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Whole30 2014: Days 11-20

1/27/2014 *Sara-Marie* 1 Comments

Two thirds of the way complete with our Whole30! Again, I say it has been so easy this time around! I'm taking advantage that our little Belle is asleep so I'm keeping this post short and sweet. May the pictures speak for themselves.

WHOLE30 EATS: Days 11-20

I made a fresh batch of ghee!

2 eggs with avocado and tomato salad

Not the best pictures, but chicken wings, tostones, and avocado - YUM.

A very random concoction on a very busy day: avocado, tomatoes, red onion, chicken sausage, and olive oil

Keeping it simple with some scrambled eggs with coconut milk and dried tarragon

A delicious meal I made by accident: Walnut Pesto Ground Pork Salad
Walnut Pesto Ground Pork Salad Recipe
2 hardboiled eggs drizzled with the walnut pesto sauce I'm currently obsessed with eating
Sara's Chicken

I decided to make a big batch of chicken breasts for emergency protein. They were simply seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked in the cast iron skillet in some ghee.
Some of that emergency protein with roasted butternut squash and rutabaga and of course, the walnut pesto sauce.

Horrible picture, but some more of that emergency protein with some organic marinara sauce
A big pile of food: sweet plantains, chicken sausage, and an avocado
Bacalao con Guineos: Salted Cod with Plantains. Recipe coming soon.



I Can Do All Things...

1/27/2014 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13. This is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible after John 3:16. And even though it's so well known, I often have to repeat this verse to remind myself of its power. This verse says so much. 

It does not say that I can only do the things I'm good at naturally. It does not say that I can do SOME things. 

Sure, if I relied on my own knowledge and strength I would find myself facing many limitations. But when I rely on Christ, the cornerstone, I can do ALL THINGS. 

All things. 

Don't forget that.


Sara's Chicken with Sautéed Kale

1/23/2014 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Sara's Chicken with Sauteed Kale
"Sara's Chicken" is my go-to recipe for chicken. We make it at least once a week.  This chicken goes really well with white potatoes as the potatoes soak up all the marinade in the roasting pan. Since we are doing a Whole30, we are not eating white potatoes this month. (Sad Face)

Instead, I decided to make some sautéed kale on the side to go with the chicken this week.  Using the chicken's pan drippings to sauté the kale really gave it a lot of flavor and I highly recommend trying it.

After the chicken was done and out of the oven, I simply took about 1/4 cup of the pan drippings and put it into a sauté pan. 
Over medium heat I let the pan drippings bubble a bit and after it began to reduce, I added a few big handfuls of chopped kale into the pan.
Don't be afraid to add A LOT. It wilts down so much.
I continuously tossed the kale so that it was covered with all of the flavorful sauce. In just a few minutes the kale had cooked down and was ready for a dash of salt and pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar. I find the vinegar to really take the edge off of the bitter greens. It was delicious. 
A big, one person serving or enough to divide into two.
I ended up eating the entire serving by myself since Mark wasn't feeling too adventurous about eating the kale. However it was probably enough for two people. If you need to serve more, then of course just double this simple recipe.

Sautéed Kale with "Sara's Chicken" Sauce Recipe

Recipe Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of pan drippings from "Sara's Chicken" recipe
2-3 big handfuls of chopped kale (I used about half of a 16 oz bag of already chopped/cleaned kale)
dash of salt and pepper
splash of apple cider vinegar

Recipe Directions:

1.) Make "Sara's Chicken"
2.) After the chicken is done, take about 1/4 cup of the pan drippings and put into a saute pan on medium heat.
3.) Let the pan drippings bubble and reduce a bit (1-2 minutes) to create a bit of a sauce.
4.) Add kale and toss continuously so that all of the kale gets coated in the sauce.
5.) After just a few minutes, the kale should be wilted and ready for a taste test. If needed, add a dash of salt and pepper.
6.) Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and toss before plating alongside your delicious chicken.
7.) Enjoy!


Walnut Pesto Ground Pork Salad Recipe

1/21/2014 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Walnut Pesto Ground Pork Salad
I love it when delicious recipes happen by accident. Today was a busy day. Between managing my work load and caring for the baby, it was close to 2pm before I had a chance to make something to eat. And I was hungry. 

I plopped my little angel in her swing and flew into the kitchen to see what I could quickly make. I didn't feel like having eggs (my usual quick meal), so I started looking around. I noticed that I had a bunch of fresh basil that I needed to use, so I immediately started getting the ingredients together for this walnut pesto sauce. It's my new fave and it takes a whopping 5 minutes to throw together. Now, what would I put this delicious sauce on?

Upon opening up the fridge, I noticed that I didn't have any "quick cooking chicken" as all of the items I had defrosted were bone-in. I needed something fast. I did have a pound of organic ground pork - would that taste good with the pesto sauce? We were about to find out!

Since I already knew that the pesto sauce had plenty of flavor, all I did was cook up the ground pork in a pan on medium heat with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. I decided it needed some type of vegetable so I chopped up a red bell pepper and threw it in once the pork was no longer pink in the middle. Once it was all cooked, I took the pan off the heat and added about 3 tablespoons of the pesto. I did a little taste test and BOOM - I was in heaven. SO. GOOD.

I got myself a big bowl of spinach, spooned on some of the pesto ground pork and peppers, and topped it all with a handful of chopped walnuts. This is my new favorite meal. You must try it. 

Walnut Pesto Ground Pork Salad

Recipe Ingredients:
1 pound of organic ground pork
3 TBSP of walnut pesto sauce 
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 handfuls of raw baby spinach, for salad base
olive oil, enough to coat pan
salt & pepper to taste
handful of chopped walnuts, as salad topping

Recipe Directions:

1.) Make walnut pesto sauce if you don't already have some on hand.
2.) Heat a saute pan over medium heat and coat with a bit of olive oil
3.) Crumble the ground pork into the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste, a little less than usual since the pesto has salt in it and plenty of flavor
4.) Once the ground pork is no longer pink in the middle, lower the heat, add your chopped pepper, and cover for 3-5 minutes, or until the pepper is cooked to your liking
5.) Remove from heat and add 3 TBSP of the walnut pesto sauce. Mix and do a final taste test. Add salt and/or pepper if needed, but I'm sure it will be just fine!
6.) Add pesto ground pork mixture over baby spinach and top with a handful of chopped walnuts.
7.) Dig in!


Whole30 2014: Days 1-10

1/16/2014 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Mark and I are currently doing another Whole30! I'm not sure if it's because we've done it before or because it's a new year - but I'm really pumped about it. I'm also finding it super easy this time around. I'm not going hungry. I'm not stressing over meal plans.

 I'm just doing it.

To read about our first experiences with the Whole30, go here (my story) and here (Mark's story).

I'm already feeling like I have more energy, especially with a 2 month old child and just starting to get back to work this week. Also, TMI ALERT, Isabelle has been so much less gassy since I've cleaned up the diet again. Apparently, she prefers her breastmilk to be Whole30 compliant too.
Milk coma
So we all know I like to photograph my meals - I love food that looks pretty and I love to share ideas with all of you. I didn't always get the chance to snap a pic of every meal (especially when I had repeats), but below are a few of the delicious meals we have enjoyed while being on the Whole30 over the first 10 days. Enjoy!

Organic apple sausage, sweet potato, apple slices, over mixed greens and Tessamae's Italian Dressing

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with apples and other veggies with balsamic chicken
A close of of those Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Peppers and Onions, just before hitting the oven.
Beef Stew-ish meal with sweet potatoes, peppers and onions

Fried egg, ground beef, and salsa over mixed greens.
Speaking of Salsa

Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, and Rutabaga with ground beef
Ground Beef Stuffed Omelet with Avocado and Cilantro

Leftover roasted veggies, two eggs, and paleo walnut pesto sauce
Paleo Walnut Pesto Sauce Recipe - So good, I started putting it on everything!
Walnut Pesto Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

Walnut Pesto Chicken with Sauteed Shaved Brussels Sprouts

When on the go, ask about Panera's hidden menu! With a few tweaks, this salad is A-OK!
"Sara's Chicken" over mixed greens, sweet potato, tomato, and kalamata olives
Leftover roasted veggies are so helpful and make another appearance in this salad with organic, sugarfree chicken sausage

Here are those roasted veggies again! This time over some scrambled eggs :)

2 eggs nestled in some mashed sweet potato
 You see? Doing the Whole30 is easy! 20 more days!


Ground Beef Stuffed Omelet with Avocado Recipe

1/16/2014 *Sara-Marie* 1 Comments

Amore is right.
We desperately needed to go food shopping last week so the options for breakfast were limited this particular morning. I had eggs, leftover ground beef and an avocado. Sounds like a meal to me! Plus, leftovers are my favorite. You've probably heard me say this a million times. Leftovers almost always taste better than the day you made the food and they make eating a healthy diet with a busy schedule so easy. 

So I decided to make an omelet with the ground beef and top it with avocado and fresh cilantro. My homemade salsa would have also been wonderful, but I didn't have any in the fridge - tragedy, I know. I found this quick meal to be yummy and very filling. Nothing like a big serving of protein and good fats to get you going! 

Ground Beef Stuffed Omelet with Avocado Recipe

Recipe Ingredients: 

2-3 organic eggs (I used 2 jumbo)
1/2 cup of cooked ground beef, divided
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 avocado, diced
Pinch of salt
Fresh cilantro 

Recipe Directions: 
1.) Heat a small pan over medium heat. 
2.) Scramble the eggs and add the adobo seasoning. 
3.) Warm up the cooked ground beef, about 30 seconds in the microwave. 
4.) Add enough olive oil to coat your medium-hot pan, about a tablespoon. 
5.) Pour the scrambled eggs into the oil and let set for about 20-30 seconds. 
6.) Add half of the ground beef mixture to the eggs as they cook. 
7.) Once the eggs are almost set, fold over half of the eggs to create the omelet and seal all of the ground beef inside. 
8.) Once the egg is fully cooked throughout, remove and place on plate. 
9.) Top with diced avocado, a pinch of salt, and fresh cilantro. 
10.) Dig in! 


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple, Peppers, and Onions Recipe

1/10/2014 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Veggie Close Up! Just before hitting the oven
Tonight, I decided to roast all of the veggies I had left in the fridge. That included a big bag of Brussels sprouts, a green and red bell pepper, and a red onion. I added olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence like I typically do. Then I saw this lonely green apple in my fruit bowl. Would that taste good roasted as well? It was worth a shot! I chopped it up and threw it in the mix. Let me tell you, it was a lovely sweet surprise! You should definitely try it. 
Colorful veggies make me happy.
I paired the roasted veggies with some balsamic chicken and it was a fabulous dinner. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple, Peppers, and Onions Recipe

Recipe Ingredients:
2-3 Cups of Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 green apple, chopped, skin on
2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of herbes de Provence, or to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Recipe Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Dice all vegetables and apple so that they are all around the same size and place on a large baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle enough extra-virgin olive oil so that  all vegetables are coated.
  4. Generously add salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes.
  6. Toss, taste test, add more salt/pepper if needed.
  7. Enjoy!


Carne Molida - Puerto Rican Ground Beef Recipe

1/07/2014 *Sara-Marie* 1 Comments

Carne molida with roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash
Carne molida is my go-to recipe for ground beef. This easy recipe is largely based on how my mother taught me how to season ground beef and it's a good one.  I make a batch of this at least once a week, and it's tasty within a taco salad, inside raw peppers, on a baked sweet potato, or with roasted vegetables.  Basically, it's a great emergency protein to have on hand. Below are some photos of creations I've made using this recipe:

Carne Molida - Puerto Rican Ground Beef Recipe 

Recipe Ingredients: 

1 pound of organic, grassfed 93/7 lean ground beef
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 heaping tbsps of sofrito
1/2 tbsp of homemade sazon (or 1 packet of store bought) 
1 tbsp of dried oregano
1 tbsp of sliced Spanish olives
1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (omit if using 80/20 ground beef) 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf, optional 

Recipe Directions: 

1.) Heat a pan over medium heat. If using lean ground beef, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. If using 80/20 ground beef, the oil will not be necessary as the meat will be fatty enough.

2.) Add the ground beef to the hot oil and break it up a bit with a wooden spoon. 

3.) Season with salt, pepper, dried oregano, sofrito, sazon, and Spanish olives. 

4.) Continue to mix in the spices and crumble the ground beef until mostly browned. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes, or until no longer pink. 

5.) If you are using 80/20 ground beef, you'll need to drain some of the grease before moving onto the next step. If you are using the lean ground beef, like I do, no draining is necessary. 

6.) Once the beef is no longer pink, add the can of tomato sauce and throw in the bay leaf, if using. Combine, cover, and let simmer on low for another 5 mins or so. 

7.) Give it a quick taste test, adding more salt or pepper if needed! 



Roasted Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, and Rutabaga Medley Recipe

1/07/2014 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

These lovely roasted vegetables were delicious topped with my carne molida (ground beef) recipe

I love roasting vegetables. 1. It's easy. 2. The flavors that develop are so yummy. This recipe is an adaptation of this roasted vegetable medley recipe, based on the vegetables that I had available. The combination was just as delicious!

Before hitting the 400 degree oven

Roasted Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, and Rutabaga Medley Recipe

Recipe Ingredients:

2 cups of sweet potato, diced
2 cups of butternut squash, diced
2 cups of rutabaga, diced
1 small onion (I used a red onion, but white would be just fine)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons dried rosemary
Salt & pepper, to taste

Recipe Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Prep veggies and toss in a large sheet pan
3. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary
4. Mix until all veggies are well coated and place in oven
5. Roast uncovered for about 35-40 minutes.
6. Take out of oven, mix and do a final taste test. Add more salt & pepper, if necessary.
7. Enjoy!


Simple Sofrito Recipe - My flavor base

1/07/2014 *Sara-Marie* 1 Comments

Simple Sofrito
I've been meaning to write this post for over a year, but never got around to it.
Sofrito is a flavor base that I use for a lot of my Puerto Rican inspired dishes like pollo guisao (chicken stew) and carne molida (ground beef).

Side note: Both of those recipes will be posted soon!

There's always a lot of controversy over what sofrito should contain, but just like every family can have a variation for the same recipe, sofrito recipes can vary greatly. 

For some background information on the origin of sofrito, check out this great post here.

Now, I have to admit that while I use sofrito almost every day, I don't have to make it very often for 2 reasons:

1.) I always have tons of it frozen in the freezer so that it last long and I always have some on hand

2.) My grandmother and/or this little old lady in church make huge batches and give me jars full of it on a regular basis. I'm a little spoiled. 

With that being said, I used to help my mother make sofrito all of the time growing up and below you will find her simple, yet still very delicious recipe. The sofrito pictured above is one that I did indeed make, following this recipe.

My Mamí's Sofrito Recipe

Recipe Ingredients: 

1 large bunch of cilantro, stems included
2 green bell peppers, seeds removed and roughly chopped 
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled 

Recipe Directions:

1.) Prep your ingredients. Peeling the garlic was always my job as a little girl. 

2.) Throw it all into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. 

3.) Store in a glass jar until you're ready to use!