Friday, February 10, 2012


Remember Chia Pets?

So do I.

But did you know that Chia seeds are actually the newest superfood?  (Well, newest in the sense that I just heard about it the other day from my CrossFit coach, Hillary).  High in Omega 3's, ALA, a shit ton of fiber (that might make you shit a ton if you aren't careful), naturally hydrating, and useful in just about anything.

So I went to Costco the other day and picked myself up a bag (got a big bag that will no doubt last me until the end of time for under $7).  I sprinkled some in my stir fry the other day for a little crunch, and I just made some chia pudding.  My apologies, I can't find the link that I found the original recipe that gave me the idea, but here is mine:

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey (I used about 1.5 tablespoons and it was too sweet for me)
  • 1 teaspoon dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until blended.  Put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes or until it is set.

**Makes 2 small servings, or 1 slightly-more-then-you-should-eat serving

The texture is similar to a tapioca or rice pudding, and the seeds will get tender while they soak so it doesn't have more crunch, but it's pudding, you don't want crunch!

Just be careful with your consumption though, I have it on good authority that too much chia will make you have poop monsters (and who knows, you might grow a chia pet in your belly!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sausage hash

I love when something like 2 ingredients turns into deliciousness.

My apologies for not having proper measurements for spices, but play around with what you have, what you like!  That's part of the fun in cooking!


  • 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
  • 3-4 turnips, shredded and excess moisture removed (I grated mine in the food processor last night, then wrapped them in a couple of paper towels and threw in a bowl in the fridge overnight)
  • Your choice of seasoning (I used a few grinds of the sea salt shaker, a few shakes of pepper, a couple shakes of onion powder and a little sprinkle of cayenne pepper)
In a large skillet, crumble and cook the sausage until done.  Remove and set aside, reserving some of the fat (or if you were like me and made the sausage last night, melt a tablespoon or two of butter).

Add the grated turnips and sprinkle with seasonings.  Spread out an even layer and let cook for 5 minutes until they are slightly brown on the bottom, flip and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the turnips have shrunk down and are tender.  (The difference between using turnips for hash browns over potatoes is that turnips won't get super brown and crispy like potatoes will).

Add the sausage back in and mix until everything is combined.

This came out great!  Will be a perfect breakfast on the go, or post workout snack, or really anytime meal.  Not sure about turnips?  Ignore the name, this is a great root vegetable, only has about 1/3 of the calories of potatoes, are an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, B6 and a slew of other good stuff.  If you're curious about the taste, the first time I had them they tasted kind of like radishes, slightly spicy, but when you've cooked them down they are great.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Coconut flax perch

First, I have to thank Hillary over at CrossFit Bloomfield for giving me the idea for the coating with this recipe, she had some chicken a couple of weeks ago she had baked and it inspired me.

  • 3/4 pound of fresh caught lake perch (or your fish of choice)
  • Coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup golden flax meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Shortening or your fat of choice
Soak your fish in coconut milk for several hours or overnight if possible.

When you're ready to cook, take the flax, coconut, almond meal, salt and pepper and combine.  I put mine in the food processor and pulsed a few times, just to blend everything together.  Take half the mixture and place on a plate for dredging, and reserve the other half to add more as needed, that way, if you end up with some extra mixture like I did, you can save it for breading another time.

Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, melt your shortening over medium heat.  I was excited because I finally had a reason to use this!  Preheat your oven to 350 as well.

One at a time, remove the perch from the coconut milk and dredge through the coconut/flax/almond mixture, making sure both sides are coated evenly.  Place in skillet and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, then transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.

Bone broth

Have a couple of days to let things simmer on the stove and then sit in the fridge?  Why not make some bone broth?

Bone broth, while it may seem complicated by the length of time it can take, is actually just as simple as making any other broth, and the health benefits far surpass the inconvenience it may cause.

Here is a rundown, compliments of Marks Daily Apple:

  • Bone marrow – We went over this last week, but I’ll say it again: bone marrow is one of the first “superfoods” (for lack of a better term – I actually slightly cringe using it) our ancestors enjoyed. It’s fatty, with a bit of protein and loads of minerals. Even if you’re cooking spindly chicken bones, there’s going to be marrow, and that marrow will make it into your stock.

  • Collagen and gelatin – Most commercial gelatin comes from animal collagen already, so why not cut out the middle man and get your gelatin directly from bone and cartilage? The more collagen your bones have, the more gelatinous, rich, and viscous your stock will be – important qualities, especially if you intend to reduce your stock into sauces. Gelatin may even reduce joint pain in athletes, as one (admittedly small) study appeared to show. Another showed benefits for ulcer patients.

  • Glycine – Although our bodies already produce plenty of glycine, rendering it a non-essential amino acid, there’s some evidence that supplementation can help mitigate free-radical oxidative damage in rats with alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity. Bone broth is rich in glycine. It probably doesn’t mean much, but it can’t hurt. And hey – it may even improve sleep quality, as one Japanese study showed in human subjects. Drink a warm cup of broth before bed, perhaps?

  • Proline – Proline is another non-essential amino acid found in bone stock, but supplementation has shown promise in patients suffering from vision loss due to gyrate atrophy. It’s also an important precursor for the formation of collagen, though it’s not clear whether eating proline has any affect on the body’s ability to make collagen.

  • Hyaluronic acid – Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is one of cartilage’s three glycosaminoglycans. It helps broth gel, and it’s been used for years to treat race horses with osteoarthritis, usually as an intra-articular injection or IV fluid. Recent studies on oral administration have been promising, though, meaning oral administration of quality bone stock (as opposed to, um, what other method of administration?) might help us with our joint issues, too. According to Wikipedia, human studies are underway and showing promise, but I wasn’t able to dig up much beyond this small study. Still, it’s compelling, and I’ll continue to drink broth regardless.

  • Chondroitin sulfate – Chondroitin sulfate is another glycosaminoglycan present in bone stock. It’s also a popular supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis the efficacy of which has come under question. One recent review concludes that chondroitin sulfate “may interfere with progression of osteoarthritis”. I’d say it’s worth a shot.

  • Calcium – I’ve downplayed the importance of large amounts of supplementary calcium in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s the raw material for bone production and fortification, and bone stock might be one of the best sources of calcium around, especially for those who avoid dairy and don’t eat enough leafy greens.

  • Phosphorus – There’s also a good amount of phosphorus in bone stock, though I doubt Primal eaters lack adequate dietary phosphorus (there’s plenty in meat). Still, it’s a nice buffer.

  • Magnesium – Magnesium is pretty lacking in the modern diet. Fatty fish like mackerel offer good amounts, as do leafy greensnuts, and seeds, but most people, Primal folks included, could stand to take in more magnesium. Dr. Michael Eades says if he had to recommend just one supplement, it’d be magnesium; Dr. Stephan Guyenet over at Whole Health Source recently posted a couple great pieces, one on magnesium and insulin sensitivity (short version: the former improves the latter) and another on magnesium and vitamin D metabolism (short version: the former affects the latter). Bone stock is just another way to obtain this valuable mineral.

  • Sulfur, potassium, and sodium – Stock has these minerals in mostly trace amounts, but they’re all important for health. Sodium isn’t really an issue for most people, but potassium is undoubtedly important and often lacking. Both are crucial electrolytes (bone broth – possible new sports drink?). Sulfur is the “S” in MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, the popular joint supplement that has shown some promising results in humans.

  • Read more:

    So last week I was browsing on Nom Nom Paleo and found this recipe for oxtail broth and thought I'd give it a go.  Unfortunately, oxtails were about $8/pound, and mama is on a budget, so I swapped out the bones for pork neck and beef knuckle bones.  Then, yours truly flubbed up the shopping list and forgot a couple of things, bought some extras that I didn't need.  My brain was obviously not working yesterday.  But the nice thing about a broth is that you can really put in anything you like!  I give you my recipe below:

    Equipment you'll need:

    • Crockpot (or a large enough stock pot and enough patience if you plan on letting it simmer on the stove for 10+ hours)
    • Strainer (a fine mesh strainer is an excellent tool for this, I used my regular strainer initially but after I scraped the fat off the top, I was left with some very fine drippings, so I sent that through the mesh strainer, and if you've got another pair of hands in the house to help, I'd recommend the mesh strainer first and save yourself a step)
    • A soup pot aside from the one you use to cook the broth in
    Ingredients you'll need (or ingredients that I used):
    • 2 pounds pork neck bones
    • 2 pounds beef knuckle bones
    • 2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and cut into thirds and rinsed
    • 2 celery stalks, chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped (or a couple of handfuls of baby carrots, which is what I used)
    • 1 large onion, chopped into big slices
    • 7 cloves of garlic, smashed
    • Kosher salt (I used about a palmful)
    • Black pepper 
    • 5-6 bay leaves
    In your crockpot layer the veggies on the bottom, toss in a handful of salt and pepper, toss in the bay leaves then layer the bones on top.  Fill with enough water to cover.  I have a 5 quart crock pot and the water was up to the top on this, and as it cooked, some liquid did splatter, so make sure your surrounding area is clean.

    Cover and cook on low for 10 hours or until the meat is falling off the bones.

    Remove cover and let cool for a bit, then begin to strain.  This is where it will be helpful to have someone help, if you can.  I didn't, so I just took the bones out with a slotted spoon, and took a bunch of veggies out, and then strained the broth out with the larger strainer (and this is where your mesh strainer comes in handy) into the other soup pot.  Place that in the fridge overnight, and when you take it out, there should be a solid layer of fat on the top.  Simply scoop that out and this is where the mesh strainer came in handy for me as I had to strain it again into another pot.

    Now initially, my broth didn't have the gelatinous consistency that Nom Nom's did (aka, meat jelly), but that could be something as simple as using too much water in mine.  However, it did thicken up a bit more after I re-strained everything and put back in the fridge.

    Now, to enjoy!  Simply scoop out a mug, heat and drink straight.  Or, you can add some veggies/meat to it to have a soup/meal of sorts, but I'll be enjoying this just as it is.  Maybe my body will use some of the gelatin and proteins and start to re-build some cartilage in my knees ;)

    My batch came out pretty tasty, but it could have used more salt, so feel free to be a bit more liberal with your seasoning.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Lamb Meatballs

    First, I have to give credit where credit is due.  Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals is probably my go-to cookbook when I'm feeling uninspired or am lacking on ideas for food prep.  It truly is quick and easy, and every single recipe I've made has been a winner.

    When I was at the store last week I picked up some ground lamb on sale (yes, cheap meat!) and set out to make the lamb meatballs that can be found on page 179 of the cookbook.  I was lacking an item or two (pine nuts and something else) so I decided to improvise a bit and make a few additions/substitutions.  My recipe is below.

    • 1 1/4 pound ground lam
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 2 tablespoons grated romano cheese (parmesan would work fine if you have that)
    Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.  Using a cookie dough scoop, or whatever you have (my scoop is a little over a tablespoon, I think), form meatballs.

    In a large skillet over medium heat, melt1 tablespoon of your choice of fat/oil (I used some bacon grease, man that is one of my favorite smells ;)  Add the meatballs and cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes.  Cover and turn heat to medium low for 10-12 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink in the middle.

    The result?  Tasty!  They were a little heavy on the cumin, even with the extra meat (the original recipe calls for 1 pound of ground lamb, but my package was a little over so I used it all), and I got 18 meatballs instead of the dozen that the original recipe called for.  These will make a great emergency protein snack.