Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

This year I have countless of things to be thankful for…..but honestly I try to make being thankful a habit that I practice all year, and not just on Thanksgiving! This allows me to focus on the more important matter at hand:food.

 

This year was awesome!!!! Although I didn’t get to fulfill my dream of hosting a full Thanksgiving dinner in our new home (I’m sure I will someday) I did prepare a couple of dishes for dinner at my in-laws. I bought Danielle Walker’s (author of Against All Grain) e-book Thankful on a whim the other week and decided to try out a few of her recipes. I’ve made a couple of her Paleo treats before and I was a fan. Normally I pick out a few recipes from different places to try, but I knew I wanted to make green bean casserole…and then I saw the Paleo pecan pie and made the decision to try that as well. I’ve never made pecan pie…or even eaten it for that matter. It was a hit! I am planning on making it again for Christmas, but I’ll have to increase the amount of filling and decrease the amount of crust. There seemed to be a lot of crust for the amount of filling that was made. But the flavor was amazing!!!

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Rolling out the dough was kind of hard- the almond flour makes it really crumbly. But it worked out!

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I also made her green bean casserole, sans the mushrooms and onions to cater to everyone’s tastes. It was also a recipe I’ll make again.

 

We weren’t planning on it, but I also tried the recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. I have never had the canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving….it never looked appetizing to me. This recipe was simple enough. Although we agreed it could have used more sweetener than it called for. I was fine with it since I am used to unsweetened desserts.

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The turkey was literally the best turkey I’ve ever eaten!!!! I don’t know what my MIL did but it was so juicy. My plate: turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. I went back for seconds, obvi. And pecan pie for dessert.

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And….it looked a lot more like Christmas than Thanksgiving over here. Winter is coming early. Wonderful….

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Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I feel like a bad blogger as I have been neglecting the blog world since I’ve been on vacation. I promise I’ll get back on track this week!

What was your favorite thing on your Thanksgiving plate?

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Weekend in Pictures: Vaca!!!

>Greetings from vacation land…I have a whole week off from work which takes me out of my regularly scheduled blogging routine. I figured I would share a few images from the amazing weekend I had at home for the first time in nearly three months.
First the Thursday befriend we left we received our much anticipated pastured organic turkey from our farmer.
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I’m not saying how much I paid… It’s way too embarrassing. I spent a lot of time rationalizing it and have come to the conclusion that it’s okay. People send equitable amounts on a day at the salon, or a pair of pants. It’s time to face the facts I’m a foodie and this is where my priorities lie. Al weekend shopping I’m pretty hesitant to spend $10 on a pair of leggings; but unleash me in Wegmans and ill justify any outrageous purchase. Speaking of which…. Like I need a new food obsession…..
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Finally tried ghee!!! Omg…I made Civilized Caveman’s banana bread with this Saturday and it was out of this world! Considering I make that banana bread once a week (no joke) and noticed the difference, I’m attributing it to the ghee. Now, since this little container was $5.99, I am currently planning on figuring out how to make my own, ’cause that’s wack.

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Making cookies while on a sugar detox is not recommended!! Omg, I made these double chocolate chip cookies for my students (because I’m awesome) Thursday night and had a hard time not tasting the batter. And Friday, confession: I ate one. They were probably the best cookies I’ve ever made. And that was probably because all the other cookies ive I ever made have always been some sort of recipe I’m tweaking to make it healthier. They were fabulous. So I didn’t officially finish the 21 days of the sugar detox however I felt great limiting sugar in my diet and plan to go on eating this way from now in, with an exception here and there if I feel like it.Hey, it’s vacation!

Something else I did Saturday… Chop off all my hair!!!

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I’ve been dancing around the idea for awhile since my long hair had become dry,straggly and takes forever to blow dry and straighten. I love the new look!

More shopping is on the agenda today….. When you live in the middle of nowhere and finally find yourself near civilization you find yourself saying ‘go to allllllll the places!!!’

Can’t wait til Thanksgeiving!! What are you making??

Have you ever tried ghee??

Do you feel guilty about the money you spend on food?

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Review: Gourmet Grassfed

I better throw up this review before we leave for the holidays and I totally forget about it. I am so excited to share this product- it truly is quality. I would DEFINITELY buy these and plan on it in the future. I like beef jerky because it’s great for a protein fix to satisfy hunger. But protein shakes and most bars have ridiculous amounts of sugar or questionable ingredients in them.

Gourmet Grassfed is a company that makes organic, grass fed beef jerky products. This is from their website:

“Our Products are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, MSG free, and GMO free. Pure Protein, and minimally processed. Paleo approved, and several varieties of dried meat snacks are Whole 30 approved.We believe this results in phenomenal flavor and nutrition. The less we do the better.  But please, experience them for yourselves and tell us what you think.”

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I’ll go out on a limb and say that this was the best beef jerky I have ever eaten- and not just because they sent me tons of delicious samples for free. It has amazing flavor, and it’s a complete bonus that there are no terrible additives that beef jerky normally has. I’ve routinely seen MSG as an ingredient in most beef jerky at grocery stores. No thanks!

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The flavors they sent were: Bold Original, Cherry Chipotle, Smokey Apple BBQ, Northwoods Berry, and Ginger Teriyaki. They also sent me some grass fed beef sticks- which were kind of like summer sausage. Also delicious. I think my favorite jerky was the apple or berry flavor- odd because I don’t generally like sweet flavored jerky.

Their standards for quality are ridiculously tight- only grass fed cows, no antibiotics, rotational grazing…everything I look for in quality meat. This jerky works when you’re looking for a quick and easy protein to feel full- instead of some crap ingredient protein bar or shake.

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I didn’t get pictures of them all because I was gobbling them up too fast. You should definitely check out their products if you’re looking for a great option for beef jerky! 

Do you ever eat beef jerky?

What are your favorite protein snacks?

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A little bit of everything

I am REALLY struggling not to think too much about Thanksgiving. I have this one more week of school then a WEEK OFF!!!! Austin and I haven’t been home since Labor day so this is huge. However, I still have four days of school left so I have to keep my eye on the prize and focus on school so I don’t get too antsy. In the meantime, I waste time surfing the internet.

I figure I waste so much time reading things on the internet I might as well make it a habit of sharing…..Here are some of the things I’ve stumbled over in the past couple days! Enjoy!

Every Damn Day List << What a great idea

5 Foods that will change with the Trans Fat Ban

1 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug <<I’ve made this MANY times

Maple Bacon Pecan Butternut Squash  <<PaleOMG…love this site and need to make this SOON

Is your deodorant toxic? 

FOMO Food Addition  <<Interesting

Irresponsible "Fitspiration" Pictures <<I hate those pictures! They make me feel so bad about myself most times.

Carbon footprint of your Thanksgiving dinner <<Thought provoking…we’re getting our turkey from a local farmer!!

What sushi means to me by Jan @ Sprouts and Squats << Good strategy for intuitive eating

Gluten Free Almond Butter Bread + Thanksgiving Stuffing

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Will lard make you fat?

Growing up, the word lard was synonymous with everything glutinous! Pure fat. You only ate it if you were disgusting. How times have changed! Now I only use either coconut oil or lard to cook with. Doesn’t that sound glutinous and counter-intuitive to being healthy? Shouldn’t I be using something healthy like olive, canola or seed oil?

Picture of lard advertisement

Here’s why you probably shouldn’t be using anything but stable fats like coconut oil or lard (or even BUTTER) for cooking: oxidation.

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I cringe when I think about the cheap-o vegetable oil in the plastic container I used to buy from Wal-Mart to cook with. AHhhhhhh! You should never buy oils that are in plastic containers. Not to mention trans fats are poisoning our country one french fry at a time. You should never consume them under any circumstances. Thank God the FDA is going to ban them!

See, oils that are not stable (solid at room temp) are sensitive to things like light and heat. These things cause them to oxidize. When you consume them, they cause things like free radicals and inflammation in your body. Inflammation can lead to TONS of chronic diseases in the body. I’m not expert on this, so if you want to know more, look here. Basically since cheap oils are packaged in plastic, so sitting in your cupboard makes them oxidize even more. If you’re going to buy olive oil, make sure it is high quality and in a dark, glass container to protect it from the elements and minimize oxidation.

When you cook with these oils, heat damages them even more! Since in America, we fry everything in vegetable oil or peanut oil, we are day by day contributing to inflammation in our bodies and putting our Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio out of whack….further contributing to the health epidemic.

Which brings me to why you SHOULD be cooking with lard, coconut oil and even BUTTER (if you tolerate dairy…make sure it is high quality).  Lard from pastured pork has actually been known to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol since it contains stearic acid. It also contains the good stuff that everyone keeps pushing olive oil for….oleic acid.

These fats are stable to high temperatures and do not get damaged when baking, roasting or heating up food. Thus, our body recognizes them as real good and doesn’t try to fight back when we eat them. Butter is making a come back!

 

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As far as olive oil, it is a healthy choice, but use it for things like light sautéing or finishing oil. Mark Sisson did a piece defending using olive oil in cooking, and I’ll agree. He says that as long as you have a good quality olive oil (dark glass container and reputable brand), cooking, baking or roasting with it isn’t that bad. I’ll take it. But don’t buy the $5.00 plastic container olive oil from Wal-Mart to cook your french fries in. Anyone who has ever tasted the pure heaven that are sweet potato french fries cooked in lard would NEVER!!!

 

***Most of my sources are cited, but I also referenced this article:

Krasner, Deborah. “All You Need to Know about Good Meat.” Mother Earth News. June/July 2012, I.252. 

 

What oils do you cook with?

What’s your favorite brand of coconut oil?

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21 Day Sugar Detox Sweet Potato Waffles

Breakfast for dinner!!! It’s one of my favorites. Perfect for a lazy night where I don’t feel like dirtying a bunch of dishes. Not. I dirty 50 dishes every time I enter the kitchen. I am a never ending dirty dish producer. Even having a dishwasher doesn’t help. It puts a mild dent in the situation.

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As you know, I’ve been following the 21 Day Sugar Detox for the past two weeks. Last time I reported, I felt great. Yesterday, however, I hit a slump. I felt exhausted and had a headache…I never have headaches. I’ve been working out about 4 days a week but I never consider my workouts high intensity so I haven’t been supplementing with sweet potatoes, as the program suggests. When I read the daily email from Balanced Bites, it said to reevaluate your workout plan and if you’re suffering from fatigue to add in sweet potatoes. Bingo! I thought that I wouldn’t need extra carbs from working out, but it turns out I probably do. Plus I did quite a strenuous strength training workout Wednesday….I probably should have paid more attention to it all.

Sweet potato waffles to the rescue!!! They turned out amazing for my BRINNER ….I thought I’d share

Sweet Potato Waffles: 21 Day Sugar Detox Approved!!

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Makes two large waffles

1/2 of a large sweet potato, baked and mashed (around 3/4 cup) I cooked mine in the microwave

2 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon coconut milk

1 tablespoon sun butter or almond butter

1 tablespoon coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)

For the topping:

1 tablespoon coconut milk

1/2 tablespoon sun butter

2 drops of vanilla

dash of cinnamon

crushed pecans

1. Whip your egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks.

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2. After cooking your sweet potato, mash it up and add it to the egg whites with the sunbutter. Mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix or the whites will flop.

3. Add your egg yolks, vanilla and coconut milk and mix until just combined.

4. Fold in dry ingredients.

5. Place half of the mixture in a sprayed/greased waffle iron. Cook until done!

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6. For topping: Mix together everything but the pecans and microwave for 45 seconds. Pour on top of waffle with pecans. If you’re not on the sugar detox top that baby with maple syrup!!

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7 . Eat that deliciousness!!!

Do you love breakfast for dinner?

Favorite waffle/pancake toppings: GO!

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Are you working for the weekend?

The world of education lately can be pretty discouraging. I see daily posts from teachers and parents who are struggling with changes none of us can control. And it’s easy to lose sight of what we’re all in this for: the kids. I think a lot about my choice to become a teacher and how it may or may not be what I thought it was going to be. Regardless, it’s what I do, and I have to find ways to return to the reasons I chose it. If you don’t like you situation, you can sit there, complain, do nothing about it and blame others (which is what most people do), or you can choose to live your life a different way.

The negativity in education is almost overwhelming. I can’t even walk into the doors of my school without another teacher jokingly saying on the way in “Is it Friday yet!? Heheh!” I don’t want to live every week just waiting for Friday. Isn’t it weird that complaining and negativity just tend to seep into your pores as soon as the other person opens her mouth? That doesn’t mean I’m upset about Friday rolling around and taking the time to relax after working all week, but I truly want to find ways to enjoy each day and find happiness in little things instead of getting bogged down in all the complaining and negativity. I’ve decided to compile a list of things I LOVE about my job and my kids this year, and brainstorm ways I can capitalize and focus on the things I love instead of focusing on the negative which too many of us do.

Inspirational Quotes

1. I love the how fun, quirky and unique every single one of my kids is.

This year I am gifted with the most amazing, individual and fun students I’ve EVER had. The funny thing is was all last year, the teachers kept warning us about how ‘bad’ this class was and how we were going to have a terrible year next year. I just tried to block it out and it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I absolutely am overwhelmed with the amount of fun I have with these kids. Everyone has such an individual personality, and everyone of them is accepting of one another’s differences. When I was in middle school it was all about being ‘popular’ and ‘cool’. There IS no “popular” group in this class because they all just let their individuality shine and I love it. And they are also some of the most caring, self-less kids I have ever met.

2. I love being able to have deep conversations about literature with my students.

Many people are complaining about the “common core” and how it’s so horrible. When in fact, some of the standards regarding literature are asking me to have discussions with students about literature that I would never have dreamed we would be having because I thought it was ‘too advanced’. I never thought my 8th graders would be analyzing literature. That’s something I did in college. Believe it or not, I LOVE analyzing literature and it’s one of the reasons I became an English teacher. So being able to pass my passion on to my students makes me happy.  I thought getting 8th graders to understand symbolism was a thing of the past. I’m happy to bring it back!

and i'll feel sorry for the students who are forced to read my book and write essays on it :( pin by kay

3. I love designing lessons that will excite and engage my students.

I want to branch out and not do the same thing all the time. With the prescribed lessons that NYS is distributing to us, it’s quite easy to follow along to the lesson without deviating. However, that’s boring. What I like is bringing new things to the table that I know will interest and excite my own students. I love just trying something crazy that I know is completely impractical. Many times I think of creative projects that I’m scared to do because it takes up “test prep time”. However in the back of my mind I know how much my students will enjoy it and how much fun we’ll have doing it.  I try to do at least one of these big projects a year. Last year, we rehearsed and filmed scenes from Anne Frank’s Diary. The year before, we created graphic novels based on unrequited love for the Romeo and Juliet unit. A lot of times I’ll have a crazy idea and I know it will be fun but take a lot of work. I do it anyway.

If your dreams dont scare you they aren't big enough

4. Every class, every day, every year is different.

I cannot fathom how people go to work at desk job day after day, year after year. No offense if you do and you love it. I’ll admit there are some days when I think “why can’t I just go sit at a desk all day??”. But the truth is I would HATE it every day. Every day to me just flies by without even thinking about it. I blink and its 3pm. I’m busy up to the minute I leave. And every day is a new challenge, a different experience. Even from class to class- one lesson can go poorly and the same exact lesson can go great. That happened today! My lesson in the morning was very rocky and I got discouraged (actually why I thought of writing this post lol) and then the same lesson was amazing in another class! I love trying to figure out who my students are and what will work best for each class. I love noticing what went well and why and how I can improve it the next time. Every lesson I get to do 5 times since I have five sections of 8th grade. So by the fifth time you can bet I’ve made some tweaks. And it definitely keeps it interesting. And who else has a job where every September you get to start over?!? Like you get a new reputation. It’s like changing towns and nobody knows who you are and what you’re like and you can change things about the way you teach and no one will ever know!

I challenge you to start noticing what went well in your day. The good things. Instead of focusing on all the negatives. Whether it be in your job or just life in general. What are you grateful for and how can you focus on it to make each day count and stop living for the weekend? Seeing the good in every day truly makes a difference in your overall happiness.

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Favorite Posts

I guess I should acknowledge that my blog turned a year old the other day! Happy Birthday Pencils and Pancakes! It’s weird that I’ve more or less been documenting my life on the internet for a year. Sometimes I feel self conscious. A lot of people who have never heard of what a blog is or are unfamiliar with it don’t understand why anyone would want to do post their life on the internet, or constantly be taking pictures of food to post….but all I know is I enjoy blogging, reading others’ blogs, and writing. So I’ll keep doing it for now!!! I know…you were worried 😉

Since my blog is a year old I though I’d run down some of my favorite and most popular posts from the last year:

School-

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Sometimes I doubt if I should continue blogging about teaching, since I feel like the blog has morphed into more of a food blog, but teaching posts continue to be what people searching come for. So I’ll be happy to throw up a couple teaching related posts a month.

How to teach counterclaim

Book unit on Micheal Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma

Food-

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Over the past year I have been experimenting with the Paleo diet. I love how it makes me feel! Although I don’t stick to it 100% of the time. Here are some of my favorite recipes from the past year (not all of them are Paleo).

Paleo Cereal

Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry over Coconut Cauliflower Rice

Spinach and Garlic Pizza

Grilled banana and peanut butter stuffed french toast

Spicy Roasted Carrot Fries <<I make these at least once a week

Game Day Treats: Roasted red pepper poppers

Reviews-

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Quest Bar Review

Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant Review

Wedding-

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Pros and Cons of planning a wedding on Pinterest

Rustic Wedding Crafts

Bachelorette Party

Ceremony and Bridal Party

Miscellaneous Favorite Posts

What to buy organic

How to grocery shop on a budget using coupons

Working out in the morning: pros and cons

How to change your mindset and become happier

 

WOW it’s kind of fun to look at all the posts and reflect over the past year. I haven’t really taken the time to re-read much of my blog. Anyways, for the 2-3 people that might read this blog 2 of which include my husband and mother, thanks for reading! Next goal is trying to get this baby self hosted. It scares me whenever I think about it…any tips?

Do you ever go back and read your own blog posts?

How hard is going to self hosted? BE HONEST!!!

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21 Day Sugar Detox Recipes

I thought I’d share some of the awesome food that I’ve been eating this week due to Diane Sanfilippo and her new book 21 Day Sugar Detox. I’ve been sharing some on Instagram and people seem interested in recipes to make during the 21 Day Sugar Detox and what exactly it is.

As I’ve mentioned, Practical Paleo is basically my food bible. So even thought I wasn’t particularly interested in doing a sugar ‘detox’ I pretty much ordered the book for the recipes. And she’s coming out with more recipes and another book in December! I’m like her personal sales-person over here.

When you hear the word “detox”, it conjures up images of green bile-like smoothies and lemon water and cayenne pepper drinks for 7 days. This is not in any way what this is. It’s basically just eating Paleo, except you have to cut out most fruit and sweeteners like honey and maple syrup for 21 days.

I have a SERIOUS sugar addiction, and Paleo/natural or not, eating massive amount of fruits, Paleo baked goods and in my case dried fruit just makes my cravings worse and worse until I am an uncontrollable sweet craving eating machine. I talked about how since my wedding I’m experiencing a lack of motivation when it comes to healthy eating. It pretty much just carried over into the fall and I’ve found it hard to stay on track. I know that sweet things are my downfall, and it’s SO hard to stop eating them once I start. The hardest part is the more I eat sweet things the more I crave, so it’s just this big gigantic cycle.

I started the sugar detox on November 4th with a large group of online support. It’s hard to make the first step on cutting out sugar and fruit because …. it’s soooo good and addicting. It’s been 8 days and I feel AMAZING!!! I can’t even describe it. I’m just in such a great mood and feel so good. It’s like this “I CAN DO AALLLLLL THE THINGSSS” kind of feeling. See I just tried to describe it and I failed.

The other day I had this for breakfast and went 6 hours before even being hungry. SIX HOURS!

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It was a hash of carrots, parsnips, sausage and eggs.  Not my usual pancakes but kept me fuller. That’s what’s so hard..I crave sweet things in the morning and it’s so hard to say not to that. But when I do say no I stay fuller longer and feel so much better. It’s quite the conundrum.

Some of the recipes I’ve made include:

Savory Herb Drop Biscuits

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So good.

Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

21dsd muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haven’t had one of these yet, but I nibbled off the top of one when it came out of the oven and it was good. And they smell wonderful.

Shrimp Pad Thai

21dsd shrimp pad thai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I subbed spaghetti squash for the zucchini. This was ah-ma-zing! So unique and delicious flavors.

I also made the beef and broccoli stir fry, but didn’t take a picture.

I also made this faux pumpkin banana ice cream last night to satisfy the sweet tooth. I just used a green-tipped banana and did not put any honey in it.

21dsd ice cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So overall I feel great but I know that when I go home for Thanksgiving and indulge I am going to start craving sweet things more and more. Once you start you can’t stop! I also might end the 21 day sugar detox a little early since the day I go home is day 20 (?) and we literally haven’t been home since Labor day. I’m not going to not have fun with people I haven’t seen in months because of the detox. I plan to just play it by ear and if I feel like eating something, I will. If the opportunity doesn’t arise I will try to do the 21 days. No big deal. I will return to this way of eating after Thanksgiving. It’s hard to STOP the sweet stuff, but the more you eat the more you crave, so I just have to remember how GREAT I feel right now. This was a great reset for my body right before the holidays! I highly recommend the book.

Have you tried the 21 day Sugar Detox?

How do you feel about going on a “diet”? Does it make you more stressed out than necessary or do you like having rules?

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Oven Roasted Romanesco

I  love when I see a new, interesting vegetable in the grocery store. I also consider it perfectly normal to drive to a town 40 minutes away so I can go to Wegmans (a fancy foodie grocery store in Upstate New York). So this Saturday, right when I entered the paradise that is Wegmans I saw a veggie I’ve been dying to try but have never seen in the grocery store I regularly go to: Romanesco. Heard of it?

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It’s kind of a weird cross between broccoli and cauliflower. It just looks cool, so that means I had to get it. And I thought I’d share with you directions for roasting romanesco if it scares you! The cashier was stumped. This regularly happens to me with vegetables I buy. Things like spaghetti squash, plantains, kale…no matter what it is I feel like once a week I get a weird look and a “Um what is this?” from the grocery cashier. Does that happen to you? Moving on…

I decided to treat it just like I would cauliflower or broccoli- roast it! I love roasting veggies…. it brings such rich flavor and I can add whatever spices or fat I want.

For the romanesco,  I just cut it up like I would a regular cauliflower or broccoli and placed in a large roasting pan.

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I poured over the top of it about 1/4 cup of coconut oil. You could use olive oil, butter, lard, etc.

I sprinkled with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then I roasted them in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until they got that nice golden brown roasted color on the top.

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Yum! The taste was more like cauliflower with an almost lemony tang to it. You should definitely try roasting romanesco if you see it at your grocery store!

What weird vegetables do you love to eat?

What things stump your cashier?

Have you ever been to Wegmans?

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