The “Gluten-Free/Paleo” Life

Ok, so I say “gluten-free” and “paleo” BUT I don’t always eat this way. I try to eat mostly whole foods and stay away from breads, pastas and rice. TRY. Sometimes, like last night, I make a delicious dish that has rice in it and you just can’t substitute, like rice noodles for pad thai. I mean, zucchini noodles aren’t gonna cut it!

I drink wine. A lot. I love wine, I’ve been drinking wine since I was a little girl at my Nonna and Papa’s kitchen table. It’s not paleo and I could care less. These pictures were taken in Punta Cana for our wedding in November and you can bet your bottom I was drinking wine before the wedding…that shit was stressful.

When I do cut back on all the yummy things like pastas and breads, I don’t substitute them with gluten-free versions. I don’t have celiac disease, forcing me to improvise. I just feel less bloated and more toned when I avoid those simple carbohydrates.

Any advice I might give a future bride or anyone trying to get a bit more fit is to cut out the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating and replace them with whole foods that fill you up and satisfy your palate. Add weights into your workout routine. I was always a cardio queen. Give me an In Touch magazine, a stair-master and Rhianna radio on my Pandora and I’ll sweat my butt off and feel like I accomplished something, BUT it never toned my body. Adding Body Pump class (moderate weights with lots of repetition/total body workout) was what got me tighter and smaller. I always thought weights would make me bulky, but they did NOT. I didn’t drink soda or juices either. Ever. I’d rather have stevia in my coffee in the morning and wine during the week than a soda or glass of juice any day. I heard recently that one serving of soda has more sugar in it than you need for the entire week!

My go to substitutions to cut cravings and fill/satisfy me:

  • Avocado! I put this in salads, added it to veggies for side dishes or under a meat/protein
  • Beans! Especially black beans, I eat these in place of pasta or rice.
  • Zucchini! I made noodles under a sauce, diced and added to ground turkey for meatballs, cut up and sautéed to add to veggies to help fill me up
  • Mango! I know there’s a lot of sugar, so I would eat it early in the day and make ceviche with it, which included avocado, shrimp and lots of lemon and cilantro. I also ate it alone as long as I wasn’t going to have any other sugar for the day. It’s like candy!
  • Spicy sauces and seasonings! When you’re trying to eat well, you get bored after a while (or at least I do!) and start craving other food. Adding a lot of spice (if that’s your thing) REALLY helped me, and is actually great for your metabolism. I added siracha to eggs, cayenne pepper to bean salads and Frank’s Red Hot to pretty much anything, especially chicken tenders (a paleo version, found in my recipes) for a “buffalo chicken” dish with celery and carrots.
  • Protein muffins and paleo pancakes were perfect every morning with my cup of coffee (which I would rather cut off a limb than take away) and filled me up. (Both found in my recipes, as well)
  • Sparkling water with lemon and lime, MAYBE a splash of cranberry. This “mocktail” was my go-to when I was cutting back on the wine. I still put it in a fancy glass:)

Kind of regretting the 2 Hershey Kisses I had before this post:/ Oh well, no Nature’s Path cereal for dessert tonight! (something else I do).

 

Blueberry Reduction Pork Chops

So sometimes (very often, actually), I don’t follow any recipe, nor do I write down what I’m doing as I do it. Last night’s dinner was a perfect example of that, but I’ll tell you what I did the best I can!

This was a thick-cut boneless pork chop. I had 4 total, which equaled around 2 lbs. In my cast iron grill pan, I sprayed cooking oil so the pork chops wouldn’t stick and heated over medium-medium/high. I placed all 4 pork chops and sprinkled them with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried parsley and a little cayenne pepper. Once they started to brown on the bottom, I flipped them over and repeated the same seasonings. Once they were about 1/2 way cooked through, I put them in a preheated oven of 350 for about 10-15 minutes.

In another cast iron skillet, I cut up parsnips and purple carrots. On the stove top on medium-medium/high heat I poured a little grape seed oil and added the parsnips and carrot. I then sprinkled them with cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and a little pink sea salt. Once they started to soften, I put them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

The broccoli was simply steamed and sprinkled with lemon pepper!

But the REDUCTION SAUCE was to die for! I put a small container of blueberries with a little chicken broth on a small pot on the stove over medium heat. I mashed the blueberries with a potato masher and allowed them to cook down a little then turned the heat to medium/low. I added more chicken broth (only about 1-2 Tbs. each time), about 1 Tbs. whole grain Dijon mustard, about 1 Tbs. of honey, and about 1 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar. I allowed that to all slowly cook together and kept tasting it to see what it needed. This was a thick reduction and it was delicious!! My husband was really skeptical (I don’t know why he doesn’t just trust me at this point?!) but he put a little on the side. Once he tried it, he got up and poured this all over his pork chop!!

I paired this dish with Panilonoco Cabernet Sauvignon!

Paleo BBQ Chicken

  •  

  • 2.5 Lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 6 oz can Organic Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup 100% Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • 2 Tbs Molasses
  • 1 Tbs Grape seed Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Minced Onion
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp 21 Season Salute (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

 

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the tomato paste, apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Add the honey, molasses, grape seed oil and mix well. Add all of the seasonings and mix once more.

In your slow cooker on high, put the chicken breasts and pour your sauce on top. Spread it out and pour the other 1/4 cup water. Cover and allow to cook for about an hour and a half or until the chicken is easy to pull apart with 2 forks. After shredding the chicken apart, cover and turn heat to low. Allow to cook for at least another 1/2 hour.

I served mine over mashed cauliflower with fresh scallion!

(Mashed Cauliflower: Remove stems from half a head of cauliflower and steam the crowns until you can puncture with a fork. Drain and put in your food processor, blend until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl and add 1 Tbs half and half, cracked pepper and salt to taste. I also add a sprinkle of fresh grated parmesan! Top with scallions.)

My wedding “diet”

Our wedding in Punta Cana was the best day of my life so far! I have never had so much fun and I got to come home married to the best guy I’ve ever known.

Like any bride, I stressed and wanted to make sure I looked my best and felt good about myself for the big day. I wanted to look back on our pictures with confidence and reflect how happy I am. I think a huge fear was that I would see pictures of myself and focus on my insecurities and wish I had tried harder to become my healthiest self. I knew I had the skill to create great recipes, I knew I had the determination and drive to get to the gym, but who doesn’t want a glass of wine or 2 at the end of the day?

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a glass of wine while I cook! Who doesn’t want to skip a day or 2 at the gym during the week? I do, and I did! Let me also just say, I am NOT a gym rat! I go to the gym on a regular basis about 3-4 times a week, max. I take Body Pump, which is a Les Mills program and also do the stair master for cardio. I like to sweat, it makes me feel productive.

I ate really well before the wedding, but got creative and looked forward to making these dishes because they were full of flavor. I discovered how to eat healthy food high in fiber and protein and low in sugar, salt and fat WHILE making sure I was full and satisfied. I did drink wine. Not every single day, but I did. I ate dessert, but it was usually a cup of Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax granola or a protein mini muffin and a cup of sleepy-time tea as opposed to something more fattening.

I will post as many recipes as I can and will happily answer ANY questions you have! I’ll try to give you any advice I can and tell you what worked/didn’t work for me. Just ask!

Roasted Chicken and Heirloom Carrots

  • 3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Carrots
  • 1 Purple Carrot
  • 1 Parsnip
  • 1/3 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 3 Large sweet potatoes
  • Rubbed Sage
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Salt
  • 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joe’s seasoning)
  • Dried Parsley
  • 3 Tbs. Olive Oil (I used Grapeseed oil)

Wash and trim chicken breasts and place in baking dish. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into large cubes and add to chicken with the onion. Peel and cut carrots and parsnip into long pieces and add them as well. Pour the oil over everything and cover all ingredients evenly with all seasonings. Bake at 350 for one hour, mixing after 30 min. Serve with a green vegetable:)

 

Don’t have all the ingredients??

I know there have been times when I’ve followed a recipe and realized I didn’t have one ingredient…OR I’ve been at the grocery store looking at the bag of raw pumpkin seeds and didn’t want to pay $5.99 for them when I don’t know when or IF I’ll ever use them again! Chances are, this has happened to you too, and here’s my solution: You might actually have this item already and don’t even know it OR you have something very similar that can be substituted and it makes such a minor difference, you could never tell!

More likely than not, those pumpkin seeds for the garnish are in your trail mix!! Need 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins? I bet they’re in there too! Need a pinch of cloves for that stew? If you threw in a bay leaf and some Thyme instead of buying that $5.00 tiny box, you’d save a trip and no one would know the difference!! Check your cabinet, smell your seasonings, taste them! Need a spoonful of Agave nectar? A spoonful of that little bear of honey will suffice!

Sometimes I worry so much about what people will think, especially when I’m bringing a side dish to a friends’ party, that I overdo it…for instance, I’ll add extra chicken to a buffalo dip because I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t try hard enough, or like I’m being “stingy”. Well, I made one for one of my husband’s work parties and added the extra chicken. Turns out, I added too much and he came home with half the crockpot still full because I made WAY too much and there was NO way we could finish it. He actually said “everyone loved it, but I think there was too much chicken, it was more like a meal than a dip”!

Finding ways to save on some cash can be stressful, so my advice here is: don’t worry! Don’t overdo it and use what you got, girl!