Wednesday, April 17, 2013


A few weeks ago, some of you may have read my post about my goal of getting fit and healthy. I wanted to give you all an update on my progress, what I have been doing, and most importantly (in my opinion), what I have been eating.

Last week, my husband and I started doing Shaun T's Insanity. My husband had bought the workout DVD's off of Amazon several weeks ago, but we couldn't find the motivation to start until about a week ago. I thought this would be the PERFECT way to meet my goal of trying to be the fittest and lightest I have ever been by the time of my 25th birthday. Since the workout plan that comes with the video takes about 60 days, the timing was perfect! I started the videos about 63 days before my birthday.

The first workout we did was actually a fitness test that comes with the videos. You do this test every 2 weeks to track your progress through the workout plan. After doing the "fit test," I was a little disappointed (and a little happy on the inside). I thought the workout did not live up to the name of "insanity." I thought it was easier than it was supposed to be. However, starting day 2, I needed to recollect my words, because it. was. hard. I was SO sweaty in about 5 minutes after starting. After doing CrossFit for over a year before starting this DVD, I do have to say that if you are looking for a challenging, kick your butt kind of workout that requires no equipment, this DVD set is right for you! After doing the workouts only a week, I know I will see a transformation in the 60 days. I am not sure if I am going to meet my goal, but I am going to do the best I can!

The most important part of this post is now HERE! What have I been eating, you ask? DELICIOUS, HEALTHY FOOD! My husband and I have been eating Paleo on and off for about 2 years. We are not "strict" Paleo-ers, but we do stick by most of the rules.

Basics of Paleo = fat is not what makes you fat + sugar is what makes you fat = anything that breaks down into sugar in your body also makes you fat = starchy carbs are what make you fat.

The main items that make you fat include the following: bread, noodles, rice, bananas, corn, sugar, any artificial sweeteners, honey, etc. We will use honey or stevia, but even these items can become the equivalent of sugar in your body. One of my favorite explanations of this is found on one of my favorite go-to websites for Paleo recipes.

So basically, because my favorite food items to eat include noodles and rice (I am Italian and any Asian on the inside), my whole world was rocked by switching to this diet. I whined and complained to my husband because all I wanted to do was cook curry with rice or some kind of pasta dish. I was ridiculous! However, now things are different. I actually do not even like the taste of rice dishes or noodle dishes. I SO prefer my Paleo versions of these items. My Paleo "rice" will never let me down, along with my "zoodles" or spaghetti squash noodles. The best part about subbing these things for starchy carbs, is how you feel AFTER you eat! You feel like you didn't eat anything, although you are full. When I eat meals with lots of starchy carbs or bread, I feel like I ate an elephant that is growing inside me (talk about gluten belly - if you don't believe me, google it and look at the images!).

Anywho, our diet has flipped a 180. We were eating out MOST of our meals, whether I was eating lunch at work, or my husband going to get Zaxby's for lunch at work, or I was swinging by Five Guys or Panda Express several nights a week on my way home from work. This is just sick. Our bodies were not made to eat such processed, nasty CRAP.

I have actually been making breakfasts, coming home from work and COOKING (I couldn't believe it either!), and preparing food in advance to set ourselves up for eating success!

Here is a look into our world of eating....

Paleo Chicken Fingers with Sweet Potato Curly Fries

Feta Steak and Arugula Tacos (Yes, I could be on the creative team of Torchy's Tacos)

Steak Avocado Omelet

Pot Roast over Cauliflower Rice with Paleo Mushroom Gravy (this gravy was to DIE for)

Egg Sausage and Avocado Scramble

Chicken with Artichoke Mushroom Gravy and a Baked Sweet Potato

Breakfast Burrito

Homemade Tuna Salad over a bed of Greens with my version of Tre Colore Pesto as dressing

SO Coconut Yogurt with Fresh Blackberries, Raspberries, and Walnuts

My Version of Paleo Pizza (SO freaking good)

Recipes are linked if you are interested. A lot of this is just from my own head, so if you have any questions about recipes, don't hesitate to ask. I will definitely do a post about Paleo Pizza and that Mushroom Gravy soon. They are both crazy good!

I am going to go enjoy the weather now. You kids be good and eat good! :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Creamy Sage Rutabega Soup (Paleo)

I hope everyone had a happy Easter Sunday! I actually had the weekend off, so I got to enjoy being with my hubby and his family. Most of my family is out of the country right now, so I was not able to see them. We had a pretty packed weekend; going to a wedding and a fundraiser dinner for a local clinic that does indigent care. We had a blast getting all gussied up in our best evening wear and hitting the town every night.

Unfortunately, Friday night I started to feel a little on the sick side. My throat started hurting, which quickly progressed to a lovely sinus headache, which then became a nasty cough. The only thing I wanted to eat this weekend was something warm and savory.

My need for comfort food finally forced me into making something I have been wanting to make since my trip to Portland, Maine in the fall. We went to this FANTASTIC restaurant called Duckfat when we were there. Let's just say after I tasted my appetizer I proudly announced to the table, "if the chef and I made babies, we would have the most famous culinary children in the world," which then led to a hot debate on artificial insemination that ended poorly.

ANYWHO, the food was fantastic to say the least. The most famous item at this restaurant was the fries fried in duck fat. They also had a variety of sauces to dip the fries in. The sauces were stellar! Like I said, the chef and I were totally on the same palate train!

The appetizer that I had that really blew my socks off was a Sage Rutabega Soup. The tastes were perfect, from the salty bacon, to the savory and sweet spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage, to the bitterness of the rutabaga, to the creaminess of the whole thing. Yep, it was perfect. I was so intrigued that I asked the waiter how the dish was made. He went back to the kitchen to give me the full report. We mentioned what ingredients were in the dish, and I just knew I had to come home and try to recreate it!

This is what I did....

Juju's Creamy Sage Rutabega Soup

2 rutabega, ends sliced off and peeled then cubed
4 strips of bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 cups chicken broth/stock
1 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
~3 tbsp packed fresh sage, rolled and sliced
~1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup coconut milk creamer (SO brand is what I use)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Get all our ingredients chopped up and prepared. If you prepare before you begin cooking, you won't overcook your food while you are trying to chop something up.

 Get out your dutch oven (or whatever you make soup in will work). Turn your stove onto medium heat. Be patient and wait for the pot to actually heat up before adding your ingredients.

Once your pot is warm, add in the sliced bacon. Ahhh! Nothing better than the smell of bacon!

Let your bacon brown up. Make sure they don't burn! We want the pieces to be nice and crispy, but not burned! You will notice that as the bacon browns, you will get a nice brown film to the bottom of your pot. Leave it there! We will use this "secret" ingredient in a second!

Once your bacon is nice and crispy, remove ONLY the bacon from the pan, leaving as much oil behind as you can. I put my bacon on a plate with a paper towel to let the oil drain off the bacon pieces.

Once you have removed the bacon ONLY from the pan, add your onions to that bacon fat! Then add your garlic. Your pot is going to be hot at this point so you must stir up your onions and garlic to keep them from getting too brown at once or sticking to the bottom of your pot. Don't let your garlic burn or stick to the bottom! It will make it bitter and yucky!
As you stir, enjoy one of the most delightful scents in the world - onions. garlic. bacon fat. YUM!

At this point you can add some salt and pepper. My methodology with salting and peppering is when you add something to the pan, add a little more of both. If you start early, you won't be behind on the salt and pepper train once your dish is cooked. If you are uneasy about your salting and peppering abilities, save it for last, as you can add a little at a time to your own taste, without overdoing either.

Without burning either your onions or garlic, brown these delicious morsels until they are a nice golden brown and soft (see photo above). Turn down your heat a little. 
Once you reach this phase, add your white wine.
Some sizzling is going to happen at this point!
Stir, stir, stir. Turn your heat down so that your wine is simmering, not boiling.
See that brown film on the bottom of my pot in the photo above? Remember how I said that this film was important? After you add your wine, you are going to "deglaze" your pot. Use your spoon/spatula to scrape all that crap off the bottom of your pot. This stuff adds a lot of flavor to your food. The more flavor, the better.
Let your wine simmer for a few minutes.
Then add your cubes of rutabega.

Add some more salt and pepper at this point (if you want). Let your rutabega sit in your wine hot tub for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Then, add your chicken stock. 4 cups is equivalent to one of those boxes in the store.

Cover your pot and bring your liquid to a boil. This might take awhile.

Once your rutabegas are boiling, add all your spices and stir it up. Cover again and let it boil until the rutabagas are fork tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the rutabagas are tender, you can now make a decision based on what equipment you own.

1. You can eat as is.
2. You can use a hand blender in your pot to make soup creamy.
3. You can put several portions of the soup into a blender to make it creamy.
4. You can add several portions to your food processor to make it creamy (this is what I did).

Once you pulverize your soup, add in your coconut milk creamer.
If you do not eat Paleo or do not care to eat Paleo, you can sub the coconut milk creamer for heavy whipping cream or half and half. However, the coconut creamer is actually not bad for you.
If you do eat Paleo, you can sub creamer for regular coconut milk in the can. If you want the soup to be thick and creamy, use the top of the cream and not the watery part.

After you make sure the soup is heated through after adding your cream, you are done!

Serve in bowls. Top with your bacon bits and extra sage!


And for your viewing pleasure...

Me crankin' out some garlic! Photo courtesy of my favorite taste tester who loved the soup! :)