about all I had to do to adjust. It’s been a while since I finished up my own Whole30, and although my eats aren’t as super-pristine as they were back then (hello, coffee with heavy cream!), it was kind of gratifying to step back and realize that my cooking has actually stayed damned close to 100% Paleo.

I’d already made the Bo Kho last night, so I just focused on making the veggie sides and starters when we got home from brunch. I finished most of the cooking before the guests arrived, so there weren’t any stressful last minute Iron Chef hijinks.

What did I serve?

As munchies pre-dinner, I laid out some macadamia nuts, carrots, and cucumbers. I also made sous vide Turkish meatballs that were sprinkled with sumac pepper after I fried them in coconut oil.

For dinner, I assembled some portobello mushroom packets with lemon and garlic

…whipped up a batch of garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes

…broiled asparagus tossed with avocado oil, salt, and pepper…

… and sauteed baby spinach with garlic, Red Boat fish sauce, coconut aminos, and coconut vinegar.

For the main dish, I reheated the Bo Kho I made last night, and tossed some chopped cilantro on top.

Here’s my dinner plate:

For dessert, we had some berries…

…and cherries.

After dinner came the butchery. (‘Cause who doesn’t like to follow up dinner with some knives and meat?) K. (the Bacon King) helped cut up our Full of Life Farm pork belly…

…and promised to magically transform it into bacon. I’m in awe of his mad pork cooking skillz, so I also gave him our pig’s head, a bunch o’ pork fat, and some skin. Can’t wait to see what he does with it!

See how happy I look? Just imagine my jubilation when the bacon is ready to eat!

Paleo Eats: 4/30/11

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Today, I ate most of my meals in restaurants. It’s nice to take a break from kitchen duty, but I’m itching to try out some new recipes on my to-do list. Oh, well — they’ll just have to wait!

For breakfast, I made myself a sardine salad (a can o’ sardines mixed with Paleo mayonnaise, Fines Herbes seasoning, salt, pepper, and fresh chives) and downed it with some crudités.

I wanted to load up on omega-3s in anticipation of our grain-fed meat-apalooza at Pampas later in the evening.

After breakfast, I picked up my Full Belly Farm CSA box

…which had a nice variety of veggies this week.

At brunch, we stopped by Joanie’s Café and waited 45 loooong minutes for…an altogether mediocre meal. Hubs and I shared two eggs over medium and seared sausages…

…and a three-egg omelet with bacon, sausage, and avocados.

Our boys, on the other hand, gorged on simple carbs and sugar. Yes — that’s right: I’m ashamed to admit that we let our kids order pancakes and waffles.

Ever since Everyday Paleo arrived in the mail, I’ve done a decent job of keeping the kiddies on the Paleo straight-and-narrow. All week, they ate the Paleo meals that I made — albeit sometimes reluctantly. And at breakfast this morning, we stuffed them to the gills with scrambled eggs, bacon, and strawberries. So at brunch, I figured they’d be too full to eat much more, and allowed them to pick what they wanted from the menu.

Big mistake. All they wanted were carbs, carbs, and more carbs.

They were ECSTATIC upon arrival of the gluten and refined sugar…

…and kept eating and eating and eating and eating…

…until we dragged them out of the restaurant.

About an hour later, Lil-O threw a colossal, five-alarm temper tantrum. Then, in the car, he conked out as we drove to my parent’s house.

This was not normal. Lil-O may be a stubborn bugger, but he’s usually even-keeled and well-rested. Was today’s meltdown and sudden narcolepsy the result of a massive sugar crash? No doubt about it. Sometimes, even committed Paleo mommies need a reminder of the importance of sugar-avoidance.

In the afternoon, I snacked on a Tanka Bar, a few mac nuts, some coconut flakes, and a couple tablespoons of coconut butter.

For dinner, we marched into Pampas with the charter members of the Five Tribe and Coach Tim (plus everyone’s spouses) and polished off plate after plate of meat, meat, and more meat. Unlike our last meal here, I actually visited the salad bar and nibbled on a few bites of vegetables…

…along with the mountains of meat.

That’s it for my eats!

Paleo Eats: 4/3/11

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Today we were zipping around the outer reaches of the Bay Area but I was still able to eat pretty clean despite not cooking anything myself.

In the morning, I met up with Fit Daffy at the Mountain View Farmers to pick up two bunches of free asparagus, eggs, veggies, and fruit. I was really excited to see that my favorite strawberry stand, Kika’s, has set up shop again. Another stand I’ve been frequenting a lot lately is Borba Farms. They sell really tasty and beautiful organic produce. I know that sounds superficial but some organic produce is so damn ugly it’s unappetizing: muddy, wilted, bug-eaten. You know what I mean.

After I came home, the family and I piled into the car to meet some friends for brunch at Café Borrone (same owners as Station 1 Restaurant). My hubby and I each ordered a scramble with chard, green onions, and bacon…

…a fancy green salad to share…

…and chicken apple sausage.

Then, we took a short walk to the spice mecca, Penzeys, to restock my spice drawer.

My kids and I sniffed our way through the store…

…and I purchased a ton: Balti seasoning, Rogan Josh seasoning, Fox Point seasoning, Tukish seasoning, Sunny Paris seasoning, Tandoori seasoning, and Parisien Bonnes Herbes.

We also took a stroll over to the Menlo Park Farmers’ market

…and purchased some grass fed beef jerky from the Holding Ranch stand

…a dozen duck eggs…

…and more sweet potatoes.

The kids had a blast boogying to the musicians at the market.

We took our purchases home and then we were off to a kid’s birthday party in Walnut Creek. While we were there, I snacked on the beef jerky we just bought and some strawberries.

For dinner, we made a pitstop at Chipotle on our way home. Hubby and I both ordered salads with double portions of carnitas, hot and mild salsa, and a big dollop of guacamole.

For fast food, it wasn’t bad but as I’ve posted before, I do find the carnitas a bit salty.

Tomorrow, I promise I’ll cook something…

Start of the Whole30 Program…

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Today is the day I start the Whole30 Program. Yes, it can seem restrictive to many people but I already basically eat this way except that I’ve been nipping at dark chocolate, nuts, and coconut flakes ALL THE TIME. Plus, I want to see what happens if I don’t eat dairy (except for occasional ghee) and processed meats (e.g. sausage, prosciutto, bacon, etc.) for 30 days. I’m sure I won’t be 100% compliant (see below) but I’m gonna do my best.

For breakfast, I fried up three scrambled eggs in macadamia nut oil and nuked up some leftover stovetop cabbage.

Yes, the cabbage was sautéed in ghee but since it was from grass fed cows, it should cause little intolerance. And ghee tastes good.

For lunch, we hit up our go-to brunch place, Rick’s Café. It’s a bit harder maneuvering the menu when you’re on the Whole30. Since dairy and processed meats are verboten on Whole30  I opted to order an Alfredo omelet (omelet filled with grilled chicken breast, onions, and mushrooms topped with Alfredo sauce) without the sauce and I subbed in a salad and fruit cup in place of potatoes and bagel.

I was a troublesome customer. This tasted okay – kind of dry and plain. Surprise, surprise. Plus, the salad came tossed with a sugar-filled dressing so I didn’t eat it. Fitbomb felt sorry for me and shared some of his Cobb Salad with me.

I ate some bacon and it tasted good.

An Atypically Busy Saturday Chez Nom Nom Paleo

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This Saturday has been muy busy. Normally, we laze around in our pajamas until we have to leave the house for brunch.  But today, we had plans: kickboxing class for me, kung fu class for the kindergartner, brunch, last minute shopping for said kindergartner’s birthday party tomorrow, drop kindergartner off at his friend’s birthday party (I know — kids have a ton of birthday parties), pick up non-Paleo imperial rolls for Fitbomb’s family’s dinner party, drive out to said family party, return home, tuck the kids into bed, and clean and decorate the house for the birthday shindig we’re throwing tomorrow. Crap!

Thankfully, my cooking plans were set. When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was sous vide some chicken breasts (140 F for at least 1 hour and 40 minutes) for the older rugrat’s birthday party.

Tomorrow, I’ll just reheat the chicken breasts (along with some flank steaks that I already cooked sous vide) in the SousVide Supreme, and Fitbomb will sear them off on the grill.

After our kindergartner’s kung fu class, we stopped by one of our usual brunch spots, Rick’s Café. I ordered steak and eggs and subbed in a salad for the potatoes and bagel.

Fitbomb had his usual Cobb Salad.

Both were fine – I love that the friendly folks at Rick’s are very accommodating when we substitute out carbs and they don’t charge us a nuisance fee.

Tonight, after picking up our son from his buddy’s birthday party, we set off for Fitbomb’s parents house for another family birthday dinner. We were celebrating our kids’ AND my father-in-law’s birthdays. Can you tell that December is a really busy month for us? That’s why I need another 3 weeks off from work!

Again, we had another huge, eclectic potluck. There were lots of carbs (which I avoided), meats, and some veggies. Fitbomb’s uncle is a retired restaurant chef and he made some delicious meaty entrees including homemade Peking Duck…

…Chinese spareribs…

…roast pork…

…and stir-fried Dungeness crab.

Someone also brought a tub of KFC and a box of Costco pizza — per special request of Fitbomb’s granny. Seriously.

Here’s my dinner plate of meat and veggies:

Since returning home, we’ve been furiously trying to make our house festive and party-ready before we fall asleep. Then, it’s an early morning of food prep before the deluge of screaming kids arrives at lunchtime. I can’t wait.

Dining Out Paleo: Rick’s Cafe (Los Altos, CA)

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To celebrate Turkey Day, I went to a cardio kickboxing class this morning and then our family went to Rick’s Café, one of our go-to brunch places, to nosh.  Do you know how hard it is to find a brunch place that’s open on Turkey Day?

Rick’s is a family-friendly place that serves large portions of typical American diner food.  Every breakfast plate comes with two large sides of carbs – a huge-ass bagel and some skillet potatoes.  I normally ask to sub out the carbs with some fruit salad but other times I just don’t eat them.

Today, Fitbomb and I shared the Los Altos Scramble (eggs scrambled with ground beef, spinach, green onions, and cream cheese, topped with parmesan cheese)…

 

…and the Cobb Salad:

 

On the scramble, I asked the waitress to hold the cream cheese ‘cause that combo just sounds weird.  It was a tasty egg dish but I was still hungry afterwards since I didn’t eat the carbs.  Plus, it annoys me to pay $10+ for something I can make myself with better quality ingredients.  But then, I’d have to cook and wash up so I guess it’s a wash. The Cobb was fine but I’ve definitely had better.

Rick’s Café is in our regular rotation because our kiddies LOVE it so that’s why I allow us to come here even though the food is mediocre.  Yes, I’m a good mommy and a food nazi.

Brunch at Mala (Lahaina, HI)

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Yep, this is the third time this week we’ve dined at Mala Ocean Tavern.  This time we came for brunch and the setting and vibe were perfect for a lazy Saturday in paradise.  Before leaving the Bay Area, we had checked the 10-day forecast and had braced ourselves for rain on our last two days here.  Lo and behold, today we have nothing but sun and clear skies.  Woo hoo!

After a lazy morning spent snorkeling at the beach and building sand castles under the direction of a very pitiless taskmaster (5 year-olds are real slave masters), we headed to Mala for some grub.  Here’s what we ordered this time:

Fresh Maui Gold pineapple boat with baby coconuts and balsamic vinegar:

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Teddy’s Loco Moco: Kobe beef patty, 2 eggs fried over easy, green onion, and mushroom gravy.   Fitbomb requested no organic brown rice and the server visibly balked.

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Omelette of the day filled with Kula cherry tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese.  I asked to sub out the hash browns with a small side salad.

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Side of house made lamb sausage:

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I found these patties a tad under-seasoned but I’m a salt fiend.

Our favorite side on the island: BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

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Mala really is one of favorite spots here in West Maui.  We’ll definitely return – maybe one last time tomorrow for brunch!