Archive | Recipes RSS for this section

My Juice Fast: A Full Report

On January 6th, I announced via an Instagram photo that I was on day one of a juice fast.  I honestly didn’t even think anyone would care about my juice fast. But turns out you guys are SUPER interested in juice fasts.  I’ve completely lost track of the number of texts, Facebook messages, Instagram comments, etc. that I’ve gotten in the past few days wanting to know what program I’m following, is it working, do I like it, how long am I doing this?   So I figured the best way to answer everyone’s questions was through a blog post since we’ve sort of fired up the blog again anyway.  I’ve done sort of an “interview” with myself using all the questions I’ve gotten over the past week…and then at the bottom posted a link to another page with more info in case you are hungry for more juicy details.  (See what I did there? Juicy….)

The Instagram photo that started it all.  Day One.  #juicing #juicefast

The Instagram photo that started it all. Day One. #juicing #juicefast

“What made you want to do this?”  Keith and I enjoy watching documentaries on rare nights when we’re both home and have nothing to do.  We’ve watched lots of them on a plethora of topics over the years, but last Monday, January 5th, as we perused the documentary options, we decided to watch one we’d scrolled past a few times before, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.”  The movie chronicles the story of Joe Cross, and Australian battling an autoimmune disorder and obesity who goes on a 60 day juice fast, loses a large amount of weight, cures his disease and is able to get off all prescriptions, and in the process travels around inspiring others and ultimately forming his own juicing-plan empire.  Neither Keith nor I are obese and neither of us battle any chronic diseases, but we both were feeling sluggish and like we each wanted to just “lose 5 pounds.”  As I mentioned in last Monday’s recipe post, we were determined to get back on our Paleo/healthy eating plans and maybe even start working out again.  It seems like a million years ago when I went all exercise crazy and did two half marathons and a triathalon in the space of three months.  (check out our running adventures here).  I’m kind of a sucker for an inspirational story, so after the show was over I turned to Keith and said, “I’m doing that.  A juice fast.  I don’t know for how long, or what it looks like, but I’m doing that.”  And because he’s the best husband on the face of the planet, he VOLUNTARILY decided to join me.

Day Two: #juicing #juicefast

Day Two: #juicing #juicefast

“Are you following a certain plan?  Where do you get your recipes?”  The answer to this is No, I’m not following any specific plan.  Since Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was where I got the idea, Keith and I both did a good bit of reading on Joe’s website and have taken lots of cues from the info that he provides…tips on how to prepare certain fruits and veggies for juicing, a few recipes, some basic advice.  This wasn’t my first experience with juicing.  We’d had a brief fling with it after we ended up scoring a free juicer with purchase of some large appliances at Sears a few years ago (gotta love random incentives on items you’re already planning on buying).  Back then I’d also bought The Juicing Bible (2nd edition) and so I pulled that out and grabbed a few recipes from that as well.   But then most of the time, I just throw in what I’m feeling like and go for it.

Day Four: #juicing #juicefast  Oranges, Grapefruit, Carrots, Rasberries

Day Four: #juicing #juicefast Oranges, Grapefruit, Carrots, Rasberries

“How long are you going to do this?  Have you cheated yet?”  When I first started, I said my minimum was 3 days.  I’d read that that’s about how long it takes for your body to “cleanse.”  Because I knew it would be a very difficult to sustain this fast while on the road like I am, I decided the longest I would do it would be 10 days, because that was how many days I had in town before hitting the road again.  I decided I’d see how things went after day 3 and figure it out from there.  Days 1, 2 and 3 I juiced like a champ drinking about 16 ounces of juice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any time in-between that I was hungry.  Day 2, around dinner time, I missed chewing.  I know that sounds weird.  But I was making a juice and had all these veggies on the counter-top and I just wanted to EAT, not drink.  So I ate an entire pomegranate-worth of seeds, and a bowl of plain, raw spinach leaves.  I refuse to count this as a cheat because it was stuff that would have gone in my juice…I just ate it instead of drinking it.

But then Day 4 was a little tough and so I’m going to say that this was the day I ended my official “juice fast” and entered a healthy eating phase.  I was feeling weak and a little headachy, and after Keith spent some time on Google searching for info, we decided I was feeling a little sodium deficient.   A text conversation with Mary-Hall ensued and she suggested salting the rim of my juice glass like you would a margarita, which was positively genius, but Keith and I decided we both probably needed some salt and some protein.  So we went to one of our favorite restaurants right down the street that we know uses all local and organic fixin’s and doesn’t cook everything in 6 pounds of butter and we each got a meal: a grilled chicken breast on top of their “local salad” of mixed greens, butternut squash and pecans.  And for “dessert” we split an order of sweet potato fries…(they make their own, fry them in peanut oil and salt them.) So I guess technically my “fast” is broken and now I’m just on a juicing-heavy diet, but I don’t feel a bit bad about myself if a grilled chicken breast on a salad of mixed greens is a “cheat.”

Since then, I’ve been doing juice most of the day, and then incorporating one healthy meal.  Day 5 I had an appetizer-size portion seared ahi tuna with avocado along with a small portion of chicken and mushrooms.  Day 6 was a plate of okra sauteed in olive oil and seasoned only with salt and pepper as well as a small bowl of homemade turkey, kale and cannelloni bean soup.  I’m still feeling great, loving the vitamins and minerals I’m getting through the juice, and loving that my meals are small portions of very healthy foods so when I do eat, I don’t feel too full…or guilty.

Okra.  One of my favorites!  Cut the stem-ends off 1 pound of small okra pods.  Sautee on high medium-high heat for 6 or 7 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season with ground red & black peppers and salt to taste.  Delish!

Okra. One of my favorites! Cut the stem-ends off 1 pound of small okra pods. Sautee on high medium-high heat for 6 or 7 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with ground red & black peppers and salt to taste. Delish!

“Are you seeing any results?”  Yes!  Since starting the juice fast I’ve lost an average of a pound a day and I feel like my mood, productivity at work and energy levels have all improved.  (Except once or twice apparently I’ve teetered on the edge of grumpy because Keith has said, “I think you need to make a juice.”) I think my stomach has shrunk as I could barely finish my chicken breast and greens on Friday night.  Also….and this has been the biggest thing….my cravings have changed.  I no longer want cupcakes and fast food.  If I crave something to eat its more like I really want to eat the fruits and veggies I’m putting in my juice instead of drinking them.  Or for instance, on day 4, for whatever reason I was DYING for a grilled chicken breast.

“I want to try.  Can you tell me what to do?” I love getting to inspire and encourage others to be healthy, so my answer is yes and no.  Disclaimer time: First of all, for full disclosure, while I do have a Masters degree in Health Education, I’m not a doctor or a certified nutritionist or anything like that.  So while I would never knowingly make a risky health decision for myself or others, I’m also not in any place, particularly not knowing your specific health status and circumstances, to advise you on what you should or shouldn’t do from a diet standpoint.  However, I do know enough that I can safely advise you that particularly if you have any health issues, it would be best for you to talk to your doctor before beginning any drastic diet or exercise regimen. Also that barring particular allergies or diseases that might be directly linked to sugar intake or intake of specific vitamins, adding in a few servings of fruits or veggies generally serves to promote overall good health.  So with that being said,  I’ve actually put together a whole page of recipes, tips, suggestions, etc. for you to peruse if you’re thinking of doing your own juice-fast.  You can click the link below to read more!

CLICK HERE for juice recipes, tips on choosing and prepping fruits and veggies and more.

The Last Paw Paw Muffin

Oh yeah hey blog! Its 2015, time for my annual post. Actually when Bethany posted her paleo recipe earlier week, she reminded me of this half-written post from last summer. Since 1/1/15, our paleo posts have been seeing an uptick in traffic, which I can only assume is due to new years resolutions.  Meanwhile, I am trying a diet called “eat all the sugar and drink all the soda” (don’t recommended). So sorry to disappoint, but much like my diet, there’s nothing healthy for the remainder of this post. Womp womp. But there is a reference to the Jungle Book movie.

—–Written in August 2014—-

Well, its an exciting time over here in Johnson land.  Having been here just over a year now, we’ve made it through all the seasons at least once and yet are still discovering new plants here and there.  Since spring we’ve found a sizeable stand of wild blackberries, a mulberry tree, and two pawpaw trees.

Pawpaw, you ask?

Why yes, apparently they are the largest indigenous fruit in North America.  I had never heard of such, outside of the Jungle Book song Bare Necessities.

bear necessities

Here’s the youtube if you’re craving some Baloo now. So good. Anyway.

One afternoon earlier this summer, Ransom’s Pawpaw (no joke) was walking through our yard and asked August about a tree bearing some unusual fruit.  We had never even noticed it.  I don’t think the trees had much fruit last year, or if they did, we missed it completely.  A few google searches later, we learned that we were proud owners of two pawpaw trees.

As I learned from wikipedia, pears, apples, citrus, etc. were all brought from elsewhere. Besides pawpaws, the only actual indigenous fruits are basically berries and grapes.

That was in May and now, after much anticipation, the paw paws are ripening. The internet will tell you that they taste like a mixture of banana and mango. In my opinion, they are in the same genre as a mango, banana, or papaya (i.e. mushy) but really have a flavor all their own. Honestly to me they taste kind of like a starburst candy.  And that being said, if a mango and a pawpaw were sitting next to each other on the shelf at a grocery store, I’d definitely grab the mango.

pawpaw1However, we’re not talking about grocery stores here.  These are in the yard, and so obviously we’re going to eat them.  And so what did we do first?

Pawpaw Sherbet

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pawpaw puree
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk

1) Mix it all up, and then freeze in your ice maker.

pawpaw2

———– end of old text, resume Jan 2015 ——

Step 2) would be:

2) Leave the sherbet in said freezer and then throw 90% of it out a month later when you need the container for a new batch of non-pawpaw ice cream.

The ice cream was fine but I like my ice cream to be AWESOME. We barely ate it.

I also made some pawpaw muffins and in fact, I am consuming the LAST one right now, in honor of this post. I made a big batch for the freezer in August and we’ve been working our way through them. They are kinda awesome with a unique flavor that’s closest to…. strawberry cake, maybe? They even turned faintly pink inside.

I just took my favorite banana bread recipe and substituted paw paw and slivered almonds for bananas and pecans, respectively. Most reviewers agreed that they were awesome, although in to be fair, all the reviewers were related to me (mother, father, sister-in-law, brother, husband, sons). Husband actually said he’d rather have banana bread.

And now, The World’s First Pawpaw Muffin Selfie
pawpawselfie

The end!

Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bakes

It’s the new year and everyone is making resolutions to work out, get organized, spend more time doing one thing, or less time doing another, ahem, BLOG MORE? and of course, eat healthier foods.  Keith and I have sadly gotten way off the Paleo bandwagon, but are determined to do better in 2015.  This past weekend after whipping up a giant batch of Caveman Chili….still a Bordeaux family favorite…Keith decided he wanted something sweet.  And then he got specific about it.  He wanted something sweet that involved “pears, and maybe dates and nuts that was like a cobbler.”  So of course I took that as a challenge….not to hunt through my cookbooks for a recipe…but to make up one myself.  And then this old familiar feeling crept in and I knew I wanted to make something up and then blog about it.  Because frankly, sharing is more fun and I miss you people.

So I did a trial run Saturday night and it was absolutely amazing and precisely what Keith was hoping for.  And we ate all of it, which meant Sunday night involved a trip to the grocery store and then the making of batch #2…this time carefully writing down how much I used of what, tweaking a few things that didn’t go super easy the first time, etc.  And it was just as delicious.  So behold, I bring you an original, pretty much healthy (minus some sugar naturally contained in fruit and honey) and absolutely tasty desert.

“Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bake”

Like a mini-cobbler or a slice of pie, with a fraction of the sugar, and yummy Paleo-friendly ingredients.

Like a mini-cobbler or a slice of pie, with a fraction of the sugar, and yummy Paleo-friendly ingredients.

Time: about 15 minutes prep time & 15 minutes bake time

Makes: 6 individual portions….so feeds 6 people, or 3 hungry people, or 2 super-hungry people….

Ingredients

*2 Bartlett pears

*2 cups pitted dates

*1 Tablespoon honey

*1/4 cup water

*1 teaspoon coconut oil  (plus additional for topping….see instructions below)

*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/4 to 1/2 cups crushed walnuts

*Food Processor

*6, 4-oz Ramekins (dishes)

*cookie sheet

*apple corer

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).

2. Slice both pears using an apple corer.  Set aside 6 slices of pear (we’ll get to those later) and throw the rest of the pear slices in the food processor and blend until chopped finely.  (A minute or two) (note: I actually tried to make this in the blender the first night and while it tasted excellent it took about twice as long and was kind of a pain.  I recommend a food processor if you have one, but if you don’t, a high power blender like a Ninja or something will do the trick if you have patience.)

3. Add the 2 cups of pitted dates, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the food processor.  Blend as long as needed to achieve a puree about the consistency of baby food or applesauce.

4. Fill each ramekin with about 3 ounces of puree (I grabbed a spoon from my everyday silverware to spoon it into the ramekins and it was about two heaping spoon-fulls per ramekin.).  No need to grease or butter or line the ramekins.  Just spoon the puree on in there.

5. Slice the remaining 6 pear slices thinly and then cut them in half so that they (roughly) make small triangular slices.  Insert the slices around the edges of the ramekins standing up and then one in the center. (see photos below to see how it should look).

6. Using either pre-crushed walnuts from a package or crushing your own (Keith crushed our walnuts in a mortar and pestle and they were perfect) sprinkle them over the top of each ramekin to cover the entire surface of the puree.  I used approximately 2 1/2 teaspoons crushed nuts per ramekin….use more or less to taste.

7. The last step before baking is to put a thin layer of coconut oil over the nut topping.  After trying it several different ways over the course of two evenings, I think there’s no real exact science to this.  I used a butter knife to scrape tiny bits off and put about four small pieces in sort of a circle on the nut topping of each Ramekin so that when it melts, it would cover the entire top.  (again, see photos below for some clarification.)

8. Line up the 6 ramekins on a cookie sheet (this makes it easier than trying to get the individual ones in and out of the oven) and bake on 325 for 15 minutes.

9. Best enjoyed when hot as it tastes like a cobbler!  But, if you want to save some for the next day, just cover over with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.  They reheat well in the microwave on high for 40 seconds.  Also, never-mind if the pears turn brown.  They still taste fantastic.

Clockwise from Top Left corner.... 1. spooning in the puree 2. adding the apple slices 3. adding the nut topping 4. adding the un-melted coconut oil clumps.

Clockwise from Top Left corner….
1. spooning in the puree
2. adding the apple slices
3. adding the nut topping
4. adding the coconut oil clumps. (They melt in in the oven!)

Close-ups of pear slices and crushing the walnuts.

Close-ups of pear slices and crushing the walnuts.

Start to finish!!!  Ingredients lined up and ready to go....and then 6 Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bakes hot and fresh out the oven!

Start to finish!!! Ingredients lined up and ready to go….and then 6 Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bakes hot and fresh out the oven!

Variations:  While I haven’t tried making variations yet because I was trying to get this one right…but here are a few ideas that I have for down the road or that might be fun…

*substitute dried apricots for pitted dates as they have less amounts of sugar.

*substitute 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

*substitute apples for pears.

I’d LOVE to know what you think if you try this recipe out…and if you make any variations, I’d love to know about that too!  Leave a comment below!

Peace In The Valley

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Blanton of Hannah Elaine Photography

Photo Credit: Hannah Blanton of Hannah Elaine Photography

You may remember the backyard dinner party shoot that took place at the yellow barn a few weeks ago.  In addition to all the amazing vendors that created everything from set design and paper goods, to flower arrangements and cake pops, the makeup artist brought her singer/songwriter husband who also has a flair for mixology.  I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, but Reuben’s peachy concoction was quite tasty, and when I realized that I could pass along a brand new recipe to you guys, I couldn’t resist posting our first, and most likely only, cocktail recipe.  And be sure to check out www.reubenbidez.com and buy his music….think of it as a way to leave a tip.

 

-Peace in the Valley signature cocktail recipe-

1.5 oz Belle Meade Bourbon

.75 oz Lemon

.75 oz Honey

.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse

Shake and finely strain into a coupe

Garnish with 3 thinly sliced peaches***

***Of course, everything always tastes better with really fresh peaches.  For this shoot, we shopped local with peaches from The Peach Truck.  You can find the truck easily in the Nashville, TN area, on their Small Town Peach Tour, or by ordering online.

Na7R5qMfrdDQ5tFgqwoz2avxWrZkYo-cQE5MHVdrHXY

NhJeBJ9F3v9QCh0c_tQfQQ8QGN8H8DliP2Lt3GVpT-s

“A” for Asparagus

The other day, my parents were passing through town and we popped over to see my boss’ garden.  There’s lettuce galore right now along with other leafy greens and the beginnings of other things, but what I was particularly enamored with was her asparagus bed.  It wasn’t but just a few years ago that I hated asparagus, and now I can proudly say that I’ve eaten it 3 times this week and just writing about it makes me crave some more (and I just had it like an hour ago.)  I bent low to admire these little asparaguses (asparagi?) popping out of the ground while mom picked lettuce and Dad and Kelly discussed the trials of getting a good crop of tomatoes.

My friend Erin will attest to the fact that cooking asparagus in the Bordeaux kitchen has often been synonymous with setting off every smoke alarm in the house.  No matter what we tried, it seemed that it never cooked super well (either too tough or too burned) and we’d have to open all the windows and fan the smoke away from the detector.  Then one day, quite out of laziness, I hit upon the perfect way to cook it.  I’d bought some fish from Whole Foods that needed to be cooked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven, and since I didn’t want either the main dish or the side dish to get cold while the other cooked, I decided to just throw it all in there at the same time and crossed my fingers.   The result was delicious and I’ll never cook it another way again.  So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make an impressive and healthy side dish, I bring you this “recipe” if you can call it that.

 

Ingredients:

*1 bunch of asparagus

*about 3 teaspoons of olive oil

*ground sea salt

*ground pepper mixture

Directions:

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Rinse off asparagus

3. Cut about half an inch off the bottom of the stalks and throw the tiny pieces away (the end with out the fluffy part.)

4. lay all the asparagus out on a cookie sheet….the kind with a lip (otherwise it’ll all roll off and that would be a pain.)

5. lightly brush the asparagus with the olive oil using a pastry brush (silicone or bristles…either is fine) until there is a light coating of oil over all the stalks.  (This is the key step.  Just a thin coat.  Brush, don’t pour.)

6. sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over all stalks.

7. bake in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes.

8. enjoy!

image

Paleo Whole30 Italian Dressing

Well, after a couple of life and death posts this week, I think its high time we return to our usual blog fare.  (Also PS, no baby yet.) So here is one where I try to out-Paleo Bethany and her Paleo pot roast recipe.

Disclaimer: You should know that my household is absolutely not paleo or anything resembling paleo these days.  I bought a large size bottle of chocolate ice cream syrup last weekend, feeling very strongly that Baby Johnson #2 shouldn’t be born into a household without that staple.  But, when I saw her recipe calling for a packet of italian dressing mix, I thought it might be nice to try to paleo-ify that choice a little bit, you know, in the spirit of legalism.

Actually I’ve had good luck making spice mixes – taco seasoning, fajita seasoning – as well as several different vinaigrette type salad dressings.  They are so easy to whip up and we get more variety this way, compared to using store-bought bottles. If you have a well-stocked spice rack, you probably already have what you need.  And making this stuff from scratch, you can be {more} assured that there aren’t any weird fillers or preservatives or MSG that you don’t know about.  More importantly, you may be able to avoid a trip to the grocery store in a pinch, which is honestly a bigger motivator in my case than the clean eating stuff.

So, here is how I made up some paleo-friendly italian dressing mix.  This recipe is even Whole30 friendly (that 30-day cleanse thing I did for 25 days last year).  The actual Italian dressing from it is also approved on both diets.

italian_dressing

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes

Before you proclaim me a genius, I should point out that I adapted this recipe from this Allrecipes version. By “adapted” I basically mean, “I left out the sugar”.

1 tablespoon of salt is plenty for if you are using this to cook with.  For the dressing, I’d start with 1 and increase to your taste.  2 tablespoons was a little too salty for us.

Use about 2 tablespoons of the mix to be equivalent to one store-bought packet – that’s what I put in the roast and still had plenty left to make salad dressing with.  I did it last week, worked out great.

If you are missing one or two of the minor ingredients (eg. celery flakes), I say go for it anyway.  These kinds of recipes are forgiving.

To make salad dressing, just combine the following ingredients in a container with a lid and shake well:

  • 2 tablespoons of the above mix
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

PS. I think the dressing would be awesome with a little honey mixed in but I didn’t try it.

 

Paleo Pepper Pot Roast

I’ve actually been making this dish since before I even know what Paelo was.  In fact, it was the first “grown up” dish that I learned how to cook.  It’s a crock-pot recipe so that’s not exactly saying a whole lot, but it was a big deal to me to say that I could cook something.  It was also the first dinner I ever cooked for Keith, way back before we were even officially dating….and it’s been a staple for us since.

So as I was looking for a simple yet tasty dinner to put together for tonight, I remembered we hadn’t had this particular recipe in a while.  And then I realized that it was totally in line with the Paleo diet, so I immediately headed out to the grocery store.  And I thought you guys might like it too…it’s got a little bit of a kick.  So here ya go.  Pot roast anyone?

image

Paleo Pepper Pot Roast

Ingredients
  1. 1 chuck roast (mine was about 2 pounds.)
  2. 1 jar peperoncini peppers
  3. celery – chopped
  4. diced or sliced white onion
  5. carrots -chopped into 1 inch chunks, or, 1 package baby carrots
  6. one packet Kroger brand (or comparable)  “Salad Magic Zesty Italian” salad dressing mix (**note….this is just a seasoning packet to make your own salad dressing….not actual liquid salad dressing.)
Instructions
  1. Put half the carrots, celery, onion and jar of peperoncini peppers into a crock pot.
  2. Pour half the salad dressing mix packet mix on top of the veggies and pour in half the pepper juice.
  3. Add the chuck roast, then add the rest of veggies on top along with the rest of the seasoning packet and pepper juice.
  4. Turn crock pot on low setting and cook for 8 hours.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Note:  Although it renders the recipe “non-paleo” it’s also really yummy to cook red new potatoes in with the roast.