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Having An Unprocessed Thanksgiving

Mini Squash

How is everyone doing so far for unprocessed month?  Things have been going well here at the HQ!  Bread products like English muffins and sausages are the only things that we have been eating that are technically processed.  However the ingredients are as clean as I can get with them so I feel good about those choices.  We did recently dine out over the weekend but the food left us feeling blah.  I’m pretty sure that dining out is going to be something we eliminate almost completely at some point (unless we’re traveling or it’s a special occasion).

It’s cheaper to cook at home even when cooking with high quality ingredients.  Plus it’s more satisfying eating a meal that I personally made.

I believe in going unprocessed so much that I want everyone to give it a shot!  If you’re not doing it now, then let’s talk about the holidays and how we can keep the junk out of the house.

While it may seem daunting at first, cutting out processed foods from our diets becomes easier with planning, prepping, and having a well stocked pantry.  That’s the challenging part, adopting those habits and getting a groove with this new lifestyle.

In an effort to help keep everyone on track and staying unprocessed once October is over, I was thinking of doing an Unprocessed Thanksgiving.  Providing recipes, tips, a grocery list, and a plan to help everyone get through the holiday while having an amazing meal that is full of flavor and has no unwanted junk in it.

Does this sound like something that would interest you?  

How about fresh cranberry sauce this year and not something out of a can?  Brined turkey and slow cooked greens?  Fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy made with homemade stock?

Let me know what you think about going Unprocessed this holiday season!

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Kicking Monday’s Butt

 

Asian Noodle Soup with 5 Spice Meatballs

Oh Monday.  It did not start off well.  I was having tech issues that were finally resolved by rebooting my computer.  As much as I love Apple, I become more and more frustrated with their products all the time. Well let me clarify this a bit.  The computers work when they are brand new but get a couple of years in them and they start to falter and some stuff won’t even work on them any longer.  That’s the part the frustrates me. I’m definitely leaving my iPhone in the dust and will be switching over to an Android based phone.  I’m a Google girl through and through, and it only makes sense to have a Google based phone verses an iPhone where I have to install apps or run Google through Apple Apps just to access stuff.  Bah! Ok, I’m done rambling. I’m sure you don’t care about my tech bitching.  On to food!

Yesterday was on the cooler side and I finally decided to make some soup.  I had been dreaming of an Asian inspired noodle soup with mini meatballs for days, so that’s what I made.

Homemade chicken broth seasoned with a little garlic and soy sauce.  Rice noodles (passes the kitchen test for unprocessed month, only has two ingredients), wilted spinach, and some pork meatballs.  The meatballs had green onion, soy sauce, and Chinese 5 Spice added to it.  They were roasted in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes and then added right to the soup.

Delicious!  A late lunch/early dinner meal.  Take that Monday!

Later in the evening we had some slices of a chocolate bourbon cake (that I made, no box mixes here) drizzled with a chocolate bourbon sauce. I tried taking a picture but that much dark stuff on a plate in the evening does not photograph well. Trust me.

Soup and cake? We totally kicked Monday’s butt!

How did your week start off?

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Weekend Getaway Takeaways

w00tstout 2.0 from Firestone WalkerScott and I headed down to Denver last weekend for The Great American Beer Festival (If you’re interested in beer, you can read my article here).  I was covering the event for the beer blog that I write for so we decided to make a weekend out of it.  There was lots of events going on around town as well, like extra special beer tappings and we spent the weekend exploring and sipping on fantastic beers.

We kept our eats clean while in Denver which is easy to do because Denver has plenty of restaurants that use high quality ingredients.  One of our favorites is Freshcraft which offers up amazing food and great beer.  I had cassoulet, and oh man and it was so rich and delicious.

Many lessons were learned from this past trip down and our next trip will be tackled much differently.

Changing up our approach to dining out

Currently when we go to Denver and Boulder we gravitate towards pizza and burgers because we don’t care for the options here in Fort Collins. It’s hard to find a good grassfed burger!  Yet this past trip, going for those types of dishes left us feeling bloated and crappy.  Bah!  So our focus is going to switch to quality veggie and meat dishes (which thankfully Freshcraft has!).

Going for a rental instead of hotel reservations

LoDo is our preferred place to stay when in Denver but it’s expensive as hell.  The hotel rooms we’ve stayed in have been nice but there’s no fridge and no wifi.  No fridge means we can’t bring back leftovers (along with no way to reheat them) and no wifi means we can’t work while away.

Rentals tend to be cheaper and come with a full kitchen and wifi.  We’d be able to cook breakfast at the rental saving us some cash and frustration (breakfast places in Denver serve horrible coffee for some reason and don’t provide enough creamer).  Along with the ability to bring back leftovers and reheat them.  Plus wifi that doesn’t cost extra.  The tricky part will be trying to find a rental that also offers a parking space.

So the next time we go (which won’t be for a while) we’re changing up our approach!

I was definitely ready to be back home and back with the pups, who were totally pissed off that we left them.  They gave us the cold shoulder for hours when we got back.  I was ready to get back in the kitchen and have control over what went into my food and I wanted a good night’s sleep. Down pillows at hotels are for the birds.  Bah!

Egg sandwich

For breakfast yesterday we had fried egg sandwiches on 365 Whole Wheat bread with romaine, pepper jack, and crispy prosciutto.   On Monday we had huge bowls of oatmeal and even though I added fruit and grassfed butter to it, that didn’t last all of two hours before I wanted to gnaw my arm off.  No more oats for breakfast for a while.

In the middle of the day, I had a small snack of yogurt and granola (just oats, no nuts or seeds).

Dinner was glorious!

Chicken and sweet potato coconut curry soup

I made a coconut curry soup with leftover chicken and some sweet potatoes.  I stupidly bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco when we were there on Tuesday.  I thought it would be clean but after checking the ingredients realized that it is in fact full of junk.  Hopefully your Costco has better quality chicken!

I used the leftovers in soup and this was super easy to make.

Andrea’s Quick and Easy Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

  • One small onion, finely chopped
  • One green pepper, finely chopped
  • One jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Leftover roast chicken (I used breast and leg meat)
  • 1.5 QT Chicken Stock
  • 1 Can full fat coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2.5TBSP mild yellow curry powder
  • 1TBSP Ghee (or butter)

In a soup pot, heat ghee over medium heat and add in the onion and peppers.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until softened.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Add in the stock, chicken, and sweet potatoes.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Add in the curry powder and stir.  Cover and reduce heat to where the soup is just simmering.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes then add in the coconut milk.  Simmer for another 10 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

So easy to throw together and transform leftover chicken.  We’re having leftovers tonight for dinner.

Asparagus and tomato fritatta

Breakfast this morning was a fritatta with chopped asparagus and sliced up tomatoes.  I love fritattas because it also provides enough for breakfast the following day as well.   This also had some chopped red onion and a little dijon mustard added in for extra flavor boost.

Loving the eats this week!  How’s everyone doing this week?

 

 

 

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Resources for October Unprocessed

Whole Roasted ChickenAs I mentioned earlier this week, I’m taking the October Unprocessed challenge.  A whole month of eating whole foods and kicking the unprocessed foods to the curb.

The thought of that can be a little overwhelming at first, especially once we realize how much processed foods we currently are eating.  I’ve got resources, links, and guides to help us get through it!

Definitely make sure you go over to Eating Rules because Andrew has a ton of information to help with this challenge including a free PDF! The PDF goes over everything you would want to know including what to do about dining out.  This is helpful to me because Scott and I are going to be exploring Denver and I plan on dining well and eating at restaurants that do most of their dishes in-house (like handcut fries instead of frozen bagged fries.).  Thankfully it’s not hard to find great restaurants in Denver that fit my food philosophies.

For those of you that have families and are feeling like you can’t make this work when you have to feed kids, don’t fret, there’s resources for you too!

100 Days of Real Food has loads of information and resources for cutting out processed food and tips for feeding the kiddos.

Nom Nom Paleo has a lunchbox series that gives you tips, ideas, and recipes for sending your kids to school with a lunch full of real foods.  No snack cracker packs here! This isn’t just for kids though, you can definitely alter this for work lunches too.

Meal planning and prepping gets easier the more we are prepared and ready to tackle the week. Popular Paleo lists 9 things that she always has on hand and ready to go so that there’s no temptation to fall back to packaged snacks.

Good Food For Bad Cooks has a free downloadable weekly menu planner.  You can print this out and stick it right on the fridge so that you can stay on track for the week.  There’s also lots of other great guides and resources as well, so take a peek around the site.

None of these links are affiliates or anything like that.  These are resources that I use and that I feel can be helpful to all of us to make this month a success.

Starting next week, I’ll be posting our eats, how meal planning and prepping is going, and my thoughts about the process.

If there’s sites or sources that you find helpful, feel free to share!  Your comment might go into moderation but don’t worry, I’ll make sure it gets approved.

Here’s to a healthy month full of delicious foods!

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30 Day Streak Wrapup And October Unprocessed Month

Scott and Andrea runningWe did it! We have made it through the 30 Day Streak Challenge!  How did everyone do?

Did I run or exercise everyday?  Short answer, no.   Longer answer, there were a few days where either the weather wasn’t cooperating or that I didn’t have the energy or time to head out.  I learned a lot during this streak though and realized a few things about myself.

For one, I am not a runner.  At least for this period in time running and I are breaking up.  But I did find an activity that I love and have put the passion I used to have for running into cycling.

I’m not ready to call myself a cyclist just yet but I hope to become one.  I have also realized that I’m ready to give the gym another chance. Before when I tried the gym, I didn’t go and got frustrated with it because it wasn’t running.  I still had it stuck in my head that I needed to run for exercise and to lose weight.

Very foolish thoughts.

Next week I’m going back to the gym to sign up and start taking classes.  Spinning, Body Pump, and yoga are the classes I’m going to start off with and we’ll see how it goes.

During this challenge I learned that one of my biggest obstacles was exercising on the weekend.  I struggled trying to figure out when to add it in and then ended up not doing it at all.  I made it more of a bigger deal than it should have been, which is something I tend to do.  This is not OK.

New goal is to workout at least one day during the weekend but also respecting my bodies signals.  If it’s telling me I need a rest then I’ll rest.

I am also committing to another challenge for the month of October!

Veggies noodles in a peanut sauce with curry shrimp

October Unprocessed run by Andrew over at Eating Rules.  This is the fifth year of this challenge and each year it grows bigger and bigger.  The idea is to cut out processed food from your diet and to start cooking more meals at home.  It sounds simple BUT we as a society eat a lot of processed foods and we don’t even realize it.

I cook a good bit already but I’m committed this month to cook even more at home.  Aiming to get us back on track and ready to tackle the winter holidays properly and in a healthy way.

Since Andrew has been running this for a few years now he has loads of resources ready for you and any questions you might have.  Like The Kitchen Test to help you determine what is processed and what isn’t.  Along with a lot of guides to help out including a free PDF download.  Make sure to head over to his site clicking any of those previous links and you will find everything you need to know.

Yes cutting out crap means more time is going to be spent in the kitchen but is that a bad thing?  If everything is planned and there’s a prep day that means less time in the kitchen during the week and only one major cooking day.

We can do this!

I’ll have a post up later this week with some resources that will help keep us on track and tips so we can make this month a success!  Let’s do this!

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Dropping The Runner Label

For a good chunk of my life I was a runner.  That’s how I classified myself and for a while, how others classified me.  I was a distance runner who ate half marathons for breakfast.  I lost weight and got back in shape by running.  There’s a lot of people that I met through running and they know me as a runner.  It was a huge part of my life for a long time.

Moving to Colorado has come with a lot of changes, all of them personal and all of them for the better.  I can see that now, hindsight and all of that. For a while though, I was a little lost.

Running has been a constant struggle since the move.  When we first arrived, I was coming off an injury and still had a solid foundation but no distance.  Elevation is not my friend when it comes to running.  Running became something I hated instead of loved.  I could never catch my breath, my legs constantly cramped up, and I could never get past a damn mile without wanting to crash on the ground.

As a “runner” and being used to distance like it was nothing, this was a confusing and frustrating time.

I’m a runner! I have to be able to run!  Everyone who knows me as a runner is expecting me to run.  

Those were just a few of the thoughts that ran through my head constantly.  I would beat myself up over the fact that I wasn’t getting the hang of running here.  Everyone told me to just keep plugging away at it and eventually things would work out.

Except that is exactly what I was doing.  For two years.  It’s been two years and I still can’t run even a mile without a lot of issues.  This was stressing me out.  Naturally I gained weight which made things even more stressful.  I’m not “me”.  I don’t feel like me and I certainly don’t look like me.  Being in a new city, meeting new people all while not really feeling like me because I didn’t have running to turn to, yeah, I was completely lost.

Priscilla, my hybrid bike

Then a bike showed up in my life.  The town we live in is amazingly bike friendly.  It’s pretty easy to bike from one place to the next and ever since we moved here, Scott and I have been wanting to get bikes.

We finally made the plunge and our bikes arrived earlier this month. We each purchased hybrid bikes, nothing fancy, a pretty basic bike.  I hadn’t been on a bike since middle school so I was a little nervous at first.  Of course you never forget how to ride a bike but maneuvering one and managing turns and hills does take some practice!

I’ll be fully honest, the number one reason we bought bikes was to start biking to breweries and bars instead of driving.  Priorities and all. My thoughts on biking didn’t extend any further than that.

I never considered biking as serious exercise before. When I was running, I thought that was superior.  Oh sure, cyclists can go long distances but runners have to do it on their own, not with the help of a bike.  I know, I know, that’s ridiculously elitist sounding.

The first time we headed out on our bikes, we went to a brewery and then we biked around downtown for a bit.

That first bike ride kicked my ass and made me seriously rethink my stance on cycling as exercise.  That’s all it took for me to fall in love with biking.

It also made me realize that I don’t have to be a runner any more.  I don’t have to live by that label. As simple as that sounds, it was a hard realization for me to come to.

Biking has given me freedom and validation that I’ve been looking for for two years.  Freedom in breaking free from the runner label, validation in that, yes I actually can do serious cardio at elevation.  This is kind of a big deal and very much a WHOA moment for me.

So for now I’m ditching the runner label.  Maybe I’ll try running again at some point but currently my focus is on biking.  This is where life has taken me and I’m happy here.

 

PS: I’ll share more in another post about exactly why I love biking and why it fits my lifestyle right now.

 

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Review: The Taco Revolution by Brandon Schultz

We love tacos in this house.  On the whole we probably eat tacos at least once a week.  It’s easy to quickly cook up some ground meat, season, and serve in a shell or wrap.  Putting a pork shoulder in the slow cooker and we’ve got pulled pork tacos for days.  Plus you get to load up your taco anyway you please with a variety of condiments.

Tacos fall into the crowd pleaser category, almost everyone loves taco night!

Sometimes we can fall into a rut with tacos, having the same style frequently.  I was happy to accept The Taco Revolution by Brandon Schultz for review.  This cookbook is jam packed with some pretty creative taco ideas like the Zuccini Pesto Taco and the Korean Taco, just to name a couple.

Along with recipes this taco cookbook also offers up a list of what kitchen items you’ll need in order to prepare all of these recipes, spice mix recipes, and how to make your own taco shells and tortillas.  Plus a section devoted to making sauces and salsas at home.

It’s pretty much an all-in-one book full of taco inspiration!

Barbecue Pork Taco

I went with the Barbecue Pork Taco because I had some pork already out that needed to be used and some barbecue sauce ready to go.

Barbecue Pork Taco

© Brandon Schultz, reprinted with persmission from Skyhorse Publishing

Makes 6-8 tacos

  • 1TBSP Butter
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 2 pounds pork, cut into 7 or 8 large chunks
  • 2 cans vegetable broth (14.5oz each)
  • 1 1/2 C barbecue sauce
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 2C lettuce, torn into large pieces
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1TBSP sour cream per taco
  • Tortillas
  1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Add pork and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 1 hour.

  2. Shred pork into large pieces using two forks to pull meat apart.  Cover and cook 10 more minutes.  Pull meat apart into smaller shreds, cover, and cook 10 more minutes.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix pork, barbecue sauce, and pepper.

  4. Loosely cover a tortilla with torn lettuce.  Top with pork, tomato, and sour cream.

I used hard taco shells instead of soft and the tacos turned out great. I used a homemade sauce but you can use your favorite barbecue sauce.

This cookbook is full of creative recipes for tacos and I bet you would find inspiration on how to repurpose weeknight leftovers into tacos.

Thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for sending this book my way!

Disclaimer: I was sent this cookbook for review.  I was not compensated for this post and my statements are my own.

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Beer, Pizza, and Choices

Avery Barrel Aged Beers

Sunday was a funday for Scott and I, we took a day trip down to Boulder for some beer and food.  Having a dog with severe separation anxiety means that we don’t get to travel or do a whole lot.  Our compromise in this situation is to have someone come and sit with the dogs for the day while we get a blissful few hours to ourselves.

Yes, we have to get a sitter for our dogs.

When we do get to go out, we make the most of it.  One of our favorite breweries was having a bottle release that day so we decided to make a day of it in Boulder.

We arrived at Avery early and I was sipping on some barrel aged Czar before noon.  I have no problem with this situation.

After Avery we visited another brewery and then it was off to find some dinner.

Backcountry Pizza

We aren’t that fond of the pizza options in Fort Collins so we decided to get some good pizza while in Boulder.  Backcountry pizza offers up tasty budget friendly pies along with a pretty great taplist.

I nommed on some supreme pizza and sipped on a Wooky Jack.

And yes this is still a blog all about eating well and living well.

But it’s also a blog about embracing life and not being a afraid to live it.

Do I feel like I (GASP!), indulged?  No.  I’m not a big fan of using words that implies someone should feel guilty or regret their eating choices.  I hate that as a society we have to label food choices as something “clean” or something “indulgent”.

I’m not having any of that nonsense.  Just eat the damn food.

Eating shouldn’t be difficult or a challenge. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think mindfully about what we choose to eat.

My philosophy is eat whatever you want, just make it the best that you can get.  Meaning, if you want a burger spend that money on a nice grassfed burger instead of something that comes out of a drive-thru window.

It’s always all about choices and our goal should be to make the best choice that we can make and not whether we feel like being “good” or “indulging”.

Sunday was like my perfect day, great beer and good cheesy pizza. Amen.

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Tweaking The Streak

We are smack in the middle of the third week of the #30DayStreak!  At the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  If you’ve been following along on my instagram then you know that there are some days where I’m doing something other than running.  At the beginning of this challenge my goal was to run for the 30 days.

While doing this challenge I’ve realized that running and I need to breakup for a while.  Currently I do not enjoy running.  I dread it.  Without this challenge, I think that I would have kept plugging along trying to run and then bitching about it.

Instead of doing that, I’m focusing on things that I do enjoy and that I want to do.

Avery and Penny on a hike

Like taking hikes with my dogs.  We take our longest walk on Tuesday mornings because that’s when we meet up with our walking group.  It’s a 2 – 3 mile hike (depending on the heat) and it’s awesome.  Fantastic views and very peaceful.  The rest of the week we take smaller hikes 1 – 1.5 miles.  I would rather hike with the dogs instead of just walking around our neighborhood.  Hikes are calming and very relaxing.  The dogs and I enjoy hikes way more than neighborhood strolls.

Poudre Trail

I recently purchased a bike and have fallen in love with biking.  I cannot wait to get on my bike and go for a ride.  I’m pretty sure this is going to replace running for me, at least for the time being.  Biking deserves its own post so I will be sharing my thoughts on biking and my transition next week.

For the remainder of the streak, my focus is no longer on running.  Now my goal is to get outside as much as possible and to move my body mindfully everyday.  Whether it’s a hike with my dogs or a bike ride, I want to be out embracing the day.

How has the streak been going for you?

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Dog Gone Good Cuisine by Gayle Pruitt

Penny and Avery hikingI’m really picky about what food and treats my dogs get.  I read all ingredient lists on treats with the same scrutiny as if I was going to be eating it. There’s no kibble in this house, my dogs get real foods to eat.  I’ve been doing this for years.  Avery and Penny are my second and third dogs that I’ve successfully switched over to a real foods diet.

In total, I’ve been feeding dogs this way for over 10 years.  I geek out over dog nutrition and I’ll gladly talk with you about it and offer advice if you ask.  Not only am I a believer in eating real foods for myself but it also applies to my dogs.

So when I was approached to review the Dog Gone Good Cuisine cookbook by Gayle Pruitt, I jumped at the chance.  I don’t home-cook for my dogs much, they are on a more raw based diet.  However, I’m always learning and reading about dog nutrition and viewed this book as a resource.

If you’re new to a real foods diet for dogs and are thinking of making the switch, this would be a great book to help ease you down that path.  It offers a lot of homemade dishes that you can feed your dog and that you can also eat.

This cookbook also provides information about what foods and spices are OK for dogs, along with what kitchen equipment you will be using.  It prepares you for cooking for your dog without making this seem like an overwhelming or difficult task (because it isn’t).

Another thing that won me over about this cookbook is that all the dogs pictured are rescue dogs.  All my dogs are rescue dogs so I have soft spot when it comes to providing second chances to our canine companions.

I decided to go with a veggie recipe from the cookbook for my two punks.

Tarragon Carrots

Carrots and Zucchini with Tarragon
Reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press
© Gayle Pruitt

  • 1TBSP Butter or Coconut Oil
  • 3 Medium Carrots, washed, peeled, and sliced into thin carrot sticks
  • 2 Zucchini, washed and cut into 1/4 inch thick sticks
  • 1tsp Dried Tarragon

Melt the butter or coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the zucchini and cook for 1 minute.  Remove the vegetables from the skillet, sprinkle with tarragon, and serve.

I didn’t have any zucchini but I had these great baby carrots that I picked up at the local farmer’s market.  They worked great for this recipe. Avery and Penny both love carrots and this was definitely a winner for them!

If you’re thinking about cooking for your dogs or are at least interested in learning more, check out this cookbook!  Plus you’ll get to see some great pictures of rescue dogs!

 

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this cookbook for review.  All opinions are my own.