Salsa Shrimp with Cauli-Rice & Life Update

I've missed blogging. It's been a little over a month since my last post, and I usually like to post at least once a week.

Here's what's been happening:

1) Someone who was working in another position in the division I'm in got a new job. I think the new job will be a good fit for her, but until her position gets filled, there's more work for the division. I am really thankful to my coworkers who have been doing the majority of the work for the now empty position, but occasionally I have to do my share as well. So work has been busy.

2) Andrew started his Appalachian Trail thru hike on 3/10/15 in GA. He's been hiking for a little over a month now. You can read about his hike here: http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=483504. I've been fortunate to hear from him every 2-3 days which has been great. He is doing really well and is currently in TN.

3) Meanwhile, I've been doing a lot of travelling on the weekends. About 3 weekends out of the month in March, April (and soon to be May) I've been travelling to visit Andrew, check out some of the East Coast states I haven't visited yet, and/or visiting friends (particularly friends from Camp Nerd Fitness). I'll do some travel updates soon when I have a chance. So far, I took an 8 day trip to GA to drop off Andrew, FL, SC and NC. Then I visited Andrew one weekend in NC and the following weekend in SC. Dogs aren't allowed in the Smoky Mountains so I had to pick up Aramis and then drop him back off so Andrew could continue his hike. This coming weekend I'm going to CT, and next weekend to NJ, then to visit Andrew the following weekend.

4) Besides all that, I've recently increased the frequency and duration of my workouts (http://stronginsideoutbootcamp.com/), and switched my workouts to morning workouts before work. This has resulted in my Intermittent Fasting switching from lunch/dinner to breakfast/lunch with occasional dinners/snacks in the evenings when social situations call for it. In order to exercise before work, eat breakfast, shower, take care of odds and ends duties around the house (what can I say, I'm a morning person) and either walk the dogs for 30 minutes or drop them at Doggie Daycare, I get up around 5:00 am. This does not include mornings when I have pet sitting before work. This pushes my bed time back to 8-9 pm. I don't mind getting to bed early, and honestly, after exercising and work and getting up , by the time that 8 pm rolls around I'm usually pretty tired anyway. Regardless, it's been a bit of an adjustment.

5) In addition to those things, when Andrew left for the hike, he took his Doberman Aramis with him. His other dog Maximus the mutt and his sugar glider Hercules moved in with me. They aren't too much more trouble than simply caring for Jubi, but it has still been an adjustment. Luckily, my roommates  are very flexible and animal loving, and they had known about the situation before I moved in with them. Also, Maximus loves my roommates and all of their pets, so so far it's been going pretty well. The worst part is that I can no longer contain Max. At Andrew's house he loved his crate and went in there every day with no problems. Now he has broken Jubi's crate, broken out of his old crate, opened the door to my room to let himself out and broken down several baby gates to let himself out. The good news is that he doesn't get into anything, make a mess, or do anything he shouldn't. He simply lays on the couch. The bad news is, I'd like to be able to contain him. The next step will be getting a really thick barred metal crate. I'll probably order it this week. I've looked around locally and just don't think any of the wire or plastic crates in stores would do the trick. I've also switched Maximus over to the raw diet, like I have Jubi on. Right now he's only had chicken and turkey, but soon he will try beef and beef tripe. I may add in veggies later. He's done well with raw bones, too.

Phew, so that's what's been going on with me. Also brainstorming ideas for a digital business that would offer bilingual services to Spanish and English speakers.

And now, for your meal idea. It's not really a recipe, since all I did was prep the cauli rice and then mix the other two prepared items together. I'm actually thinking about kind of changing the focus of this blog. Rather than recipes, I might change the focus to be simple healthy meal ideas, some of which would be recipes. I've been on a minimalist kick and have been getting rid of a lot of clutter and items I rarely use. I had a ton of kitchen stuff, and am  cutting down to just the basics I use on a weekly basis or so. No need to store things I only use once in a blue moon.

Ingredients:
2 pounds frozen cooked peeled and de-veined shrimp, thawed
1 jar salsa/pico de gallo (I bought the Sabra medium salsa and used about half the container)
1 batches Cauliflower Rice

1. Prepare cauliflower rice.
2. Rinse and drain shrimp. In a large bowl, combine shrimp and about half of the desired amount of salsa. Stir. Taste test. Add more salsa if desired.
3. Serve with shrimp mixture over cauli rice.

Makes approximately 3-5 servings.




Deconstructed Egg Rolls (W30 Friendly)

I really love egg rolls and have tried to recreate them with cabbage wrappers with no luck! So I decided deconstructed were just as good! Although I just came up with a recipe for spring rolls that are very good- but I ran out of wrappers! So deconstructed it is.

Ingredients:
3 pounds ground pork
1 head cabbage
coconut oil
1 bottle coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute)
1 large bag mixed diced veggies (I got ministrone blend which was onion, carrot, sweet potato, celery and maybe something else?- it was about 2 pounds worth of veggies)

1. In a large skillet on medium heat, add ground pork. Drizzle generously with coconut aminos. As the pork cooks, break it up with a spatula. This will help the coconut aminos mix in, too.
2. Meanwhile, in another skillet add about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. While it heats, slice the cabbage into wedges. Don't slice up the stalk, but everything else is ok to slice. Add to skillet and sautee regularly as it cooks down. Drizzle with coconut aminos.
3. If you have a free burner and skillet, add 3 tablespoons coconut oil to another skillet on medium. If not, wait until one of your first two skillets is all cooked. Then add the mixed diced veggies and more coconut aminos and sautee until cooked.
4. Once everything is cooked, mix it all together. If needed, drizzle with coconut aminos again. That stuff is tasty.

Makes about 6 servings. Freezer ready.

Hawaiian Chicken Burger Salad (W30, AIP Friendly)

This recipe is really more of a meal idea, but sometimes that's all ya need! Who needs dressing when you have fresh fruit and veggies?

Ingredients:
3 pounds ground chicken
3 large heads romaine lettuce
coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute)
1 fresh pineapple
6 fresh tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Wash and dry hands.
3. Shape ground chicken into 6 patties of about equal size.
4. Place each patty on the baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt.
5. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until centers are no longer pink.
6. When ready to serve, cut up 1/2 a head of lettuce, several cubes of fresh pineapple (about a handful worth) and 1 tomato. Toss together. Then dice chicken patty and drizzle generously with coconut aminos.

Makes about 6 servings.

*Alternately, I suppose you could just cook the ground chicken loose with coconut aminos. Originally I was planning to serve these as burgers with lettuce and tomato but they were huge burgers so there was no way!

1 Week Meal Prep (Super Easy Go To Meals)

After my last meal prep 3 weeks ago lasted a little longer than expected (3 weeks instead of 2), I was hoping to be able to stretch it to 4 weeks since we leave for vacation next Sunday the 8th. But unfortunately that doesn't appear to be possible. So I knew I would have to go get groceries to last a week. While I'm travelling I plan to eat out one meal per day and either heat up leftovers (depending what's left when I go to leave for vacay) or get something premade from a grocery store like rotisserie chicken, veggie tray, or pre made salad. I'll have my cooler with me and will be staying in a variety of places, some having microwaves and fridges.

With all the other stresses going on right now with work and getting Andrew ready for the trail, I didn't want to plan anything too crazy.

So here's what I got at the grocery store:
2 dozen eggs
(plus one more dozen local eggs from a friend)
3 pound pork tenderloin
bananas
diced butternut squash
bag avocados
2 pounds ground beef
3 pounds tilapia
chives
large box cherry tomatoes
shredded cheese

Here's what I have at home:
several steaks of Andrew's
several bags mixed frozen veggies of Andrew's
2 large bags mixed frozen veggies
dried dates
raisin boxes
some frozen fruit
box plantain chips
1 head cauliflower
oranges
5 pounds carrots
1 package guac

A few weeks ago Andrew requested nachos. So I figured we could cook up the cauliflower "rice" and the ground beef and layer them on top of the plantain chips and bake them with the cheese. Then top them with chives and cherry tomoatoes and guac.

I will cook scrambled eggs and serve with mixed veggies, butternut squash, and fruit.

I will cook a crock pot pork roast and probably make the carrots into carrot "rice".

We will broil the steaks and serve with veggies.

And avocados and fruit with everything!

So this week I plan to mostly just use up what's in the house and do some simple cooking.

Easy Spring Rolls

These spring rolls are super easy. I couldn't get the shell crispy like regular spring rolls but it was so good! These coconut wraps used to be Whole30 but have recently been removed. Regardless, the ingredients are just coconut, so you can't go wrong.

Ingredients:
1-2 cups diced mixed veggies (finely diced, I purchased already diced minestrone soup mix veggies which were carrots, onion, celery, and sweet potato)
coconut aminos
3 Coconut Wraps
1/2 tablespoon olive oil or other oil

*This recipe made 6 small spring rolls. You can easily double this recipe or make more to use a whole package of coconut wraps.

1. Sautee veggies with a generous drizzle of coconut aminos and 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a small skillet. Once cooked, remove and set aside.
2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
3. Break each coconut wrap in half. Add several tablespoons of cooked veggies and roll up neatly. Place on baking sheet.
4. Repeat step 3 for all remaining wraps.
5. Gently wipe outsides of wraps with olive oil using a pastry brush.
6. Bake for 10-20 minutes or until outsides are golden brown.

Makes 1 serving.

Long Weekend

Over the long weekend of 2/14-2/16 my friend Faith came to visit. It is kind of a funny story how it worked out actually.

As of Monday a few days before the weekend, I was scheduled to be totally booked up with pet sitting from Thursday through Monday, so I really wasn't planning anything but relaxing when I wasn't pet sitting. But then on Monday one of my pet sitting clients cancelled, so even though I still had some pet sitting over the weekend, it wasn't nearly as much.

On Tuesday, Faith posted asking if any of her friends within a 5 hour drive radius from NJ/NYC area would consider hosting her over the weekend. After running it by Andrew, I let her know she was welcome at my house. Honestly, we didn't have anything planned besides pet sitting, but she was ok with that. So as of Wednesday we had the plans all set!

Friday evening Faith got stuck in traffic on her way to visit but arrived around 8 pm. That gave me time to relax a little after work and I got to enjoy reading that evening. It's so unusual for me not to have a bunch of stuff planned for several hours! When she arrived, we headed off with my roommate Lena to hang out with our friends Sara and Zach. Lena's husband Xavier was out for guys night at the casino in Baltimore and Andrew was home resting with a migraine. Sara and Zach are really nice and easy going so we had fun hanging out with them and another couple at their house- sampling their homemade moonshine, taking shots, playing Battle of the Sexes, etc. Faith got her first taste of rural Southern MD with the moonshine and their Duck Dynasty themed bathroom!

Saturday we (mostly me) slept in until around 10 or 11. We made Grain Free German Apple Pancakes which was perfect because Faith spend some time in Germany and speaks German! These were an experimental grain free version of a classic meal my Mom used to make for us growing up. My Mom makes them in pie plates. They were so good. Faith and I did some experimenting in the kitchen to make a dairy free "whipped cream" and tweaking the recipe to work for us.

That afternoon Andrew came over for a bit and we chatted and hung out. Andrew took Faith to hang out with him while I did my afternoon pet sitting, then we watched Guardians of the Galaxy and had a few drinks that night. The roads were getting bad Saturday night so we headed home after my evening pet sitting.

Sunday morning after my pet sitting visit, Faith and I had leftover German Apple Pancakes and eggs that she cooked and mango salsa for breakfast. Originally we were thinking we would go for a hike locally on Sunday but then the temperatures were 12 degrees with a weather warning so we thought maybe we would check out a local church. But with the approaching winter storm, Faith decided to head out mid-morning to make it home before the roads got bad in NJ. We had a nice (although short and pretty uneventful) visit. It was nice to relax with Faith and get to know her a little better.

Honestly, I can't really remember much of the rest of the weekend. We had Monday off due to President's Day and other than pet sitting, I think I napped and we hung out. Tuesday we got a snow day so we hung out at home. I can't remember doing much else.

Andrew's Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Update

Since I am getting a lot of questions lately about Andrew's thru hike, I figured I would post some of the most common ones here.

Yes, he is hiking alone with his dog Aramis (the hyper Doberman). There will be lots of other people thru-hiking the Appalachain Trail this year, many starting in March/April and going South to North like he is. He will certainly meet other people and maybe even hike with them for a while on the trail, but he is not planning to stick with anyone the whole way. He has met several other thru hikers who he may run into on his hike, but yes he is hiking alone.

No, I am not overly worried about him. I love him very much and I know that he is a capable adult with a lot of wilderness and medical training. Between his Search and Rescue team experience and training and his Wilderness First Responder training, plus his experiece backpacking for days or longer at a time, he is definitely the most capable adult I know that can handle pretty much whatever the woods throw at him. Sure, you can't predict exactly what will happen and there is the possibility that things could go wrong, but I have faith in him. We both have wrist ID bands with our emergency contact information on them, and Aramis has a collar with both of our phone numbers on a stainless steel plate on it.

Yes, I am going to miss him a lot. By this point we have been together for more than 3 years. Even though we don't live together (although we will be living together starting this weekend, for the next week until he leaves for the trail) it is going to be an adjustment. I am really excited for him to be able to take this opportunity and make it happen. I know it will be a life changing one and I am so glad that I will be able to support him with love from home while he hikes.

Yes, he will be carrying his tent and sleeping bag and water and food and cook set with him. Water runs along the trail so ideally he won't have to go more than a day without a fresh source of water. He has a water filter/pump that purifies the water so he will be able to fill up whenever he comes across fresh water. His stove is very small and bunson burner like. He also has a small pot which he can use to heat water or melt snow if needed. He'll be eating things like packaged tuna, jerky, instant mashed potatoes, hot cocoa, protein bars, nuts/trail mix, peanut butter, and such. Aramis will be eating things like tuna, jerky, instant potatoes, and some dog/cat food (whatever is available in the towns). He should be able to get new supplies about once a week or so when the trail crosses a road. Sometimes you can walk into town, there are hiker shuttles, and you can also hitch a ride. So he will be carrying about a week's worth of food at a time. He pack will weight somewhere around 30 pounds give or take. When he gets to town, he and Aramis will chow down on fast food burgers and fries (some of his favorite hiking food). During the winter, he and Aramis will be sleeping in his tent. When the weather gets warmer, he will likely swap it out for a hammock.

He will shower when he can in towns like if he stays at a hotel. When the weather gets warmer there might be more opportunities for outdoor showers. Meanwhile he has wet wipes.

I'll be visiting him about once a month during the hike. The interesting part is that since his mileage per day will vary, I won't know exactly where I will be visiting him until about a week before. If all goes according to plan, it will take him about 5-6 months to hike so he will be finishing some time in August or maybe September.

Hopefully I will be able to talk to him a few times a week between email, text and phone calls, but that all depends on how often he is able to charge his cell phone and when he has cell reception. It shouldn't be more than a week or two at most that I don't hear from him.

While he is gone he will be updating his trail journal here: http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=481693. Simply click the link "Last" above the post linked here to see his most recent post (in case you want to bookmark it).

And 2 weeks from today he will be on the trail!

Easy Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto (W30, LF, 21DSD, AIP Friendly)

I always thought I didn't like brussels sprouts until I tried some cooked with bacon. Then I learned that I didn't like under cooked brussels sprouts, but I did like fully cooked brussels! The difference is they are not bitter when fully cooked!

Ingredients:
1 bag (about 2 pounds of brussels sprouts)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
about 6 pieces of prosciutto
Sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Lay prosicutto strips so that they are not touching on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minute or until crispy. Then remove from oven and set aside.
3. Rinse brussels and slice in half. This allowed them to fully cook in a shorter amount of time.
4. Add them to a medium sized oven safe dish (I used a large glass roast pan).
5. Add coconut oil on top of brussels. Sprinkle with sea salt.
6. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until they are beginning to get a golden on the outside.
7. Then crumble prosciutto and mix it all together.

Makes about 6 servings.

Grain Free German Apple Pancakes

Pancake Mixture:
4 eggs
1/2 cup Chebe All Purpose Break Mix (http://www.amazon.com/Chebe-Bread-All-Purpose-Gluten-7-5-Ounce/dp/B001ACNWY8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424389540&sr=8-1&keywords=chebe+all+purpose+bread+mix)    (you may be able to substitute 1/2 cup tapioca flour + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder for this, although I haven't tried it yet)
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon unsalted butter/ghee/coconut oil, melted

Apple Mixture:
1/4 cup unsalted butter/ghee/coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar  sugar, divided
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large tart apple - cored and thinly sliced

1.In a large bowl, blend eggs, sugar and salt. Add the flour/bread mix a pinch at a time to prevent clumping (this is extremely important).
Add vanilla, melted butter and cinamon. Let batter stand for 30 minutes or overnight.
2.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
3.Melt butter from apple mixture in a skillet. Add remaining apple mixture ingredients and cook on medium until it simmers.
4. Coat a pie pan with butter/ghee/coconut oil up the sides and bottom to prevent sticking. Remove apples from butter mixture with a slotted spoon and add to pie pan. Top with pancake mixture.
5.Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F
(190 degrees C) and bake for 10-20 minutes or until no longer liquid. Pancakes may be a bit gooey due to the nature of tapioca flour. Slide pancake onto serving platter and cut into wedges.
6. Drizzle with remaining butter/cinnamon mixture from the apples if desired.

Makes 1 pie pan full of pancake, which was 1 serving for me.

Social Weekend

This past weekend was the most social I had been in a while! It was really nice. It was also really tiring (the staying out late part, not the social part).

Friday night we went out for froyo with out good friend Matt. I originally met Matt through my young adult bible study/theological book club group. We usually take a week or two off between book studies and sometimes we will have a potluck at someone's house or just go out for a casual dinner together. Shortly after I joined the group a year ago we all went out for dinner on one of the breaks between studies and I invited Andrew along. He and Matt hit it off immediately with their love of outdoor activities including hiking. I always say they are like two peas in a pod, they really have a ton in common which was very cool! After they first met, we invited Matt to join us for a backpacking trip, then he and Andrew have been backpacking together 1-2 times per month on average since about a year ago. Andrew and I recently started a trend of going out for froyo after backpacking to recompensate for some of the calories we expended while hiking. We found out Matt had never tasted the joys of froyo and we had to take him! Unfortunately on our last trip with all of us together, we didn't pass by a froyo shop until after they were closed, and besides we were already so exhausted from a long weekend and long drive home late. So we finally got to introduce him to froyo Friday at YoKool. He tried several flavors and really enjoyed them, but one flavor in particular was too sweet for him (maybe the birthday cake flavor?). Andrew and I love froyo for an occasional treat and it was so good. While we ate they discussed their upcoming backpacking trip which would occur the next day.

That same night, a new lounge opened up in our area where one of our mutual friends works. It was a soft opening with live music, so we went to check it out and also to support Kelly. The atmosphere was pretty cool and we hung out for a little while. Kelly is a fellow Appalachian Trail thru hiker this year too, and also happens to live in Leonardtown, MD. What are the chances of that? So she and Andrew have gone on a few backpacking trips together to prepare for their thru hike.

Saturday I got up early with Andrew as he was leaving with them for their backpacking trip that weekend. I always like to make sure he has breakfast and spend a little time with him in the morning. I couldn't go this weekend as I had pet sitting on Saturday and a baby shower for a close friend on Sunday. I made home fries and scrambled eggs topped with salsa for breakfast (and a banana). After he left, I went back to bed. I was tired from going out Friday night! I went home mid morning, worked out, showered, ate, and napped again. I was planning to do meal prep but I was just too tired! I am going to keep an eye on how much I am eating because I think perhaps I haven't been eating enough. I went to pet sitting, came home, walked Jubi and Maximus, cleaned, ate dinner and showered. Around 7:15 Lena and I headed to pick up the other girls who were joining us for girls night. I was the only non-Navy wife, but everyone was really nice and we all had a great time together.

We went to Vera's which was my first time there. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and shared them, which was delicious. We had several rounds of shots and drinks. There was a live local band "No Green Jelly Beenz" which was pretty good. We danced, we talked, we laughed and we had a great time. We also got hit on by unattractive guys. At one point I went right up to the stage and danced with the lead singer to "Shut up and Dance" which is an awesome song. I was really glad I was invited and we will definitely plan to do this again!


We got home really late on Saturday night so I slept in as late as I could Sunday. I decided to count the almost 5 hours of dancing we did as another cardio workout! Sunday morning I walked the dogs, ate brunch, showered and participated in a group coaching call for the 6 month online Strong Inside Out Bootcamp I am doing. It is a great program and I am really enjoying getting in shape! I'm coming up on 2 months of participation and I only missed a workout when I was sick! Then I headed over to Katie's Mom's house to help decorate for the baby shower. I made a banner and had some streamers and balloons and paper products. I also made fruit salad. They had a really good turn out (about 30 people came) and we had a fun bib decorating craft as well as a game to guess how big Katie was around with ribbon! She got lots of nice presents and there was lots of tasty food including a bakery made cake (a good bakery, not just a regular grocery store bakery) which I couldn't pass up on. I managed to eat mostly healthy snacks at the shower (raw veggies, fruit salad, steamed shrimp, plus some chocolate fondue dipped strawberries) besides the delicious cake. It was really nice to see Katie and her family and friends and catch up with everyone. I recently found out that her husband is working at the same hangar on base where Andrew works!
Katie giving Mom a hug for the homemade baby quilt

Katie in her special chair for gifts

One of the decorations I made

Sunday evening I had originally wanted to go out to dinner and a movie, but that was just too much with everything else that happened over the weekend. Not to mention that Andrew hiked about 16 miles Saturday, drove 3 hours out and 3 hours home, then drove to Alexandria for a LARP event Sunday with our friend Lee from Camp Nerd Fitness. So we got take out Chinese food from the restaurat near Andrew's house and had a night in instead. I got steamed beef with veggies and instead of rice I asked for extra veggies. It came with sauce on it, but I ate it anyway. Next time I'll remember to ask for no sauce, emphasize steamed, and no corn. I don't mind corn but I try to eat it sparingly. We just watched some tv and I did my taxes (yay refund which is going straight to savings!).

Phew, it was a busy but fun weekend!