Tuesday, July 18, 2017

That’s The Way The Muffin Crumbles

^^ Remember when I used to crumble muffins on all things?! I totally forgot about this technique until I had some pumpkin muffins on hand and muscle memory had me recreating the crumbled muffin bowl. I am testing some recipes for an upcoming post, and suddenly got the strongest craving for fall when the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon wafted through my house!

I haven’t been good about meal planning and prepping in several months. But with so many activities going on this summer, we are coming home hungry and not wanting to cook a meal from scratch. So per this morning’s post, I took an hour after lunch yesterday to prep our meals for the rest of the week. I hope my cutting board stays in the cabinet for the rest of the week!

I had this salad for lunch – romaine, dill havarti, red peppers, jalapeños and tuna salad that Thomas made. Plus a drizzle of Mazen’s Supper Club salad dressing.

Thomas and I had soccer last night – a huge win for the orange team! I wish I could play soccer every other night. One of my team’s season is over, so I’m down to just one game per week now until mid-August. I have to admit that the double weeknights were getting a bit crazy!

Afterwards we changed into dry shirts and went to Fry’s Spring Station for dinner. Turns out it was restaurant week, so we got all of this for $19 each!

Two HUGE salads that I could have had as my only dinner. I didn’t finish it all to save room for pizza. The fried gnocchi on top were awesome! Also a beer :mrgreen:

The best pizzas ever. THAT CRUST! We ate half and brought one home.

And chocolate chess pie for dessert. Woot. I couldn’t finish this either. So much food!

We’ll be eating home-cooked meals for the rest of the week and I’ll be sharing more of those soon!

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8 Primal Grilling Tips and Techniques

Inline_Grilling_Tips_Meat_Veggies_07.18.17First off, let’s settle one thing right away. Grilling is not the same as barbecuing. Barbecue means big cuts of meat cooked low and slow. Depending on the animal, it can be an all-day affair with hours of preparation and plenty of leisure. In other words, it’s an actual event. With the time and labor intensity, barbecuing (as Michael Pollan put it so well recently) is the stuff of primal ritual, the site of social cohesion in our evolutionary story. Grilling, on the other hand, offers the smoke and fire experience without the bigger doings. While not as idyllic a prospect, it’s convenient. It means throwing a steak on the grill after work and eating it 20 minutes later. That’s the beauty of grilling. It’s relatively quick, requires very little clean up, and let’s you kick back outdoors while cooking dinner.

In order to relax, however, it’s good to be confident that dinner won’t go up in flames. Luckily, what separates someone who burns dinner from a real grill master is simply practice, plus a few tips and techniques.

Most of the smaller cuts of meat at the meat counter cook well on a grill, like steaks, short ribs, pork and lamb chops, and chicken pieces. A good butcher can guide you to the best cuts for grilling in your price range. Then, of course, there’s seafood, burgers of all types, sausage and veggies. You can throw almost anything on a grill—even fruit.

No matter what you’re grilling, these tips and techniques apply:

Preheat, Clean, and Oil the Grill

Just like pre-heating an oven before cooking, a grill (both gas and charcoal) should be good and hot before the grilling begins. If the grill isn’t hot enough at the start, your food won’t cook properly.

A clean, well-oiled grill also reduces the chances of sticking (especially for fish). To clean and oil the grill, brush the grates with a steel grill brush, then wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel. Finish by rubbing a dry, lightly oiled paper towel over the grates.

Fat is Flavor

When grilling beef, lamb and pork, buy cuts with lots of marbling, which is the white fat throughout the meat, not just on the edges. More marbling indicates more flavor and it means the meat is less likely to dry out on the grill.

For chicken and fish, skin provides a fatty barrier between the heat and the meat. Even veggies need fat, so coat them liberally in heat-stable oil before grilling, then drizzle a little more oil on the vegetables when they’re done.

Don’t Forget the Salt

Marinades and rubs are great (more on this below), but the most important seasoning for anything you grill is salt. In the absence of a marinade or rub, sprinkle enough salt on all sides of the meat, chicken or fish so that the salt is easy to see, like a light snowfall. Salt adds flavor, helps meat retain moisture, and breaks down muscle tissue to tenderize the meat.

The best time to season with salt is a subject of intense debate among chefs and hard-core grilling aficionados. Some swear by salting days or hours ahead of grilling; other swear by salting at the last minute. In the end, it’s a matter of personal preference.

As a general rule, you can’t go wrong seasoning meat, chicken and fish thirty-five minutes ahead of time. This gives the salt a decent amount of time to penetrate the outside of the protein and work its way towards the middle, boosting flavor all the way through.

A secret weapon: sea salt, sprinkled on after grilling. Sea salt boosts the flavor of anything—meat, seafood, vegetables—that’s been grilled.

Monitor Temperature

There are several ways that paying attention to temperature results in better grilling.

First, let protein sit out on the counter 35 minutes or more and come toward room temperature before grilling. This promotes even cooking and makes it more likely that the middle and outside of your steak will reach perfection at the same time.

Second, whether using a gas or charcoal grill, create hot and warm zones, so you can move meat from high heat to lower heat as needed.

Finally, don’t guess when meat is done. Use a digital thermometer to gauge.

Let Meat Rest

Always let meat and chicken rest 10 minutes or more before slicing to retain juiciness and flavor.

Try New Marinades and Rubs

When you’re in the mood for a certain type of flavor, say, Korean short ribs or Cajun chicken, marinades and rubs are the way to go. More to the point of health, marinades and rubs can also mitigate the effects of carcinogenic compounds associated with high-heat grilling by reducing the formation of toxic compounds like HCA and AGE.

The key ingredient is antioxidant-rich herbs and spices. The more herbs and spices, the more protective (and better-tasting) your marinade and rub. What also helps is quality, antioxidant rich fat, like avocado oil. In a marinade, a splash of acidic vinegar or citrus juice will also add protection against toxins, boost flavor, and tenderize.

Tips for Fish

Grilling fish is intimidating, only because it’s all too easy to lose half your meal when it falls through or sticks to the grates.

The most important thing you can do to prevent fish from sticking is to put the fish down on hot, clean and well-oiled grill grates. Use a wide, long metal spatula to flip the fish. If the fish is still sticking to a clean, well-oiled, hot grill then it might not be ready to flip yet. Let it cook for another few minutes and try again.

Thicker fillets or steaks (salmon, halibut and tuna) are easiest to grill. Also, oily, skin-on fish tend to stick less because of the high-oil content. Try grilling sardines, mackerel, skin-on salmon or an entire fish.

Finally, Add the Vegetables

Grilled vegetables make a perfect side for grilled protein—not just for flavor but also because any plant food you eat with your meat, especially the colorful ones, will have a favorable impact on the total meal’s lipid oxidation or mutagenicity.

Vegetables need their own section of the grill, or their own bamboo skewer, to cook in their own good time, so don’t crowd veggies with meat or put them on the same skewer with meat.

If the heat is too high, veggies will quickly burn, so keep vegetables over a medium flame. Cut the vegetables into the same size, so they’ll cook uniformly. Harder vegetables (beets, carrots, etc) can be briefly parboiled before grilling. Before grilling, coat vegetables generously with oil or—for more flavor and healthy antioxidants—a vinaigrette (I have a deal going on for Primal dressings and vinaigrettes now), and season with salt. Then plan to add more flavor after grilling, with additional oil, vinaigrette and salt as needed.

How’s everyone’s grilling season this year? New creations you want to share? Tips I missed? Share your thoughts below, and thanks for stopping by today.


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Gettin’ Reflectional On Intentional

Remember my Word of the Year post from January? I figured that since we are halfway through 2017, I should check in with how this word is manifesting in my life.

In most areas, I feel on top of things and that I am making choices that align with my values and goals.

With the blog, I’ve been writing from my heart each day instead of planning more evergreen posts in advance. I’ve also added in some new tools that are helping me stay focused on the business side.

With my relationships, I am focusing on kindness, compassion, quality time, and fun.

With my spending, I have been smart and am saving more than ever. (YNAB is to thank!)

With my home, systems are in place that are keeping the clutter down and the household running smoothly. No crazy runs to Target so far! (Well, maybe one 🙂 )

But with my health? I have been more reactionary than intentional. I can’t say I have been living my healthiest life. I’ve been eating whatever calls to me in the fridge instead of planning ahead. I’ve been dining out more than I should (at least prior to our Bald Head trip). I’ve been skipping the gym, which is only halfway a negative because it means I have been taking workouts outside and playing lots of soccer, but my strength training has really fallen to the wayside.

They say that to reach a goal, you need clear, actionable steps, and in January I didn’t really list anything specific I wanted to do.

Here are three easy changes I have brainstormed to get my ball rolling again:

  1. Meal plan. Use Cook Smarts or Vie to save time. Ensuring I have a fridge full of healthy ingredients is always the most significant road block for me to have healthy meals all week long.
  2. Drink 32 ounces of water. Why not 64? Because I don’t want to have to count that high! I have a Hydroflask bottle that fits 32 ounces and I’m going to make sure I drink the whole thing every day. Plus I drink seltzer, tea, and other hydrating things that add up to the other 32 ounces.
  3. Go on two runs a week. Running is the easiest workout I do in my week, and also the most versatile. I can run beside Mazen on his bike, first thing in the morning, or even in the evening at dusk when it cools off. Unlike my workout classes, which have set times, running is so flexible. And if I can’t or don’t want to run, there is always walking, the best workout in the world.

And remember…

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Episode 369 – Christopher Kelly – Using Machine Learning For Health

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This week we have guest Christopher Kelly of Nourish Balance Thrive here to talk with us about using machine learning to analyze health, functional medicine, diet, and more. Check it out!

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Be sure to take the free assessment questionnaire:
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Mike T. Nelson talks about metabolic flexibility (as Christopher mentioned in the podcast):
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Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gxvx2IF6KU



30 Day Guide to the Paleo Diet

Want some extra help? Have you been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? We’ve created a getting started guide to help you through your first 30 days.

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Wired-to-Eat-RenderDon’t forget, Wired to Eat is now available!

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