Fish Tacos

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Last night I made fish tacos for the first time. They turned out magnificently. For the last several years now I have photographed many of the meals I make at home. It was the beginning of my healthy food journey and the attempt to end an excuse I used to use for poor food choices – “I don’t know what to make.” When I made a healthy meal I enjoyed, I photographed it, and soon became a catalogue of delicious healthy meals I love, and therefore no more excuses. I used to think taking the picture was enough. That I would see it and magically remember how I prepared the meal. I was so naive. Lol.

I’ve since realized I really need to copy this shit down. I’m not getting any younger, haha, so better to record this stuff as soon as I remember. That way the general public also has the option of trying too, if they want. 🙂

I used hard corn tortilla shells I bought at the grocery store. Judge away, they were yummy and are very low on the asshole scale (imo). I used a shredded cabbage/kale/lettuce mix as the first layer in the taco. On top of that I placed warm, baked tilapia fillet chopped into pieces (preparation described below). On top of the fish I added some sliced avocado, and finally topped it off with pineapple-mango salsa. Did I mention it was awesome?

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Baked Tilapia

Preheat oven to 375

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place tilapia fillets on parchment paper and brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with chilli powder, Montreal steak and chop spice mix. I brushed a bit of chipotle aoili, and squeezed one lemon on top before putting in the oven.

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Thanks to Alex and Dave Preston for the Montreal steak and chop spice mix. I never would have thought of putting it on fish and was just being uncharacteristically impulsive. Lol. Paid off huge. Fish was sooooooo tasty!!!

Bake for 15-20minutes until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

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Pineapple- Mango Salsa

1/3 cup of cubed mango

1/3 cup of small pineapple chunks

1/2 red pepper diced

10-12 cherry tomatoes quartered

smallish hunk of red onion finely diced

fresh cilantro (to taste)

dressing – juice of 1 squeezed lemon, 1tbsp coconut aminos, tsp of sriracha (or use cayenne pepper to taste)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Longer the flavours marinate the better. Stores well in fridge for several days.

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Assembly:

We baked the taco shells in the oven for about 5-7min at 350. Then we took them out and sprinkled a layer of our coleslaw/kale/lettuce mix, on top of this we added the baked fish while it was nice and warm, on top of the fish we added some sliced avocado and topped it all off with the mango-pineapple salsa that barely fit!! Lol. It was delightfully awesome! Defintely making it again and needed to record what I did for when I forget! Lol.

Recipes By Request

I like to photograph my meals as a visual idea bank. Looking at a photo is all I need to remember the recipe and steps I took to prepare a meal, or remind me which cookbook it came from. The down side with posting them publicly is that then people want the recipe. Lol!!! I don’t mind sharing, I’m just too lazy to write/ type it out. So here I will post a few things I have made recently that are slight variations on recipes I found from others.  They are so easy they definitely occur in my regular rotation. What I love most about them is their simplicity. It’s fantastic when you can make something yummy without it taking up a huge amount of time.


1. Meatza

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This recipe is a simplified version of the one from Diane Sanfilippo’s Book, The 21 Day Sugar Detox.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

For the Crust:

1lb grass fed groundbeef

1tbsp coconut flour (almond flour was what Diane’s recipe called for)

1 egg beaten

1tsp granulated garlic

1tsp ground black pepper

2tsp Italian seasoning

1tsp Himalayan sea salt

To make the crust combine the above ingredients in a mixing bowl. I used a plastic ziplock bag so I could mix with my hands without them getting messy. Mix thoroughly and form into a ball. On a parchment lined baking sheet roll out the meat dough into a circle about 8-9inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.  Bake for 15-20min or until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425.

For the Toppings:

Do whatever you like!

I used :

2tbsp tomato sauce (pesto would be awesome too)

3 roasted garlic cloves

1/2 green bell pepper

1/2 red bell pepper

1 small tomato sliced

6 spinach leaves

1-2g Sharp aged cheddar (optional- leave out if you’re paleo)

I prepped the toppings while the crust was doing it’s thing. Once it was out of the oven and cool enough to go near, I put on toppings and then baked in the oven for another 5-10min until the toppings soften just a bit.

2. Sweet Potato Buffalo Chicken Caserole

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I hear the word caserole and I am in! A meal in a bowl! A bit of work to prep but then always keeps on giving in the servings you get. This recipe is so dead simple its a no brainer. Best part is I can just post the link from the fine folks at Preppy Paleo. No recipe for me to type out! Lol!

3. Rogan Josh

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This picture doesn’t do it justice but this meal is so comforting! I love it so much. From Melissa Joulwan’s book “Well Fed” I can once again be lazy and post the recipe from her blog. I like to serve this on cauliflower rice. There are a few different ways I like to make my cauliflower rice. Usually I will zap a head of cauliflower in my food processor until it is rice consistency. Then I will put it on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, and ground black pepper, maybe a sprinkle of sea salt.

4. Spaghetti

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It has been years now since I have replaced grain pastas with vegetables. Spaghetti squash is my usual “noodle” but lately we have loved our veggie spiralizer and love making zucchini noodles. I still use the same sauce from Diane Sanfillipo’s book “Practical Paleo.”

Most of my food ideas weren’t original ideas of mine….I just saw something someone else did and wasn’t afraid to try it. Pinterest just blows my mind. I’ve only just begun to tap into it. When I take a picture of a healthy meal I made I throw it in my Eat Like A Champ photo album and the ideas grow. It reminds me that I can do it if I take the time to care about the way I’m fueling my body.

Paleo Apologies

So…I’m feeling so guilty I have been a horrible human being! I am notorious for being addicted to buying books that I rarely get around to reading, or only read about 1/3. Such was the case when I purchased Cindy Sexton’s amazing cookbook “Paleo Takes 5-or-Fewer.” Cindy is a fellow teacher who is one of the most blessed people I know to have more than 1 career. Her blog and now cookbook inspire me not only to maintain my healthy “eat like a champ” lifestyle, but also to pursue all things I am passionate about. Naturally it was a no brainer when it came to purchasing her  book….I was just a dumbass who didn’t read it right away!

Last weekend I finally dusted her book off my cookbook shelf and started reading it. I then started cursing at the yummy new ideas I could have been eating…and then I got all the way to the end and saw in the Resources section she listed my blog!!!!

I truly feel like an asshole for taking so long….please forgive me Cindy!!!! Lol. My first of many of her recipes I intend to preview is the bacon -crusted chicken strips. I love the simplicity in the instructions and a way of using bacon I hadn’t thought of. The proportions for the coating were bang on perfect.  I used every last bit with no leftover and got ample coverage on all of the chicken. Usually I run out or have too much.

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Cindy is fantastic for so many reasons…but what I love most is how passionately she pursues her interests and lives her life. Anything she is involved with is gold. She’s an outstanding and committed educator,  a talented writer – and for a teeny package she’s one feisty woman!

Thank you for the shout out Cindy!!!

No Excuses

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I was sure I had already posted a blog about this, but since I cannot seem to find it I am going to take the risk and post what I should have about a year ago 🙂

Last year Carl and I decided to embark on some pretty major home renovations. This included a new kitchen. Ofcourse the project you think will take a month takes 4…and maybe still has some incomplete elements a year later…at any rate, going that long without a kitchen almost drove me insane. I was completely stressed out about what I would eat and how I would maintain my weight for competition. Turns out it wasn’t thaaaaat bad 🙂 One awesome feature to our renovation was getting a gas line outside so that we could bbq hassle free 🙂 It was basically like having an outdoor oven and stove. I also had to overcome my apprehension toward bbqing…definitely a growth experience 🙂

I found breakfast time to be the toughest. Microwaved egg variations on a paper plate became my instagram theme for quite some time. Then with the help of my friend and nutritionist, Summer Innanen I was able to awaken some creativity and breakfast kabobs were born.

Houseofcyn Breakfast Kabob 1

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chicken

cherry tomatoes

green pepper

pineapple

Marinade: pineapple juice, olive oil, sriracha, cinnamon

Houseofcyn Breakfast Kabob 2

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sausage

green apple

cauliflower

dates

Marinade: coconut milk, curry, cinnamon

It was so easy to whip up a batch of these. They also made great snacks. I think this will easily become a new food genre. 🙂

Summer Salads

Grassfed Beef Steak Salad

One of my favourite dinner meals in the summer when it is hot is to bbq a hunk of meat and serve it on a salad. So simple and yet so delicious. Right now I have a variation on the Cave salad that enjoyed on my march break holiday with Jason Dolby that I like to use as a base.

Salad:

3 cups mixed greens

sprinkle of shredded carrot

6-8 raspberries

1-2oz old white cheddar

1/2 avocado

6-8 pecans

dressing – 1tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2tbsp olive oil

To complete this meal I usually add either 4oz of bbq grassfed beef steak or 4oz of bbq chicken breast, or salmon or pictured below – haddock.

Chicken Salad ala Cave

BBQ Haddock and Green Salad

BBQ Notes

For the BBQ steak I like to use the following marinade:

Balsamic Marinade

Ingredients:

  • A few splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and black pepper to cover all sides
  • Thyme (fresh or otherwise)

Method:

Rub the meat with all the ingredients. This is more of a wet rub, but it will impart a lot of flavor. Leave the meat in the fridge for half an hour before cooking. If you want to reach more meat faster, go ahead and add some olive oil to the mix (along with more of everything else), which will allow for a more traditional, liquid marinade.

For the chicken breasts I like to use this marinade:

Grilled Chicken Marinade

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar works, too)
  • 1 tsp hot chile powder
  • Grated zest from an orange
  • Juice from the orange
  • Sea salt and pepper

Method:

Salt and pepper your chicken and fire up the grill. Mix all other ingredients together and coat the chicken. Let it marinate for forty five minutes while the bbq heat up, then slap it on the grill.

For my fish, I wrap in tinfoil with olive oil, lemon juice, sometimes garlic ..and pepper, or dill. Sriracha is another ingredient I like to add to all of my marinades as well.

I also enjoy salads without meat, such as this quick easy and delicious one:

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Beet greens, bosc pear, avocado and pecans with evoo and balsamic dressing.

Beautiful Breakfasts

Poached Eggs Kale Oranges

When I first embraced a more paleo lifestyle I found breakfast to be the most challenging meal. Now it is one of my favourites because anything goes! One of my favourite breakfast dishes that is so simple and easy are poached eggs, steamed greens (kale, chard, or spinach) which I usually drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil, and serve with a bit of fruit.

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One of my other favourite breakfast dishes is a salad I usually have for lunch….but really it’s great any time!

Chicken Waldorf Salad

1 cup of cooked diced chicken

¼ cup tart apple, cored and diced

½ cup chopped celery

2 T chopped walnuts

½  Avocado (mash with lime juice to mayo-like consistency)

1 teaspoon lime juice

Black pepper

In a medium size bowl, combine chicken, apple, celery and walnuts. In a small bowl, combine avocado/lime juice mixture; stir to blend well. Season to taste. Spoon dressing over chicken salad and toss to coat.

Chicken Waldorf Salad

Finally, I have to admit that my life isn’t always as insanely organized as I make it appear to be 🙂 Many times my meals are just assemblances of whatever protein, fat and carb I can find in the house. Often leftovers from previous lunches or dinners become the next day’s breakfast. This picture below of salmon steak, strawberries and cucumber is a perfect example, but filling and put together in under a minute!

Breakfast Leftovers - Salmon Strawberries cucumber

On a side note I would like to add that all of these meals were prepared without a kitchen. The eggs were poached and veggies steamed in the microwave, the chicken for the waldorf salad was bbq’d as was the salmon steak. No excuses people! No excuses! 🙂

Slow Cooker Curry

The renovation is starting to drive me nuts. For almost 2 months most of our house has been gutted (while we continue to live here) and so trying to create meals without a kitchen has been “interesting”. And yet, somehow we have made it work and actually made some amazing and yet simple meals. This slow cooker recipe is a perfect example:

Chicken Curry

Crockpot Curry

4-5 lbs chicken breast
1 can coconut milk
1 large onion (chopped)
2 green peppers (chopped)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2.5 tsp curry powder
2.5 tsp garam Marsala
1.5 tsp cardamom
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

Put all ingredients in Crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove chicken and whisk the sauce to make it smooth and replace chicken.

 

This recipe is embarrassingly simple but it turned out beautifully!

BACK TO SCHOOL

It feels as though there has been a long hiatus in my blog posts so I must apologize for the absence. Normally an absence from my blog would usually mean  falling off the paleo wagon and training routine and probably an over extended “holiday” of indulgences. I am happy to report the contrary. My diet/lifestyle has been relatively clean and stress free and involved time outdoors. I’ve been sleeping well and training kettlebell like a champ.

All of this has taken place with an insane schedule – prepping for the new school year, the Movnat Trainer Certification, and lots of time teaching at StrengthBox. Also another first. It has motivated me to believe I can do it all when I’m back at work 🙂 So I guess if I was going to be lazy with something – it had to be the blog.

Of course until tonight, when I discovered my new favourite way to eat liver. I recognize the nutritional benefits of liver but I just can’t get past the taste which just isn’t for me. I think too many years working in labs and the movie Hannibal…. anyway….tonight I decided try to mix it with some ground beef to make sliders. They turned out awesome! The only thing missing for me is some tomato slices but I was all out! 😦

Ingredients:

2-3 medium lobed grassfed beef livers

1.5 – 2 lbs of grassfed ground beef

1 med – large onion chopped finely (I used the food processor for this)

2-3 cloves of garlic (I zipped with the onion in the food processor)

2-3 tbsp avocado oil (I found that the meat is so lean that you need to add some fat to keep moist and not dry out on the bbq)

2 tbsp coconut flour

Black pepper, and a bit of Sriracha hot sauce to taste

The livers I placed in the food processor and pulsed until it was the consistency of pate. I think you could easily over do it and turn it into goop that would be too runny to make patties with. So I recommended pulsing a bit at a time and don’t take your eyes of it! As it was I added coconut flour to thicken a little. When the liver is ready combine with the other ingredients listed above in a large mixing bowl. Form mixture into patties. We bbq’d for about 10-15min (5-7min each side). We found this made 10-12 nice sized sliders! We served ours on  green lettuce leaves with some chipotle aioli. I really wished we had some sliced tomato…. I’ll be prepared for tomorrow’s leftovers!

Clean Living

I haven’t blogged anything about my paleo living in quite some time. I must admit that as it becomes more popular I find that a lot of people are confused about what it means, and carry a lot of ignorant misconceptions. This has resulted in me saying less and feeling less motivated to write about my experience. I’m tired of answering all the same stupid questions…. “Uhm…do you really eat like a cave man?”  But I must admit that it really works for me. I feel and look my absolute best when I cut out the crap and focus my eating around real food. Gluten and sugar are really my two worst enemies and demons that can sometimes drag me back under to the dark side. I read on someone’s Facebook page that “sugar is the cocaine of the food industry” and I absolutely believe it!

Back in January I did a Whole 30 and lost about 7kg. It was a great time. I made significant gains in my kettlebell training and overall strength and conditioning. I found that the arthritis in my knee didn’t bother me and I loved looking good in Lululemon! Haha! But then my birthday hit which resulted in a bit of a carbohydrate binge on and off for about 3 months. Luckily the inbetween periods of clean eating have helped and I haven’t gained back any of the weight I lost in January. Now that August is here and I am fresh off a motivating book signing and talk by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and I’m back on another Whole 30.  I’m hoping to have this time to prep for kettlebell (I’d like to drop from the 65kg weight class to the 59kg weight class) as well as reinforce the habits and routine I want to start for school when I’m back to work in September. The Hartwig’s book “It Starts With Food”, I highly recommend everyone read. It nicely encapsulates my philosophy towards food and what I am aspiring to attain.

Here’s me now down close to 8kg since January (weighing about 62kg) and still going strong. I positively HATE photographs of myself, and I certainly never would have imagined I would ever post a picture of me in a 2 piece but here it is. This is me in my basement where the indoor part of the “House of Cyn” gym is 🙂 I’m hoping to do a follow up shot in 3 more months before my competition to see the difference. Ofcourse my eating habits aren’t just about looking good. I do have serious knee issues in my right knee. Some of it has been caused by my years of participation in sports, but the arthritis I am convinced is diet related. I notice flare ups and unmanageable pain when I eat gluten or refined sugars and grains. When I don’t, and supplement with fish oil, I feel better. If I can spare myself some surgery and keep my arthritis under control through dietary changes, that would be a much better option to me. Time will tell how that turns out.

Here’s a super easy meal I made the other day – which is really the key to eating clean. The more you can be prepared and think ahead, the more successful you’ll be. If I wait until my blood sugar crashes and I feel starving … I usually make poor eating decisions. I actually had in my freezer some leftover spaghetti sauce I had made (grassfed ground beef, carrots, onions, spinach, diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes with garlic and italian seasoning) which just needed to be defrosted and reheated (doesn’t get much simpler). I then cut up a few fresh zucchinis that came in my Mamma Earth bin and sauteed them in some olive oil and a little garlic. Usually I put my spaghetti sauce on spaghetti squash, but zucchini is a wonderful alternative, and it was good to “mix it up”, heehee. It was super yummy. I actually had some leftover zucchini which I used in the dish below for breakfast.

This yummy breakfast was a scrambled egg mash-up with 2 eggs, probably about 2 ounces of leftover salmon steak and some leftover sauteed zucchini from the “spaghetti” dinner. I cooked it up with a bit of olive oil and it was delish!

So far something that has really put things into perspective for me came from Dallas and Melissa’s book. Basically it comes down to making a decision about whether or not what I am putting in my body is either a healthy choice, or an unhealthy choice. I am fine with consuming the best quality protein and fat sources that I can afford. For me, usually the dilemma comes down to my carbohydrates – I can either make good choices like vegetables, and the odd fruit, or bad (addictive) choices like breads and grains. I’ve been getting much smarter at choosing the nutrient dense vegetable option and feeling (and looking) much better for those choices. One of my favourite things about participating in the Whole 30 is the camaraderie of doing it with others. Right now many of my friends are doing the same thing – being more mindful about what they are eating, and making the best food choices possible that will not feed into addictions or create crazy hormonal fluctuations or continue to irritate or facilitate auto-immune diseases. Being able to share food ideas, and bitch about withdrawal symptoms is very comforting when you are not the only one. The key is to be surrounded by people who will support you for the decisions that you make when you are trying to improve your health.

 

Thank you Dallas and Melissa for your Whole 30 program and the best book on health and nutrition I have ever read.

Paleo Cabbage Roll Caserole

My mother’s cabbage roll casserole was awesome but the rice and cheese did not like me over the years no matter how delicious. This is an equally tasty paleo version that I enjoyed creating.

Sauce:

Browned 2lbs of ground beef with 1 small onion, garlic and cremini mushrooms. I then added my spices – chili powder, basil and oregano, and black pepper. I then added 1 – 28oz can of diced tomatoes and 1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes. Simmered while I put the vegetable layers together.

Vegetable layer:

In my food processor I shredded the head of a small green cabbage and also made cauliflower rice with a small  cauliflower. In a sauce pan I sauteed these veggies in olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth. When they were a little el dente I then used them as the first layer in the casserole dish.

Layer 1 – Cabbage/Cauliflower

Layer 2 – Tomato meat sauce

Layer 3 – Cabbage/Cauliflower

Layer 4 – Tomato meat sauce

Topping:

1 green kabocha squash

2 sm-med sized yams

2 tbsp coconut oil

coconut milk

garlic

On top of all of this goodness is a squash/yam topping. The squash was cut in half, guts/seeds removed and placed in a roasting dish with a little bit of water. I roasted the squash in the oven with 1tbsp of coconut oil in each half, and 1tsp of cumin and cinnamon. On the stove I peeled and boiled the yams. When they were ready for mashing and the squash was ready I took it from the oven, scooped out the meat and mashed with the drained sweet potatoes. I added a bit more coconut oil, garlic and coconut milk to make it the consistency of a good mash. I then covered the casserole with this final layer.

Baked in the oven for 30 minutes.

* The amount described in this recipe I would guess to be the perfect amount for a standard size lasagna tray. I had to distribute mine between a casserole dish and 2 meatloaf pans. We’re going to have the caserole dish now and freeze the 2 meatloaf pans.