Well hello there! Based on my last post date its been awhile since I've updated you all on my life and journey in healthy living. Can we still be friends!? I hope so.

Things have been a little crazy (in a good way) around here which is part of the reason I haven't been blogging.  Here's just a few snapshots of life lately!


My sister Lauren got married!

My other sister (the baby in the family) graduated from college!
I traveled to Portland for a week and contemplated moving there permanently (with Corey and Piper of course!)
And our (fur) baby is getting big and ruling our daily schedules
So what does this all mean? Well, it seems that instead of infrequently posting (once every two months) I'm going to make an effort to post more like once a week. Its more of a realistic goal that will help you lovely readers get some good info, recipes and shenanigans in the Pinch of Ginger house. So keep your eyes peeled early next week for some fun blog posts coming! I have (lots) of yummy recipes I can't wait to share!



Question of the Day: To my blog friends: Do you feel like posting less frequently but richer content is the way to go? To the readers: Would you prefer more posts or less posts with more information?
 
 
This morning as I sat down to write, the only thing I could think of was Eminem. It's fitting though seeing as how I vanished for about 2 months! I promise everything was ok, but between a (very) crazy work schedule and helping my sister prep for her wedding there's been virtually no time to blog.

So with that, I'd like to share a few (hard) lessons I have learned over the last 2 months.

1. Sleep is THE single most important thing you can do for your body.- I was running on about 2-4 hours of sleep every night and my body was rejecting the lack of zzz's in more ways than one. I began to ache all over, I woke up with persistent headaches and my nausea lasted for the first hour I was awake ever day. Not to mention, that lack of sleep tends to equal bad decision making later in the day, especially in the way of food.

2. Control the things you can control. Meaning, don't sweat the commute or things that the universe has out of reach for you to change. With a to-do list the size of Santa's at Christmas, you should focus your time on what can be changed, and more importantly, focus positive energy on the tasks at hand, instead of bitching about what you would rather be doing.

3. Prioritize. There's a mug that says "You have just as many hours in a day as Beyonce." I suppose you could consider this a rally cry to 'get more done' however I would read it as a cry to prioritize. If you consider exercise important, then that needs to be a part of your everyday routine. If you want to spend time having dinner with your family, then hold the conference calls before or after that hour. The important thing is to do a few things well, instead of trying to accomplish it all.

Now that I have my 'life' back, I cannot wait to get some exercising in (that was one of many things that were severely reduced) and to spend more time at home with the BF, Piper and of course get back to recipe sharing with you all!

Question of the Day: When life gets crazy, what's the first thing to go?



 
 
They're calling for another blizzard like storm in PA. Shocker I know. I am normally a big fan of the winter, speaking out against the naysayers, praying for snow and looking forward to the idea of a fun ski vacation. This year, with the amount of snow we’ve already had (we’re up to 5 snow/ice days already!) I’m a bit over it. Maybe its because my snow days now mean that I’m cooped up inside, skipping workouts and trying my darndest to work remotely.

So with more snow in the forecast, I’m searching and dreaming about recipes that warm the soul and keep away the dreary winter blues. This recipe was inspired after digging through my fridge desperately trying to find a way to make soup with the ingredients I have on hand. FYI: I have at least 4-5 packs of chicken sausage on hand at all times. It’s the one true love of my belly.

That said, this soup pretty much revolves around the right sausage flavor. I had some mild and spicy Italian that I mixed together to kick up the heat. Certainly there are many substitutes that can be made with this recipe, so feel free to get creative!

Chicken Sausage and Kale Soup

Yield: 6 – 2 cup servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes (tastes even better the next day)

Ingredients:

1 box of organic free-range chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 packs of chicken sausage (sliced thick) I used mild and spicy italain
3 cups of dinosaur kale chopped
2 Tbsp of garlic powder
2 Tbsp of hot sauce
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a pot, add the chicken stock and water and tomatoes. Next add the garlic powder, hot sauce and pepper flakes. 

Rough Chop the chicken sausage and kale into bite size pieces. You will want to keep the sausage in larger chunks so that it doesn’t shrink once in the soup. Add the sausage and kale to the pot.

Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to medium heat for 20 minutes.

This would be great served with some Blue Diamond Almond Crackers or some sliced cheese on the side!

Question of the day: How much snow have you gotten so far? Is there a certain type of recipe you lean towards when the weather turns cold?
 
 
Happy Weekend everyone! I’m sure there are masses of people heading off to the grocery store today to stock pile on fantastic Superbowl Recipe ingredients. Before you head over, take a look at some of my favorite Paleo recipes that will fool all of your friends and family!

Its never too cold to tailgate! You could even make these as fun sliders!
Recipes from other Paleo Peeps:

BLT Bites from Stupid Easy Paleo
Chick-Fil-A Paleo Style!
Paleomg's 46 Superbowl recipes!



Question of the day: Who are you rooting for? The Broncos, Seahawks or whoever looks better in their uniform? ;)


 
 
Here we are again whooped after a heck of a snow storm and probably since I’m not the one shoveling, I love every minute of it! Snow storms make me want to bunker down, grab a piping hot cup of coffee and read all day. Instead my snow day was more about wearing out walking the dog before too many inches fell, fielding conference calls and answering emails as fast as possible all while trying to make sure Piper didn’t destroy our living room.  Sounds delightful right?

Also when it’s cold and snowy I crave comfort food which was increasingly hard for me with the 21 Day Sugar detox. For me comfort food means loaded with cheese which is on my food aversion list. To try and create a comforting and filling meal, for me and the show shoveler of the house, I came up with this little diddy below. I was so excited to use Trader Joe’s Ghee sent to me by my Paleo Pen Pal Tarah. This cooking fat makes your meat smell and taste AMAZING. Tarah is super sweet and has some amazing recipes! For all of my new mama friends, she also has done paleo through her pregnancy and has some great tips at What I Gather. Check her out!

If you’re stumped what to grab next time you’re fighting the crowds pre-snowfall grocery shopping, reach for this recipe to keep your family healthy and warm.

Snow Shoveler's Delight

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1lb spaghetti squash
1lb of ground beef, veal or pork (I used a combo of the three)
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of plain tomato sauce
4 Tbsp. of Oregano
4 Tbsp. of Dried Basil
4 Tbsp. of Garlic
4 Tbsp. of Onion powder
Ghee or any cooking fat
Salt
Pepper


Directions:

Pierce the spaghetti squash around the entire thing and put in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. After the 4 minutes is up, rotate and cook again until 4 minutes. Continue this process until the squash is steaming hot and soft.

While the squash is cooking, in a sauté pan, add the ghee and melt.

While your pan in heating, mix the ground meat, 2 Tbsp. of oregano, basil, garlic, onion powder and salt and pepper. Really mix it into the meat well and massage with your hands if necessary. Take the meat and roll them into little balls (about the size of a golf ball). Put them in the pan and sear them until the meat crackles and turns brown. Continue to rotate each meatball in the pan until they are cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, pull the spaghetti squash out of the microwave and slice in half. Scoop out the seeds in the center to discard. Take a fork and pull the spaghetti squash out into a large mixing bowl. Once both halves are cleaned out, add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to the hot squash. The sauce will adapt to the temperature of the squash right away. Add the remainder of the spices and mix well.

Plate the Spaghetti squash mixture and top it with 3-4 meatballs. Feel free to add grated cheese or olives to really punch up the flavor!

 

Question of the day: What is your favorite comfort food for when it’s cold? Is it soup? A Casserole? Hot cocoa? Mine is a bowl of chili and hot cocoa by far!

 
 
Today makes day 15 on the 21 Day Sugar Detox and friends… it feels mighty good! This is a completely honest zone here and so I will not lie to you and say my days of guzzling  sipping wine are over, however, it does feel pretty darn good leaving the bar owing zilch.

During these 15 days I’ve continued to learn about my body and how the food I eat directly effects how I feel everyday. Sounds like a no brainer until you take the whole      “my body is a science lab” approach. (Sung like your body is a wonderland for anyone curious) If you’re a long-time reader of the blog you already know that I’m operating sans gallbladder. While this is relatively ‘normal’ (I use that word loosely) it does present some serious eating challenges. I have had ‘flares’ of what physicians have called pancreatitis causing me to be hospitalized, I have had major digestive issues sending me racing for the nearest bathroom and they were each met with a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh that says “we can’t help you.” Enter my pivotal Paleo point in my life and now I’m 2 years in and detoxing feeling better than ever right? Wrong.

For the last 2-3 weeks I have been experiencing a sharp acute pain whenever I eat breakfast. The pain would last up to 2 hours, happen directly after an hour or two of eating and made me beg for a heating pad and ging ale. It wasn’t until a week ago that I spoke to my nutritionist, showed her my food log and realized the one consistent part of my meals every morning was eggs. After a little test and another experiment it turns out eggs and I are on the outs. So so sad. So now I am left fending for a breakfast that does not include an egg or a bagel. What’s a girl to do?  The only logical next step is the Green Monster Smoothie! (adapted for the 21 Day Sugar Detox)

Green Monster Smoothie

Yield: 20 oz - 1 smoothie
Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
1 green tipped banana (less sugar the less ripe the banana)
½ cup of ice
¾ cup of unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
2 Tbsp of almond butter
1  Tbsp of real Vanilla Extract
1 Tbsp of cinnamon
1-2 handfuls of spinach

Directions:
Throw everything into a blender and pulse until smooth. Serve immediately!

This smoothie actually holds me over longer between meals than before. Maybe it’s the reduced sugar or the lack of protein powder, but either way I love the results!

Question of the day: What non-egg breakfasts can you share with me? I need some help!
 
 
Happy Friday everyone!

I will be writing a new series that will post every Friday called Take Out Fake Out. The idea is that I whip up some of your favorite ‘junk food’ items and make them into a healthier- paleo way! Besides saving your arteries, it will also save you the cost of a takeout meal for you family.

First on the menu is Cheeseburger Nachos. This idea came to me when Corey and I were running errands last Saturday. I was craving a hoagie (that’s what we call it in Philly where Wawa reigns as king) and needed to find a way to satiate the craving without actually eating the sandwich. This recipe is definitely a keeper for our weekly rotation!

Cheeseburger Nachos

Yield: Serves 2 (dinner plate size servings)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes (this is not stand over the stove and slave cook either folks- this is pop that sucker in and walk away cook)

Ingredients:
1/2 pound of grass fed beef
1 organic onion (preferably a sweet onion)
2 large sweet potatoes
1/2  grass fed cheese (Cabot cheese is always a good choice for real-unprocessed cheese)


Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees

While the oven is warming thinly slice each sweet potato into little round medallions. If you have a mandolin, this is extremely helpful since the slices become very thin. Once the sweet potatoes are chopped, dice the onion into small pieces.

Toss the sweet potatoes in a little bit of Olive Oil and salt and pepper, place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes. Bake until they look crispy and dry.

In a sauté pan, add the ground beef and cook until almost entirely brown. Then add the onion and mix with ground beef.

While the meat and onion is cooking, shred the cheese into a bowl for easy topping at the end. Continue to stir and cook the meat mix until the onion is translucent. Once the meat mix is fully cooked, remove from heat.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and place on a plate. Top with meat mix and finally add the cheese as the final layer. If you want your cheese to melt, place the cheese on top of the meat mix in the pan and add the lid. This will trap the heat to melt the cheese and you can scoop layers all at once.
 
This is a meal the whole family will love! You can sub out sweet potatoes for regular potatoes, beef for ground turkey and use any type of cheese you would like! The sky is the limit!
 

Question of the Day: What is your favorite take out food?

 

 

 

 
 
At the beginning of every New Year, people tend to ‘binge’ on making resolutions, often unattainable ones. I have fallen trap to this a time or two, but this year instead of making resolutions, I’ve vowed to continue to set goals all year long. This is not some novel idea that people revel in, however I think we would all be better served following this path.

That said, to start 2014, the first goal is for me to get my health back under control. I like everyone else, have fallen slave to the chocolate chip cookies, extra glasses of wine and additional appetizers. This all while skipping workouts and continuing on my merry munching path. My sister Lauren and I are both doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox led by the lovely Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites. I am a long-time fan and supporter of hers, so this coupled with a Balanced Bites seminar later this month, I’m chock full of inspiration and motivation!

For me, the 21DSD means (gulp) no dairy and no alcohol. This might be the hardest thing I’ve ever encountered (I love cheese and wine more than I love Piper). Ok that’s a bit hasty, but you know what I mean! Get ready for full melt-down craving central over here, but to keep me chugging and you inspired, I’m going to share some of my favorite Paleo recipes (some sans dairy) that are part of the 21 Day rotation.

This recipe hails from the kitchen of Suzie Kay (my mama) and wow is it good! If you are ever a guest at our homes during the holidays, you can bet your dinner that this side dish will be on the table!

Peppered Bacon Green Beans

Yield: 6 servings of 2 heaping spoon fulls
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:
1 pound of fresh string beans (or green beans if you’re from Philly)
1 pound of Kunzler’s peppered bacon (this is the key to the whole dish!)
1/4 cup of dried minced onion
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Rinse the beans and break them in half so that they are shorter in length. Boil the beans in a pot with water and the dried minced onion until the beans are bright green and easily pierced by a fork.

While the beans are cookin’, fry the bacon in a skillet until very crispy. Remove the beans from the burner and drain the water. Place them back in the pot with the bacon crumbled, bacon fat and grated parmesan cheese.

The flavor from this dish comes from the peppered bacon and bacon fat. I highly suggest you add both to the dish! This side will be the hit with all of your dinner guests!

 

Bon Appetit!

 

 



 
 
Hello Friends!

After a much needed blog break, I am back and full of exciting blog posts to begin the new year! I cannot believe it has been three years since my very first post. Some days it feels as though this has been part of my life forever, and other days like its been hours since I began writing to you all.

Thank you for reading, following and supporting me through this journey. Over the years there has been quite the shift in my posts from everyday meal options, to training tips and life updates.  Most of my positive feedback has been related to my recipes more than how to run a half-marathon or what the heck we’re up to in good old Pennsltuckey. That said, in 2014 you’ll see a pretty big shift in my blog posts from lifestyle focused to food focused. That does not mean you’ll see less of Piper! I mean how cute is this face?!

I hope that you’ll stay interested in what I write, and share with the blog world. It’s taken me 3 years to find my path on this journey, but despite the time lapsed, my passion for food and healthy eating always shines through. So let’s get right to it shall we?

Mother nature dumped about 8 inches of snow on us over the weekend and nothing inspires me more in the kitchen than a good snowfall. Of course, with this also means I want to bake, and the challenge to create something that is “paleo”, “primal” or “gluten-free” that tastes yummy is tough.

This recipe for Bananna Pancakes is half inspired by every-other paleo pancake recipe and part me digging through my pantry at 5am. The secret ingredient to making the recipe work is Nicki’s Coconut Butter. I highly suggest you order some today. Like if you do nothing else, do this! I promise you won’t regret it.

Primal Banana Pancakes

Yield: 2 servings of 4 mini pancakes each
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
2 very ripe bananas
2 large organic eggs
1/2 cup of Nicki’s Coconut Butter (I use the honey pecan flavor)
1 tsp of ground cinnamon

Directions:

In a large bowl mash up the banana until it is no longer lumpy. A little trick I use to speed up the process is to heat the sliced banana in microwave for 30 seconds before mashing with a fork. After the lumps are gone, beat in two whole eggs.

Add 1/2 c of Nicki’s Coconut Butter. (Note this will come solid in a jar, you may have to heat it up slightly to easy divide it from the jar). Mix well until the ingredients form a smooth batter. Lastly, add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the bowl.

In a skillet, heat up a little bit of coconut oil (enough to coat the pan) and add pour your pancakes into the pan. Follow the same process you would for traditional pancakes, don’t flip until you see the sides stiffen and little bubbles form at the edges.

Once done, add some grass-fed butta and maple syrup to complete the plate! If you need a little more protein, I often add Trader Joe’s Apple Chicken sausage to the side to compliment the maple flavor.

 

Now doesn’t that sound like a delicious little treat for a snow day? So what are you waiting for and get that sausage cookin’!

 
 
The other day, a dear friend had posted on Facebook a rally cry for friends to provide inspiration for early morning workouts. Before moving in with Corey, I had always been an evening workout kinda gal. With a very early commute (hello 7am train) and an open evening often spent alone, it made sense. The pitfall of course was any enticing invitation for a happy hour drink or need to work late. Quickly my workout became the last priority.

Now that we have been blissfully living in sin for 2 years, I have switched to early morning workouts- sometimes as early as 5 am.  When I share this with friends and colleagues I’m often met with groans and “I don’t know how you do that” comments. But really, the early alarm is all mental my friends. Here’s my list of ways to get moving in the morning:

5 tips for Morning Exercise

1.)   Get to bed! According to studies from Harvard, a chronic lack of sleep (less than 8 hours) can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain and a decrease in your immune system. I always prioritize sleep over a workout and am often getting to bed between 9- 9:30 every night for a 5- 5:30 alarm. If I have a bad night’s sleep or if I have a series of late nights, I push my workouts to later in the week. The potential for injury is not worth it and honestly my workouts are not as effective.

2.)   Find something that excites you- Let’s face it, when the weather turns dark and cold in the winter, even the diehard exercisers struggle with their desire to get out of bed for the gym. For me, I have looked forward to morning workouts if I really love what I am doing. If it feels like a chore, then maybe its not the right workout for you! Lately Crossfit has been striking my fancy and even though late work nights have prevented my 6am attendance, I am itching to get back.

3.)   Get Social- Sometimes it just takes a few encouraging words to give you the boost you need. Tweet, FB, Instagram your intent for a morning workout or the after sweaty pic. It will amaze you the support you will receive in the most surprising places.
4.)   Find a Friend- This is one of the oldest tricks in the book but a friend to hold you accountable goes a long way! I look forward to my 6am WOD crew and you better believe when I go MIA, they’re sending me the encouragement to get back. Lately, I have lost my running mojo until I tried a short run with furbaby Piper. She’s now my motivation to lace up and get out!

5.)   Plan your day accordingly- When I have morning workouts I plan out my day ahead of time. By setting out my workout clothes, picking out my work outfit and planning my lunch, I allow myself the time to exercise without excuses. No more, I have a 9am meeting and couldn’t get ready in time. When you plan ahead, its harder to make excuses.

Are these tips fail-safe? Certainly not, but the trick to any workout, diet, lifestyle regimen is the desire and want to continue and improve. Do you want to be healthy? Do you want to feel good, eat right, sleep well? You are the person in control to make that decision everyday.

Question of the day: What tips can you share about making morning workouts easier?