Friday, August 13, 2010

Eating out, paleo style with kids.

We don't go out much to restaurants. at. all.

I mean, seriously, it is quite a hassle with 3 small kids, keeping them at the table and not harassing other patrons is a biggy, and then there is the whole food issue. It is just freaking hard to get good whole food without all kinds of added crap when you go out, even more so if you don't like to be "difficult" (I have a seriously hard time standing up for my/kids food "weirdnesses", I don't like to feign serious allergies, and I'm pretty shy so...) plus the kids know that restaurants are different from home and everyone around them has a bun on their burger, etc, etc...

One of our safer preferred spots is a tiny local diner that we hit for breakfast from time to time. The do decent eggs, awesome sausage (no wheat, but I think there is some soy in it...) and great potatoes and bacon. (not that I eat the potatoes, noooooooo.... no really, I don't anymore, serious weightloss focus is ON!) They serve everything with fruit on the side (kids nab it all) and are very accommodating when I ask for 3 sausage links and 3 eggs over easy. It isn't even too hard to get the kids to just get eggs and meat, though there have been some pancake incidents. We are a work in progress people, this is real life.

Another pretty frequent meal (a couple of time a month?  ish) is getting Costco hotdogs after shopping. I feel like a total freak helping the kids peel the buns off, but I am just really happy they agree to eat the things that way. I do bribe them with sugar free lemonade, which is probably pretty awful, but it seems less bad so I go with it.

So tonight hubby and the kids really wanted to go out (he's about to leave on a long business trip and what can I say, we are a very food centric family) and after much discussion we decided on Outback. I agreed to go with much trepidation, prepared for the kids to ingest all kinds of horrible things before I could grab them away, (or give up to avoid loud arguments where I look like a monster) but it was truly a pretty nice experience. :-) They have a pretty decent list of steaks (all grain fed, but still) served with a choice of two sides, which include broccoli, onions, potato, sweet potato, etc... AND, they had New Zealand rack of lamb!! I had the lamb of course (which was fantastic, I hate paying extra to get steak that I could prepare just as well or more to my liking at home, so it is really nice to get something I don't cook at home) with broccoli and grilled onion. They served it with a sauce in a ramekin that I assume had wheat in it, but I really didn't need a sauce at all, it was not missed. (hubby tried it with his steak/ribs and said it was like pan sauce, but it looked too thick to be safe)

The kids shared a burger and we were able to sub sweet potato fries for the regular ones, but when they arrived they were covered with honey!! WTF? Why would you even want that? So James asked what the sticky stuff was and if it was possible to get the fries plain, and it was, so we did. I tried a couple, they were very good with just a bit of salt. I really don't understand why people need to mess with their food so much, I kind of figured it was like over sweetening processed food to encourage people to eat more of it, but I'm really not sure.

Anyway, my lamb, onions (very sweet, but I don't think they actually had sugar added or anything) and broccoli were absolutely great, and James steak and ribs and (corrected) sweet potato fries were apparently also fab, and the kids were very happy to share a burger with sweet potato un-honied fries. So awesome, we now have a dinner joint we can head to if we need a night out! Outback FTW!

(I still can't quite get over paying the same amount for my meal that I can buy an entire package of ribeye at Costco for... but that's a whole other set of issues.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Autoimmune dissorders and grain free living

G7 Stories - Veronica Garza from G7 Athletics on Vimeo.
I saw this fantastic video of Veronica Garza showing what going grain free has done for her. I LOVE IT! I wish more people would give real food a try, really, honestly, and see how they feel. So many people (my mom included) are suffering from autoimmune issues, or undiagnosed problems that could stand to give this a try. But they won't. Can anyone really argue that grains are helping people with illnesses like these? Even if they (like so many pompous and ignorant docs) are sure it won't help, whats the harm in trying? Thank you for the video Veronica, and keep up the great work!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baby Food

I don't really believe in pureed baby food. Something just doesn't seem right about propping a tiny infant up and pouring mechanically processed (no matter how "natural" the actual ingredients are) food into it. All three of my kids have been different about showing they were ready for solids and at wildly different ages, so I don't think you can really have a standard age guideline, but just watch your kid. If they have teeth, and are sitting up or moving around on their own, and grab a hunk of food off your plate, they are probably ready.

My first baby wasn't interested in food (though I did make a pretense of offering various textured items from about 6 months, as per pediatrician recommendation) until she was almost a year old. At which point she began with well cooked meat and some veggies. I was really adamant even then about staying dairy free and avoiding processed foods and sugar, so she actually was really lucky to have been basically paleo for the first 2 years even though I wasn't trying to do that exactly.

My second child was "interested" much earlier, but basically stuck with gumming drumsticks and not much else between 6-9 months, and then started chewing up cooked veggies, beef, egg yolk, etc.

My current little one is just 4 months old, and has no teeth, but is already way too interested in what's on mommy's plate. I can't quite wrap my head around a 4 month old being old enough to introduce foreign protein too, so I keep distracting him and offering to nurse (no supply problem here, though the ped did suggest I might not be able to keep up with the 20 lb chubtastic's demand. "poppycock" I said, "how do you think he got to this size?") but I am keeping an open mind. I may let him mangle some soft bits of grilled squash or pre-chewed meat soon.

My list of preferred first foods is:
egg yolk
avocado (although so far none of my kids have been particular fans, a huge disappointment to me, lover of the daily avocado if at all possible)

And NO GRAINS! I used to feel so sad when I saw all the other mom's feeding their babies rice cereal and extolling it's supposed virtues to even newer moms. (all the while dosing the poor kids with bottles of prune juice to compensate for the constipation...)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Liquid-ish gold

We decided to give "poulet en cocotte" a try a couple of days ago. The decision was largely spurred by the idea that as much as we love Costco rotisserie chicken, it isn't quite the locally pastured, humanly raised, nothing funky added (seasonings or whatever) that we would prefer. Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience and downright juicy goodness of the rotisserie chicken, so we were looking for some cooking method that would give us similarly tender juicy meat with only our own seasonings and bird.

I really like slow braising in my creuset at around 250 degrees in the oven, but (particularly) chicken benefits from some nice browning so I gave it (salted/peppered large chicken) a few minutes on each side w/olive oil over med/high heat. After that I tossed in a sliced onion, several cloves of garlic, some herbes de provence and as many carrots as would fit in the pot. Put the lid on and stuck the whole mess in the oven for a couple of hours. We were in a hurry, so after an hour and a half I took off the lid and jacked the heat up for a bit to get the carrots cooked.

The kids loved the carrots, and the chicken was ok too, but man, those carrots were a hit! Anyway, the skin was nicely seasoned and browned but obviously not ideally crispy, but the meat was pretty juicy and tender. So the meat was a step up from the usual high heat roasting, but the skin was a step down, Holy conundrum batman!

So here's the good part, throw all the bones and flabby skin bits, cartilage (ok, I ate most of it, I love that little nugget in the joints...) back in the pot with the mushy onion and garlic and cover with water and a splash of vinegar. Simmer for several hours (until the after dinner movie is over and dishes are done and kids are all asleep for example) and let cool. Strain the solids out by pouring through a colander, and put the liquid in the fridge. Check back later and be blown away by the layer of fat that you can now scoop into a jar to keep in the fridge as a sort of talisman against sandra lee and poor quality insta-fake-foods. Now, under that layer of fat should be a gelatinous (how solid will depend on how long you simmered, how much steam evaporated, etc...) chicken concentrate that is super useful in lubricating almost any dish that is lacking that certain "something". If you want a mug of yummy broth just heat it up, though you may want to add a little hot water. If you need some good strong stock for mixing in with say, lime and cilantro for lengua tacos (or any other "protein of choice" tacos) this is your best bet. Or, if you are like my kids, just eat cold "chicken jello" and call it YUM.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Proud Mama!

I find it really thrilling when my kids choose food that is "weird" for kids to like. It really reinforces sticking to good food choices for me because it demonstrates how their tastes are being shaped. We broke open the cases of sardines and oysters for breakfast today and they were a success! Well, the oysters were a known quantity since it was already our favorite brand that we stock up on whenever we are in a city with a Trader Joes, but the sardines were a gamble. I have to say I am not actually loving them too much myself, but the kids love them, so that's a win. These particular sardines are a little too smoky and dry, as well as being much smaller than I would prefer, so I am afraid I will continue to pillage the shelves of Trader Joes next time we are in Seattle. sigh.

My absolute favorite sardines (so far, but I mean, who knows, we are becoming a family of connoisseurs!) are the lightly smoked in olive oil, in the pink tin, from TJ's. Oh how I wish we lived closer to one now... Right, so anyway, the Trader Joe's ones are perfect. Just the right size, which is to say, large enough to eat the top half of, then the bones, then the bottom half, and no off tastes. I meant to take a picture of the actual sardines, but I ate them. oops.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A good day for mail!

 Hurrah! A case each of smoked sardines and oysters in olive oil from Amazon, and the Bruce Fife cookbook, which I don't really have a use for at the moment but will read over and consider for in the future. (for birthday baking perhaps?) And a shopping trip that resulted in Costco macadamia nuts

Oh, and the ubiquitous box of blueberries from picking earlier in the week...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blueberry Almond Cake

This is perhaps a bit of a "candy ciggarette" as Kurt Harris puts it, I wouldn't advise making this a staple part of your diet, but it is very tasty and actually not unhealthy per say. My kids love it for breakfast, and as they don't go crazy eating the entire thing (like I can, though I did feel pretty nauseous for the rest of the night) I make it for them form time to time.

3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
3 tbs coconut oil
1-2 tbs sugar free vanilla torani syrup OR good maple syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries (I'm sure you could use frozen, but I have not tried it yet, start with a smaller amount to avoid excess moisture I think)

In a glass or ceramic bowl melt the coconut oil just so it is liquid, add the egg and beat them with a whisk. Add the sweetener if you are using it. Once all the wet ingredients are combined, add the almond meal and the baking powder and mix thoroughly. Stir in the blueberries, cover with a plate, microwave for 3 minutes. Remove plate, microwave 1.5 minutes more, and there you go!I cut it into quarters and a portion is a good breakfast for each kid. (They have the choice to either save the remaining quarter for breakfast the next day or they can have it after dinner, they usually save it.)

If you take issue with microwaves, I think this would work well in the oven, but I am not certain of cooking time. I would start with a 350 degree oven and put the mix in muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes, then check. Keep baking until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into a muffin.