Assateague Island Trip 10/11/14

Saturday morning we headed up to Assateague Island via Chincoteague Island to see the wild horses. I have been wanting to go there for a while and decided this year was the year! Unfortunately, due to pet sitting and other scheduling conflicts, we weren't able to go this summer, but kayaking tours are available through the end of October.

Despite the rain, we headed out Saturday morning a little after 8:00 am. We packed our lunches in a cooler to have a picnic when we arrived. The drive was rather long (4 hours or so) but we napped and listened to music and talked. My roommates Lena and Xavier came with us, as they are new to MD (moved here a year ago from CA) and had heard good things about Assateague.

We arrived around 12:30 or so and found the Assateague Explorer where the kayak tour departed from. We got directions to a park nearby and ate lunch at a picnic table by the water. Unfortunately it was chilly and gloomy, but we still enjoyed our lunches.

Picnic lunch

It was just the four of us and the guide on the kayak tour that afternoon. Andrew and I got separate kayaks and Lena and Xavier shared a kayak. The tour lasted around 3 hours and we got to see a lot of wildlife including several kinds of birds and my favorite was salt water hermit crabs! I have pet fresh water hermit crabs and I loved seeing the salt water hermit crabs scuttling around under the water in their natural habitat- so cute!
Kayaking!

 

Look at that teamwork!
We kayaked down to a sand bar and got out to take a break. Then we kayaked to the beach and walked around there. Kayaking back to the departure point was tough as we were going against and wind and current, but we all made it. Despite the gloomy weather, it was a nice trip on the water and they were having an Oyster Festival with a live band so we got some music on our tour.

On the beach taking a break
 
We were all pretty disappointed that we didn't get to see any wild horses. Our kayak guide told us that they had rounded up all the horses the day before for their annual vaccines, so they might still be penned up. We drove around for a while and Andrew even flagged down a ranger to ask about the horses, but apparently they were no longer penned up and had run farther than normal after their vaccinations. We checked several areas the ranger recommended for horse viewing but there were none to be seen. Still, we had a good workout and it was a nice day trip. We are thinking we might go back on the big annual pony swim next year.

Then we headed in search of a restaurant. My roommates and I are all doing a Whole30 right now but on the way Andrew wanted to get some fudge. He doesn't have much of a sweet tooth but he loves some fudge! Even though we are on our Whole30, we all got some fudge for after it's over (next week). I got vanilla fudge, pumpkin pie fudge, a little orange creme fudge, and some salt water taffies (yum!). Then we went to Steamer's for dinner. Dinner was ok, I had a steak, salad (just a pile of lettuce with carrots) and plain baked potato.

After dinner, we were ready to head home as it was rather late. We took a wrong turn and added on a few minutes by driving into DC (oops) but we got home shortly before midnight.

I was glad that I designated Sunday as a rest day, to sleep in, catch up on grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking and other chores.

Carrot Rice "Risotto" with Chicken Thighs (W30, AIP, 21DSD, LH Friendly)

BJ's sells giant bags of carrots (5 pounds) which is awesome, but is an awful lot for one person. So, I used about half of them to make this risotto! I usually think of eating carrots raw or in chicken soup, but this is a great and easy way to eat them, too.

Ingredients:
2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoon coconut oil, divided
salt and pepper
About 20 carrots or a normal sized bag of full sized carrots
1/2 bunch parsley (about 20 stems)
2 cloves garlic
4 shallots

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Line a baking sheet (or two) with tin foil.
3. Lay out chicken thighs so they are not touching on the baking sheet.
4. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in microwave.
5. Drizzle over chicken thighs with spoon and distribute evenly.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until no longer pink. Set aside.
8. Meanwhile, remove tops of carrots.
9. Using a food processor's shred blade (or by hand with a cheese grater) shred carrots into slivers resembling rice.
10. Place a large skillet on medium heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once melted, add shredded carrots.
11. Dice parsley, garlic, and shallots and add to carrot mixture.
12. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Once carrot rice is becoming soft and onions are translucent, remove from heat. Do not over cook or your rice will turn to mush.
13. When chicken thighs are cool, dice and add to "rice".

Enjoy. Serves about 4.

Pet Birthday Cupcakes (Dog/Cat Treats)

Our fur kids get to celebrate their birthday every year with a new toy and/or treats as well as a homemade birthday cake/cupcakes (some version of a pet friendly meatloaf).

This year, I've created a cupcake recipe!
Such hungry puppies...no one ever feeds them!


Pupcakes

Ingredients:
1 pound ground pork (or other ground meat, unseasoned)
1 egg
1 cup frozen mixed veggies (preferrably corn free- I used a blend of carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, squash and broccoli)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add all ingredients to food processor and process. OR if you are like me and forgot your food processor, steam veggies and carefully dice into small bits. Then mix all ingredients together by hand, kneading until evenly distributed. (You can puree the shell too if using the food processor.)
3. Evenly distribute meat into cupcake tins. Mine filled about 7 cupcakes worth when they were only filled about 3/4 of the way.
4. Bake for 20-45 minutes (until no longer pink inside).

Makes about 7 cupcakes. For small pets like cats and small breed dogs, I recommend feeding only a small portion of a cupcake per meal as too much change in diet can cause upset tummy.

These do keep in the freezer, too.

Easy Burgers (W30, 21DSD, LH, AIP Friendly)

Sara, Lena and I had girls night this week. It was long overdue and really nice to catch up. Since Lena and I are doing the Whole30, we made a Whole30 meal and it was good! We had baked homemade "chips", golden cauliflower soup, melon and homemade burgers wrapped in lettuce. These are so easy and they were so good.

Ingredients:
3 pounds ground beef
3 shallots (or 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger root shredded (or pinch of dried ginger)
salt and pepper

1. Turn over to broil.
2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
3. Add ground beef to a large mixing bowl.
4. Dice shallots and garlic. Add to mixing bowl.
5. Shred ginger root with cheese grater and add to mixing bowl.
6. Add salt and pepper.
7. Mix thoroughly with hands.
8. Shape into burgers and place on baking sheet so they are not touching.
9. Broil for about 15 minutes or until desired doneness. Serve wrapped in lettuce if desired.

Makes about 9 burgers, so 4-9 servings worth depending on if you eat 1 or 2 burgers at a time.

Paleo/Whole30 Grocery Shopping

Sometimes I get questions from those that don't eat paleo, "what do you eat?!" So this week after my grocery shopping trip to BJ's, I took a picture of my cart. I am doing a low histamine Whole30, but all of these foods are Whole30 and paleo as well (except for the mango gelato- because coupon and because 80% rule for after my Whole30).


Here's a breakdown:
Honeydew melon $3.99
3 lb ground beef $13.99 total (hormone and antibiotic free, cruelty free)
Talenti Mango Gelato $7.99- $1.50 coupon = $6.49
3 lb ground turkey $10.49 total
7.25 pounds boneless chicken thighs $15.88
3 pounds ground chicken $7.99 total
seedless watermelon $3.49
5 pounds organic carrots $3.99
2 lb cubed butternut squash $4.99
2 containers blackberries 12 oz each $9.98 total ($4.99 each)
gigantic roll tin foil $22.99 - $3.00 coupon = $19.99

Total with tax $102.62

Here's the behind the scenes info:
I shop for just myself. I have roommates who are also doing the Whole30 but we don't share food. Occasionally we will offer each other food or give away extras, but in general we keep our food separate. Sometimes I feed Andrew dinner or have my parents over. There will likely be leftovers from this food for next week.

I have a weekly organic CSA subscription. This week, I picked up lots of sweet potatoes, white potatoes and green onions. It works out to about $10 per week and I get to choose which veggies I want from what they have harvested.

I forgot to get two cauliflowers for golden cauliflower soup so I will have to run out and get those.

I am using the following items from my fridge/freezer this week also: squash/zucchini, sugar snap peas, tiny heads cauliflower, coconut milk, onion/shallot, garlic, parsley and several other fresh herbs, frozen blueberries to supplement the fresh fruit. I also have chicken breasts in the freezer if needed.

Here's my weekly meal plan:
(Unless otherwise noted each meal will have lots of leftovers and will contain at least one source protein and one veggie and I will also eat one serving fruit per meal. Each meat and veggie will be cooked with two different fresh herbs/onion/shallot/garlic/etc and salt). I eat about 1/2 pound meat and at least 1 cup veggies per meal.

Meal 1: Cubed butternut squash and sugar snap pea breakfast hash with ground turkey and diced cauliflower.
Meal 2: Shredded zucchini or zucchini/squash combo sauteed with chicken/green apple homemade sausages
Meal 3: Sweet potato noodles with chicken thighs
Meal 4: Homemade burgers, Well Fed's Golden Cauliflower Soup, baked fries (girl's night with two good friends plus leftovers)
Meal 5: Carrot rice risotto with chicken thighs

Usually I plan 5 meals plus breakfast for the week, but I had lots of leftovers from last week so I planned one meal less.

This will finally use up the last of my excess vegetables in the freezer! Now I have to use up all the coconut flakes and shreds, which I plan to do by making my own coconut milk!

And now, two of my tasty carby snacks from last week: baked sweet plantain chips and baked potato chips


 
And finally, a picture of the Leonardtown Wharf where I walked the dogs on Saturday morning. It was about a 1.5 mile walk.


Ground Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash (W30, AIP, LH Friendly)

There's just something delicious about acorn squash. It's so rich and savory. I like to have mine for breakfast, but you can eat it any time. I learned something new, too. I made these, stuffed them with meat, wrapped them in tinfoil then froze them. I unwrapped, put in a bowl, and microwaved for about 4 minutes, and they were just like they would be if I had stored them in the fridge. The skin was no trouble to eat around. So now you know.



Ingredients:

2 acorn squash
2 pounds ground turkey
4 green onions
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)
sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
3. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut the acorn squash in half, in the direction from stem to base.
4. Scoop out seeds and discard. Alternately, you can remove the seeds from the pulpy stuff and bake them. Yum!
5. Place acorn squash face down on the baking sheet.
6. Bake for about 45 minutes or until all the "flesh" of the squash is mushy when turned over.
7. Meanwhile, add coconut oil to a skillet. Then add ground turkey.
8. Dice your green onions and grate your ginger and add to the ground turkey as it cooks. Sprinkle with sea salt.
9. Separate the turkey with a utensil, breaking it up into small clumps. Stir occasionally and cover.
10. Once the turkey is no longer pink, remove the skillet from the burner and turn off the burner. Set aside.
11. When the squash and turkey are done, turn squash over so the "nest" in the middle can be filled with ground turkey (then do so). Refrigerate or freeze.

Makes 4 servings.

Beef and Veggie Meatballs (W30, LH, AIP, 21DSD Friendly)

So recently I was talking with fellow camper James and he was asking for suggestions on eating veggies, since he isn't a big fan. I also am not a big fan, and often if I have veggies as a side dish I will just ignore them (as if they would go away!). So, here's my suggestions:

1) Incorporate veggies into the meal. Like shredding veggies and adding them to ground meat to make meatballs. Or like making a casserole or soup with veggies in them.

2) Try new veggies. Maybe the ones you have tried so far you don't like, but maybe you would like a rutabaga or brussels sprouts with bacon or acorn squash if you tried it.

3) Try to prepare them in a new way. Pretty much until a year ago, I hated sweet potatoes. The main ways I had eaten them growing up were either as a sweet potato casserole on the holidays with lots of added sugary stuff (yuck!!!) or plain baked sweet potato. You give a kid enough plain baked sweet potatoes and they will never look at one again. Well, during my first Whole30 I found out I had to eat carbs after a workout or I would crash so hard the next day. In came sweet potatoes. I tried making them into baked sweet potato fries- one of my new favorite foods. Baked sweet potato chips, sweet potato poi, sweet potato hash, etc.- I love them all!

This past weekend I got together with my roommate and my friend Laura and we did some Whole30 meal prep, since we are all doing a Whole30 right now. We made these meatballs, without a real recipe, and they turned out great!

Beef meatballs with sauteed sweet potato and cauliflower rice

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef (you can substitute any other ground meat but you will want to coat the baking sheet with cooking oil if you choose a lean meat)
1 small zucchini
2 medium carrots or equivalent amount baby carrots
1/2 small package cilantro or about 10-20 stalks
several stalks oregano
1 clove garlic
1/4 onion
sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Rinse veggies. Remove top of carrots and zucchini. Slice to fit into food processor to shred. Alternatively, dice by hand or shred with a cheese grater.
3. Cut onion into quarters and dice 1/4 (or add to food processor to shred or use cheese grater).
4. Add ground meat to a bowl.
5. Add shredded veggies.
6. In the newly empty food processor, add garlic and herbs and use spinning blade to dice them up. Alternatively, dice by hand. Add to ground meat.
7. Sprinkle ground meat generously with sea salt, at least 1 tablespoon worth.
8. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with tin foil.
9. Wash your hands, then mix together ground meat and veggies and herbs until evenly incorporated.
10. Shape meat mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. The smaller they are the quicker they will cook.
11. Place meatballs, not touching, on baking sheet.
12. Bake for 30-60 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

Serves 4-8.

Note: You can susbstitute any veggies you like and any fresh herbs.

Ground Turkey with Dill & Marjoram (W30, 21DSD, LH, AIP Friendly)

There's just something awesome about ground meat that makes it ok for any meal including breakfast. It can go so many ways- burgers, sausages, meatballs or just plain old ground meat! I'm loving ground turkey right now. I just chose some fresh herbs at random  that I thought would compliment spaghetti squash and the basil pesto I just posted. Marjoram is a light herb like oregano.

Note: If using dried herbs, use about half as much. Also, you can use any kind of ground meat and substitute any other fresh herbs you like. I've also done ground bison with green onions and parsely.



Ingredients:
2 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
pinches of sea salt
8 sprigs of fresh dill
8 sprigs of fresh marjoram

1. Put a large skillet on medium. Add coconut oil.
2. Add ground turkey.
3. Dice herbs using herb scissors or freshly washed scissors. Add diced herbs to ground turkey. I chop mine right over top of the turkey.
4. Cover and cook for several minutes, checking occasionally. Stir to break up turkey into clumps so it can cook more easily.
5. Continue checking and stirring until no longer pink and cooked through.

Makes about 4 servings.

Sweet Potato Poi (W30, 21DSD, LH, AIP Friendly)

One reason I love doing Whole30's so much, beyond the fact that I always eat more veggies than normal, is that I get way more creative with my cooking on Whole30s! So much so, that I haven't even referenced a recipe yet in the first week of food prep. I've just gotten meats, herbs, veggies and fruits and cooked them (except for the fruits which I've been eating raw). I love it! Most of the things I've made have turned out delicious!

Earlier this summer I had the awesome opportunity to attend a cooking class here in Leonardtown, MD with Russ Crandall aka the Domestic Man. The class was fabulous and the food was delicious! One of the dishes he made for us was his Sweet Potato Poi which inspired my recipe. I just kind of winged it when I cooked it, and I didn't have any free stove top space so I decided to roast the sweet potatoes in the oven. In fact, I was trying to multi-task on my cooking and so I put several turnips straight out of the freezer, several white potatoes and several sweet potatoes in a large glass baking dish (9x13).

I love sweet potatoes especially after a workout to re-carb with some protein, too. This is a huge change from where I was just over a year ago (July 2013) when I switched over to paleo. I barely knew how to cook, and my former roommates CarrieAnn, Jeremy & Lindsay can vouch that I mostly ate Ramen and cereal.
Sweet potato poi with ground turkey and herbs

Ingredients:
4 medium/large sweet potatoes
1 can full fat coconut milk (I like Natural Value)
sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Rinse and dry sweet potatoes. Remove roots if growing. Peel if desired. (I don't peel mine because I'd rather save that time.)
3. Lay into a glass baking dish or cooking sheet.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour. They will be done when you can poke them with a fork and the fork slices right through them.
5. Carefully transfer sweet potatoes to food processor. Add coconut milk and several pinches of sea salt.
6. Puree carefully (hot!) until smooth. Taste test to see if you need more salt.

Makes about 4 servings.

Long Term Goals

In the last year, I've accomplished so much. I attribute it to three main things:

1) Eating paleo. It gives me lots of energy and now I don't need naps any more. I also don't have brain fog and fluctutating energy levels. As a result I completed all of my extremely long 2 page long term to do list (over time of course). With that completed, I am able to stick to a regular schedule and get plenty of rest which helps me keep up with my every day to do list.

2) Andrew. I am always busy, always trying to get something done. He is way more relaxed then me and makes sure to enjoy time to himself, whether it's playing with the dogs, going for a hike, watching a movie, reading, or just resting on the couch. I've learned that it is ok to relax, and to make that a priority at times (not all the time, but on a regular basis).

3) Downsizing. When I moved out of a three story house in June 2014 into a small bedroom that I rent from two awesome roommates, I got rid of a ton of stuff. The main stuff I have now are clothes and accessories, pet stuff, pet sitting stuff and cooking stuff. That's about it. Seriously, I'm going paperless and scanning all my important documents into my computer, I scanned all my cookbooks, and I read on my kindle. This means less to clean and less stuff to keep track of/provide maintenance for.

But, after Camp Nerd Fitness, I'm inspired to make more goals. After all, if you don't make goals, they won't happen. It's not often that something you want just magically falls in your lap. So, by writing them down, I am committing to making them happen.

Before 1/1/16:
1) Do a FODMAP whole30 if my mucous doesn't clear up with this Low Histamine Whole30.
2) Go skiing for our anniversary in December this year (will be my first time).
3) Do a green smoothie challenge for 30 days.
4) Finish my family tree embroidery quilt before fall 2015.
5) Pay off my credit cards. After that, use my Venture card to accumulate travel points.
6) Jog 1-2 times per month.
7) Travel to all the states on the east coast that I haven't already visited next year, between visiting Andrew as he through hikes the Appalachian Trail and visiting friends.
8) Attend Camp Nerd Fitness 2015.
9) Get my first tattoo for my 25th birthday in December 2014.
10) Attend Celebrate Recovery.
11) Take Andrew to see a Broadway show and NYC.
12) Get a job/volunteer activity that utilizes my Spanish skills.

Before 1/1/2026:
13) Stay in a hostel.
14) Couch surf.
15) Move to Spain. Live there for several years.
16) Travel all 50 states in the US.
17) Become a zumba instructor.
18) Join Crossfit.

After 1/1/2026:
19) Travel through Europe.
20) Get my master's in Spanish Interpretation.
21) Become a Spanish Interpreter.
22) Open a paleo restaurant or catering service or similar business.
23) Visit the 7 wonders of the world.
24) Foster dogs and cats.