Health · Information · Whole30

What I Eat in a Week: Food Freedom

If you didn’t know, in addition to BekaNEggs (that’s the page you’re reading right now), I also run/write a makeup + beauty blog called Makeup Nerdery. That means, in addition to my seemingly endless consumption of food and fitness content, I also spend a lot of time reading about and watching stuff relating to makeup, beauty, skincare, etc. Lately I have seen a lot of YouTubers making these “what I eat in a week” videos and while they are fun to watch, and I’m not here to judge anyone else’s eating habits (unless you are my friend in real life), they are made more to satisfy our nosiness and curiosity than to actually provide any useful information. I’m here to do the opposite, or at least… a little bit of both.

A few things before we get into this: I’m not sharing this to show off or brag, I’m not sharing this to make you feel bad about your own food choices, I am not counting macros at the moment (or calories ever), and I am a Chronic Meal Repeater. I’m sharing this to show you how I make food-that-makes-me-feel-good work for me and my life. If this gives you some motivation, some ideas, or even some comfort in how little time and effort I actually spend on my food, then this week of trying to photograph everything I put in my mouth was totally worth it. I am also not measuring or weighing anything right now, but will share amounts of food whenever I actually know.

One thing I will say is that I *do* plan out my meals for the entire week every weekend and then The Boyfriend and I do all of our grocery shopping on Sunday between our local farmer’s market and the grocery store it shares a parking lot with.

For the purposes of this post, “collagen drink” refers to my morning shaker bottle concoction which consists of 10-12oz Nespresso decaf coffee, 4oz New Barn unsweetened almond milk, 2 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen peptides, and lots of ice. In addition to all the items I list, I also try to drink three 32oz jars of water every day.

So, what I eat in a typical Food Freedom week. This week included the tail end of Whole30 reintroductions, Whole30 and Paleo meals, and some Paleo snacks. Let me know if you want to see a full Whole30 week!

Monday – 7 August

  • Brunch: Two eggs, 9 pieces sashimi, 2oz guacamole, GT’s Kombucha “Heart Beet” (whole30)

Continue reading “What I Eat in a Week: Food Freedom”

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Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Soup · Vegetarian · Whole30

Ultra-Faux Pho

This is… this is not even fake pho. This is a supremely lazy/fast approach to a slightly-influenced-by-Vietnamese-Pho dinner, but one that always goes off without a hitch in my house and can pretty much be done with any veg and meat you have. So here it is, my ultra-faux pho.

Your ingredients list can really go any which way you like, but here are the basics for 2-3 servings:

1 quart chicken, beef, or mushroom broth (or half and half meat/veg)
1 lb meat (meatballs, sausage, shredded chicken, etc)
1 vegetable that you can make noodles out of (zucchini, sweet potato)
1-2 handfuls green leafy vegetables (baby bok choy, spinach, etc)
1-2 handfuls chopped mushrooms (optional)
4-6 eggs
Togarashi, to taste

Using a spiralizer, julienne peeler, or just a regular vegetable peeler, turns your noodling vegetable into said noodles. You can also buy pre-noodled zucchini or sweet potato – they are increasingly available in grocery stores (Trader Joe’s sells sweet potato ribbons and they are fantastic).

Continue reading “Ultra-Faux Pho”

Information · Whole30

Fridge & Pantry Essentials: Whole30

In a previous post I mentioned that The Boyfriend and I (and 11 of our friends and relatives that I annoyed into submission) would be doing a Whole30 challenge this month. This is my second time doing it, and I had great results in terms of health and how I felt after the first one we did in November 2015 (pro-tip: would not recommend doing it over a major holiday).

This past week, after all the holiday festivities, I Whole30-fied our entire fridge and pantry – ditched all the things that make us sick and we should avoid longterm (anything with soy, really) and hid all the other indulgent stuff that wasn’t going to expire for a while (mostly just the hot fudge and the balsamic glaze). With so many of our friends (and my mom!) doing Whole30 for the first time, I was reminded just how much work went into the “spices and condiments” category of finding approved foods. Even for the basics, like salad dressing, the compliant options available to us are often limited at best. Five years into the slow carb game and on the heels of my second Whole30 and a new paleo life, here are the spice blends, condiments, and other pantry staples I rely on to get meals done. Each item will be labeled for Paleo, Whole30, and/or Slow Carb.

Let me know in the comments if you guys like this “Essentials” series, I’ve got plenty more ideas!

Teeny Tiny Spice Company Tandoori Masalapaleo, whole30, slow carb – Sadly my beloved British Curry is not Whole30 compliant due to some added maple sugar (ok for paleo), but the brand’s Tandoori Masala is an excellent consolation prize. I love to use it in my Indian style chicken curries with onions, garlic, and broccoli. It also makes a great marinade mixed with coconut milk for slow cooked chicken, crispy chicken thighs*, and lamb too.

* this recipe calls for both the British Curry and Tandoori Masala blends, you can definitely just use the Tandoori Masala! I would probably add some turmeric for good measure.

Continue reading “Fridge & Pantry Essentials: Whole30”

Health · Information · Recipes · Whole30

Whole30 + Ice Cubes

If you checked out my most recent recipe or follow me on Instagram, you may have picked up on some recent little grumblings about Whole30. It’s often referred to as the Whole30 challenge, but it’s essentially a 30 day elimination diet that sounds a lot like paleo on steroids… or I guess, paleo on definitely no steroids whatsoever. The Boyfriend and I completed a round of Whole30 in November of 2015 and despite the struggle of sticking to the rules through Thanksgiving and managing the lack of local/seasonal produce in the winter, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. We learned so much about our bodies – well, my body mostly – like that I am super sensitive to soy, and for the sake of my skin as well as any living creature in my general vicinity, I should probably not consume dairy, even on slow carb’s allotted cheat days.

We’re coming up on two years since our first Whole30 and I have been itching for another one. If we could make it through a round in November, then summer – with farmers’ markets and damn near everything in bloom – should be a piece of cake (except actually not cake at all because it’s definitely not Whole30 approved).

Continue reading “Whole30 + Ice Cubes”

Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Thai Red Curry Chicken

I don’t know what it is about Thai food, but I crave it constantly. Much to my dismay, rice noodles do not fit anywhere into our slow carb or Whole30 lives, so I’ve had to learn to cook some of the good stuff all on my own. This Thai Red Curry chicken is so easy and quick, this might be a new weekly event in our house!

I get our Thai Red Curry paste from a local brand called Thai & True, but any brand is fine as long as it is slow carb/paleo/Whole30 compliant (whichever one you need it to be). I also use a wok-style oil that’s infused with lemongrass and ginger, but this is just something I have on hand and like to use, any cooking fat will do just fine for this recipe! In general, I highly recommend avocado oil and beef tallow for most cooking needs (though beef tallow may not be the best choice for this particular recipe).

Equipment:  
Large non-stick pan
Spatula or stirring utensil

Ingredients: 
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
4 tbsp Thai Red Curry paste
1 13oz can coconut milk
1-2 tbsp fresh Thai basil, stemmed
1-2 tbsp fresh scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp coriander
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Continue reading “Thai Red Curry Chicken”

Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Default Wings: DIY

Wings are such a quick, easy, and often very cheap way to make everyone happy. They’re frequently labeled at the butcher counter as “party wings” and are already split up into the flat wing and the drumette, which is perfect for me because The Boyfriend prefers the drums and I want *all* the flats. For a little while I was preparing a new recipe each time we wanted wings, until I finally figured out my “go to” or The Default. If you love wings, but you and your meal buddy want different flavors, this is the recipe for you. The Default delivers perfectly crispy wings with a delicious dry rub every time, ready to be eaten as is or drenched in your sauce of choice.

Equipment:
Oven
Large glass pan
Tongs

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs “party wings”
2 tbsp cooking oil or animal fat of choice
1-2 tbsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp Diamond Crystal salt

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease one or two glass pans with your fat of choice, using a silicone brush or other preferred utensil to coat the whole bottom of the pan and up the sides. (You may need two pans if you are making more than one pound of wings, if they are too close together, it can overcrowd the pan and they won’t cook as well or as evenly).

Continue reading “Default Wings: DIY”

Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes · Whole30

Just Beet It! Beet Purée

I’ll be honest, for most of my life beets have been a hard limit. No way, no how, they were not going in my mouth. The taste was fine, a little earthy, whatever; but the texture, ugh I could not get over that texture – and so I spent all my life pushing away my grandma’s borscht and every fancy beet salad at nice restaurants.

“What changed?” you ask. For one, taste buds evolve as you get older. There are so many foods that I used to despise as a child that I love now (mushrooms for one). This doesn’t really help if you have a thing with texture though, so let me just get to the beet story: I recently had the extreme pleasure of ordering my Passover Seder plate contents from authentic-Russian/Ukrainian Portland powerhouse Kachka. Let me just say, if you’re in Portland and looking for a place to eat – you will not be disappointed.

One of the components of the Seder plate is commonly a shank bone or lamb chop, but vegetarians often use root vegetables. Kachka’s z’roah was a phenomenal lamb chop with a beetroot purée. Guys, listen to me when I tell you, this was the most amazing vegetable item I had ever put in my mouth. I licked my plate clean… and the container the purée came in, and the Seder plate, and The Boyfriend’s plate. Revelation: I love beets, and have been on a mission to recreate the recipe since this discovery (took me about… four days). Kachka let me know that their recipe uses a bit of honey which I have obviously omitted as it is not a slow carb compliant ingredient, but feel free to add some in on cheat day or if you’re eating paleo!

If you have never worked with beets before, don’t panic! I hadn’t either, but it was very easy!

For this recipe, you will need: 
Clean kitchen gloves (or two pairs disposable gloves)
Large pot with lid
Strainer (optional, but recommended)
Blender or food processor

Ingredients: 
1 bunch red beets (3-4 large beets)
1-2 tsp olive oil
~ 2 tbsp warm water
Salt, to taste

While wearing gloves, remove greens from beets. Leave the beets whole including the roots (the long skinny part) and about 2″ of the stem – this will help keep the red color from going all over the place. Place the beets in a pot, season with salt to taste, and cover with water.

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Cover pot with lid and bring water to a boil. Allow beets to boil until tender, about 40-45 minutes (very large beets may need some more time). Immediately drain beets and rinse them in cold water for 1-2 minutes. While wearing gloves, gently peel the skins off the beets – they should just slip right off along with the root, no peelers needed!

Allow beets to cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes. I gently cut the beets into a few large pieces so the insides would cool as well.

Once beets are cool to the touch, add them to the bowl of your blender or food processor with salt, olive oil, and 1 tbsp warm water. Blend until smooth or desired texture. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed – if your purée is very thick, you may need to add a bit more water or oil – and blend again.

Serve as is, or refrigerate and serve cool (I like it cold). Eat within 2-3 days.

Recipes · Sauces · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes · Whole30

Sweet Hundos: Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Courtesy of our lovely next-door neighbors, late last week I found myself with close to four pounds of cherry tomatoes in the kitchen, mostly of the irresistibly orange Sweet 100 variety. We couldn’t possibly eat them all, and soup was out of the question – have you ever peeled that many tiny tomatoes? I certainly wasn’t going to. So here it is, oven-roasted cherry tomato sauce: so good, I literally ate half the jar before it had cooled enough to put away.

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For this recipe, you will need: 
Large baking pan (glass recommended)
Food processor
Heat-safe jar (glass recommended)
Plastic bags for freezing (optional)

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100, or other variety)
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 tsp onion powder
2-3 tbsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)
~ 0.5 oz fresh basil (10-15 g)

Gently remove stems from all tomatoes and rinse with cold water (I saw a hobo spider while out in the garden, so I made sure to wash them really well).

Pour 1-2 tbsp oil in a glass pan, tilting the pan to cover most of the bottom. Add tomatoes, garlic, onion powder, and an additional 1-2 tbsp of oil and carefully toss – you want to be gentle so the tomatoes don’t break, but you also want them to be coated with the onion powder and in a flat layer.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and wrinkly and liquid is lightly boiling. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Oven ready!
Oven ready!

Transfer full contents of the pan (including any liquid) to a food processor. Add fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend for 1-2 minutes or until desired texture is reached (some people like it chunky, but I like it pretty smooth).

Transfer sauce to a heat safe container like a mason jar and let cool before storing in the fridge.

Serve with… basically everything. I put it in my roast chicken and even in a sausage and pepper stir-fry! Or just eat it with a spoon, ’cause it’s really that good.

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This recipe makes about one quart of sauce. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen in a ziplock bag for 1-2 months (to defrost, place bag in a bowl of warm water).

Beef · CrockPot · Health · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Soup · Whole30

Rosemary Bone Broth

I have written, deleted, and re-written this post like 10 times now. There is just so much information about the endless benefits of drinking bone broth, I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier. It’s delicious, it’s super easy, and it’s really really good for you – what more do you need? Just ask your butcher for a few pounds of beef soup bones – femurs or knuckles – and get cookin!

No, but seriously – the list of health benefits is astounding. Bone broth is packed with nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium as well as amino acids like glycine and proline which promote a healthy gut, and aid in digestion, growth, even muscle repair. I could write about all the good stuff in bone broth for ages, but let’s just get to how you can make it at home and then you can see all the benefits for yourself!

Special Equipment/Appliances: 
Large slow cooker/crock pot
Fine mesh strainer
Cheese cloth (optional but recommended)
Mason jar or other glass container(s), for storage

Ingredients: 
2 lbs beef soup/marrow bones (femur or knuckle)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
~ 4 L cold water (about 16 cups)

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Add marrow bones to slow cooker. Cover with water by at least 3″ – this took about 3.5L (~14 cups) for my 5 quart crockpot. Add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary (the rosemary will be removed after the first 12 hours, so if you are using dried herbs or smaller pieces, I recommend placing them in a spice bag or using a string to tie them). Note: Do not, I repeat DO NOT, add salt. As the broth reduces, the salt will likely become too concentrated and will ruin you broth – it is best to add other herbs and seasoning later, in individual portions, when serving.

Set on low for 36-48 hours.

After the first 12 hours, remove the rosemary. Left in for longer, it will become bitter and start to disintegrate.

After 24 hours, add back some of the water that has evaporated. You still want to keep the water line about 3″ over the top of the bones.

The longer you let it simmer, the better it will be, but I am impatient and only managed 42 hours before I had to have it!

Line your mesh strainer with a thin piece of cheesecloth (one or two layers) and place it over a large bowl or mason jar. My strainer is quite large so I had to do this over a bowl and then pour it into the mason jars for storage.

Using a large ladle, run the bone broth through the strainer and cheesecloth – this ensures there will be no muck or bone fragments in your pretty broth! If you used a separate bowl like I did, carefully transfer your broth into your storage containers (I used large 1/2 gallon and quart mason jars). If you have a smaller strainer, you can place this over the top of your mason jar to strain it one final time – not necessary, but certainly won’t hurt.

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Leave uncovered on the counter to cool. As the fat comes to the top and solidifies, you can remove it with a spoon if so compelled, but it will render back down when microwaved so feel free to leave it in if you like it! Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Just be mindful, when you take it out of the fridge, it will act and look like jello. You made cow jello, and it is amazing!

To serve, season with salt and pepper and microwave about two minutes per mug. This would also make a great base for French onion soup, but we quite like it as is.

Enjoy!

Pork · Recipes · Skills/Techniques · Vegetarian · Whole30

Kimchi Fried Cauli-Rice

A few months ago, The Boyfriend and I took a little trip through Seattle and Vancouver, BC to celebrate his 30th birthday. While in Vancouver, we had the good fortune to grab seats at the bar at one of the renowned Guu Izakaya restaurants. The special that evening just happened to be kimchi fried rice with pork intestine… and we’ve been talking about it ever since.

There’s just something about fried rice – it’s both exotic and comforting, simple and complex. I could philosophize for ages, but let’s just get to the cooking.  I’ve made cauliflower rice before, so switching out regular rice for the cauli-good-stuff was no big deal. I had originally intended for this part of dinner to last us at least two days, but that just didn’t happen. Thankfully, cauliflower is packed with far more nutrients and other healthy goodies than rice so no real harm in filling up, other than the lack of leftovers. Guess I’ll just have to make it again!

Ingredients: 
1 large head cauliflower
8 oz kimchi
5 slices bacon (optional*)
3 large eggs
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor or food mill
Large non-stick pan
1 small bowl

* if you are not using bacon for dietary or personal preferences, you will need about 3 tbsp of oil (avocado recommended) to replace the bacon grease.

Wash and clean the cauliflower, chop into medium-sized florets, and set on a paper towel to dry. Working in small batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor or run it through a food mill until it resembles rice (you can see the full length recipe in detailhere). Place cauliflower “rice” in a large microwave safe bowl, microwave for 60 seconds, and set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, chop 8 oz kimchi into smaller pieces (I make them just slightly larger than “bite size”) and set aside. Again using a sharp knife, slice bacon strips into smaller, bite-size pieces. Finally, using a fork or whisk, scramble three eggs together in a small bowl.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat (~ 8/10). Add about half of the bacon pieces, using tongs or a spatula to make sure they don’ t stick together. After about 2 minutes, add the rest of the bacon pieces – varying the cooking times makes for a fun change in texture and keeps everybody happy (The Boyfriend prefers the crispiest of bacon, I’m less excited by this). Continue cooking bacon for 3-5 minutes, stirring/flipping often to insure even cooking and that pieces don’t stick together.

Add all 8 oz of kimchi to the pan, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until cabbage begins to soften. Dump the entire batch of cauli-rice into the pan, stirring immediately so it’s not just sitting on top of the bacon and kimchi (it will start to burn this way). Continue cooking cauliflower mixture, stirring often, for about 7 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown. Finally, dump the scrambled eggs over the cauliflower mixture, stirring/flipping all contents of the pan (so the eggs are fully incorporated) for about 3 minutes or until eggs are no longer raw.

Remove contents of pan to a large bowl and serve immediately.

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