Saturday, August 29, 2015

Paleo Muffins for a Treat

I've been eating bread lately - yup,  from actual glutinous wheat flour - and I notice once I have some, I want more.  Must quit that!  Earlier in this year of health I had made some paleo muffins, and they were a real treat when I wasn't eating any grain or carby items, so I decided to stock up.  Here are five recipes that I really enjoy.  Four of the recipes are available online - just click the recipe names.

You'll notice all are based on almond flour.  I used Bob's Red Mill Finely Ground Almond Meal/Flour.  In the past I've ground my own almonds in the coffee grinder (don't use the food processor - it made ugly scratches on the plastic bowl) but that made a heavier flour than Bob's.  The texture isn't truly "carby" but they taste very good, and one is satisfying without causing a craving for more.

Here's a product I highly recommend - silicone muffin/cupcake forms.  These grain-free muffins tend to stick to the muffin tins or papers but they lift right out of the silicone.  You can wash them and use them over and over, and they save all the time of greasing the muffin tins.  Here they are as I fill them with the zucchini muffin batter.

Zucchini Muffins from Against All Grain

Could have filled the cups a bit less and gotten 10 muffins instead of 9.  The grain-free muffins don't rise as much as a regular wheat muffin, but these did go over the top just a bit.  I like these muffins with a little butter spread on them.

Abascal Way Breakfast Muffins

These have a lot of egg protein and are great for breakfast, as well as an anytime treat.  They are the most hard-core healthy-tasting of the five muffins, as they have no sweetener other than the bananas, but they have a rich pumpkin flavor, and the addition of some chopped apple, chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon makes them quite tasty.

This recipe calls for one cup of mashed ripe banana and I measured - this is two bananas.  Whenever some bananas get overripe, I toss them whole into the freezer.  They look terrible when I take them out, but they can be thawed in the microwave and slit open and used for cooking and smoothies.  The flavor is just fine and they are pretty much already mashed.

The Detoxinista's Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yum!  These muffins were introduced to me by my daughter-in-law Alethea, and they are delicious!  I can't think of anything that could possibly improve them, except perhaps a second helping  : )

Hidden Veggie Muffin from the Against All Grain cookbook

These have a lot of ingredients, but they go together pretty quickly and are yummy.  They are sweetened with dates.

Blueberry Muffins from Bravo for Paleo

This was my first visit to Bravo for Paleo.  Monica Bravo is a pre-med student who blogs about healthy food.  I think her patients are going to be very fortunate!  I'll be checking out more of her recipes.  I used less of the cinnamon than in the recipe, and these were delicious.

Okay - now our freezer is stocked with healthy, legal treats that I can have when I just need a little something mid-morning or before bed.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Staying on Track on a Camping Trip

Last week Stan and I spent two nights at the White River campground on Mount Rainier.  I must admit, I am not the most gung-ho camper in the world.  My goal isn't so much to enjoy the time, as it is to survive until we get back home.  That said, I love hiking around the loop from Sunrise, on Mount Rainier, to Frozen Lake and back.  It is a bit less than 4 miles, and very beautiful, all in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

This year, both Stan and I were busy right up until the last minute, and neither of us got in gear with packing until the day before we planned to go.  (Note to self:  Never leave planning and packing until the day before we go!)  We realized we didn't have extra butane fuel for the camp stoves, and we spent most of the day before driving around looking for the right kind.  Found them at MacLendon's - go there ahead of time next year!  Other than that, we did pretty well, except for warm jackets and hats.  It was at least 90° the day we left, and packing the car in the blazing sun we both forgot to take something warm for the nights on the mountain.

Here's our home away from home.

We've hiked at Sunrise several years, always in August.  A few times we've hit the wildflowers just right, but this year they were pretty much gone and dried out by the time we made it.  It was still incredibly beautiful - mountain scenery under a very blue sky.

We were surprised to find Frozen Lake had no snow at all.  We don't know whether this is normal some years, or a sign of global warming.  There was also less snow than usual on the mountain itself.

Frozen Lake - 2015
Frozen Lake - 2014
You can see bare spots, even at the very top

In the past when I have gone hiking, I have found going down very painful in my knees.  This time I remembered the advice of my physical therapist, Anne Morgan, and kept my core and my gluteus medius strongly clenched.  It worked great!  No knee pain!  Our "glutes"  (maximus, medius and minimus) are our strongest muscles and apparently when put to use appropriately they can protect our hip and knee joints.  So far, I have mostly been using mine as a cushion  : (

Our camping menu is pretty traditional - we take the same food every time.  I wanted to continue my good habits and my getting-back-on-track plans, but without interfering with Stan's camp cooking.  I decided to keep the same menu, but to make sure I had a vegetable and/or fruit with every meal.  I didn't want the hassle of cooking something like broccoli each meal, and I was packing at the last minute, but I tossed in what I had - a large package of heirloom cherry tomatoes from Whole Foods, blueberries, a couple of apples and a peach.  Here are my meals:

Breakfast - blueberry pancake, sausage and apple

Lunch - roast beef, ham and cheese roll-ups, tomatoes and peach slices

First night's dinner - franks, beans, sauerkraut and tomatoes.  Oh yeah, and wine.

2nd night's dinner - Stan uses packaged mix and adds mushrooms and sour cream
Stan gave me this big portion, but must admit I ate it all

I also made some trail mix:  pecans, raisins and chocolate chips.  A bit high-caloric, but pretty much healthy ingredients.  It tasted great on our hike!

In spite of being a bit chilly, and having to brave the dark walk to the "facilities" in the middle of the night, I enjoyed our three days.  It was nice to be out in nature and to talk with Stan without the distraction of TV, phones and the stock market.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting Back on Track

This morning I woke up in my own bed, home after a wonderful road trip, but quite certain I had put on a few pounds with our summer activities.  The first thing I did after a cup of coffee was take a half-hour walk.  Next, I cleaned out the fridge.  I had stopped shopping for perishables when I knew we would be gone for most of a week, but there were little packages of unidentifiable leftovers from the past few weeks.  You know the gook that gets sort of built into the drawers and shelves of the refrigerator?  I showed the produce drawer to Stan and he took it apart so I could clean it.  It was a bit touch and go getting it back together, but now that I know he can do that, I look forward to cleaning the rest of the trapped-in crumbs and bits.

Fridge - before

I spent some time thinking about what I would need to help me get back on track with my eating plan.  I know I do better if I have lots of good healthy food on hand to choose from, and lately I hadn't been getting shopping, or hadn't been prepared when I did get to the store.  On most of the 4 days/week that Stan cooks he says "I'm going to the store.  Do you need anything?"  And lately I've been saying "Hmm, no, I do need stuff but don't have a list ready".  Today I worked on my list and was ready to say "I'll go with you."

Here's what I wrote down for food I should have on hand for healthy eating:

We usually have eggs and sausage, sometimes bacon, on hand.

I need:
Cabbage or sauerkraut and apple
or Kale, spinach or other greens
Avocado and salsa, occasionally
Occasional plain Greek yogurt and fruit

Lunch – big green salad  and bone broth
Tomatoes (have been using from pea patch and Aerogarden, but none ripe at present)
Snap peas and/or other salad veggies
Fruit in season
Pecans or other nuts
Bone broth

I cook 2 nights/week – plan two meals and have ingredients ready
Dark chocolate (our usual dessert)

Fruit and nuts
Carrots, celery (with peanut butter or cream cheese)
Occasional veggies and dip
Nice to have some paleo muffins or bread in freezer

Soda Stream sparking water
La Croix canned lemon water (Melanie found this - it's good)
Lemonade or other fruit juice or syrup (I add a little to our Soda Stream water - Mira's idea)
Occasional gazpacho or Knudsen’s Very Veggie
Very occasional white wine

 Today is Tuesday, so I only need one meal planned for this week (Thursday, my other day is Monday).  I chose a dinner my friend, Marcia, posted on Facebook:  Lemon Butter Chicken.  I figured out what I needed and added it to my shopping list.  I'm going to be very happy when Thursday rolls around and I don't have to wrack my brain at the last minute for something to cook and then go to the store to get it!  I have often said I wouldn't mind cooking if I had a recipe and the ingredients - it's thinking up what to cook that's the hard part.

Here's what the chicken is supposed to look like, and I'll add a green veggie or salad.   I'll let you know how it turns out.

We went to the store and I bought the items on my list.  Now I'm confident I have enough to make my healthy veggie stir-fries for breakfasts and some big green salads for lunches.  Also some good snacks - yum! - I love celery with cream cheese or nut butter, and I have both.  If I eat enough good stuff all day long, I have less trouble limiting myself at dinner and thereafter.   Here's what I bought:

Yes, there is a bottle of white wine there...  this is what comes of going to the store at 5 PM instead of 9 AM!  I decided it would be easier to cut back over a few days instead of stopping the wine cold turkey after indulging every day on our trip.  I had two small glasses tonight and now I'm sipping  Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime herbal tea - one of my favorites.

So, here's my refrigerator, cleaned out and stocked with some healthy food.  (Does everyone use prime space in the door for storing batteries?  Is it true they last longer when kept in the fridge?  Maybe I'll research that sometime...)  You can't really see much, but my healthy produce is there in the drawers.  If you see something questionable, please remember I share the fridge with someone whose eating style is different from mine  : )

I have read suggestions to wash and cut up vegetables for a whole week at a time, and store them all ready for throwing in a salad.  So far I haven't done that, as I'm retired now and can spend time cutting up my breakfast veggies and then do it again for my lunch salad, however, I may try it, and if I do I'll write a post about how it works out.

P.S.  The next day I had good options for my breakfast, lunch and snack.  I mixed my veggies with some steak left over from the last meal of our trip.  Here's what I had.  btw - not to brag, but as I type, Stan is cooking Coq au Riesling for dinner  : )




P.P.S.  According to Ask How-To Geek I am wasting valuable refrigerator shelf space for our alkaline batteries.  It seems that maybe some types of rechargeable batteries might lose their charge more slowly in the fridge, but the alkaline ones we keep there are more likely to get damaged from the condensation than they are to benefit.  They lose their charge at a rate of 1% or less per month at room temp and should be kept in a cool, dry, non-refrigerated place.  This is great!  I can spread out my walnuts, pecans, almonds and sunflower seeds, and Stan can put in a few more Stellas.

P.P.P.S.  Here are Stan's Coq au Riesling and my Lemon Butter Chicken.  Both were delicious!

Coq au Riesling

Lemon Butter Chicken

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Time Out for a Road Trip

Stan and I just finished the best road trip!  We started out to visit friends  (co-grandparents of our granddog, Wilbur) who live at Black Butte Ranch in central Oregon, and made a few other stops along the way.   (I realize many of my posts lately are "Time Out for ...".  I promise when we get home, I'll do some serious "Time In" to get back on track with my healthy habits!)

We drove as far as Kalama, Washington on the Columbia River the first day.  We stayed at the Kalama River Inn, which Stan remembered from many years ago.  He would leave with his kids after work on a Friday and get that far, before heading down to Eagle Crest the next day for winter break.  I think the Inn has seen better days - they are still talking about when Elvis stayed there in 1962 on his way to the Seattle World's Fair.  The town is spread out along 5 or 6 blocks that front I-5, with the railroad tracks just on the other side.  We were amazed that the train traffic was pretty much constant the entire time we were there.  Both the motel and the town are neat and tidy, and there are lots of antique stores to browse in.

At Black Butte we had a wonderful time with daughter Melanie, her husband Ben, and Ben's parents Sharon and Bill, and of course, Wilbur.  What a beautiful community out in the wilderness!

The highlights of our visit were a hike along the Metolius River and golf at Black Butte.  I had never heard of the Metolius before.  It's a tributary of the Deschutes in central Oregon and is 29 miles long.  Our hosts have also visited its source, Metolius Springs.  Wikipedia says "The flow from Metolius Springs is sufficient to create a full-flowing river, making the Metolius River one of the largest spring-fed rivers in the United States."  It was flowing quite fast - Wilbur had to be careful where he went in for a swim.  It was a beautiful walk!

In golf we played Best Ball, girls against the boys, and they beat us 43 to 46.  In Best Ball each person hits the ball, then the team chooses the best shot and everyone takes the next shot from there.  In that way the ones who are not great golfers (that would be Melanie and myself on our team) get to experience how it feels to play golf without the frustration of really bad shots or taking too long.  Sharon was the strong player on our team, and Bill for the boys, and we all had a great time.

Melanie is learning good form

Stan enjoys the beautiful course

We also had some great meals and good conversation.  Wish I had gotten a photo of the dinner Sharon cooked for us our first night - healthy and delicious!  I won't tell you everything I ate - some definitely qualifies as cheats - but two items are interesting and healthy.  Sharon bought this gluten-free bread from Franz bakeries and it made great toast. (I'm always looking for good GF bread.)  She also made gazpacho - a cold veggie soup - which I had heard of but never had before.  It's delicious!  She shared the recipe and I'll be making it at home.

In the interest of full disclosure, she also shared the recipe for nut-sugar topping, which was great on ice cream with sliced peaches, but could also be wonderful on yogurt and/or fruit.  I might see how little sugar I can use and still approximate the same flavor!
The recipe calls for 2/3 cup each whole unblanched almonds and sugar and 3 tablespoons melted butter.  Chop the almonds in a blender, combine with sugar and mix in butter until crumbled.  Spread out in shallow baking pan and bake at 375° for 10 minutes, stirring several times.  Crush any large lumps and cool.
My favorite place in Black Butte was the back porch - a lovely place to sit and watch the world golf by.  Here Sharon and Wilbur rest after a full day.

Stan and I spent a morning in Sisters, Oregon, a cute western town.  My favorite places were the quilt shop, of course, and a shop of metal sculpture and other art forms.  When Stan and I get our retirement home, I want a sink just like this one!  The proprietor said there are tiles to go with it, so the fish appear to swim over the counter and through the sink  : )

Sisters hosts the largest outdoor quilt show in the country - second week of July.  It looks like they hang beautiful quilts all over town.

 We headed home on an eastern route, north up highway 97, across the Columbia River and on to Union Gap, Washington - in the Yakima County wine country.  We passed through beautiful scenery - farms, vineyards, horses with foals and goats with babies - even a big Billy Goat Gruff.  I'm glad to say there's still plenty of unused land around here!  We tasted wine at Owen Roe winery - son Tyler's favorite!  Then we headed over the mountains and home.