Thursday 12/25/2014

Today has been very mellow. I started off with the young ones out of town and the one guest that is here and my husband still asleep till the afternoon. I decided to take full advantage of this and try to plan out a few months worth of work for Daycare activities, Entwined Vines Jewelry, and my Close to my Heart business including; social media, blogs, and active work. I am pretty please with where I got these before settling in for quiet time for myself till the rest of the house woke from their slumbers. With the other two sleeping later and knowing what was in the fridge, I elected to do leftovers for brunch and make a much more hearty dinner. I considered making a meal that would be elaborate and time consuming but yielded to my “be a loaf” plan for today and went with a fast yet hardy meal. I really did not do much else so this post is going to be very short and to the point with food being the goal.

Super Fast and Easy Paleo friendly pasta with Chicken and Broccoli:

IMG_2200I used; minced garlic, leeks, chicken, duck fat, broccoli, mushrooms, grain free pasta, heavy cream, and roasted garlic powder in a wok and had from start to finish, counting slicing time, dinner was ready in the time it took 2-1/2 songs play on Pandora.

In a hot wok, I put a dollop of fat (I had duck fat handy so used this), and enough protein (whole or diced does not really matter) for the number of people serving. Tonight I cubed 1 chicken thigh per person. Cook till lightly browned. About 2 minutes.

IMG_2195Now add garlic, leeks or onions, and vegetables of your choice. Tonight I elected to have 3 small brown mushrooms sliced and about 1/2 cup of broccoli per person. IMG_2196Cook this while stirring often till almost cooked (I like my vegetables hot but very firm). About 1 minute more

IMG_2198Now you can turn the wok of and serve at this point if you want a very light meal. Tonight I was after rich decadence and a higher level of carbohydrates as it is a holiday and I was in the mood to splurge. I had a few packages of Cappellos Fettuccine in the fridge so I added enough for everyone that was here for the meal.IMG_2197 This is a grain free pasta that is fresh so cook time is under a minute (how fantastic is that???). I layered the pasta on top and let steam with the lid on for about 30 seconds before tossing with the rest of the goodies.

IMG_2199I then drizzled some heavy cream over the whole works, tossed, and covered for another 20 seconds or so just to get the cream hot and finish the pasta. I then tossed and again and served. Simple yet wow to the taste buds without risk to allergies. What a great meal for a treat if I say so myself. What is your favorite fast treat meal?

IMG_2201Post in the comments questions, comment, idea, menu, and or recipe please.

Wednesday 12/24/2014

My sugars are already getting under control again and I am pretty comfortable in saying it is probably due to stress being down with my State inspection having been completed and secondly by my diet getting back to where I like to keep it. The diet is much easier to make wise choices with the stress being lower. I enjoyed a nice slow cup of coffee with my husband while everyone else was in bed. Such a treat! We then went out to the back yard to walk, talk, and plot our coming plans for the space and when we would like to try to do what.

With our move, we gained a sizable yard with a preset garden area. I like dreaming about a garden and enjoy planting and harvesting through the season. I love the fact that being part of the Maritime Northwest we have a good 10 months for our growing season with little extra work to make this happen. One the other hand, I can not tell one plant from the next at the early stage of the game so falter on weeding. I either do no weeding at all for knowledge that the last time I tried that I pulled everything, including what I was intentionally trying to grow, or I pull everything thinking my starts can’t possibly be what I am seeing and the bed has been over taken and I must tame it. We have a separate preset herb garden that I have no real idea what is in it other than lavender. Also we have a lovely area setup for our chickens.

After walking, talking, and planning, we have agreed to have the main garden be 900 sq. ft. with the goal of this year setting the beds flat but putting in the effort of interchangeable foundations using PVC so that we can change out tunnels, trellises, and the like. We also planned out the irrigation setup along with rain water collection options. We will start pricing out these projects and see how realistic this first year plan is and do what we can. I like raised beds visually as well as the ease of maintenance and long term plan to move that direction as finances allow after the first year so we can workout any adjustments we want to make to the layout before making the space more permanent. I have also lined up a consultant that has a lifetime of proven experience as well as a little regular physical help for the weeding by something that can actually tell by looking what is what. Come late summer or early fall we will be looking to build our greenhouse and begin the adventure of aquaponics. We are working through what we want to raise for protein in this space and we are leaning toward crayfish and trout but will do more research before fully deciding to see if these would be a good fit for our wants and needs.

We talked about a few features we wish to have on the next chicken house and adjustments to their yard to make it more safe for the hens against predators such as raccoons and the like, adding a section for meat rabbits, fast turn around area for meat chickens and a small section for honey bees. All in all we had a great time talking and dreaming today. It will be fun to see how this new adventure goes over the course of time.

The rest of the day came and went in a leisurely fashion with company and getting the younger ones ready and out the door for their visit to Goldendale Washington for Christmas. Meals came and went. Socializing meandered through the day as energy and desire guided with a fun break of crazy in the middle. For me every year I try to make a trip to crazy land on Christmas eve by making a trip to the mall. I go in great spirits knowing I am done for this year just to smile, walk, and people watch. Seems strange, and it might be, but I enjoy this little ritual of mine. This year I went with my husband and one friend that is in town from the far off land of Marysville. Good times seemed to be had by all three of us while sipping coffee, walking, talking, and laughing.

Brunch today was a simple salad with olives and wild caught salmon for a slight Mediterranean flair.

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Dinner was steak, salad, and steamed broccoli. I did not take photos of this as I was to focused on eating and socializing and figured you have seen enough of this meal not to need yet another photo tonight.

Tuesday 12/23/2014

This day seems to be much better than yesterday. I got up at a reasonable time for a day off especially knowing that I went to bed last night at 2am. I was fortunate to have time to sip on my morning coffee and catch up with my husband that got home from work a little before (he works graveyard shift). He learned that he will have Christmas off but will have to work the weekend instead. I am glad he will have a few days off and knows enough in advance that he can adjust his sleep but sad that yet another weekend will be spent working. I had scheduled to have three full meals today but realized that no one was going to be awake early enough to bother. I elected to drop the meatloaf and salad that I had planned for lunch and just go with Chard and leftover meats for a nice hearty brunch instead.

Brunch:I heated my large cast iron skillet on medium with a couple cubes of pasture raised local butter and a large dollup of fresh minced garlic while cleaning and slicing fresh local, organic rainbow chard after cutting out the heavy ribbing that tends to make the chard more bitter. I then sauteed the chard in the butter till crisp but tender. I also pulled the last of the leftover ham out to add to the plate chilled. For me I had a half cup chard and 3 oz of the ham along with the last of my cup of coffee. I hope this is a good start to lowering my sugar levels (they were much lower than Monday but still have a long way to go before I am happy with them). I recommend eating the best quality that your budget can afford and staying as local as you can to support your economy and assist the environment in decreasing the use of fossil fuels for your food.

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While waiting for breakfast to cook, I started getting dinner going so it would have enough time to slow cook through the day and I do not have to worry about most of the meal. We were going to have a Moroccan Lamb stew yesterday but as you know, that did not happen. Today it is kind of happening with mild changes made due to my mood. I took a red onion and a yellow onion that I then diced and sauteed in my large dutch oven with avocado oil and garlic till translucent where I then added 4# cubed lamb that then got browned. To the pot I added a can of coconut milk, cumin seed, cinnamon, hot curry powder, turmeric, pepper, a tiny pinch of salt, coriander, smoked paprika, and fresh flat leaf parsley. I brought the whole pot to a low boil then covered and let simmer for 20 minutes before moving the whole lot into my wonderbag for slow cooking. I really LOVE this contraption in I am saving utilities, money, environment, etc and I do not have to worry about the power going out in a storm for me meal to finish cooking.

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I then took advantage of the fact that most of the house was still in bed and started catching up on my blogging and news reading on health and fitness issues that had been stacking up that I really wanted to read while my husband took the mettle recycling in to get off this property. I keep waiting for the point where we only have our stuff here and the property is in good shape.

My friend and I went and did some errands and then it was time for dinner. I added cauli-rice that I cooked with avocado oil and sweet curry powder that the lamb was ladled onto and a side of sauteed Asparagus finished off the meal to perfection.

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Monday 12/22/2014

I woke feeling cranky and my sugar levels so high I wanted to cry but not having the time to bother with such silly emotions. Today is the day of go, go, go. I had planned a nice breakfast of herb beef patties, eggs, and toast. None of this happened because my mind was already spinning. I had to hurry and finish cleaning up from our family holiday feast the night before and get in gear for my State childcare health and safely inspection! My yard needed things gotten rid of, the smoke alarm needed moving, gates adjusted, doors hung with better safety options, escape plan posted and the updated poison control number attached to my cell phone in such a way that even the small children could do it if needed to name but a few things that had to be done ASAP. I took the time to take a few deep breaths, drank my coffee and got to work. My family stayed in bed late so no one really noticed that breakfast came and went without anything actually being made. I realize this is so not how I was hoping to start off the week but hay you look at it and move on right?

I made it through my State inspection with flying colors and we ended up talking about the coming changes for next year and how they would affect many providers but not really me as I already do all of those things because I believe they should be done for the betterment of the children and the care I provide. We also discussed what it would take for me to move up to the highest level of in home care the State approves and how that would affect me, my budget, and the families I work with. My inspection normally takes about 15 minutes and this time lasted well over an hour but really I believe it will be worth it in the long run. My inspector is sending me the packet to apply for the higher level and has already done most of that inspection so it should be a cake walk when I decided to do it. I would be able to afford to higher a full time assistant rather than just part time help, income would go up substantially, and I would be more willing to consider increasing the number of children in care a little bit (I am never at my limit because I believe firmly that it is better for the children to keep my ratio of adult to children low). The meeting took so long though that I had only minutes to grab a slice of ham for lunch instead of the planned chicken Caesar salad before my next appointment.

When I moved into this new home, the previous people had fish in a nice 20 gal. tank that is on a pedestal. They ended up leaving it behind along with a goldfish. I found a home for the fish but the daycare children saw the tank and got so excited that I decided to keep it, clean it up and try my hand at a freshwater tropical tank with live plants and no ceramic. I wanted it to be as natural as a home tank reasonable can be. The challenge is, I have no clue what I am doing. For me fish is what I cook and put on the dinner table right? I read a few books, talked to several people, and decided I was so not ready to take this on but at the same time did not want to disappoint the children and heck the take was already here, so I did the only thing I could think of. I called “The Wet Spot” and asked for Matt their handy tank service guy. He has now been out twice with the first time getting the tank all cleaned up and setting the water levels to support life. Today, he came back with stunning wood features, live plants, and a handful of pretty fish to start stocking the tank. I now have 1 gold snail, a pair of Irian Red Rainbow, and 10 Rummy nose tetra. He then helped me figure out the lighting set up that I have and discussed what I would like for him to bring in two weeks when he returns. All in all I am really happy with the use of this time and do not regret the shift in meal as I know that sitting and watching the fish will be a huge step in helping me relax through the day regardless of what is going on in my life. Stress management a win meal choice not so much.

Finally, the day moved along and I knew I should be making dinner but kept thinking we had a LOT of leftovers from the day before feast and put off making the Moroccan lamb stew in favor of making room in my two fridges and letting everyone scrounge for nutrition. I toodled off to pickup the friends at the train station and we proceeded to stay up way past my bed time. Normally I am in bed pretty early and I suppose that 2am is early except to me that in normally closer to my wake up time rather than the go to bed time. Oh well, it was a good day and I have hopes of better choices Tuesday…

Paleo/ Autoimmune friendly Menu for the week of 12/22/2014

I have been savoring the Paleo lifestyle for awhile now and although I slip and slide down the past on occasion, I find I seem to always feel better and have far superior control of my diabetes when I stay true to coarse. This past few months I have been very far afield with my food, physical movement plan, spiritual work, and pretty much everything else you can imagine. My stress went through the roof with a drastic move, remodel, and state governed career changes. When my stress went crazy, the rest of my life went well off track in a monster truck so to speak. I ran out of time to meditate, cook proper meals (heck shopping was spotty so how was I to cook well?), go for my daily walks or lift heavy things. I have been lax on remembering to take my diabetes medications and taking care of me went to the sidelines for far to long. I normally do not have a bump in the road that lasts this long and I am now paying to price on many fronts. With this all in mind, I am making an effort to get my rear in gear and get back on track. I have thought about ditching my coffee in the morning during this time and although I know it would probably be wise for me to do so, I have decided that I get to have a cup on days I do not work. The days that I have daycare children, I will limit myself to tea and see what the differences in my energy, mood, and sugar levels are before I decided one way or the other on if I really need to give up this simple pleasure more or not.

I have long time friends in town staying with me this week and with that took the time to make a menu outline. I am back to Paleo meals (no grains, legumes, limited dairy) as well as little to no fruit. My guests are also limited to no pit fruit (latex allergy), eggs, or shellfish, limited nightshade family and milder spices. I will also have another friend stopping buy on occasion that has violent reactions to pork so that will have to be served on days he is not over. This seems like a very limiting list for food options but I find it a fun challenge to see what I can come up with that will satisfy all.

I know that I have a tendency to forget to take photos of what I eat mostly because I am so in the moment of joy that taking the step back to take a picture slips my mind. I am posting my menu outline today knowing that I adjust often due to schedule and my mood. My outline does not give a great idea of the seasonings I will use but I will post those as the week progresses. If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will reply within the week.

Monday:

Breakfast: herb beef patties, eggs for those that can have them, and asparagus

Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad

Dinner: Moroccan Lamb Stew

Tuesday:

Breakfast: Garlic Herb Chicken, Rainbow Chard

Lunch: Meatloaf, tossed green salad

Dinner: Fish, Salad, Broccoli

Wednesday:

Breakfast: Mediterranean Salmon Salad

Lunch: Chicken & Dumpling Stew

Dinner: Grilled Pork, Mashed spuds, Green Beans with bacon

Thursday:

Breakfast: Pork Patties, eggs for those that can have, Brussels sprouts with bacon

Lunch: Teared Ahi Tuna salad

Dinner: Egg drop soup, paleo potstickers, fried “rice”, lemon grass chicken

Friday:

Breakfast: Steak, mushrooms, asparagus

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Sausages & Kraut

Saturday:

Breakfast: Bacon quiche (for those that can have), toast, fruit bowl

Lunch: Vegetable soup, anti pasta plater

Dinner: Roast, carrots, cabbage, salad

Sunday:

Brunch: Pancakes, bacon, eggs for those that can have

Dinner: Tandoori chicken, curry “rice”, sliced cucumbers

As you can see I like a lot of variety in my menu and I make enough items per meal to satisfy all while keeping in mind that this will be feeding my normal household of 7 plus a minimum of 3 extras each round. I normally also list a snack for each day but with my not having daycare at all this week and it being the holidays, I am just not going to make that option be filled in and will rather have enough healthy options to grab and go if needed. My one concern is if I will have enough left overs for Friday lunch. If I do not, I will pull a rabbit out of my hat I am sure so check back to see how this pans out.