November 28, 2011

Roast Beef, attempt #1

For a while now, I had been looking for a nice big chunk of meat that I could prepare in my oven. Why? Let's just say the buffets in Las Vegas back in August got me to appreciate the bigger cuts of meat.
However, cooking a big cut of meat has always scared me a little. After all, it would be a huge shame if I were to ruin it while cooking.. My first attempt at roasting a chicken had been liberating already, next up was cooking up some real meat.
Here's how I did it:

The best cut to find would be prime rib, but I was already more than happy to be able to get my hands on a 2kg piece of roast beef. 2 minutes waiting in line and 34 euros lighter (yes that's quite expensive, but those cuts of meat are hard to find over here), I walked out of the butcher shop, trying to think of ways to prepare it.
After some googling I found an easy recipe that stated that I should bake this for 20 minutes per pound, so I was going to put my roast in the oven for 80 minutes in total.

I preheated my oven to 240 degrees Celsius, then chopped up some carrots and onions and threw them in a roasting pan. I rubbed my roast with Penzey's BBQ 3000 and put it on top of the veggies. I also seasoned the veggies with some dried thyme and ground peppercorns. I then drizzled the whole pan with olive oil and stuck it into the oven. I immediately lowered the heat to 200 degrees Celsius.

After 40 minutes, I basted the roast (at first I didn't know what basting meant, but apparently it's simply scooping some of the meat's juices from the pan over the meat) and after another 40 minutes I took it out. The recipe said I had to let it sit for another 15 minutes or so, so I patiently waited before digging in.

Let me first say, that I really liked the meat. It was very tender, nice and pink on the inside, not overcooked, but you couldn't call it 'medium done' by any means either. (the recipe I followed told me it would be medium for this roasting time..) Plus, the BBQ 3000 alone wasn't enough.
So, next time, I'm going to add bulbs of garlic to the roasting pan, and fresh sprigs of thyme. And I'm going to roast it for 70 minutes in total for a cut the same size I used now. Perhaps a good idea would be to use my meat thermometer, which should give a better indication of the level of doneness. And I need to experiment by using my Dutch oven instead of my roasting pan, I think the Dutch oven would keep it even more moist.
Does anyone have any tips for making roast beef? I'd love to hear them!

November 12, 2011

Survivalrun and Banana pistachio bread

Wow, it's been quite a while since my last post, so I figured it's about time for another recipe! This is one I made last week, and it turned out pretty well. These days I'm into anything with banana...

Let me first tell you what I did yesterday; something completely new for me; a survivalrun! 10 km running and about 28 'obstacles' to tackle along the way. I was really nervous about it because I wasn't sure I could do it, but I ended up loving it. It was hard though and I'm really glad my bf helped me (he was my 'buddy' during the run) because I couldn't have done it on my own.
It took us almost 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete everything, but it actually felt much shorter. I do need to practice a whole lot more to be able to do one of these runs on my own in the future, but I'd definitely love to do one of these runs again!

Here's me doing a swing-over, bf helping me out a little. 
 Umm, yeah, our board flipped over, causing us to get completely soaked.. (I guess the water was around 10 degrees Celsius)
 But we did make it to the other side eventually!
Happy faces right after crossing the finish line :)
It's very different from CrossFit.. You do need a lot of strength, but being able to do some strict pull-ups won't get you there. There's so much more to it.
My next event will be an 'operator WOD' on December 4th. I did one of those back in July and loved it, so I'm already looking forward to this one.

Now, here's the recipe you've been waiting for!

Banana pistachio bread

- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 ripe bananas
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/2 cup raisins -> or cranberries??

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and grease a loaf pan with some coconut oil.
2. In a bowl, combine almond flour, coconut and baking powder and set aside.
3. Add the bananas, eggs and coconut oil to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
4. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until well-combined, then stir in the pistachios and raisins.
5. Scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approx. 45-50 minutes until golden brown or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then carefully remove the loaf from the pan, cut it up (or eat it as is, I don't care) and enjoy!

November 10, 2011

Paleo Chocolate pudding

After getting a request for a paleofied 'chocolate dessert' I started thinking what to make. I came up with a number of ideas, but the most obvious thing that came to my mind was chocolate pudding.
The easiest way to make this is by using avocado, which I had already tried a number of times, but it never really tasted the way I wanted it to. Since I'm pretty much stuck at home with my cold (my appetite has already returned by the way!), I figured this was the perfect opportunity to do a 'taste test': I made 2 versions of chocolate pudding and tried them both. (I made 1/2 portions so I wouldn't be completely stuffed and feeling nauseous afterwards..)

My biggest problem was finding the perfect way to sweeten it without ruining the chocolate taste. I made one version with banana, which wasn't that good as the banana kind of overruled the chocolate, and another one with dates, which was perfect!
Here's my final recipe:

Paleo Chocolate pudding (serves 1)
- 1 ripe avocado
- 50g (or 3 tbsp) coconut butter
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 5 dates, pitted (or 2-3 medjool dates)

1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed.
2. Scoop out the avocado flesh and combine it with the other ingredients in a food processor.
3. Process on high for approx. 1-2 minutes until smooth.
4. Serve with topping of your choice and enjoy!

Carb binging

First of all, I recommend everyone to read this article:

What if you already knew this? Good for you. And if this knowledge doesn't make you carb binge anymore, that's even better.
I, for once, didn't know exactly what happened to my body after a carb binge. I did experience all the symptoms that go with it: nausea, sweating, racing heartbeat. And yes, I knew that those were caused by eating more carbs than I was used to in a short amount of time. Still I didn't know the exact mechanism behind it, until I read the article mentioned above.

And I didn't find out what else it could cause until I ate quite the amount of carbs last Monday and now find myself all sniffy and shaky at home on the couch. All in all, under 30 minutes of eating something I shouldn't, has contributed to this:
- calling in sick at work (which I do not like to do..)
- having a cold (+ headache and tiredness and just a lousy feeling)
- having to cancel a few fun workouts I'd planned
- food not even tasting good anymore
So, was that tub of cashews worth it? Definitely not.
I hear people saying 'but it's just cashews' and 'weren't you on a Whole30?'. Yes, it's just cashews, but I don't digest those properly, and I was on a Whole30 but decided treating myself to (paleo) desserts isn't part of a Whole30 so I better quit and shouldn't start another one until I'm 100% motivated to stick to it.
For now, my goal is to eat when hungry. I'm not consuming any grains, dairy, soy or sugar/sweeteners anyway.

What's your experience with carb binging? Do you often have so-called 'cheat days'? Why do you have them and how do you feel afterwards?
I'd love to hear your opinion about them.

November 3, 2011

Whole30 day 11 & preparing for a survivalrun!

My exam is done. I'm not sure how I did yet (we'll know that in 6-8 weeks) but I was most certainly stressed out because I was nervous before the exam, and afterwards because the questions they asked sometimes just made no sense.
I guess I'm going to have to let it go now and wait for the results.

Now, on to the good stuff. I'm going to get (private!) rope-climbing lessons this weekend!! Awesome!! All to prepare for my very first survivalrun on November 20th. A 10km run, with at least 25 obstacles to conquer, most of which involve rope climbing / hanging / etc. I'm super thrilled I'm going to participate, it's going to be fun (and hard too) and since my race 'buddy' is really experienced when it comes to this kind of stuff, I will get expert advice, tips and tricks at any time during the race.
I'm already nervous as well.. Somehow, I'm convinced that as soon as I jump into a rope, I will slide right back down, not being able to climb any higher. I even dreamt about rope climbing last night..
I'll keep you posted on my progress (or lack thereof..)!

And here are my eats:
Breakfast: leftover bacon-wrapped chicken, and stir-fried kale with shii-take, onion and tomato.
Lunch: 2 burgers and some zucchini fritters (Easy on the go lunch, no cutlery needed! How Paleo..)
Dinner: leftover beef stew and broccoli, to which I added some tamarind paste (made it so much better!!) and topped with cilantro and desiccated coconut.

Halfway through the afternoon I ate a giant apple and a small container of macadamia nuts. (yup, I snacked because I was stressed, not because I was hungry.. It's a good thing I don't have an exam every single day)

November 2, 2011

Whole30 day 10

Finally.. I'm done studying for the day! I started this morning around 8 AM, and finished at 8 PM. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been studying for 12 hours straight (my attention span is way too short to do that) but it still felt like a really long time. My exam is tomorrow, and I hope they'll ask me to do lots of calculations (which is what I'm better at). I hoped exactly the same last time, and guess how many questions were in there that involved calculating? Yup, none...
We'll see what happens, at least I did my best!

The good thing about being finished and having a couple of hours before heading to bed is that, right after posting this, I'm going to send out a few emails, and then.. I'm going to browse my brand new cookbook: Make It Paleo!!
It arrived in the mail today and I'm super excited about it! I already looked at some of the pictures in it (while enthusiastically telling my mom about it on the phone) and it looks great. Can't wait to start cooking from it! It's a shame my meals for Thursday and Friday are pretty much done already, but that leaves me more than enough time to start planning my meals for the upcoming week.

In the mean time, I also managed to go for a workout this afternoon (well, it actually was a priority, but let's pretend I was all about studying today). Here's what I did:
3x5 bench press
6 rounds of: max plyo push ups (using bumperplates), and 20m sprint.

I'd never done plyo push ups before (thanks to youtube, I now know how to do them), but they were fun! And hard.. Really hard. I'm already looking forward to Friday's workout!
First I have an exam to tackle though..

I also took the time to make a few nice meals today (after all, my brain needs food too), I absolutely loved my lunch (thank god for leftovers, going to enjoy those tomorrow!!) and I dinner was really tasty as well. I made a Huge batch of beef stew; including 1,5kg of beef.. That'll easily make 8 servings. I ate one serving today, put one in the fridge for tomorrow, and put the other 6 in my freezer to enjoy at a later time.
Here are today's eats:
Breakfast: the last bits of horse stew (which was nice at first, but by now I'm kinda done with it..) with some  extra spinach and carrot.
Lunch: broccoli and bacon-wrapped chicken, filled with home-made pesto. (sooo yummy!!)
Dinner: Asian-spiced beef stew (with creamed coconut, lemongrass and lots of spices) and some more broccoli.

November 1, 2011

Whole30 day 9

I didn't eat any eggs today! Wow! That's been a really, really long time..
And guess what happened? I don't seem to be satisfied by food as much as compared to when I do eat eggs. While I didn't eat less protein than usual, I did eat a little less fat and that's probably why I still feel like I could eat another meal (shortly after finishing dinner).

Has anyone ever visited the BBC Good Food website? There are so many amazing recipes on there, and most of them can easily be made Paleo-style. I used to buy their magazine every now and then, but since I'm on a budget and the price of 1 magazine (in euros) can feed me for a day, I'd rather choose the food. And instead, I occasionally browse their website for recipes. Works great!

Here are today's meals (it didn't take much inspiration to create these, but I liked them anyway):
Breakfast: thawed horse stew to which I added some pumpkin and kale while heating it.
Lunch: spinach salad with chicken.
Dinner: cabbage and beef burgers