Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Blog Name - Painfreekitchen.com


As you can see from the title, I have a new blog. If you follow me on twitter, you might have noticed a sly name change sometime last week. It’s been something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while (since September actually) but had been dragging my feet. 

When I first started my blog back in April, I picked Cutting Out Carbs on a whim because I thought it sounded cute. And a lot of people agreed that it was catchy. Problem was, it didn’t really fit what I was blogging. I can’t tell you the amount of times people asked me if I was on Atkins. So after a few months of this, I knew I had to change it.

The problem was, change it to what? Even though by September, I was pretty sure I was going to be eating paleo or primal, I didn’t want a blog name that locked me into that type of eating. What if a few months down the line, I decide to start eating lentils (which by the way, is something I’m thinking about eating again. More on that later). Then I would feel weird when I get comments saying “lentils aren’t paleo!”

So...I made a list. A giant list. And asked friends and blog readers for their opinions. I spent hours on the internet looking at blog names to find inspiration. Looked at tons of vegan blogs, paleo blogs, gluten-free blogs. But one type was definitely missing. Blogs for people with fibromyalgia. I had read over and over again that fibromyalgia pain can be managed through diet (mostly gluten-free) but there are very few blogs that speak to it specifically. I knew then I wanted my blog to be about my management of fibromyalgia  so that hopefully I could help others with the same problem.

Well suddenly it came to me one day; the perfect name. I ran to namecheap to purchase the domain and....someone else had purchased it literally 24 hours before.

....damn. Fast forward to December. My blog started to get over 300 consistent hits per day and I knew I needed to change it soon. I set myself a goal: I was going to have a new blog name before January. No more excuses. 

And I am very proud to say it’s December 31, 2012 and I met my goal. You can now read my blog posts over at:


Most of my recipes will still be paleo, however the point will be to document what foods work to keep my pain attacks to a minimum. (PS if you don’t know what Fibromyalgia is, I do plan on writing up a quick Fibro for Dummies post soon). Anyway, if you’re still interested in reading my posts, head over to painfreekitchen.com.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Guest Post - Mushroom Cappuccino


This blog has moved to painfreekitchen.com. To keep reading this post (and future posts), head over to the new website.


Merry Belated Christmas everyone! Hope that everyone enjoyed some time off. I spent my Christmas in bed, eating Chinese food and watching Archer. Yup, it was awesome.

Anyway I have something special for everyone. My Paleo Pen Pal Liz wrote up a guest post with the recipe she made from the ingredients I sent her! Liz, I know you don't have a blog but you should definitely think about starting one. This recipe looks amazing. 

Guest Post: Liz - Mushroom Cappuccino

When I saw the dried mushrooms, I immediately thought of a chef demonstration that my daughter and I attended while on our first-ever cruise last summer.  We booked it to celebrate her high school graduation in May, and we sailed to Mexico and the Carribean for 7 days on the Carnival Dream.  The gourmet steakhouse on board gave a free demonstration one morning, and one of the first delicious recipes they made was Mushroom Cappuchino.  I found it on the Carnival website.



Recipe as written on the Carnival Website:
one pound of button, shitake, portabello oyster, and criminie mushrooms
5 table spoons onion
1 clove chopped garlic
2 oz clarified butter
2 pints chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped dried parsley
salt and white pepper to taste
1 pint cream
a few drops of truffle oil


The recipe was almost perfectly paleo as written!  I chose to omit the truffle oil and the cream.  I used canned coconut milk, (only the thick cream that rises to the top). I went to the store for fresh organic thyme. I also added a pound of fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced green onions, and 3 carrots.  




First, I boiled a few cups of water and then poured them over both bags of dried mushrooms.  I left them to steam and soak for 20 mins.  Before draining them, I reserved 1 cup of the liquid, which was dark brown and richly infused with the mushroom flavor.  I chopped up the carrots in the food processor.  


I melted 1 ounce of clarified butter in my Caphalon wok pan and added the onions, garlic, and carrots.  I let these saute and cook down for 10 minutes, until the onions were translucent and the carrots were soft.  


I moved these veggies to the sides of the wok and added the 2nd ounce of clarified butter and the fresh mushrooms.  After these cooked down slightly, I added the hot soaked mushrooms, the chicken stock, and the reserved mushroom water. In went the herbs and a teaspoon of white pepper. Since I had used my own unsalted chicken stock and knew that the mushrooms and the veggies would need a good dose of salt for my taste, I added a tablespoon of sea salt, which turned out to be perfect. 


I simmered the mixture on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes, then turned off the heat and let the batch of soup cool down.  Using a 2-cup measuring cup, I transferred 1/2 of the soup to my blender and pureed it with about 1/3 cup of coconut cream.  I repeated with the second half of the batch, and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out!!  Thick, creamy, and wonderful.


I served up a bowl with a few slices of holiday ham garnished with the Dill Mustard.  A wonderful meal, and delicious!  Thank you very much, Rachel, and definitely give this soup a try if you come across any more of those mushrooms.

Warm regards, and Merry Christmas!
Liz

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Paleo Paella



This blog has moved to painfreekitchen.com. To keep reading this post (and future posts), head over to the new website.


So I'm pretty excited about today's blog post. Not only was it delicious, but it was all because of my December Paleo Pen Pal, Liz. I mentioned Paleo Pen Pals in last month's post of the bacon acorn squash patties, but basically it's a monthly food swap. Paleo chefs/bloggers/etc get paired up and send each other paleo-friendly ingredients or local food items that can be used in his/her next blog post. You don't have to be a blogger, so if you're interested, check out their facebook page.



This month Liz, from Tennessee, sent me an amazing package. Even Jake got excited when we opened the box. 

Fresh directly from a farm in Tennessee. Let me just say, these were amazing. So much so that I'm tempted to order more myself. (For those of you who are interested, here's the link). Anyway, I knew I wanted to do something special with this. So obviously I went to google. After reading through who knows how many recipes, I found it. Paella. I just happened to have a bag of mussels in my fridge so I ran to the store for other ingredients. Now I should mention that I have never made paella before in my life. And, being a paleo recipe, knew I had to substitute out the rice. Basically I winged it. And am super happy with the results.

Paleo Paella (say that 5 times fast...)

Ingredients:
1 package of pork sausages
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 large cauliflower, riced (to rice it, just cut the head into pieces and put it in your food processor)
1 roasted red pepper, diced (roasted in the oven like I did here or just use the kind from a jar)
1 package of mussels (I used precooked)
1 package of shrimp (I used precooked)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
Optional: 1/2 cup chicken broth
Olive oil for cooking



Because I didn't want to mess with my sausages, I decided to cook them first, then cut them into pieces. Typically the way I cook my sausages are brown them in a bit of olive oil, pour water to form a thin layer on the bottom of your pan and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Then remove the cover and continue to cook until the water evaporates. 

Having said that, that is not what I did this time. I messed up by first putting too much water in and then when I removed the lid, they were so overdone their casing started to fall apart...you might want to look elsewhere for sausage cooking instructions. Anyway after they're done, cut to bite-sized pieces.


In your pan, saute your diced onions in olive oil for a few minutes until they start to get soft. Add back in your sausage and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Now this is where it gets a little ridiculous. I had my bowl of riced cauliflower ready to go, added it to my pan, and quickly realized my pan was too small. Comically too small. Unfortunately I had to make do since it was the biggest one I own. Keep stirring/ folding the mixture around for about 5 minutes.

Add your roasted red pepper, paprika, and turmeric, stirring to evenly coat your mixture. Now here is the optional part, I added in 1/2 cup chicken broth because most of the recipes I looked at included it. However, the big difference is rice absorbs the broth, cauliflower just gets mushy. It didn't ruin the dish and may have added flavor, but I don't think it's necessary. I tried to cook it for another 5 minutes to steam some of it off.

Also while I was doing this, I heated up my shrimp and mussels. I cheated and bought them precooked so I don't have any instructions on how to cook them from fresh. Maybe that's another post.



Not bad right? I tossed in the shrimp a few minutes before I turned off the heat. And arranged the cooked mussels around the plate to look fancy. I can't say this is the easiest recipe since there are quiet a few steps, but man was it delicious. Especially the pork. Thanks Liz!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crockpot Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup



This blog has moved to painfreekitchen.com. To keep reading this post (and future posts), head over to the new website.


I know I know. I haven't posted in a while. The truth is I had a ton of really awesome ideas to share with you guys. Only I waited too long and forgot them. Seriously. I have a ton of photos and can't remember for the life of me what is in them and how long I cooked it for....#bloggerproblems

Anyway to make up for it, I have a pretty awesome recipe to share with you. I've been sick for the last two weeks (probably because I've been eating like crap but that's for another post...) so I've been eating a ton of soup. But as we learned from my previous post, always check the ingredients. So I did...and found this:



Campbell's Soup: Chicken with Rice. Besides the fact that there is nothing natural in there, contains high fructose corn syrup and soy.


Progresso: Tomato Basil. Also contains nothing natural. Does contain "Corn syrup solids," soybean oil and soy lecithin. Eek.

These were both cans of soup I had in my pantry. And the sad part is....I ate them. I was stuck at home, dying of the plague and all I had to do was open the darn can and microwave. I'm sure all of you have been there at least a few times in your life. 

However, never again! Because now you will be able to make your own soup with 100% natural ingredients. This one not only tastes good, but is incredibly easy to make.

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe adapted from Paleo Pot 

Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 red peppers, roasted in the oven like I showed here (minus the onions) or you can just buy a can, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 can of coconut milk
1 cup of chicken stock (I recommended the brand I use in this post)
Optional: spices such as cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, paprika, cayenne etc



Add all of your ingredients to the crockpot. It will look something like the picture above. Cook for about 2.5 hours on high.


Pretty much until it looks like that. You should be able to smash the sweet potatoes with a spoon against the side of your crockpot. Then give it a blend with either an immersion or regular blender. I just have a regular one. By the way, when blending hot liquids in a regular blender they tend to explode. So do a little at a time and make sure the vent is open to let heat escape. 

Bam! Red pepper and sweet potato goodness. Now as for the optional spices, you really can't go wrong. I left my unspiced until it was finished, then experimented with adding some pumpkin pie spice. I didn't measure. Could also be good with just regular cinnamon. Or if you wanted to give it more of a kick, go with something hot. So many choices. The point is you can easily have 100% natural soup in less than 3 hours for days when you feel like poo.

Update: I just had an idea on what to add next time. Bacon!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Paleo Pen Pals - Bacon Acorn Squash Patties


This blog has moved to painfreekitchen.com. To keep reading this post (and future posts), head over to the new website.



A few months ago Tarah from What I Gather and Brittanie from Three Diets One Dinner came up with the idea of doing Paleo Pen Pals, a paleo themed food swap. Basically you're paired up with another blogger (or reader) and mail each other one paleo food item. Then you have until the end of the month to use it in a recipe.

I've actually seen this done a lot on other food blogs but never paleo-themed. Mostly because it's a little hard to think of non-processed foods that will survive in the mail. However my pen-pal, Chris, proved me wrong. She was able to send me these beauties and they survived the trip and then some!


Two acorn squash all the way from California. They not only survived the trip to Illinois, but then waited patiently while I was away in London. So as soon as I got back yesterday, I quickly flipped through all of the squash recipes I had book marked and decided on this one.

Bacon Acorn Squash Patties
Recipe from paleOMG (with a few changes)

Ingredients:
2 small acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
6 strips of bacon (or more) diced
2 eggs
2 T coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste



Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Cut your squash in half and spoon out the guts. Spread a little olive oil over the squash and season with salt and pepper. Place them face down on a baking sheet. On a second pan, spread out your bacon (I spoke about the ease of baking bacon in a previous post).

If you can fit both in your oven, you can cook them at the same time. Takes 25-30 minutes. If you're like me and realized too late that they won't both fit, I cooked the bacon first and then the squash. Also save the bacon grease from the bacon. You'll use it for frying the patties.


Once your squash is soft, remove it from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then scrap out the insides into a bowl, mashing it with a fork. Add your crumbled bacon, eggs, coconut flour, salt and pepper and cinnamon. The cinnamon isn't actually in the original recipe. But while I was doing laundry earlier I started reading "The 4-Hour Chef" and felt inspired to take a risk. I had no idea how it would taste but I went with my gut. 


Heat up a pan on high heat and melt some of the bacon grease left over from your bacon. I waited about 3 minutes for the pan to heat up so I could get a nice sear on my patties. I scooped out maybe about 1/4 cup of the mixture for each patty and placed it in the pan.


I cooked each patty about 3-5 minutes, flipping them over with my spatula. The ones at the beginning I had to cook for a bit longer to get a crust on each side. By the second batch, they crusted up a lot faster as the pan got hotter. 

In the end I was happy with them. And I do think the cinnamon added to the recipe. Although I'm also starting to think that I don't really like acorn squash (or butternut). I've tried a few recipes in the past and haven't been that enthusiastic about them (which is why I never posted them). I would say if I am going to cook with acorn squash, this would be the recipe I would do.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

WIAW: London Style


This blog has moved to painfreekitchen.com. To keep reading this post (and future posts), head over to the new website.



Greeting from London! I know it's been a while since I've done a WIAW. And even now, I'm running a bit late. Probably should have written this blog post last night but after working all day, I pretty much fell asleep with my clothes on. Anyway, here is a quick WIAW London Edition.


My food choices while traveling have been a little slim. Although my hotel does have a gym (yay!) it does not have a microwave...or a fridge. So my original thought of buying a few healthy options to keep in my room went out the window. I never thought I would actually be sick and tired of eating out every day. And honestly some of my decisions haven't exactly been healthy...


Like this for example. Yes that is a bag of salt and vinegar chips (aka crisps) and a candy bar. To be fair, that was only one treat that I allowed myself the entire two weeks that I've been here. The chocolate and chips are so much better here than in the United States. I decided I was going to allow myself just one (and will probably take one back so Jake can try them).




Although the photos are that great, these two small dishes were amazing! I met up with an old friend from DC who is going to law school here in London. After learning that I love Indian food, she took me to her favorite place. Such a good decision. The above was salmon and the below chicken cooked with onions and peppers. I wish I had written down what exactly was in them so I can recreate it at home.


In an effort to avoid the millions of sandwich places for lunch, I found a small Japanese take-away place. This is salmon three ways. Tasty and not too bad health-wise since the rolls didn't have anything in them except for the salmon and avocado.


Speaking of healthy lunches, I found this at a small lunch place called Tossed. It's paleo! Just dates and cashews. Reminded me a lot of the Lara Bars in the States.


And something not paleo...proper English tea. That's a small scone with a scoop of clotted cream and jam. So tasty. I'm not a huge fan of clotted cream or jam but when you put the two together it's a completely different story. Also yes, that is milk in my tea. Like I said, proper English.


And lastly, something else proper English that's food related. Last night I walked around Oxford Circus and noticed this Christmas light decoration. I immediately took a photo for my friend Stacy. If you can't read it, it's a picture of Marmite. And it says "You either love it or you hate it." Ha!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There Are No Shortcuts to Being Healthy (And Losing Weight)


This blog has moved to painfreekitchen.com. To keep reading this post (and future posts), head over to the new website.



A few minutes ago I was catching up on my google reader cue and I got excited to see a new post from a blogger that I really enjoy reading. Recently she competed and ranked highly in a bikini fitness competition and I've gone to her website often for exercise tips. She's always recommended clean eating and I really respect and look up to her.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I read her most recent post only to discover it was an ad for "starting your own business" by selling meal replacement shakes. For the first few minutes I sat staring at my computer in disbelief. Was her blog hacked somehow? But no, I checked her facebook page and sure enough, she really wrote it.

Disbelief was quickly replaced by sadness and then by a little anger. So much that I thought it warranted a blog post of my own.

First off, I want to make it clear that I fully support bloggers and fitness enthusiasts who charge for their services. If you want clients to hire and pay you for coaching, meal planning, access to your blog posts etc, go for it! You worked hard and you have the knowledge, why not make some money sharing it with the world. Along with that, I fully support a blogger's choice in writing sponsored blog posts. If a company that you really believe in wants to pay you to write a review of their product, fine.

Second, even though I believe that real whole food is always better, I personally have no problems with using protein powders or even meal replacement shakes. If you need something quick, find one that has low sugar and as few chemicals as possible.

Having said all that, I do not support what I see as taking advantage of your subscribers. Asking them to purchase large quantities of a meal replacement to then resell to their friends and family (aka their sales team) to build their own little business, only for you to make commission off them is taking advantage of them. 

The saying "You plus two, them plus two" is not the road to a legitimate business, it's the tag-line for a pyramid scheme. 

To be fair, this blogger is not the first person I've seen post adverts like this. I've had messages from other fitness competitors asking me if I want to "join their team" or "join their challenge." But in all these messages and blog posts there is never any mention of the product itself. What's in it? Why do you think I should drink it? Is it full of special vitamins that I can't get from real food? And more importantly, why should I then sell it to my friends and family?

One of the things I like most about the Paleo movement is it's about eating real food. You don't have to pay for a membership to a special website and you don't have to spend money on frozen meals, protein bars or shakes. It's about filling your body with the real food that your grandparents/great-grandparents ate. Not highly processed "food-like" substances that so many people eat today.

But what about the support of being "part of a team" or the excitement you get from going to a large "challenge party?" Yes, I completely agree that having a strong support network is key to getting healthy. I have a friend who is doing weight watchers and I know that those weekly support meetings have been a key to her losing weight. However, when I hear about these large "challenge parties" I'm immediately reminded of the McDonalds franchise conventions. "Start your own business by opening your own McDonalds! Then hire managers and open four more!" Sure, you can make money but would you really want your blog readers eating McDonalds? 

Alright, so why am I writing this blog post? I definitely don't mean to call this blogger out or make her feel awful. I understand that you need to do what is necessary to make a living. Instead my hope is to open the eyes of others out there that have come across advertisements like these and are trying to decide if they should give it a go. Please do your research on the product first. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes when losing weight. It's not impossible but it does require dedication to taking care of your body. Anyone that tells you otherwise is just trying to sell you something.

</rant>

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