3.14.2013

Dining Out Paleo: BeX Bar & Grill

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
 
Every Thursday I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to my Paleo lifestyle, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.

I'm so lucky to have a husband that can meet me for lunch.  I love the days he's working in town and can get away from his desk to get together over some delicious chow.

The more I go to BeX Bar & Grill on The BLVD in Lancaster, the more I seem to enjoy it.  It may have taken a few years, but the kinks that once prickled the hairs on the back of my neck seem to have been worked out.  And this particular day happened to be my favorite visit of them all.


Matt and I were seated adjacent to an entire table of Los Angeles County law enforcement officers, which made me laugh;  mostly because I felt like Matt was going to get a ticket for being seated on the wrong side of the table or something along those lines.  Matt didn't find their presence as humorous as I did, noting the entitled parking job which had taken place just outside.

Once I was sure my car, my husband, and I weren't going to be hauled off, I set my focus on selecting my lunch.  I have mentioned before that BeX is probably the best place in Lancaster for a Paleo lunch and they only reassured me of that fact during this particular meal. 


I decided on the BexBQ Combo, choosing the BeX Tri Tip and the Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken for my two items and the roasted vegetables for my side dish selection.


I was in no way prepared for the mouth-watering marvelousness that was set down in front of me.  I have had the tri tip before and it is moist, tasty, and pefectly cooked to medium rare.  This lunch was no exception.  I'm not a fan of chicken, but felt I needed to expand my BeX horizons and found a new favorite in the process.  The Lemon-Herb Roasted chicken ignited my taste buds.  How could chicken possibly be this flavorful??  Tender, juicy, and full of bright fresh citrus flavor, these few pieces of chicken could almost turn me into a chicken eating convert.  Almost.  I even had leftovers which I shredded into a nice bowl of kale salad the next day for lunch.

The roasted vegetables on the side were a little soft for my taste.  But I was happy that they weren't cheesy or gooey or slathered in some type of sauce.  They were just herbed roasted veggies.  I prefer the grilled vegetable platter for a hearty serving of healthy eats and will probably stick to the steamed broccoli as a side order from now on.

Long after the food was gone and Matt and I were crunching on our last few ice cubes, we were still deeply engaged in conversation.  The large comfy booths and vast industrial space always make this a great spot for hubby-wife lunchtime meetings. 




3.12.2013

The Tuesday Take From a Functional Shopaholic

Tuesday is the day I spill my own little voice into the big crazy interweb vat of everyone else's opinions, sharing my favorite whatnots and whereabouts and why they are so dang awesome to me.

 Today's take: Eat-Smart Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad Kit

I am a salad fiend.  I love crazy salad amalgamations that layer all kinds of delicious goodies.  Fruit?  Nuts? Avocados?  Bring it.  Marrying Matt was one of the best things I've ever done because my mother-in-law is the Salad Queen.  She whips up out of this world salads that have crunchy healthy nuts, an assortment of healthy greens, strawberries, and some type of cinnamon citrus dressing that I dream about for weeks after consuming it.  Oh, and avocado.  There are always divine creamy hunks of avocado.  But since we don't have a mother-in-law suite in our house and it would be awkward to invite her over every single night for dinner, Matt and I are usually left to our own accord for ho-hum salad preparations.

Then one very lucky shopping trip to Albertson's and a later, family-sized trip to Costco...

 
Matt and I stumbled upon the most glorious bag of prepared salad mixins I have ever seen.  
  
The Eat-Smart Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad Kit is a bag of brilliance.  Period.

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Green Cabbage, Kale, Chicory.  Dried cranberries.  Roasted pumpkin seeds.  Poppyseed dressing.  Let's take a moment and look at why this 28 ounce bag is paramount to crisper drawers everywhere.

It's healthy as heck, proudly touting "7 Superfoods".  Eating from this bag of salad is the best thing I do to my body all day.  How super are these super foods?  


 I like to imagine a healing Care Bear Stare aimed at me, offering my body and gut health:

detoxification
an abundance of vitamin A and K (vision and bone health, galore)
high fiber
loads of iron
plenty of antioxidants (away with you, cancer cells!)
a fiesta of vitamin C (building up my immune system of steel)


All in one bowl.  

A full 28 ounce bag of leafy, crispy, green goodness saves me time from washing, peeling, and chopping.  I also appreciate that there are almost no woody kale stems.  The bag is full of thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, shreds of broccoli, leafy bits of kale, and small leaves of chicory and cabbage.  As long as Costco carries it, this bag will have a permanent place in my refrigerator.

To the whole health/whole food/Paleo/etc. folks that are avoiding GMO oils, I suggest round filing the poppyseed dressing and pumpkin seeds as they are prepared with soybean and canola oil.  The cranberries are sweetened with sugar and are easily replaced with your own fresh fruits.  They are all easy enough to toss out as each of these comes in its own baggie separate from the healthy greens. 

Toast your own pumpkin seeds or add a small handful of crushed macadamia nuts.  And coming up with your own dressings can fill the time saved from washing and preparing all the greens.  Why not try the Southwest Cumin-Lime Dressing from the Well Fed cookbook?  Or the Sweet Mustard?

And if eliminating vegetable oils aren't your thing, then dig in with all the side fixin's and enjoy.  Because they do make one tasty salad!

Now if you'll excuse me, it is time to get my nosh on with a big bowl of Kale Vegetable Salad topped with leftover sliced organic chicken thighs, macadamia nut oil , and a splash of blackberry balsamic vinegar.  Slurp!





3.09.2013

Zesty Lemon Kale Salad

My last grocery shopping trip found me strolling through the produce department at Sprouts and randomly collecting vegetables that I thought I could use in a variety of recipes.  As usual, a few bunches of kale made their way into my cart.  Believe it or not, I couldn't even create a hankering for kale chips during the entire following week.  My kale bunches were slowly losing their bright fresh appearance and I knew I needed to do something with them post-haste.  With a little Pinterest and even less brain power, I decided on a crisp zesty salad.

Zesty Lemon Kale Salad

Salad Makin's
1 bunch kale
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, julienned (I recommend the ease of a Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 fresh sliced strawberries, dried cranberries, dried cherries, or fruit of choice (no sugar added)

Salad Dressin's
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 grinds of fresh cracked black pepper
pinch of salt

Wash and dry the kale then cut out the tough ribs from the centers of the leaves.  Roughly chop the kale into bite-sized pieces.  In a large bowl or container that has a fitted lid, place the chopped kale, cabbage, and carrots.  In a separate bowl, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, macadamia nut oil, minced garlic, black pepper, and salt.  Whisk vigorously until well blended.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables.  Place the lid securely onto the container and make sure it is well sealed.  Shake, shake, shake your container.  Make sure all the leafies are well coated.  Carefully remove the lid and scoop dressed salad into bowls.  Top with toasted pine nuts and fresh fruit.  Can serve immediately or slightly chilled.

This is a great salad to keep in the fridge for a day or two.  Eat it for dinner.  Take it for lunch the next day.  Nibble it as a snack.  The kale holds up quite well and is especially tasty once the flavors have melded together.







3.07.2013

Dining Out Paleo: Jackie's Cafe

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
 
Every Thursday (or so) I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to my whole food/whole health lifestyle, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.
 
Did you know that omelet is the preferred spelling in American English, referring to the fluffy egg dish we all like to devour on special Sunday mornings?  Omelette, however, is also acceptable and is the preferred spelling in all other varieties of English.  I guess I'm just unAmerican because I've been wasting the two extra letters for longer than I can remember; auto-correct really doesn't appreciate it either.
 
This week's Dining Out Paleo is obviously breakfast related and ironically has nothing to do with omelettes.  I had the pleasure of meeting a new old-friend for breakfast this week and we had a fantastic time finally getting to know each other, catching up on the little we did know, and commiserating over our sheer disdain for our current locality.  Which is sometimes mitigated by uniquely intriguing skies and scenery like this...


And this...


Since my gal pal, L, usually relegates her public breakfasts to Denny's or IHOP, I was designated to pick our dining destination.  I have heard much ado about Jackie's Cafe in Lancaster and barely recall eating there once a long while back in my pancake and waffle days.  I was thrilled when I cracked open the menu and was treated to options galore of egg dishes, omelettes, and cafe specials.  Meats, eggs, veggies, herbs.  There were so many options from which to choose!
 
 
The wind was blowing hard and spiking a biting chill into the Antelope Valley air, so I started with a hot mug of green tea.  
 
 
I made it through my entire pot of hot water before finally making a selection:  Two Eggs, One Meat.  With a selection ranging from chorizo to chicken apple sausage, I decided on Canadian bacon.  I ordered my eggs poached, avoiding any excess cooking oils, and I substituted the homemade herb potatoes for a bowl of fresh fruit.  A perfect Paleo breakfast. 
 
 
Hmmm... now that I am writing this, I am wishing I had ordered sliced avocado to get a nice hearty dose of antioxidants, vitamin E, and folate.  Next time.

I'll admit I had a bit of order envy when L's dish was placed on the table.  I'm pretty sure her behemoth steak fajita omelette threw me a seductive wink.  L was kind enough to offer me a bite and I quickly nabbed up a bite of steak and a homemade herb potato.  Wowza, my friends!  Thatsa tasty breakfast!
 

2 out of 2 meals received a check PLUS.  
 
A few other menu items that caught my eye:

No Carb Breakfast - grilled chicken breast, spinach, scrambled egg whites, and sliced tomatoes.
Chicken Breast Basil Pesto Omelette -  same ingredients as the No Carb with basil pesto and jack cheese.
Build-Your-Own Omelette - a whole mess of meat and veggie selections to make the perfect breakfast brainchild.

I think L was happy we weren't limited to the Denny's All-You-Can-Eat pancakes for $4 and I was happy to introduce her to somewhere fabulously fulfilling and family friendly.  Another Paleo pig-out success!  I hope she's ready to exchange more AV grouses, because I'm ready to discuss 50 mph wind gusts** over breakfast again very very soon!

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**The linked broadcast is three years old, almost to the day.  I included it because it could be aired again today, completely unchanged and still be 100% accurate.  As Matt said after we both checked the weather apps on our respective phones and laughed out loud,  "the weather here is nothing if not consistent."  Yup.