Going Green!

Sweetened Iced tea tea is somewhat of a staple here in the south. The tea at places like Bojangles and McCalisters (one of my favorites previously) is sweet enough to give you a stroke at first sip…ok maybe not an instant stroke but you’re sure to have diabetes before you leave the restaurant. LOL

For the longest time, I thought the only way to make real/good tea was the old fashioned way: boiled, add entire 5lb bag of sugar and stir. I know many people that make iced tea this way but savvy tea drinkers like myself do a cold press or cold-brewed tea. Actually I’m “newly savvy” because I just started doing this but that’s not the point …LOL

Recently one of my Instagram followers put me up on game about cold brewing her green tea; thankfully so because I have undiagnosed A.D.D and standing over a stove watching water boil is like torture for me. Also, cold brewed contains less tannin than hot tea, so the flavor is smoother and contains more anti-oxidants than hot tea.

I make mine in mason jars at night (mason jars aren’t necessary but a great idea) and its suggested that you use 1.5-2 times the amount of tea you would normally use. My Mason jars are super small (less than 8oz) so I use one tea bag per jar. If you are doing quart or liter sized jars, It has been also been suggested to use at least 2-3 tea bags in your mix.

Benefits of Green Tea:
Evidence suggests that incorporating at least a few cups of green tea every day will positively affect your health in several ways, here’s a short list:

▶Green tea and its extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL “bad” cholesterol — two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
▶ Green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols.
Increases metabolism. The polyphenol found in green tea works to intensify levels of fat oxidation and the rate at which your body turns food into calories.
Esophageal Cancer. It can reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, but it is also widely thought to kill cancer cells in general without damaging the healthy tissue around them.
▶It is said to delay the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Blood Pressure. Regular consumption of green tea is thought to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Skincare. Green tea can apparently also help with wrinkles and the signs of aging, This is because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.

Disclaimer: I’m no research scientist or claim to be a tea expert so if you are employed by the “tea police”, have an affinity for any other tea (besides green), prefer it hot than cold or have heard otherwise that green tea sucks…that’s perfectly ok. This blog is not intended to persuade or suggest you try anything that you don’t want to.

Cheers!

Recipe:
▶ Put 1-3 tea bags (depending on jar size)along with (optional) lemon slice/wedge in mason jar.
▶Fill with room temperature water (add liquid stevia drops or all natural powdered version if you need some sweetness–FYI Stevia is NOT Paleo)
▶Screw lid tightly and refrigerate over night.
▶Enjoy daily

“Benefits or Green Tea” information is courtesy of: WebMD & Lifehack

20130403-155519.jpg

20130403-155535.jpg

To broth or not to broth…that is the question!

Come on…let’s talk PALEO!

I just returned home from a birthday cookout at the home of a good girlfriend.  Everyone commented on how fit I look and asked me what have I been doing.  When I shared with them that I have adopted the PALEO diet lifestyle they asked many questions.  ‘What can you eat?’  ‘Are you hungry?’  ‘Why can’t you eat beans?’  And on, and on and on.  “It’s simple really, I told them: lean meats, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.”  When I told them what the PALEO diet consisted of, they looked at me bewildered by what must have seemed like a limited list of options.

For many people I realize that changing your diet can seem overwhelming.  We grow up learning what to eat from our families.  We learn that to celebrate or make ourselves feel better we have to eat decadent, fattening foods with little nutrition.  What that teaches us is that bad food makes us feel good and good food, food with real nutrition, isn’t satisfying.  And it is only when people get sick, get fat, or deal with a health crisis that they consider a new way of eating.  Unfortunately for most, they go down with a fight.  Isn’t it funny how much fun you have getting fat and out of shape, and how painful it is to get fit again?

Well there is only one way to change the path that you are on.  And that is to start today to do something different to better how you feel, how you look, how you think and how you function in the world.  For instance, decide that you are going to do something that raises your heart rate four times a week (Crossfit anyone)?  Or, another option may be to decide today that you are going to eat a nutritious PALEO breakfast four times a week.  Start somewhere and give healthful eating a chance.  Keep it simple in the beginning as you learn more about what works for you and your lifestyle.  Make yourself a priority in spite of the children, husbands and wives, and careers that compete for your time.  Make taking care of you your number one priority.  Start today.

Tip:  One of the most important aspects of PALEO is the reduction of the inflammatory process caused by eating foods high in salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.  Reducing your salt and sugar intake should be the first goal for yourself.  Early on I learned that many foods that are used to prepare PALEO meals can be processed with added salt and sugar which defeats the purpose.  Store bought broth is one example as many brands list more than 500 mg of sodium per serving, one-fourth of our daily sodium intake (way too much!)  One trick I learned is how to make broth myself and in turn use it in my meals. Homemade broth has become one of my most powerful tools to add flavor to my dishes.  And the great thing about making your own broth is that you control how much sodium is in it as well!

Recipe:

-Place remnant chicken, beef or seafood bones and shells in a large sauce pan

-Fill the sauce pan one inch from the top

-Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and parsley (or whichever herbs your like) to the sauce pan as well as pepper and Mrs. Dash

-Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for one hour

Here is a picture of the chicken broth I made and remnants of the chicken.  Now that is recycling!

imageimage

I can use this broth in my cabbage, collard greens, kale or to make chicken soup (minus the noodles).  Once it cools I place the broth in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator.  It will last up to a week if kept refrigerated.

Herbed Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Herbed Shrimp and Avocado Salad

I remember growing up in such a loud house with lots of loud people, I mean this in a good way! Salsa music is huge in my Puerto Rican heritage. Did I mentioned loud? dancing, laughing and eating lots of pork, cow tongue Yuk! and so much more. Now, to our huge table centerpiece, the Avocados! No Pun Intended! Avocados was always an everyday eat. I cant remember a day where an avocado was out of sight in our home or any other hispanic family that we knew. No joke! Its like gold. 😀

“Tata”,(moms nickname for me)”Isn’t she a beauty?” Funny, but shes not talking about me ;’) but that beauty of our huge avocado. So many different varieties, small, large, smooth, sweet and so many that I actually have eaten with pride. The Avacado is my green gem and my weakness and I still love’em!
Me Encanta

Oh heck yes!!! In so many ways. I am defin putting this on the menu tonight!:-) If the Queen city had an “avocado queen” I would win…

7 large shrimp peeled, deveined and cut in half, lengthwise1/2 small tomato, diced1/2 small avocado, spinach (if preffer a different type of lettuce is also great)-cilantro- chives- green onion/scallion- dill ,coconut oil, juice of one lime- crushed red pepper.

For the dressing( finely chop all herb) cilantro, chives, green onion/scallion, dill and crushed red pepper add coconut oil , lime juice and Sea salt to your taste. Refigerate 30 minutes to
overnight in order to meld flavors.

To prepare salad:1. place peeled and deveined shrimp in boiling water. remove from boiling
water when shrimp turns opaque ,set aside.

2. wash and pat dry leaves of spinach and combine herb dressing, halved shrimp, tomato (optional or extras) shredded zucchini.

5. spoon mixture onto the spinach.
Refreshing and so delicious. .

K.I.S.S

For the most part I’m a pretty simple chick. You can usually catch me in Jeans and a white tee, with the most simplest of jewelry, no make-up and no fancy condiments on my food or ice in my water. Simple!

Embarking on any new diet or life changing journey can be quite overwhelming. Just deciding what I would eat this week and which store to get all this healthy food from without going poor was quite the feat. What I’m learning is that not all of your food and preparation need to be as difficult as Chinese arithmetic. I mean if you like spending 2 hours in the kitchen making fancy grain free pancakes, quiche, and sugar free muffins, have at it; but me, myself and I keeps it simple.

There are tons of simple Paleo offerings for meals, especially breakfast–the most important meal of the day. I can appreciate anything that takes a few moments to shop for and even less time to prepare. If you’ve decided to embark on this or any new journey, my advice is to embrace the challenge with a K.I.S.S ~~> keep it simple stupid 🙂

I did so with a breakfast this week that consisted of simple egg white muffins and cold pressed green tea (see tomorrows post for my green tea potion and simple preparation). I prepare the muffins on Sunday and they last all week. I prepare the green tea every night and its ready to go in the a.m.

Egg White Muffins:
▶Sautéed shrimp (cooked just enough to remove the excess water)
▶Sun dried tomatoes
▶Or any other ingredients you would like in an omlette.
▶Trader Joes 21 Season Salute (or preferred flavors of Mrs Dash)

Some other suggestions are:
▶Ground beef
▶Turkey burger
▶Shredded chicken
▶Mushrooms
▶Onions
▶Spinach

Directions:
▶Lightly coat muffin tins with olive oil spray
▶Fill each slot with veggies/meat and egg whites (carton egg whites or egg beaters will do…or you can use beaten whole eggs)
▶Make sure each slot is no more than 3/4 of the way full so they don’t boil over
▶Bake 20-25minutes at 350 degrees. Use a toothpick to ensure they are done all the way through before removing.

As you can tell by the recipe above, I’m not related in any way to Barefoot Contessa or Martha Stewart…told you, Im simple! So I’ve taken the liberty of looking up another recipe for you that’s inclusive of all the fancy measurements and every step you’ll ever need to make some simple egg (white) muffins. 🙂 Click the link below

Paleo Egg Muffins from Paleo Spirit

20130403-103229.jpg

20130403-103249.jpg

20130403-103303.jpg

20130403-103319.jpg

20130403-103332.jpg

Who Says You Have to EAT Your Veggies?

If you grew up anything like me, your parents forced you to eat your veggies or made you sit there all through the night until you finished. This of course was before kids were putting the Department of Social Services on speed dial.

Fast forward to the new millennium where they have appliances for everything under the sun: pancake makers, rice cookers, vegetable steamers and of course juicers. Juicing is a way to get many nutrients from high volumes of veggies in a single serving…and the best part, if you use the right mixture of fruits and veggies in your juice, it taste good enough so that your kid won’t have to sit at the dining room table all through the night playing face-off with their spinach and broccoli. LOL

I always put some sort of dark leafy greens in my “green juices”. Here’s a little background on kale. Turns out there’s quite a bit of science behind this super food – Kale is rich in many different things. The cruciferous veggie is an excellent, potent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids. Research shows that kale contains 4 different flavonoids with a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. So Drink up but shhhh don’t let the kiddies know that its anything more than “green apple juice”. 🙂

Green Machine
▶Kale
▶Spinach
▶2-3 Small Oranges
▶1 Gala Apple
▶Couple Stalks of Celery

20130330-113329.jpg

Im well aware that most die-hard Paleo folks aren’t huge fans of juicing. However I (Nekesha) am a fan of both. So if you are a member of the Paleo Police, please spare me the “this is not Paleo” advice…LOL Carry On!

Cinnamon Apple Scones

So I found out the other day from one of my Instagram followers (@juicingtips) that I have what is called a masticating juicer. This means that the slow auger, is a like a large drill bit or screw. As it turns, it crushes the fruits and produce and squeezes them against the outside wall of the juicer. Often the filter or screen is in the side of the wall and this forces the juice out. Since it does it slowly, it does not heat up the juice. This keeps the enzymes and nutrients at a temperature that they can survive at thus giving you the benefits of drinking them.

The downside is that I have a lot of leftover pulp that usually goes in the trash. I found a recipe from the civilizedcaveman site that allowed me to use the pulp from the apple juice I made yesterday.

These are Paleo Cinnamon Apple Scones that I plan to have as a snack each day this week (1 triangle section per day). The recipe can be found on his site (linked above).

Like I said, I used juicing pulp instead of the “minced apples” in his recipe.

20130401-110439.jpg

 

Before (going in the oven) product.

20130401-110559.jpg

Final product. They Came out GREAT! Side Note: if you are a lover of sweets, you may need to up the ante on the amount of honey you use or add sweeter fruits (i.e. bananas) but remember these arent generally super sweet. They are scones not brownies. LOL

20130401-110528.jpg

BONUS: Red Delicious Apples I used for the recipe and the resulting juice I had left over. The non-processed, perservative free juice Makes for a great addition to breakfast!

 

20130401-110619.jpg

Bad Gas vs. Good Gas (It’s not what you think…)

From time to time I enjoy tinkering with cars.  Now I admit that this is kind of a weird thing to hear in this day and age of instant gratification, overly-complex machines, and no time to “do-it-yourself”.  I guess my desire comes from spending time with my Dad when he didn’t have money to pay someone to fix his car back in the day.  Anyway – one of the cars I particularly enjoying messin with is my 1974 Triumph TR-6.  I realize that this car is probably older than most of the people reading this blog but that is, in fact, the beauty of the car.  The Triumph TR-6 is a tiny little British-made car that is so incredibly straight forward and simple that anyone with a set of wrenches and a little bit of desire can figure out how to fix it.

So what does an obscure little British sports car have to do with a Paleo blog?  …Glad you asked…  Let’s get on with it.  One day I got the itch to go out and get the TR-6 running, yet again, and all cleaned up for a nice Sunday drive.  Well, after jump starting the dead battery and a few other minor adjustments she actually started up.  I washed the car by hand and ran it for a while when I started to take note of how rough the car was running.  And by rough I mean, sputtering, stalling, backfiring, and smoking terribly almost to the point of being unsafe to drive.  In my infinite wisdom I decided that my car was very very sick and needed the help of a skilled professional.  I thought that surely I must need new spark plugs, spark plug wires, and a carburetor adjustment just t for starters.

So later that week I went to see my “TR-6 guy.”  He’s the professional I found who knows how to work on these cars and doesn’t charge me an arm and a leg.  I told him what was going on and he just stared off in the distance for a while the way country boys do.   Then he asked me;  “how long has she been sittin up?”  I replied that the car hadn’t been seriously driven in a number of years, and had sat for at least the last year and a half.  He then asked me how long the gas had been in the tank.  Of course I thought to myself, “what the hell is he asking me about gas for when I told him this car has serious problems!?  We can worry about the damn gas later.”  Well long story short is that he told me that before he would even look at the car he thought I should siphon all of the old gas out and replace it with brand new gas.  Then, if I needed to, come back to see him.

So I bought myself a little $4 hand pump and a bucket like the man said and I pumped all of the old gas out of the tank.  I replaced that old gas with premium gas fresh out of the pump and guess what?  Exactly…!  That old girl ran like a dream.  The engine was nice and smooth, and quiet, no hiccups or stalling, and the smoking problem was completely gone.

I drove it around for a while and it felt like a brand new car.  And while I was driving I got to thinking…  This is the perfect analogy – Fuel for a car is exactly like fuel (read: Food) for a human body.  If you continue to put garbage into a car or a person, how could you possibly expect to get anything more than poor performance out of it.  In the case of a human body we all know that poor performance shows up as low energy, no strength, unexplained weight gain, assorted diseases, depression, achy joints, bad skin, and the list goes on and on and on.  In short, the body breaks down just like your car.

This was about 2 years ago and it’s exactly when I had my “ah-ha” moment and realized that it was quite silly of me to think that my body is any less of a machine than my car, and that it might not be a good idea for me to be more concerned about what I put into my car than I was with what I put into me.  Jus sayin….

The Failure to Plan

I love it when Oprah asks people at the end of every interview, “so what do you know for sure?” I envision myself on them dope butter soft leather couches of hers saying something very professional, something my momma and grad school professors would be very proud of, something that contains a lot of big words with long syllables. LOL 😂

If she asked me that question today (as it pertains to improved eating, diet and health), I would say something cliché but very true: If you fail to plan, plan to fail.

I know this for sure. No matter what “diet” or life plan you are on, if you don’t plan (meals) and prepare ahead, please believe your efforts will result in epic fail. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. Just look at your grocers freezers section, it’s stocked with tons of varieties of prepackaged processed meals. It’s a billion dollar industry because planning meals is KEY and those frozen meals are already “planned” for you. Problem is, majority of the unpronounceable ingredients in those things are not “food”.

I know committing and following through with a PLAN is a pain in the *bleep* but It’s a necessary evil that Im learning to become ok with because failure is no longer an option. I think I did a mediocre job planning for this first week of the Paleo challenge Ms. Alia (talkpaleo) has me on but the second thing I also know is: Im a work in progress.

Breakfast Plans for this week:
Egg white muffins

Snack plans for this week:
Apple Cinnamon Scones
Juicing/Smoothies

Dinner plans for this week:
Salmon
Shrimp
Butternut squash/Sweet Potato mash
Steam Veggies

Stay tuned this week to the blog for cool pictures and recipes to some of the items mentioned above.

Happy Planning!
~Nekesha

Thanks Mommy!

Come on…Let’s talk PALEO!

In my pre-PALEO life, Sundays were a day for lounging and rest.  I would wake up, decide which pancake house my boyfriend and I were going to visit that day, then overfill myself with pancakes and sausage and hot chocolate.  Oh those were the days.  I also remember that an hour after I ate, I felt bloated and I needed a nap.  Just a little problem of too much sugar and too many simple carbohydrates flooding my system.  Now my Sundays are filled with a lot more energy and a lot more food preparation.

I can’t rave enough about how much better I feel and look since I started eating PALEO.  However, I learned very early in my transition  that if I was going to successfully navigate the PALEO diet I had to force myself to prepare my meals ahead of time.  There are two rules to following the PALEO diet-1.) You have to make a menu for the week or at least for the first few days of the week so that you can grocery shop, and 2.) you have to prep and cook as much as possible before the work week starts.

You will find that one of the challenges of adopting a PALEO diet lifestyle is that it requires more preparation than before.  For some, Saturdays are ideal however I prefer Sundays, so I spent a few hours today prepping for the week.  After some thought and some shopping, here is my menu for the next couple days:

Sunday Dinner

Grilled Ribeyes-marinated in coconut aminos, thyme, olive oil, Mrs. Dash, pepper and red pepper flakes

Cabbage with nitrate free bacon, olive oil, garlic and onion

Butternut Squash with olive oil, lemon and parsley

20 Ounces of water

image

Monday Breakfast

Egg Muffins with Turkey Bacon and Green Onion

Hot Tea

½ Apple

20 ounces of water

Snack

½ Apple

8 Almonds

20 Ounces of water

Lunch

Crock pot Chicken Breast (Eat breast and lunch and wing for snack or eat dark if you prefer)

Carrots, parsnips, mushroom and red onion

20 Ounces of water

image

Dinner

Chicken Salad (made from whole chicken leftovers, see… http://www.paleoeffect.com/recipes/paleo-chicken-salad-paleo-effect/

Lettuce of choice

Leftover butternut squash

Tuesday Breakfast

Salmon patties

1/2 avocado

1/2 cup of blueberries

Hot Tea

20 ounces of water

Snack

1/2 orange

10 walnuts

20 Ounces of water

Lunch

Broiled Tilapia with thyme and olive oil

Sweet potato

20 Ounces of water

Dinner

PALEO Meatloaf, see… http://thepaleodiet.com/paleo-diet-recipes/

Asparagus

Roasted broccoli

20 ounces of water

image

Today I prepared the chicken in a crock pot, sautéed the cabbage and the butternut squash, baked the meatloaf and the sweet potatoes.  Now, that’s A LOT of cooking, however, I am well prepared for the week.

I have to pause for a moment to thank my Mom because she alone planned, prepped and cooked full meals for herself, her four children and her husband everyday of my childhood.  God bless that Lady!

Now, back to PALEO!  Feel free to prepare as much as you want but realize that the more you cook and prep ahead of time, the more successful you will be.  Once the week starts I will continue to cook on the nights when I get home at a decent hour.  For breakfast try to make meals that are simple since we are all trying to get out of the house and start our day.  If you have to keep it really simple, boil eggs while you are in the shower, add a piece of fruit or berries, water and your coffee or tea and you are ready to go!

You don’t have to follow my exact meal plan however trust me, you have to have a plan.  Good luck with your inaugural week.