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Carb Free Lasagna — all the taste minus the guilt

I am back on the wagon! I have been slacking on my healthy cooking (and eating) for a while. You know how it goes, life gets hectic and you just can’t seem to find the time. I was feeling pretty junky lately from my unhealthy eating and I decided that this weekend was the weekend to get back on track!

My quest was to make a noodle-less lasagna. I am a carb-aholic and so anytime I can find something tasty that can trick my brain into feeling like it’s getting carbs, it becomes an instant favorite. This delicious lasagna fit all the criteria.

Luckily for me, we got gorgeous eggplants and a picture perfect bag of basil in our Suzie’s Farm CSA box last week. Both of those were put to good use in this dish.

First, I sliced eggplant about a quarter inch thick and brown them in a little bit of leftover bacon grease (I can’t let that deliciousness go to waste). Then I set them on a paper towel to drain while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.

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Next I made the sauce by dicing and sauteing  a white onion and about 3 cloves of garlic.  After the onion was translucent, I added a package of ground turkey (you can use beef if you prefer) and browned that with the onion and garlic. I finished it off with a can of pasta sauce (you can use any kind that suits your fancy). This sauce is used in between the layers of the lasagna.

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For the base layer of the lasagna, you can use parsnips or carrots, I choose carrots. I sliced them in little disks (about a quarter inch thick) and lined the bottom of a greased casserole dish with them.

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Then came the layering…. This is the fun part because you can really customize lasagna any way you like. My layers went like this:

Carrots

Meat sauce

Basil

Eggplant

Cheese (you can omit this if you want to make the dish paleo)

Meat sauce

Spinach

Cheese

This is about half way through the layering process:

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After I had layered and stacked to my liking, I baked the lasagna in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Until it was bubbly and the cheese was nicely browned and crisped.

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I was worried that because there wasn’t any starch to hold it together it wouldn’t cut and store nicely but much to my delight it held up just like “regular” lasagna.

As with all my recipes, I like to make them customize-able  and  this one definitely is. You can add in zucchini, mushrooms, chard… and anything else your heart desires.

I purposely didn’t include the recipe in this post because you can make this dish with any combination of meat and veggies that you like. I would hate to inhibit your creativity with a strict recipe.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment and I’ll be happy to give you pointers.

Enjoy! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Spring Lamb Paleo Dinner

I know that it has a been a while since my last post, but trust me. This is worth the wait!

As I’ve mentioned before, healthy eating is a passion of mine. Thankfully, my roommate shares the same passion. Last night we attended an AMAZING 5 course dinner and Italian wine pairing put on by Turquoise Cellars, The Heart and Trotter, and Bare Bones Broth Co. The meal was completely paleo (which I know can make people skeptical, but this would change your mind!). All the meat was organic, locally sourced, and sustainable. Everything was so flavorful and fresh I left feeling as though I’d just eaten at a 5 star restaurant.

Here are the highlights! 🙂

1st Course

The first course was a spring salad paired with at Cuvee 61 Brut. The veggies tasted as if they were picked just before they were placed on the plate (very beautifully, I might add) and the lamb marrow dressing was incredible.

2nd Course

The second course was an impressive braised lamb pho paired with a Pecorino. The broth was definitely the star of this dish. It was simultaneously rich and light. So flavorful, it could have been a course on its own.

3rd Course

Next we enjoyed a lamb sausage paired with a Negroamaro. The sausage was incredible but I was taken with the fresh granny smith apples and jicama salad tossed in a mint pesto. It really brought out all of the spices in the sausage without being overpowering as mint so often is.

4th Course

The fourth course (my favorite) was a lamb porchetta roulade paired with a Nebbiolo d’Alba. The lamb tenderloin was so tender no knife was needed and it was served with a parsnip mash that could trick even the most carb loving person into thinking it was mashed potatoes.

Dessert

Last but certainly not least we were served a fennel panna cotta paired with a Brachetto d’Acqui. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about having fennel for dessert (And a paleo dessert at that. Who would have thought GOOD desserts could be made paleo?!) but I assure you, it was every bit as satisfying as a big piece of cheesecake. If I wasn’t told, I would have never guessed that it was paleo. It was creamy and rich as if it was filled with cream and butter.

As each course was served the chef and sommelier from Turquoise Cellars, Trey from The Heart and Trotter, and Ryan from Bare Bones Broth Co. would come out and explain each piece of the course and wine pairing. It was inspiring to listen to these guys, so passionate about their crafts, discuss the details of this meal. I have always respected local, sustainable farming but seeing and tasting these creations has given me a whole new appreciation for the craft. 

If you find yourself in San Diego, please go check out these great companies. I promised you won’t be disappointed!

Love Languages

It may seem common sense to most people but I believe the key to making it through a deployment with your marriage or relationship intact is communication. 

Regardless of how much mental preparation you do or how much of an effort you make to talk on a regular basis, deployments are draining and difficult. It is up to each person to make the extra effort to keep the lines of communication open and productive. 

My husband and I decided that the best way to do this was to read the 5 Love Languages Military Edition (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resource/the-5-love-languages-military-edition/) written by Gary Chapman and Jocelyn Green. We both have friends that have read the books (military and civilian editions) and gave it rave reviews. Regardless of if their marriage was in trouble or not, they felt the book had really opened their eyes to a new way of thinking about communicating with their partner. 

After reading the book, I wholeheartedly agree. Again, common sense dictates that we all know that our SO’s are different than we are. However, it usually doesn’t occur to people that you might also have different communication styles. For my husband, his “love language” is Acts of Service  which very simply means actions speak louder than words. It means a lot to him when I make dinner, clean up the house, make his lunch, etc. For me, my “love language” is Words of Affirmation which means that I like to hear about how much he loves me and that he appreciates all the Acts of Service that I do for him. 

While communication is always a challenge during a deployment, knowing how to communicate with your SO in a way that makes sense to them can turn a conversation from an argument to a healthy discussion in a heartbeat. What I really found helpful about the book was that it gave specific ideas for how best to communicate with your deployed SO (or homefront SO). Acts of Service are difficult to do for people who are half a world away but when they have a tradition of picking up a lotto ticket when the Powerball grows to an exorbitant amount, it will mean a lot to them to simply go pick up a ticket and tell them what numbers to hope for. Or, when things need to be handled around the house, it makes their day when you make the effort to deal with the issues rather than emailing them and saying “Honey, how do I handle this?”. 

Any communication tools are helpful during a deployment, but I feel the special attention the 5 Love Languages Military Edition gives to our unique situation is extremely enlightening and I highly recommend it to everyone!

Always remember – Healthy Wife, Happy Life. “Healthy” also includes mental and emotional health as well. 

I choose you.

Happy almost Valentines Day!

Valentines Day, obviously, makes you think of your significant other. For military spouses (or boyfriends/girlfriends) the day can be bittersweet. I am so thankful that I have an amazing man in my life but I am also sad that I am not able to spend the day with him. However, just because you are not together, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate! My hubby and I are planing a movie date night. We are both watching the same movie and then we’re going to have a skype date to talk about it! I can’t wait!! 

As I’ve said before, being in a military relationship isn’t for everyone and most people who aren’t in one don’t understand why anyone would “choose” to be in that situation. Almost on a daily basis  I come in contact with people who are non-military and they ask me why I would ever choose that lifestyle. I finally found an answer that silences them… 

When I was attending a party recently I was asked “How do you do it? I would never agree to marry someone in the military!” I thought for a moment and then it occurred to me. I didn’t choose to marry a man in the military. I chose to marry my amazing husband, who HAPPENS to be in the military. And that became my go-to response: I didn’t agree to marry someone in the military, I agreed to marry the love of my life and he happens to be in the military. It is certainly not an IDEAL situation, but would I pass by my “person” just because of his career and end up settling for someone else down the road because they come home at 6pm every night? No way! 

After that realization I was reminded of an blog post I read: “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith (http://sethadamsmith.com/2013/11/02/marriage-isnt-for-you/). If you haven’t read it all ready I highly suggest it. He puts the whole idea of marriage into perspective. Marriage isn’t for you. It is for the other person. I think that everyday, but especially around Valentines Day, it is important to remind yourself of that. When you find your person it is no longer is about you and your happiness. It is about your SO’s happiness and your happiness together as a couple. That is why we “agree” to marry people in the military. We found our “person” and we want them to be happy and for them happiness is a life of service to their country.

Happy Valentines Day!! 

Super Bowl Sunday — Breakfast of Champions

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!!

Continuing my Sunday tradition, I went to (where else) Pinterest looking for a healthy recipe. I found this:

The Inspiration

I thought the recipe looked appealing but I was concerned they might be a bit bland. Being the type of cook I am, bland was just not acceptable. So I embellished. This was my process:

1. Start with the basis.

The basics

The recipe calls for 2 eggs and 1 banana. Since I was cooking for myself and my roommate, I made a double recipe. I added 4 eggs and 2 chopped bananas to a bowl and blended them with my trusty hand blender until smooth. Then came time for the embellishments.

2. Add in the flavors.

Add flavors

As with most of my recipes, this one is completely customizable. I stirred in about a half cup of chopped walnuts, about a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a dash of vanilla extract. As you can tell, my cooking is VERY precise. 😉 If my additions don’t appeal to you, feel free to add whatever suits your fancy – berries, apples, other nuts, or nothing at all.

3. Cook as if they were “normal” pancakes.

After you’ve added all your flavoring, cook them exactly like regular pancakes (buttered pan over medium heat). However, you only need to cook them for about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Unlike normal pancakes, the bubbles on top will not pop and the top will continue to be soft and relatively runny so do not think this is a sign that they are undercooked.

I also made bacon (I know, not super healthy, but everything in moderation — right?).

Bacon

Personally, I prefer baked bacon. Super simple…

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Lay bacon out on a cookie sheet, season with black pepper and rosemary (you can also drizzle on some maple syrup, but I didn’t have any in the house this morning).

 3. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes depending on how crispy you like it.

4. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towels to cool (slightly) and ENJOY!

Finished product

All in all, prep and cook time was about 30 minutes.

Thanks for reading and remember, you can’t be a happy wife unless you are a healthy wife!

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My Healthy Weekend Routine

To get through this deployment, I have made it a point to have routines. In addition to distracting you from the fact that your SO is missing, it will help you take care of yourself which is key to health and happiness.

I created a lovely Sunday routine of yoga, coffee, a walk on the beach, and making a healthy dinner. I’ve found that this routine is a great way to relieve stress that has built up and get myself ready to start the week off right.

This Sunday, my healthy meal choice was a turkey taco salad. The great thing about a taco salad is that you can make it  is completely customizable . It is a great dinner for families (and/or roommates in my case). No problems with picky eaters!

My mother happens to have an amazing green thumb and she graciously donated the fresh lettuce for my salad. If you have access to fresh vegetables, USE THEM! The difference in flavor from what you can buy in a grocery store is night an day. Not to mention you don’t need to deal with pesticides and genetic modification like you so often do with grocery store veggies.

lettuce

Along with the lettuce, I made turkey taco meat. It is prepared the exact same way as you would prepare ground beef for tacos but much healthier. To top the salad, I like to add black olives, kidney beans, cucumbers, and corn.  But again, make it your own! Add tomatoes, tortilla chips, anything that suits your fancy.

Happy cooking!

Learning to be a healthy wife so we can have a happy life

My husband just left on our first deployment. Leading up to the deployment I heard so many horror stories about how awful deployments are and how hard it is for a relationship to withstand them and that I should just prepare myself to be miserable and alone the whole time.

That got me thinking, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. I have so many examples in my life of non-military, long distance relationships that have worked beautifully for years and, while the jobs might be different, the relationship strains are universal.

What I have learned from the other examples in my life is that it is key to keep yourself happy while your significant other (SO) is gone. Regardless of what we think, or they say, our SO’s worry about us when they are gone. Let’s face it, running a house is a lot of work with two people so take out one of those people and add in the stress of a deployment, possibly a job, kids, etc., and you’ve got a full plate! If you can manage that stress and show you’re SO that you have it under control that will take a lot of stress off them, and consequently you. When you are able to talk to them you can focus on meaningful conversations rather than the “business” of life.

My goal for this blog is to keep myself happy and healthy and talk to you guys about how I do it. I am pretty active, I have a great support system, and I LOVE to cook. So those will be my main topics (but I’m sure I’ll mix in some randomness also – gotta keep it interesting).  I’ll share my recipes, activities, crafts, and personal stories throughout this deployment (and hopefully beyond). I’d to reach a lot of people and hopefully help a few of you along the way.