Dining Out Paleo: The Apple Shed

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo
Thursdays I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to a whole foods diet, 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.

Breakfast.  Probably the easiest meal for dining out Paleo.  And breakfast is just an awesome meal all in it's own right.  The smell of bacon sizzling before getting out of bed in the morning.  Families coming together.  Starting the day.  There is just something special about breakfast.

Before Matt and I ventured off to Murray Family Farms a few weeks back to collect hoards of berries in our little wagon, we fueled up on a hearty Paleo breakfast at The Apple Shed in Tehachapi, California.  The Apple Shed reminds me of a small town Cracker Barrel, only a little more cozy, a lot less commercial roadside stop, and no peg game.

I scanned through the omelets, the egg options, and the available meats.  I decided with all the walking and picking we had ahead of us, I would fuel my fire for the day with two poached eggs and tri-tip.  I just have this thing for poached eggs on top of meat products.  I believe that at some point on this journey I have replaced eating a favorite comfort from my youth:  "dunky egg with a bagel" with "dunky egg with meat product." 

I nibbled on a few of the potatoes.  Curious about the potatoes?  Read more on whether or not to make potatoes part of your diet over at Mark's Daily Apple.  And more than likely, breakfast potatoes served at restaurants are cooked in oxidizing oils which places them in a special treat/every once in awhile category and not the breakfast norm.

I also added a side bowl of fruit.  Since I didn't see any available options for something leafy green and vegetabley, fruit made for a nice side instead.  Little did I know how much MORE fruit I would be consuming later that morning.

And this is pretty much how all my breakfasts at restaurants pan out.  Eggs, meats, fruits, and vegetables whenever possible.  No toast.  No pancakes.  Occasionally potatoes if the hankering arises.  Just a "dunky egg", a tasty slab of meat, and some great company with my berry harvesting hubby!


Look At All The Healthies I Ate This Week! 22-June-2013

Actually, I'm renaming this particular post "Look At All The Healthies Red Meat I Ate This Week!"  It seems I didn't really take pictures of the fruity or veggie goodies consumed or anything else that I managed to devour.  The only meals worthy of eternal capture by my iPhone were plates of red meat.  Maybe I'm just getting anxious in anticipation for the season premier of The Walking Dead.  In October.

Either way, here's the bloody red goodness that I happily chowed down on over the course of the week...

Grilled tri-tip and grilled veggies to celebrate Father's (in-law) Day. 

And a few bowls of my mother-in-law's awesome salad.  I didn't take the time to make the picture look pretty.  I was too hungry.  Deal.

Skirt steak.  Marinated in lime juice, vinegar, and seasonings then grilled to an exact medium rare.  Served with caramelized onions.  The kind that take 30+ minutes slow-cooking on the stove.  They're the best that way.

What could make skirt steak and caramelized onions even more awesome?  A perfectly poached pastured egg.  Yup.  I've had a hefty hankering for poached eggs lately.  They've made their way on top of just about everything I eat.  And that makes me happy.

Don't worry, I didn't eat the dogs.  The apocalypse isn't here, yet.  I'm just curious if my dogs are the only ones that help themselves onto furniture while I am indisposed in another room of the house... cooking, showering, exercising.  Walking the other way down the hall.  One minute they are sleeping nicely somewhere on the carpet.  The next thing I know they're kicking back on their respective couch cushions laughing at me.  Please tell me I am not alone in this.

Hello again, skirt steak.  Costco sold me a lot.  Matt cooked a lot.  I ate a lot.  Like on top of a giant spinach salad with organic carrots and olive oil and balsamic dressing.

This was by far the best thing I ate all week, but you'll have to come back for a future Thursday Dining Out Paleo post to find out all the awesomeness that is posing for you in this picture.  Trust me, it's worth the return visit to see me.  I would've licked that bowl if I wasn't in an uppity area of town.  All Paleo, all delicious.

There it is.  This week's red meat fiesta.  Who knows, maybe the upcoming week will be chock full of fish and all the omega-3 heart healthies I can handle.  Nah, I wouldn't bet on it.


Dining Out Paleo: Border Grill

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo
Thursdays I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to a whole foods diet, 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. 
Every time I am in Santa Monica, I walk by Border Grill on my way to stock up my spice cabinet at the nearby Penzeys Spices on 4th Street.  I have told myself repeatedly that I need to stop in sometime and see what Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are all about.  My second round of LA food touring afforded me a small sampling of Susan Feniger's Street and it was then Border Grill was bumped up on the "to try ASAP" list.  ASAP turned into a half year later, but it was well worth the wait and I could definitely go back knowing I don't have to stress over finding something incredibly tasty and Paleo-compliant on the menu.
Border Grill is a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, sources seasonal and locally ingredients when possible, and uses organic beef and lamb and uncured pork raised without hormones or antibiotics.
So how did my Border Grill experience transpire?  For the first time in a while of Dining Out Paleo posts, I did NOT order a salad.  There were just so many other delicious options to which I was drawn.  Upscale Mexican food does mean sifting through the menu to get past all of the corn, beans, and cheese, but Border Grill offered plenty of other selections with not much hunting or creative ordering required.
I started with a fabulously refreshing glass of Naranjada.  I couldn't say it, but I happily drank it.  Fresh squeezed orange juice, lemon, lime, and sparkling water.  I'm not sure why I didn't take a picture, but believe me when I say it is even tastier than it sounds.
Before arriving at Border Grill, I had done a quick review of the menu and from that moment I was pretty certain nothing was going to convince me to order anything other than ceviche.  
I LOVE ceviche.  That zesty tang of the lime juice and the fresh flavor and texture of the fish... it reminds me of many-a-beach vacation basking in the warm sun with crystal blue waters lapping at my toes; Sol beer in hand.  Since I'm pretty picky about my raw fish eatings and prefer to consume it at reputable restaurants that are geographically located by an ocean, this was the perfect opportunity to have at it!  I was tempted toward the Ceviche Trio, but indulged my Mexico vacation fantasy awhile longer and stuck with an order of the Baja Ceviche.

Crunchy onions, smooth marinated fish, creamy avocado.  Heavenly.  My hankering was happily satisfied.  The fish was served on top of a corn tostada which remained on the plate, but if I wasn't in the company of friends I might have found myself licking the juices from it.  I promise I didn't it.  I'm not that uncouth in public.  Most of the time.
I also decided to seek out a selection of veggies that would round out my lunch and happened to spot a side order of caramelized Brussels sprouts.  
I assumed they were going to be delicious in their own right, then our waitress informed me that the little guys are prepared with chipotle spiced bacon.  A thousand times, YES, bring me those Brussels!

Delicious they were.  I wanted to eat them all.  There were just so many.  A few made them onto the plates of friends.  And the rest went home to Matt.  I couldn't have been more thrilled with my lunch selection.  Border Grill was certainly what I was hoping for.

A nice addition to the menu is options for diners that may not necessarily be Paleo, but prefer to (or must) eat a gluten-free diet.  There are items that are labeled gluten-free, can be made gluten-free, and even meals that are 80% or more plant based.  How cool is that?  
I'd like to add that after swiping a nibble of my friend's skirt steak, I will be returning just to order that dish.  Actually, there are a whole slew of menu goodies I want to go back to try.  And it may not be Mexico and the water may not be crystal blue, but the beach IS a short walk away from the restaurant for toe-dipping and a short mental vacation.  Good enough for me!


Bounteous Baskets of Berries

Friday the 21st is the official first day of summer and the one thing that screams to me "SUMMER IS HERE", besides the 100 degree heat, is bright fresh produce from all the local farms.  The farmers' markets are back in full swing, proudly displaying a mosaic of colors from all the seasonal fare.

Matt and I recently set out to stock up our fridge with the freshest possible fruit we could find... right off the trees, shrubs, and vines at Murray Family Farms.  Murray Family Farms is a popular stop for families traveling up and down 58 through Bakersfield, California.  The farm participates in sustainable farming practices with the family residing right there on the property.  The Big Red Barn is the flagship location with a smaller market just a few miles away. 

My husband doesn't realize that when he makes silly faces, silly pictures end up on the internet for all to see.  Or maybe he just prefers beige food?

We perused the available produce inside the barn/market/eatery.  Then Matt and I paid for the U-Pick option, loaded up a little wagon with baskets, and made our way out into the fields to start collecting our harvest.  Our first stop?  The corn cannon!  Except in summer, you get to launch rotting oranges.  And launch them, Matt did.  Over and over and over again.

When playtime was over (for the time being), we made our way to the strawberry patch. 

For the first time in my life I was able to taste a strawberry fresh off the stem, soft and warm and sweet from the sun.  It was pure bliss.  My plant at home just stares back at me with a bunch of leaves.  And no berries.

We passed by baby avocados that resembled something other than avocados before making our way into the peach orchard to gather up a basket of Country Sweet peaches.

Next we loaded up on blueberries.  I think a few of them even made it into the wagon.  And from there, we discovered the blackberries.  Or some hybrid thereof.  They were HUGE and SWEET SWEET SWEET.  I've never ever tasted a blackberry that was so candy sweet delicious.  No puckering here.  Matt and I ended up with twice as many blackberry-type-berries as everything else. 

We assessed our haul, decided we had plenty to get us through the next week or two, and made our way back to the main gate.  The 106 degree weather sort of expedited that decision as well.  Final fruit tally:  strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and pluots all for around $20 not counting the $5.99 entry fee/person which I just may have consumed in fruit directly in the fields.  Good thing they don't weigh us before and after. 

The day was not complete without one last stop for each of us.  I stopped to admire the sunflowers.  Matt had to make short work of the oranges in the ammo crate.

One bottle of fresh pressed Rainier cherry juice to quench our thirst...

And we were on our way home to prep our rainbow of farm fresh loot for breakfasts and lunches for the upcoming week.  Welcome summer!  We hope you'll stay awhile.


Look At All The Healthies I Ate This Week! 15-June-2013

Fruit, fruit, and more fruit.  Freshly picked from a farm in Bakersfield.  Holy cow, I love summer.  Fruit.  Matt and I stocked up with over a week's worth of nature candy and I've nibbled on all combinations of available flavors every meal, all week long.  Peaches, pluots, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.  Pretty sure my fingers are permanently stained purple from sneaking snacks during the day.

Eat-Smart Kale Vegetable Salad, my favorite bagged mix! Topped with a fresh grilled and sliced Fork In The Road pasture-raised beef and compassionate pork hot link.  These babies are spicy and oh so delicious.

Farm fresh strawberries, a banana, and a cup of coconut water, blended into a frothy fury of tasty breakfast smoothie.

One of the biggest slacker breakfasts I've made in a long while.  Two pastured eggs and a big bowl of kale chips.  I wanted veggies, but was not in the mood to make effort.  Kale chips were the perfect solution!

On the morning I decided to put in effort, I had two scrambled pastured eggs dappled with Wholly Guacamole and a scoop of Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut.

And of course there was uncured bacon to be had!  I didn't make effort in trying to "pose" the bacon.  Photographing bacon is like photographing Cindy Crawford in the '90s.  They ALWAYS looks good.  No effort required. 

More fruit smoothies!  Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries with coconut water. 

The bright rich purple was a difficult capture with my iPhone, but trust me... this little guy was a gorgeous!  Now if only I had a Vitamix to pulverize those seeds.  I'm still two more birthdays full of gift cards away.  But that's okay.  It'll be worth the wait.

The holy grail of breakfasts this week:  two perfectly poached pastured eggs sitting on top of a bowl of kale salad, sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Creamy, silky, smooth, with full flavor.  I was proud of myself and my fancy breakfast creation.  I even sent Matt a photo text and description.  He didn't share my enthusiasm.

Definitely a pretty tasty week of healthies and an overload of fruity goodness!


Dining Out Paleo: Greenhouse Cafe

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
Thursdays I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to a whole foods diet, 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.
If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know it's a cold day in Rosamond when I actually say something pleasant about where I live.  Bundle up my friends, because there's snow in today's forecast.  
One of the nice perks about living where I do is the proximity to my husband's parents.  I like to think I got pretty darn lucky on the in-law front and I'm not just saying that because my mother-in-law, KR, reads everything I write.  Matt's mom and dad are a convenient twenty minutes away from us and I like having a standing monthly lunch date with my M-I-L, not counting all the family get-togethers based around a giant slab of protein and a gas grill.

My latest lunch outing was an invite for KR's birthday with HER mother-in-law.  Have I lost you yet?  I had the pleasure of spending a nice afternoon lunching with Matt's mom and his grandmother.  KR chose Greenhouse Cafe in Lancaster, California to celebrate another year of life.  
Greenhouse Cafe is known for fresh quality ingredients and salad dressings that are made from scratch.  The menu is packed full of hearty salads, soups, sandwiches, and all combinations of any of the above.  Since my veggie intake has been on the low end, I once again honed right in on the available salads.  Cajun Chicken, Tri-Tip, and Cobb... all sounded delicious!  I finally decided on Carol's Salad - crisp apples, walnuts, cranberries, and chopped chicken on a bed of romaine served with a raspberry vinaigrette.  

The apples were crisp and tart.  I would've preferred more and bigger chunks, but they provided a nice texture.  The chicken was incredibly tender and moist and was my favorite part of the whole meal.  And before the Paleo Police get wrapped up around the cranberries, I am aware they contain soybean oils and sugar.  The quantity was limited.  I wasn't overly worried about it and they can be easily removed if they are a problem for anyone else who happens to order this particular salad.  On this day, I made a conscious decision and I ate them!  Overall, I was extremely satisfied with my lunch selection as were the two generations of in-laws with whom I shared good conversation and company.  

I always forget about Greenhouse Cafe as it is tucked neatly away behind a large strip mall complex with shops and a gym.  Now that my memory has been refreshed and the takeout menu is permanently affixed to my refrigerator, I have a place to go when I have a hankering for a nice big fresh salad.  Greenhouse Cafe is a perfect spot for a Paleo lunch deep in the heart of the Antelope Valley.  

See that?  See what I did there?  That's TWO nice things about where I live in one post!  Great family close by and tasty healthy eats to share with them.  Alright, that's enough.  Don't get used to my niceness;  Just my ability to eat my way through Southern California and take pictures of everything I put in my mouth.

Now go to Greenhouse Cafe and get a salad.  You'll be a happier healthier camper once you do.  


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: Casabella Standard Muffin Cups

I'm not much for baking my own cupcakes.  In fact, since I've really become immersed in the impact food has on my internal body, I haven't done much baking at all... Paleo or otherwise.  When it comes to cupcakes, I leave it to the experts for a special occasion.  Like a trip to Las Vegas to reminisce about my wonderful wedding weekend.  Now THESE were some cupcakes!  I'm quite fond of the decor.  Makes a good lookin' cupcake.

Back in my own kitchen, away from the lights and the booze and boobs, the only miniature cakes that come out of the oven tend to be more of a breakfast item and less of a sweet treat.  I have a box full of "egg muffin" recipes that I like to dig into from time to time when I am not feeling up to cooking an egg breakfast every single morning.

Egg muffins and the like are easy to prepare and last in my fridge for a little over a week.  On days I don't feel like cooking and am completely famished after rowing (in my home gym), I'm happy to grab two of the little guys and pop them in the microwave for a quick protein fix.  Easy enough... right up until I have to negotiate the paper wrappers from my little muffins of meat and egg.  More times than not, I'll get a few extra bites of fiber that I really had no intention of eating.  And, well, that just sucks.  No one likes eating muffin paper.

I was once again in the mood for my eggy muffin melange  a few weeks back and decided I would not subject my taste buds to paper wrappers any longer.  I began the search for those awesome silicone baking cups I had been longing for years and years and years ago.  After much reading, research, and visual discerning I decided on the Casabella Standard Muffin Cups.

They are BPA-free, constructed of a food-grade silicone, and according to one reviewer they do not contain toxic fillers like some of the big name brands.  Many reviewers expressed how happy they were at the ease of food removal and cleaning with these particular cups.  As soon as they arrived, I put my rainbow colored baking buddies to the test.

I pulled out my favorite egg muffin recipe, using real roasted green chiles instead of canned and preparing my own breakfast sausage.  After a thorough washing, I set each muffin cup on a baking sheet and filled with the egg mixture.  I watched closely as the eggy goodness bubbled and browned and pulled them out of the oven when they were all ready.  I allowed appropriate time to cool and then popped each little breakfast beauty out of the silicone cups and into a storage container.

The verdict?  I LOVED them.  There was not one ounce of baked on residue left behind in the cups.  And my eggs were completely paper free.  The cups were incredibly easy to wash again with warm, soapy water and they take up very little room stacked with the rest of my bake ware in the cabinet.  No more soaking and scrubbing muffin tins, no more muffin cup paper flecks stuck to my food.  I couldn't be more thrilled with my Casabella Standard Muffin Cups.  

A few reviews that I read complained of the cups' small size and noted that they aren't a true muffin size.  When I looked into the one size larger, I felt like I was looking at the mold for the Costco muffins.  You know the ones that could feed a family of six?  Then I realized that people just have a distorted concept of portions and stuck with my original order of the standard size.  If anything, these are slightly more tapered at the bottom than the paper cups or a regular muffin tin.  But are we really missing anything with one less bite of cupcake?  Or eggcake?  

Apparently these little guys also make for great lunch kit dividers.  I love reading how moms are using these to prepare little bento style boxes for their kid's school lunches!  My mom rocked it out with a pb&j and some fruit in a paper sack.  Times have certainly changed.  I blame Pinterest.  

I'm definitely happy to have added the Casabella Standard Muffin Cups to my crowd of kitchen cookware and even happier to have prepared grab-and-go breakfasts hanging out in my fridge.  No extra soggy fiber bits necessary.


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Look At All The Healthies I Ate This Week! 7-June-2013

Okay, I missed a week or two of posting my healthy eats... but I assure you, there were plenty.  In fact, I wasn't really hungry these past few weeks so a lot of my eats were just snackin's of fresh seasonal fruit.  Sweet heavenly cherries, watermelon, and not-so-local/seasonal pineapple.  As for the rest of the chow that made it into my mouth, here is the rundown:

Chipotle Copycat Barbacoa, which is a superb likeness.  Sub out tallow or coconut oil for browning the meat and the only non-Paleo ingredient left is the chipotle peppers in adobo.  This recipe is delicious and officially in the rotation.  Sweet potato, and a glob of 100 Calorie Pack Wholly Guacamole.  I don't care so much about the guac calories, I just love that I don't open the fridge to a giant tub of brown guacamole or have to make a new batch each time I want some.  These packets are the perfect little serving size!

Yams, Japanese sweet potatoes, and Vidalia onions sliced and basted with grass-fed butter, garlic powder, fresh chopped rosemary, then dusted with kosher salt then tossed on the grill for a few minutes each side.

Cumin roasted carrots from Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat.  I am seriously doing a very impatient little dance in my kitchen in anticipation of the Well Fed sequel.  Excitedness abound!

Pork carnitas... another gem right out of Well Fed.  These usually don't last long in the Rottman abode.  If I didn't make them myself, I would swear they were laced with some illegal addictive substance.

Gratuitous selfie!  I was up super cray-cray early one morning for a teleconference interview on the east coast.  The interviewers were probably preparing for lunch while I was still wiping sleep crusties out of my eyes.  I drank a bottle of kombucha and a mug of hot tea and raw honey for a sunrise pre-interview boost.  And for those of you who asked - yes.  Yes, I wore pants AND shoes even though my head and shoulders were all that were being broadcast. 

Wick Fowler's 2-Alarm Chili with grass-fed ground beef, which was awesomely on sale at Whole Foods earlier in the week.

Hepatitis A smoothie.  No seriously, my sad bag of Townsend Farms Anti-Oxidant Berry Blend was recalled.  Gross, huh? 

Poached pastured eggs dusted with Himalayan pink salt and pepper, served on top of shredded cabbage stir-fried in coconut oil with Penzey's Turkish Seasoning.

Grilled broccoli.  I made little foil packets of fresh broccoli and a hearty pat of grass-fed butter, tossed them on the grill for a few minutes and chowed the heck down.  Grilled anything with butter is always good.

Kale chips.

Apples and nectarines with a single plop of Organic Sunbutter.

Slow-roasted boneless pork ribs, basted in homemade BBQ sauce which turned out shockingly delicious and the only non-Paleo ingredient was molasses.  I actually shocked myself with how good these turned out.

And remember the garden last month?  It's been a beet and chard and lettuce fiesta out there since then.  I even have a few sugar baby watermelons in the making!


Amazon.com associate disclosure statement: www.kaizenneener.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.