Nom Nom Paleo

How I Roll: Weeknight Paleo Dinner Prep

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I was asked about my dinner prep strategies during an interview last week, and I had to confess: I don’t give much thought to meal planning.

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I’m not proud of it. I often wish I were more like the marvelous Melissa Joulwan, whose ingenious Weekly Cookup and Hot Plates concepts in her cookbook, Well Fed, make meal preparation a breeze. Or like Tammy Credicott, whose new book, Make Ahead Paleo, just arrived in the mail yesterday. If I really had my act together, I might even try cooking all my meals a full month in advance, à la Tricia Callahan of Once A Month Meals

Sadly, I’m a shambling mess when it comes to meal prep, and there are days when I’m tempted to go foraging for a carnitas salad bowl with extra guacamole at Chipotle instead of turning on the stove. After all, meals are the one thing that can be easily and cheaply outsourced…

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But then, I remember: nothing beats home-cooked meals. 

Since going Paleo a few years ago, I’ve found that the only way I truly understand what I’m feeding myself and my boys is to roll up my sleeves and prepare our meals from scratch. In doing so, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for whole, nutritious ingredients. Now, with countless hours in the kitchen under my belt, my culinary chops have slowly but surely improved. Like all skills, the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. 

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Plus, I love our little clan’s nightly ritual of gathering together at the dinner table; there, we can come together as a family to: Instagram the food (that would be me), wearily complain about all the Lego bricks underfoot (Henry), share defensive strategies in response to zombie attacks (Big-O), and count aloud the number of days until Christmas (Lil-O). I have fond memories of cracking jokes over supper with my parents, sister, and grandparents, and I want to pass on this important tradition to my kiddos. 

Besides, cooking at home is far more budget-friendly than dining out every night. 

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Paleo Eats: 1/6/12 (Whole30 Day 6)

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Last night I dreamt that I downed a tall, frosty glass of sweet and creamy chocolate milk. Needless to say, I woke up screaming. 

For breakfast, I fueled up with a black espresso, a couple of scrambled eggs, and sliced avocado before heading to the womens’ class at CrossFit Palo Alto.

I was wiped out after the chipper and nourished myself with some carbs and protein: a nuked yam, hard boiled egg, and leftover burger bites.

I had some free time in the afternoon, so I cooked some greens and protein to restock the fridge. I consulted with my well-loved copy of Well Fed on the kitchen counter and baked a batch of Melicious’s Asian-style Scotch eggs.

In addition, my chef sis recently emailed me a recipe for pressure cooker braised spicy kale that looked too simple and tasty to pass up. 

After just 8 minutes of high pressure cooking, I had a big mound of tender carrots and greens (and stems, too!).

At lunchtime, I ate a Scotch egg…

…slurped down the spicy pot liquor from the braised kale…

…and a bowl of leftover Welsh beef stew.

In the afternoon, I snacked on a handful of coconut flakes, a Clementine tangerine, and some leftover roasted vegetables from the fridge.

Dinner prep was easy. I used the pressure cooker again — because I love it — to whip up a cauliflower and leek puree in just 6 minutes under high pressure.

My old and unsexy pressure cooker is looking reeeal fine these days. Baby, baby fallin’ in love, I’m fallin’ in love again…

I removed the sous vide short ribs from the water oven (48 hours at 140°F) and blasted them with my kitchen torch.

The marbled meat was melt-in-your mouth tender, yet still pink.

Yowza.

I plated everything up, along with last night’s stir-fried bok choy and mushrooms, for a super-satiating winter meal.

I’m one-fifth of the way through the Whole30 and I feel great. Anyone worried about getting derailed this weekend?

Paleo Eats: 12/4/11

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At long last, it was finally my hump night at work. Just a few more shifts and then I’m on PTO again!

While I was dealing drugs at the hospital, I ate a packet of spicy Grass Fed Jerky Chews, an ounce of dark chocolate, and a some leftover stir-fried kelp noodles.

When I got home, Fitbomb roasted a bunch of chestnuts on our his outdoor gas grill. Throwing them directly on the hot grates is the best way to cook chestnuts — it’s quick and they’re so easy to peel.

After I stuffed my craw with toasted noggin-shaped nuggets, I went to bed.

While I was sleeping, Fitbomb was super productive in the kitchen. He made an heirloom carrot salad with citrus vinaigrette, Italian parsley, and crushed macadamia nuts…

…pan-roasted Chinese Five-Spice cashews in ghee…

…concocted a simple skillet-fried flatbread (made of eggs, almond flour, salt)…

…and used it as the “bread” for a ham sandwich.

Did I mention that he made all this yummy nosh in a 2-hour time-frame WHILE watching the kids? Dude. He makes me look like a lazy son of a gun.

When I woke up in the evening, I sampled all of his culinary creations while I prepared dinner. What did I make? I stir-fried a simplified version of Asian cauliflower fried rice with ‘shrooms and eggs…

…and topped it with leftover cheater Thai yellow curry chicken.

After dinner, I braised a head of cabbage in the oven and tossed a pork butt in the slow cooker to make Kalua pig. Since tomorrow night’s dinner is in the bag, maybe that means I can sleep in tomorrow evening. Oh, to dream the impossible dream…