Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cooking with Coconut Oil {Book Review}

What better thing to get me blogging again than a local blogger friend publishing her very first cook book?!

cooking with coconut oil

Elizabeth Nyland, also known as the lady behind the popular food blog Guilty Kitchen, has put her expertise on Paleo eating down on paper in her new cook book Cooking with Coconut Oil.  She shows us how versatile coconut oil can be with this crazy cool little book just jam packed with recipes for everything from breakfasts to decadent desserts.

I was sent a copy by the publisher on the day the book was released and by that night I had actually read most of the book cover to cover.  I had expected to find maybe 20-25 recipes, but turns out there’s more than 75 and each one is accompanied by one or more of Elizabeth’s beautiful photos.  I busted out my sticky notes and started marking pages for recipes I wanted to try right away!

In the interest of keeping it simple for this review, my bf and picked out a few recipes for a cohesive Sunday dinner.  We chose something from the appetizer section, something from entrees, and something from side dishes.  I had my eye on her Chocolate, Coconut, Avocado and Lime Pie as well, but in the end I was bit too lazy to pull that off that weekend.  :)  Soon though, I promise!

Beet and Cauliflower Hummus

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Paleo peeps don’t eat legumes, so obviously this is an alternative to actual hummus since no chick peas were harmed in the making of this dip.  But the inclusion of tahini sends it down that Middle Eastern path.

I choose this recipe because bf and I both love ourselves some roasted beets.  So much so that you would think I’d be good at cooking beets, but I have to admit I undercooked mine.  I followed Elizabeth’s recipe directions exactly, but I should have tested the doneness of my beets as they probably needed another 20 minutes in the oven.

Needless to say I had some trouble getting them to grind down in the food processor, but in the end we had a yummy dip that we would definitely make again!  We served it up with veggies to keep it Paleo for the review, but admittedly we ate the leftovers the next day on crispy crackers and loved it even more that way. :)

Hassleback Sweet Potatoes {Yams}

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Liz says it herself “these are really just fancy baked sweet potatoes, [but] the extra steps taken to create the Hassleback effect makes them extra fun for parties…”

I’ve been seeing Hassleback potatoes on Pinterest for ages now but I guess it took seeing it in sweet potato form for me to do it.  I used Elizabeth’s handy trick of placing chopsticks along side the potato to make sure I didn’t cut right through when slicing…works like a hot damn.

Again, I undercooked these bad boys so I’m going to blame bf’s oven.  Just make sure you test yours for doneness because mine needed more time than the recipe suggested.

The final product was indeed beautiful and tasty though!  And I had fun brushing the coconut oil into all of the nooks and crannies.

Grilled {Skirt} Steak with Chimichurri

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Chimichurri is another one of those recipes I’ve bumped into a thousand times but never got around to making.  As I flipped through the book I gravitated right to this recipe and knew it’s what was for dinner.

We’d be better off making this one during the Summer when our own home grown herbs are in season, but I managed to find everything I needed at our local supermarket.  Nothing beats a bag of fresh herbs, any time of year!

This year bf bought shares in a locally raised, organic, free range, grass fed cow so his freezer has beef-a-plenty (seriously, you want a good burger…get organic grass fed ground beef!).  Oddly we didn’t have a skirt steak so we opted to broil up a huge sirloin steak instead.

It paired perfectly with the spicy, herbacious chimichurri and Hasslebacks.  It would be safe to say we’d eat this again.  And again.  That sauce?  We’d put that sh!t on everything! ;)

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In fact, we liked the sauce so much I asked Liz if I could share it with you.  So you lucky bums, here’s a teaser from her book:

Chimichurri recipe from Cooking with Coconut Oil {Elizabeth Nyland}

  • 1 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, packed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
  • 4 green onions or scallions, green part only
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 lemon at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Place everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside if you’re using it right away, or keep covered in the fridge if using later.  Coconut oil does solidify when chilled so bring the chimichurri back to room temperature before using.

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All of the recipes in Cooking with Coconut Oil are gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo and Primal diet friendly, and include coconut oil and sometimes coconut flour.  Elizabeth explains about the benefits of coconut oil, how to chose coconut oil, and what the Paleo lifestyle is really all about.  In addition to being some yummy recipe reading there’s a little education in there too. 

I’m happy to have this recipe book in my arsenal and look forward to cooking more with coconut oil. Keep up with Elizabeth on her blog, as she has another book in the works… Cooking with Avocados is coming soon!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Lovin' You

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

With the demise of Google Reader I have decided to try out Bloglovin'.  Too bad I didn't get off my arse and do this before Google actually deleted all of my previous blog reading information.  I'll have to actually use my brain to remember all of the blogs I like to read!  Damn it.  I don't like using my brain.  Isn't that actually why we have the interwebs?

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

In the End

On Day 30 of my Whole30 adventure, I actually felt quite good.  The last couple of days were very easy because I was so proud of myself for making it all the way through with no cheats or slips.  I really hadn’t expected myself to get through the challenge on the first try, so it was truly great accomplishment to me.  Pats on the back all around!

Whole30-complete

During the process I started to feel quite lean and had a lot of compliments about how good I was looking.  (Not that I looked bad before mind you!)  A slim fitting skirt and favourite pair of dress pants I hadn’t really been able to wear finally fit properly and comfortably.  My tummy was noticeably flatter and I just overall felt a little more comfortable in my own skin.  I realized I was rarely bloated or puffy, and so many of my aches and pains were totally gone!  My sleep was better, and even my hair and nails looked healthier somehow.  (Still worried about the energy though).

On Day 31 I stepped on the scale, expecting maybe a 5-6 pound loss…and was met with only 3 pounds.  I know it shouldn’t matter, and I really thought it wouldn’t matter to me after everything else…but I admit it…I was bummed!  I can gain and lose 3 pounds over a weekend!  The big mistake I made was not getting my post-W30 measurements done right away.  Michael had done them for me the day before I started, and obviously I was down inches otherwise those clothes wouldn’t have started fitting me.  The weight shouldn’t have been my only measure of success.

But, Michael and I weren’t going to see each other for 3 days and I didn’t bother to measure myself.  I let it go, and I shouldn’t have.  If I’d seen those positive results in numbers I may have stayed the course better.  Lesson learned.

Nearing the end, I had spent some time thinking about how I would go about reintroductions of the food groups I’d eliminated… figuring dairy could come back because I don’t eat a lot of it, and aside from the occasional ice cream tummy ache I didn’t think it had much negative effect on me.  After that I would bring back some grains…likely bread and oatmeal.  And obviously I wasn’t going to let sugar and booze go for long! :)

W30 finished on a Tuesday.  I stuck to pretty much the same foods for Wednesday and Thursday, except I did treat myself to a tall latte and brought home some good quality yogurt.  I was still feeling good about the choices and how I felt…then date night came and it kind of sent me into a spiral I’m still trying to get out of 3 weeks later.

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As planned, we went for Pizzeria Prima Strada.  It’s the meal I’d been thinking about since before I started Whole30, and I enjoyed every single bite of the perfect pizza, and every sip of my first glass of red wine.  Perfect reward for a job well done (even if I shouldn’t be rewarding myself with food!).

I don’t think that one meal would have been an issue, but that same weekend was Michael’s birthday and because I’m a genius I booked our reservations for an Italian restaurant where we drank wine, ate bread, ordered creamy pasta and shared some sort of decadent dessert. 

Again, I can’t blame the food, I have to blame my choices.  I should have taken it easier on my poor body.  It went into shock and then just craved ALL.THE.THINGS.  Even though my grocery cart was still stocked with Whole30 and Paleo friendly items, treats were finding their way into my grocery bags as well.  I cannot tell you the amount of junk I’ve consumed since that weekend.  Booooo.

I have to tell you…I gained back that 3 pounds in less than a week, gained a few more since then, and just constantly feel bloated and yucky.  Clearly I still have a lot to learn about keeping my shit together.

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So, I suppose my take aways are these:

  • W30 is an elimination diet and somewhat depriving, so the reintroduction phase is there for a reason.
  • How you feel in your own skin is the best measurement of all, and numbers on a scale or tape shouldn’t dictate how you nourish yourself.
  • Even though I had some pretty negative thoughts throughout the Whole30, I do want to stick with many of the principals that worked for me.
  • Thirty days is not long enough to kick life long eating habits.  I’ll be fighting emotional and boredom eating until the day I die. 
  • Letting sugar back into my life full force pretty much reversed everything I had accomplished.  Sugar bad.

Would I do Whole30 again?  Maybe. The energy issue makes me say no.

Would I recommend it?  Yes, everyone should try it for themselves. 

Am I considering going Paleo?  Somewhat.  I like the concept but I can’t survive without some grains (for energy) and wine (for sanity) in my life. 

Last night I sat down with the food log I kept for W30 and started a new page with a meal plan for today.  I titled it ‘One Day at a Time’ and for now I think that’s the best practice for me.

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