Whole30 Day14…Self Awareness and sausage recipe

Day 14 could be considered the polar opposite of day 13. I feel so much better. I was still up at the crack of dawn, but I didn’t mind. I had coffee and breakfast in bed and read a bit, then I got up and went to the gym where I had a cracking work out that I really enjoyed, although it was challenging. I also managed to do ten minutes of cardio without coughing up a lung which is progress, even if it was incredibly low level and very slow.

I also spent a little time thinking- the gym is a very good place for that. Yesterday was rough for reasons that go way beyond the whole30 thing. It was the anniversary of my mum’s death, in case you are wondering, made all the more poignant by my dad’s death earlier this year (which raised its own emotional minefield) Usually I deal with those things by having some wine, perhaps a bit of a cry and going to bed. But yesterday I couldn’t do that. I had to actually think and feel and make a decision about how I was going to do that. I externalised it- partly consciously and partly unconsciously as I didn’t want to acknowledge that I could be affected. So, is that an NSV? Being made to think and feel? I don’t know. There are a lot of boxes to unpack if that is the case, and I am not altogether sure that I want to. However, I also decided that my mantra for today (and it should be everyday really) is to be kind to myself. So I have tried to be. And you should too. Everyday.

So, back to the positive vibes I woke up with…and the pork ‘sausages’ in the title. I haven’t found any whole 30 compliant sausages in any shop I have been in. They all contain gluten or rice flour, but I have found a million recipes for breakfast sausage spice for minced pork (or ground pork in American). They are really burgers, but I prefer sausages for breakfast, so that is what I call them.  They would be equally good for lunch or dinner though. They are really easy to make and they freeze well once you have cooked them.

Ingredients- makes about 6/7 burgers depending how big you make your balls..nudge nudge.

500g pork mince

Onion very finely sliced- I have used both red (about ¼) and spring ( approx.. 4) . Either work equally well.

1-2 tsp. smoked paprika

1-2 tsp. nutmeg

1-2 tsp hot paprika

1-2 tsp. garlic granuals

1-2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

I say 1-2 tsps. because it is really up to you how much you like each flavour.

1 egg beaten.

Method:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and smoosh them altogether with your hands. When they are thoroughly mixed, take a handful of the mixture and make into a burger shape.

Once you have used up all the mixture, heat some oil (I use coconut) in a large frying pan and cook over a medium heat until browned on one side, flip them and cook the other side.  They will be firm when they are pressed if they are done. Eat them straight away or let them cool a little and put them in the freezer.

Meal prep. Done.

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In praise of the omelette

“But Aunt Maureen makes smashing omelettes.”

“She makes smashing omelettes.” Poirot’s voice was happy. He sighed. “Then Hercule Poirot has not lived in vain,” he said. “It was I who taught your Aunt Maureen to make an omelette.”

And if omelettes make Poirot happy, then that is reason enough to heap praise upon them, however, there are a million and one reasons why the humble omelette deserves your consideration. The omelette crosses cultures without fear, it is a food universal, from the frittata, to the tortilla to the tamagoyaki it is almost infinite in its variety. Sweet or savoury, vegetarian or carnivore, suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be eaten hot or cold, as a main meal or an accompaniment, and is as simple or as complicated as you like. It’s really good for you:

  • a complete source of protein- all 8 essential amino acids we can’t synthesise and so must get from our diet;
  • Vitamins galore- D for absorbing calcium, B2 for energy metabolism, B12 for a healthy nervous system, A for vision, E for healthy skin, K for blood clotting;
  • Zinc, iron and copper for whatever those do.

Yet some people fear the omelette. So let’s start with the basics.

Good eggs: nice fresh eggs

The pan: choose a pan based on the intended size of your omelette. Go small if you are scared, big if you are Aunt Maureen. For a 2-3 egg omelette, go for 7-9 inches. And it should be round.

Oil: whatever your choice get one with a high frying point because you are going to make this pan so hot Lucifer would be uncomfortable.

The most basic of omelettes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs

Told you it was basic. Some people like to complicate things by adding milk, but why bother?

Methods:

Beat your eggs. Well, take them out of the shell first but then beat them, with a fork, or a whisk. Then oil your pan and place it over a high heat. As hot as you dare- remember you are making Lucifer sweat. Once hell has called the fire brigade, pour your eggs into the pan. Tilt the pan until the eggs cover the bottom, they should be crackling happily. Once the bottom of the eggs has set, use a spatula to pull the eggs from the side of the pan to the middle and then tilt the pan to fill the space with more egg. You can tilt up to 90 degrees and it will all be fine. Once your omelette is pretty solid- there might still be a bit of gooey on the top, slide spatula underneath and fold the omelette in half. This will cook the gooey bit in the middle, and you can slide your lovely bit of eggy perfection onto a plate. Say hoorah!

And then you can top it with your favourite things- bacon, avocado, cheese, cooked meats, asparagus wrapped in parma ham, greek salad… Basically it is a base, like pizza or toast. In fact, in Spain you could slap it between two thick slices and call it lunch. Que bueno!

For some of you this is almost, but not quite, teaching you to suck eggs. So let’s take it to the next level, by which I mean some omelettes that I have enjoyed recently:

Chorizo and peppers: fry slices of chorizo until they ooze, then added chopped peppers. Fry until crispy. Add eggs and do the tilting thing.

Spinach and feta: wilt your spinach. Add your eggs and tilt and whirl. Crumble feta over the top and fold your omelette in half. Add crispy bacon for a carnivorous version.

Ham and mushrooms….wait! These are basically my favourite pizza toppings. Try out yours in a happy protein rich, low carb, paleo kind of way.

 

 

Brilliant brunches part 5: back to my roots with bubble and squeak

IMG_0111Traditionally bubble and squeak is made with left over cabbage and potatoes and bacon, all fairly common Irish food stuffs, as is the idea of using up left overs, should there be any. I am a fairly long way from my Irish ancestors, but I still think this is a great dish. However, the Irish reliance on potatoes as a staple food stuff was always a risky one – see the potato famine. The famine was unnecessary, and hugely exacerbated by the attempted imposition of free market economics. The UK had enough grain to supply the Irish and prevent starvation when the potato crops failed. However, applying the ideology of a free market- people will buy what they need, they didn’t supply Ireland because the Irish weren’t buying. What they forgot was the end of the equation- people will buy what they can afford. the Irish could not afford to pay what the UK was charging, whereas other export communities could. The result was an inhumane level of preventable human suffering. The imposition of free market economics is the economic equivalent of shock and awe- people are so desperate to survive that they cannot focus on anything else. In Latin America the Chicago Boys helped people like Pinochet in Chile, to impose an economic system that caused untold suffering, hyper-inflation and produced a society living in fear of torture and disappearances. According to the Chicago Boys, this was all necessary while the system righted itself, when everybody would be rich. Or something- they didn’t actually know. It is the economic equivalent of the USA testing Agent Orange in Vietnam. Luckily, before it came to the US and the UK, they realised that the government oppression on such a large scale, was really unnecessary- you simply take away people’s economic independence and they will fall into line- hence Thatcher’s destruction of the unions.

Anyway, I was talking about brunch. Bubble and squeak, delicious, quick and simple.

Recipe (serves 2):

5 leaves of savoy cabbage shredded

1/2 red pepper in chunks

1/2 red onion in chunks

3 eggs beaten

4 slices of parma ham (optional)

Spray a large pan with coconut oil and add the cabbage, onion and pepper. Fry until softened, stirring regularly. Add the eggs and stir quickly to coat the cabbage, this should only take a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and continue to stir until the eggs cook from the of the veg- less if you prefer your eggs a bit runny, or more if you like them firm. Split the eggy veggie mixture between two plates and top with parma ham (if using).

Done and dusted.

Short but Sweet

And I am not talking about me. I am short, but rarely sweet. Saccharine is not really what I am about. But I did make sweet pancakes yesterday and this post is going to be short. I ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning and it was all very good. I have never cooked using protein powder before so I was dubious, but if high protein is your thing, and it currently seems to be mine, then it features in lots of recipes. Particularly sweet recipes which currently aren’t really a part of thing, but it was pancake day. Anyway, it worked. Fluffy, flavoursome pancakes and the protein powered me through a HIITS workout, which is something I am also pretty new too also. Anyway, thanks to paleomg for the recipe. The only thing I changed was vanilla flavour powder to chocolate because that is what I had. Next time I might try chocolate peanut butter flavour, which should also go pretty well with banana.

Recipe:

2 bananas chopped into chunks

2 eggs

30 grams of protein powder

Throw it all in the blender. Blend. Spray a small frying pan with coconut oil (I use frylight) and put it over a medium flame. Pour in the batter when the oil has heated, so your pancake is about 5 inches in diameter and cook for a minute or so, until the batter starts to bubble. Then flip your pancake over and cook for another minute or so.

Ta da!

Serve with fresh fruit. Or syrup- although they are pretty sweet already. You could add choc chips to the mixture or maybe blueberries depending on the flavour protein powder you use.

This morning I reheated them and ate them topped with fage and sliced almonds. Yum.

Brilliant Brunches part 4: poached eggs, parma ham and asparagus

IMG_9976Waking up this morning to my online delivery of food was very pleasing. Even more so that the delivery guy carried it all upstairs for me instead of leaving it all in the lobby. My food cupboard is not full of herbs and spices, the fridge is full of gorgeous fresh food, and my mind is brimming with recipe ideas for the weekend. But first things first. Brunch! I made asparagus wrapped in parma ham earlier this week and I had a few left over. I have seen them used to dip in boiled eggs instead of toasty soldiers, making a breakfast locarb, low calorie and somehow quite luxurious. However, boiled eggs are a pain in the arse without egg cups if you want the full on dipping experience, and I don’t have any egg cups. I don’t like fried eggs, so poached it is. Poached eggs are a thing that used to scare me. Egg poaching pans with little cups in to hold your eggs never really worked for me (rubbery yet under-cooked eggs at the same time? Yuck!) and the whole whisking the water until it resembles a mini typhoon then dropping in the egg and whisking seems to require more hands then most of us are born with. And you can only do one at a time. And it often goes wrong. But, the solution is here! Thanks to the wonder woman that is Delia Smith, in her Cookery Course for Beginners she gives a fool proof method for poaching eggs. You can make as many as will fit in the pan at the same time, and after putting the egg in the pan, you have ten minutes to prepare the rest of your brunch. Perfect!

Method:

Fill a large frying pan with water so it is a bout 1 inch deep. Put on the hob and heat until you can see the bottom of the pan is lined with little bubbles. Crack the eggs into the pan and continue to cook for 1 minute. Delia says this bit has to be very precise, but a few seconds here and there really isn’t going to make much difference. Then turn of the heat and leave the eggs in the pan for another ten minutes. In the mean time, prepare the rest of your food. After ten minutes, scoop out your eggs using a slotted spoon or spatula, drain on a bit of kitchen roll and voila. Perfectly poached, perfectly healthy eggs.

I re-heated the asparagus wrapped in parma ham in another pan while the eggs were poaching and added a handful of cherry tomatoes chopped in half. Fry the tomatoes face down until they are a little charred.

Put all the ingredients on a plate and enjoy.

Brilliant Brunches part 3: baked eggs and avocado with chorizo hash

Happy day first day of February. I think this year needs a new start, and today might be it. What is starting today is bloguary. I have been challenged by my amazing colleague and good friend over at theunconsciouscurriculum.wordpress.com to complete one blog a day for 29 days, writing for at least 29 minutes a day. I am hoping that includes editing! If you read this, why not join us in this lovely attempt to start writing more regularly? Just write and #29daysofwriting. Awesome. So here I am writing about brunch in the evening, while waiting for my pork chops to marinate (that will probably be another blog post) depending on how they work out. If the recipe was a football team then all the subs would be on the pitch. Recipe: rice wine vinegar. Me: I don’t have that. Red wine vinegar, in you go. As it is an American paleo recipe, my English non-paleo kitchen nearly didn’t take the strain. However, after the pre-amble, or amuse bouche if you will (this being a blog about food), now for the main course, the entrée, the BRUNCH!

For a little bit of context, I was looking up high protein breakfasts, which are a bit of a theme, and I found eggs and avocado in various combinations, and having 6 avocados in the fridge it seemed an ideal opportunity to use some up. How do you end up with 6 avocados? Online ordering and forgetfulness is your answer. I also thought I wanted something a bit more so I opened the fridge and there was chorizo. Decision made. With a cup of tea ready to sustain me, I started. Recipe and Method below, including veggie variations. I am pretty sure this recipe if paleo, if that is your thing.

Recipe for Two:

Baked Eggs and Avocado:

  • 1 large ripe avocado- cut in half, remove the stone and scoop out of the skin using a spoon. Slice the halves in half again length ways, and cut a little hole in the middle.
  • 1 egg beaten

Chorizo Hash:

  • 100 grams of chorizo, skinned and sliced into chunks
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • 100 grams of button mushrooms cut into halves
  • 1/2 red pepper… or orange or green

Method:

Put the grill on high.

Put a frying pan over a medium heat and drop in the chorizo slices with wild abandon. Or normally. Take a sip of tea if you have made a brew, and stir the chorizo around until it is crisping up. Then throw in the mushrooms, onions and peppers with a suitably dramatic gesture. Using a spatula, toss those veggies up and down and round and round until they are covered in chorizo oil. And then let them be. They deserve a rest and so do you. Have some more tea.

Place avocado slices on a baking tray. Pour egg into the holes and slide the tray gently under the grill. If you have egg left over, amuse yourself making mini omelettes in the chorizo pan, while the eggs firm up under the grill. This will take 5-10 minutes depending on your grill.

When everything is ready, slip a couple of avocado eggs onto each plate and divide the hash between the two. For a spicy metabolism starting kick, swirl over the sriracha. Not too much. This is brunch, not a chilli challenge.

Veggie Version: Omit the chorizo. Add a different veg instead, courgettes perhaps or multi coloured peppers, or spinach. You choose! Before adding to the pan, spray or rub veggies with a little oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika, then add to the pan and hash your heart out.

Staying paleo: make sure your sriracha is paleo. Mine isn’t but I like it anyway. You can find a homemade paleo sriracha recipe at nomnompaleo, who also has a fuckton of other paleo delights, if you didn’t already know.

Brilliant brunches part 2: the veggie sizzler!

Hello Sunday. Hello hangover. Hello brunch. It has to be brunch because I got up way too late for it to be considered breakfast, in fact brunch may be pushing it a bit. But who cares, this recipe works as breakfast, brunch, lunch and tea- it is whatever you want it to be, a kind of lap dancer of a recipe but without being derogatory to women. As I usually eat a lot of meat- generally choosing protein over processed carbs, I sometimes need a break, so I have been looking up veggie brunch options. Finding high protein breakfasts that don’t include eggs is pretty difficult, and I’ll admit I took the easy route with this one, but I will be bringing you veggie, non-egg options as my search for the perfect brunch continues. A lot of breakfasts also contain protein powder which slightly freaks me out. I am not sure why, but it doesn’t seem like a real food. However, I may just bite the bullet- after all there is a new and unused blender in the kitchen, so I might have to get my blend on at some point. As usual this recipe is a confabulation (what a brilliant word) of recipes I have found, so I claim no originality. This is also a great recipe for variation- and using up your vegetables because I think you can add pretty much anything you like. If you are in need of a meat hit, then a couple of slices of bacon on the top would be perfect.

Recipe for 1:

1/2 pepper de-seeded and cut into chunks. I used an orange one, but colour here (as in life) is irrelevant so use your favourite.

1/2 red onion cut into chunks

75 grams (approx.) of button mushrooms cut in half

1 egg

1/2 avocado cut into slices

Oil- your choice. I use Fry Light coconut oil.

Method:

Spray a small frying pan with oil and put over a medium heat. Add the pepper, red onion, and mushrooms. Turn on the grill to a high heat. Stir the veg around the pan. Drink coffee (this isn’t in the recipe but it is what I did). When the veg is softening and starting to brown, crack your egg into a cup. I used a wine glass because I like to pretend I am classy, and more practically, it is currently the only type of glass in my kitchen. Make a space in the pan by pushing all the veg to the side, like a little amphitheatre of vegetables. If you want to keep your yoke whole, carefully add the egg to the space you have made. If you are like me, drop egg into the pan from a height and then swear loudly as the yoke spreads itself about. Let the egg cook for a couple of minutes and place the pan under the grill until the egg is cooked to your liking. I have a horror of wobbly egg white- it makes me gag and the dish uneatable so I always ere on the side of caution. This usually results in a less than runny yoke, but I don’t mind that. You might. It’s your food so enjoy your eggs as you like. Empty the pan onto a plate and serve with sliced avocado- if you like, or top with grated cheese, or bacon, or all three.

 

Brilliant Brunches: meaty, veggie, savoury and sweet

IMG_9903[1]Good morning! I say that with a smile which is highly unusual. If I speak at all in the morning it is only in curse words. Until I leave the flat. After that I say good morning like I really want you to go to hell, very quickly. So what is different about today? I am working from home which means I have had time to drink coffee in bed, read a little bit of a just re-issued classic crime novel, and really wake myself up by setting off the smoke alarm while grilling bacon. The secret to the last one is to buy really good bacon with no added water. While being surprisingly difficult to find in local supermarkets, it ensures your bacon stays the same size when it is cooked as it was in the packet, it gets properly crispy, and under a hot grill produces enough smoke to set off the fire alarm ensuring a hot shot of adrenaline that will wake you up quicker than a double espresso. However, if you prefer a more relaxed start to the day, I recommend keeping a closer eye on the bacon while it is under the grill.

As brunch is one of my favourite meals of the day, when I have time, I have decided that it really deserves some attention. I hesitate to put up a recipe for my brunch today because it is so simple that I don’t really think of it as a recipe, but there must be some more exciting ideas out there. So for the next couple of weeks I am going to be devoting my eating energies to wonderful brunchey foods. The great thing is that brunch can be breakfast, lunch or tea (dinner in some places). I only had a full English in the evening until I was about 20. I didn’t even really recognise it as a breakfast option. So coming up will be eggy recipes, spicy recipes, veggie recipes, sweet recipes, recipes that don’t deserve the title because it is just arranging food on a plate. I am looking forward to eating it all.

Anyway, this morning I grilled two slices of smoked bacon (no added water). Melted some frozen spinach in a pan, added two beaten eggs mixed with a splash of skimmed milk and scrambled it all together. I use a big frying pan for scrambled eggs, or a small one for omelettes. Put the heat up high and stir the eggs around the pan in languid movements, like a louche film star. A minute later and you have scrambled eggs. Veggie version- do not on any account grill the bacon. Add a creamy cheese like ricotta (low calorie, high protein) with the eggs for super creamy yumminess.

PS- always make your own. Nobody can ever scramble your eggs to perfection. If you find someone who can, chain them to the cooker in case they decide making you perfect scrambled eggs isn’t their life work. Because it should be.