Where Have I Been All My Life?

Hiya!  Let me start by saying, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!  I’ve been SO busy.  Like, STUPID busy.  I can’t even talk about how busy I am because I’m so busy.  And that’s life, and I’m blessed and I know it, so I’m not fussing.  Here’s what’s on my mind tonight:

Johnny Depp’s advice to Kate Moss on how to handle fame.  “Never complain, never explain.”  Brilliant. Perfect.  I’ll be honest and say that I do not think Johnny Depp is a genius, or even a man who reads books.  And yet, he so succinctly stated something that I feel should be every person’s mantra, not just celebrities.  This thought led to so many others…

I’m quitting Facebook.  Permanently?  I don’t know.  I like keeping up with old and far away friends, but that’s really all it’s good for.  I do know that it’s a time suck, it allows too many people to see into intimate parts of my life.  Parts that, when I’m honest with myself, I realize should be shared with my husband and kids and those closest to us.  This new “bare it all” version of society has blurred lines and dissolved boundaries of decency, privacy, and even civility.  There are people who have made me very uncomfortable in conversation because they literally inquire about personal details of my life, even when I say I’d rather not share them.  And saying I’d rather not share them?  Oh, the horror.   The usual response is an audible gasp, a stomping of feet, or if the conversation is a digital one, a revocation of “friend”ship.  I shouldn’t feel forced to tell you about my new job, my hair cut, or anything else about my life unless I WANT to. It’s ridiculous and I’m over it.

I’ve been doing a meditation challenge with my buds Deepak and Oprah (see here: https://chopracentermeditation.com/home). The meditation is a 21 Day Challenge I received in an email and I must say, I like a challenge.  The idea of my mind as a quiet, peaceful place sits right on the line between “shut the front door” and “get the heck outta here”.  It’s not an easy task.  Not impossible, maybe. But definitely not probable.  Still, I am trying. I have missed two days, but I will begin again tonight.  I hope to update you all at the end of the 21 days.

I also just finished Louise Hay’s book “You Can Create an Exceptional Life” (see here: http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?ref=149&id=7621). A timely gift from my mom, a pleasant surprise on a rainy day.  I read it in 3 days and I think I may read it again.  Many of the opinions and ideas resonated with me.  Thoughts are things and we create our reality.  Yes, I believe that.  I more than believe that, I have seen it to be true.  Loving others is paramount.  Yes, I believe that as well.  Highly recommend reading this book.

Sort-of related to the previous, I am becoming more aware of myself. My thoughts, intentions, actions, create the life around me. All the time I am sending out vibrations into the universe that, in turn, sends back vibrations that match. (Simply stated, I know, but this is my simplest understanding.)   I am learning about being true to myself, being my best and highest version of me, and manifesting my greatest dreams and desires.  (Not including Liam Hemsworth – see below.)  As a Christian sometimes I wonder if these things conflict with my religion, but they do not seem to, and so far what I have read “feels” very true to me.  Does that make sense?  I want to always be growing, and moving forward, and I believe that I am.  I want to shake off negatives and swim in positives, possibilities, opportunities, and learn to receive all good things.  I say affirmations, I have a vision board, and I write in a gratitude journal.  If nothing else it certainly makes my soul feel light.  Many times I drive to work and use that time to say thank you for all my blessings, thank you for all the blessings on their way to me today, and I laugh out loud. Literally.  These exercises have made me a happier person, more accepting of myself and others and more open to life’s grand possibilities, in a short amount of time.

Liam Hemsworth.  Wait, who?  Yeah I know, he’s so young and his older brother is super hot but I can’t help who my brain decides to insert into my mid-afternoon-nap-dreams.  So me and Liam (love that name) walked around my town, holding hands. Oh my gosh, the paparazzi? How did they know you were here?  Am I going to be in the tabloids? I wish I had brushed my hair.  Ah, dang it Miley’s calling me.  (In my dream she’s friends with my little sister.)  This is inappropriate. I know it is.  Beyond you being ruggedly handsome and (I imagine) quite a good conversationalist, I’m married and old enough to have been your babysitter.  Sigh.  But I’m infatuated.  Yes, let’s hold hands.  Let’s go to my grandma’s birthday dinner and say hi to my family.  Let’s go skydiving. …  I woke up from this dream highly amused, and then a little bummed.  I love my husband with all my heart, but I do so miss the excitement of falling in love with someone.  The electricity you feel when your skin brushes theirs.  I love being in love.  Some days I miss being young and dumb and making bad choices.  Thank goodness for Oreo-fueled afternoon dreams.

Be the kind of friend you want to have.  So simple.  For me, a sort-of epiphany.  I can be gossipy and get offended easily.  I can be guarded and bristly and short with people.  But I wouldn’t like it if they treated me that way.  My brother and sister-in-law went somewhere together this weekend.  I know because they asked my husband to feed their cat.  But they never told ME where they were going?!  Ugh.  Oh, wait.  I am doing that thing that I just mentioned in the Facebook paragraph.  Light bulb moment!  So I intend to treat my friends with loving kindness and courtesy.  You get back what you put out, and this is something I didn’t even know I was failing at.

FOOD.  My food processor died so I need a new one to make protein pancakes. I went to Target and couldn’t find one I wanted at a reasonable price.  Then, I thought I’d get one at a yard sale but that thought kinda grosses me out.  So… I’m using the blender for now, it’s not great but it works.  I have posted a FEW photos to instagram, but that’s it.  I can’t wait to get some time in the kitchen to post some yummy new recipes!  I’ve given up soda, I vacillate between paleo and vegan dieting right now, and I can’t get enough kombucha.

The photo below is my new desktop background.  It speaks to my soul.

So… what’s new with you guys?

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BBQ Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot

I am good at everything I do.  I am successful at everything I attempt.  These are just an example of positive self-talk statements that I use  when starting something I’ve never tried before.  Usually, I believe me.  And usually, I am right.  There is certainly something to this kind of thinking.  I did say these before trying this recipe, which was made up on the fly, However, this is a FOOD post and not a Law of Attraction post, so let’s get right to the food…

Boston Butt is not something I have attempted to cook in my adult life.  I’m not sure why; as a kid it was a favorite, and one of my dad’s favorites to prepare.  Last week I was thinking about the 4th of July and how to celebrate it.  We weren’t taking a beach trip, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the kids downtown to see fireworks.  (In my experience, the level of difficulty/frustration in doing anything downtown that late with a 3 year old and a 16 year old is about one billion-point-two.)  So we decided that since we have a large swimming pool and we’d both be off work this weekend, let’s cook!  Just us, some fresh watermelon, and lots of sun and fun.

I went to the grocery store a few days ago and I’ve just been chomping at the bit to cook this roast.  Last night I perused a ton of recipes, using Google and Pinterest, looking for inspiration.  I didn’t find anything that I really wanted to try.  Granted, my bar was a little high because 1) this is my first pork roast and I want it to knock my socks off, and 2) I needed something that listed the ingredients I have in my cabinet.

So, as per usual, I decided to make something up.  I didn’t write everything down, because I was moving quickly and chattering to myself, mad scientist style, so I could get the roast in the crock pot and get some sleep.  Here is, to the best of my recollection, here’s how it went down:

Unwrapped the Pork Butt (mine was from Publix, 3.78 lbs) and assembled the following: salt, black pepper, cumin, ginger, yellow onion, low sodium soy sauce and barbecue sauce of your choice.  (What I used was Kraft Original, because it’s what we had.  They do make a “light” version, which I did have but wanted to use on some chicken later in the week.)  I chose ginger because it’s a flavor that I always associate with Asian dishes, and I knew it would go well with the soy sauce, so I figured what the heck.

First I chopped the onion and placed it in the bottom of the pot. Next I placed the pork in the pot and salted it moderately and sprinkled some pepper on top.  Also some shakes of cumin, maybe 1 tsp and ginger, maybe 2 tsp.  Rub all of that in, the top and sides of the pork.  (Note: When I say I salted moderately, I mean moderately for me, and I rarely use seasoning so my moderate might be your “light”.  Just use your discretion here.)  Then, in a measuring cup, I poured soy sauce until my inner culinary guide said “when”, which happened to be right at 1/4 cup.  Sure, sounds good.  We’ll go with it.  Then into the same measuring cup I poured the barbecue sauce.  I kept going until the liquid reached just over 3/4 cup line.

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I stopped for a minute to take in the smells.  One of my FAVORITE things about cooking and creating recipes, are the smells.  Before they become flavors, they are sweet, sour, tangy, seductive aromas wafting all around me.  My kitchen smelled delicious.

I mixed the soy sauce and barbecue sauce together with a fork, not paying attention to lumps and bumps since it’s a crock pot, which tends to be very forgiving of things like that.  Poured it on top of the rubbed pork butt roast and added maybe 1/2 cup of water.  Set the crock pot to HIGH.

Rubbed, sauced, ready to go!
Rubbed, sauced, ready to go!

 

Yes, I set it to high!  Everything I had read about crock pot roasts said to set it to low or medium, which is what I meant to do.  However when I woke up this morning to check the roast, the pot was on HIGH!  Of course, there was a fair amount of freaking out before I found the courage to look inside.  Thankfully, the roast was not a charred, stinky, inedible mess.  It looked PERFECT!  But was it perfect?  Only one way to find out.  I gently transferred the roast from the pot to a plate, and THIS is what it looked like:

Did someone say rump roast?
Did someone say rump roast?

It’s everything I dreamed it would be!  Hard, flavorful outer “shell” with tender, juicy, fully cooked but not dry meat inside.  Just look at that juiciness!  I grabbed a fork and started pulling this pork!  I was (I still am) elated at how this “not a recipe” recipe turned out!  Here’s the final product, off the bone and ready to be devoured:

The only pig I ever loved.
The only pig I ever loved.

Does that not look amazing?!!  Let me tell you, it tastes even better than it looks.  My socks are decidedly off.  I’ve said it before about other dishes, but this truly is one of my best.  The taste was right on, all the flavors blended well together and for me, it was everything I want my barbecue pulled pork to be.  It isn’t too sweet, and I’m glad about that because one thing I cannot eat is sweet barbecue.  So, thanks for reading, and PLEASE try my recipe and give me feedback!  I’d love to hear what you think!  (Good news if you are Paleo/Atkins/low carb, I don’t know the exact macros but I can tell you that the sugar and carbs in this dish are negligible.  If you go with a sugar-free or “light” barbecue sauce, they’re even less.)

 

The Meat of the Matter

Reading the title causes me to immediately sing (in my head) “The Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley, except with the word meat in it.  Anyone else?  Bueller?

Moving on…

Primal/Paleo is difficult for me some days.  I crave potato chips when I’m watching a movie with my family.  Stress makes me want to pick up some french fries and ice cream and lose myself in their salty, sweet, carb-filled comfort.  I walk past the bakery and the scent of baguettes stops me, mid-stride.  The smell is enough to make me weak in the knees and question my resolve.  Thankfully, some days (the majority, I’d say) are easy.

Today my husband was home for lunch, so we had sirloin cooked in Plugra butter (the BEST butter, if you ask me) with fresh steamed green beans.  There was dark chocolate after.

Today was an easy day.  Today was delicious, squared.

Two gorgeous hunks of cow.
Two gorgeous hunks of cow.

When I looked in my thesaurus at synonyms for “meat”, I found words like “core”, “crux”, and “essence”.  Fitting, I thought, since meat really is the center of a Primal dieter’s food pyramid.  Protein and fats, amino acids, iron, all found naturally in steak and all good reasons to include it in your weekly meal plan.  I have found that without the extra starches, my runs are easier, my sinus issues have disappeared, and my skin is less acne-prone.  Beyond that, the thing that astounds me, is that my recovery after hard workouts is off the charts.  I ran sprints this morning, and I’m getting faster and faster at it, and my body is adapting incredibly well.  I don’t have that “thickness” in my chest, I’m not gasping for air, in between sets.  As a woman, I feel compelled to mention that my belly looks much less bloated than it used to.  I know that’s superficial, but hey, nobody wants to put on their jeans to find that they look pregnant (when they aren’t), you know?

The perfect lunch?
The perfect lunch?

Now, I’ll admit, most of my life I have identified as a “meat and potatoes” girl.  This is still true.  I love meat.  I love potatoes.  I grew up eating celebratory dinners with my parents, family, and friends, at various steakhouses.  I always got a big steak and I always ordered a baked potato on the side.  However, asked to choose between the two for the rest of my life, steak is the obvious choice.  A good steak is an amazing thing.  It’s so filling and satisfying, I don’t even miss the potatoes.  A good baked potato, even with lots of toppings, without a good steak, on it’s best day is just “meh”.   Am I right?

I’m enjoying all this cooking.  I’m thrilled to have found something that satisfies my foodie taste-buds, satisfies my nutritional needs as an athlete, and satisfies my vanity as a woman.  If you’re thinking about trying Primal Blueprint, go for it.  The benefits far outweigh a few potatoes.  Or breadsticks. Or bagels…

Almond Meal Protein Pancakes

Long title, short recipe, amazing results.

First, an explanation: I have made a concerted effort in recent months to decrease my intake of processed foods and grains.  I do still eat carbs, but only from whole foods as much as I can help it.  I don’t endorse or advocate any specific diet or lifestyle for ALL people, but higher fat, moderate protein, low-ish carb works wonders for me.  My tummy is happy, my skin is happy, and I am sleeping like an old man at the opera.  It’s wonderful!

This pancake recipe is something I came up with on the fly, in an effort to reproduce my “old” favorite breakfast without the oats.  Not so difficult, actually.  If you’re familiar with the Paleo way of eating or the Primal Blueprint, you know there are lots of flour substitutes out there.  One of the easiest to buy or make at home is almond flour.   I SORT-OF used almond flour.  [You’ll see.] Again, the mood to try this hit me when I didn’t have a way to get to the store, but I find necessity and creativity make for some pretty cool dishes.

Here’s what I used:

Ingredients, minus coconut flakes
Ingredients, minus coconut flakes

Raw Almonds – about 1/4 cup, maybe a little more.  I just emptied out my Blue Diamond bag and crossed my fingers it would be enough.

Roasted, Salted Almonds – 7 or 8.  Just to mix it up a little.

2 Raw Egg Whites

Cinnamon, as much as I want.  [And I want a lot.]

Dash of Vanilla Extract

Unsweetened Coconut Flakes [Coconut is a staple in the PB, and it just so happens my mom left some here last time she visited.]

Here’s where I came off the rails, Paleo/Primal wise:  I added about 3/4 Scoop of Body Fortress Vanilla Whey protein, and one packet of Splenda.  Go ahead, judge me.

I promise this is coconut.
I promise this is coconut.

First, I put all the almonds into my food processor, pulsed on low a couple of times, then high, then low…  I’m kidding.  I just let it go until the almonds were chopped, but not powdered.  I wanted the texture to be stout, since it is oatmeal that I’m replacing, which is hearty and quite satisfying.  I measured out 1/4 cup of the almond meal, and added all the dry ingredients.  [If you have leftover almond meal, just dump tupperware container.  It’s great with everything – waffles, pancakes, even in grilled chicken wraps at lunch.  But that’s an entire post by itself…]

Almond Meal
Almond Meal

I gave the dry stuff a stir, and put it back into the processor.  Next, crack those eggs and put both whites in a small bowl or container.  Add just a pinch of vanilla and stir.  Add to the processor with the rest.  By now, the kitchen should be smelling wonderful.  Both of my kids started wandering in and out, curious about what was cooking.

Wet Ingredients, Dry Ingredients
Wet Ingredients, Dry Ingredients

Personally, like I said earlier, I enjoy texture.  So I didn’t mix this much, but if you want a smoother mix just blend to suit you.  Your skillet should be warming on the stove top, with butter or oil or nonstick spray [I don’t judge].  Grab a spoon and start cooking these babies!  Here’s my first one:

Super YUM, right?
Super YUM, right?

At this moment I am kicking myself for making these at night, because along with the delicious smells and the sense of accomplishment comes the agony of knowing I must wait all night to devour them.

The finished product?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!  Fluffy and golden brown and beautiful.  And the taste?  Even better than I’d hoped!  The coconut and mealy texture of the almonds hits the taste buds “just so”.  Definitely a keeper.  I cannot WAIT to eat these tomorrow, with fresh berries on top and maybe just a hint of butter and syrup.  Thanks for reading!  If you try this recipe for yourself, please let me know what you think!

Look how fluffy!
Look how fluffy!
Gorgeous, no?
Gorgeous, no?