Bacon and Sweet Potato ‘Pie’

1269573_10200846450218429_1889167781_o

We all know how important breakfast is – paleo or non paleo. The days of me eating sugar laden muesli with low fat, extra sugar yoghurt, and thinking I was being healthy and not understanding why I was hungry again in an hour – are gone.

And while I love eggs, I also love variety and experimenting. So one Sunday, on food prep day, I pulled out the ingredients I had in the fridge and pantry and thought about what breakfast concoction I could make for the week.

I had done muffins and a frittata recently, had run out of zucchini for a slice and, well just wanted to try something new.

What I ended up making, was a sweet potato and bacon pie. It really is a frittata, looks like a pizza but either way tastes delicious!

The ingredients I had and used were below –

  • 1 cup diced smoked paleo ‘speck’ bacon
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato
  • 1 container of cheery tomatoes – quartered
  • ½ cup green beans diced (again you can use whatever you have here)
  • Fresh oregano (you can use whatever herbs you want)
  • 1 x can coconut milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • 8 (approx) smiling eggs

The paleo speck bacon I got was from Cannings butchers. It has no added sugar or nasties in it, and can also be kept in the freezer. If you are a first time eater of this, make sure you crisp it up in your cooking or it can have a rubber taste. I leave my skin on, but you can remove if you would like.1271850_10200846452538487_255684771_o

Method –

  • Melt your coconut oil in a large pan and add your bacon. Fry for a few minutes until it start to get crispy. Add your sweet potato and fry together until bacon is cooked and crispy and sweet potato is soft and almost cooked through.

1277700_10200846505899821_1156185298_o

  • Grease your dish, (with coconut oil) I used an oven proof dish that has a lid and can be used for casseroles and other such delights. Just find one that suits.
  • Line the bottom of the dish with some of your cherry tomatoes. Leave enough for the top of your pie.
  • Once the bacon and sweet potato is done to your liking, add to the dish over the top of the tomato.

1263887_10200846451578463_1034843105_o

  • Meanwhile beat your eggs and coconut milk in a separate dish with salt and pepper and oregano. If you like you can add extra coconut milk to help thicken, or even almond milk – get creative!
  • Add the green beans to your egg mixture and stir to combine.
  • Pour egg mixture over your bacon and sweet potato in the dish.
  • Place the rest of your cherry tomatoes on top of the egg mixture, season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Cook in a moderate oven, approx 180-200 until egg is cooked through.

1277506_10200846490339432_739130487_o

Enjoy!

The pie also freezes well and travels well – I took a piece on board my flight to Perth recently.

Again, you can change this to include onion, garlic and herbs or vegetables you have.

Cooking paleo is all about being creative and combining flavors that works, so have a play. Google, and then change/adapt/adjust as needed.

The ‘Almost Anything’ Omelette – Sweet Potato, Bacon and Tomato

1147672_10200683800192280_760841547_o

So this little bad boy does not look the best, but I blame that on travel rather than taste.

I made him the night before, and carried him to work in my trusty Tupperware container ready for a warm up at work the next morning.

Problem was, my trusty Tupperware container was too big to fit in said microwave, and getting Mr Omelette out of container onto plate for heating was more of a challenge than making it in the first place.

Omelette’s are great for breakfast and not bad heated up, making them versatile for those of us who have office jobs. They are also versatile in you can literally put ‘almost anything’ in them.

This Almost Anything Omelette is sweet potato, bacon and tomato.

There is some method in my madness which is below –

  • 4 x Happy Eggs from Happy Chickens
  • 1 x small brown onion
  • 4 x Rashes of free range bacon diced
  • 1 x Tomato
  • 1 x Cup diced sweet potato
  • Herbs of your choosing

Heat and grease pan with coconut oil

Brown your onion

Add sweet potato and fry until it starts to soften

Add bacon and fry until it gets to the level of crispiness you like

In a separate jug or bowl add your eggs, salt pepper and any herbs or spices (with no hidden extras) you like.

Whisk away.

Dice tomato and add to your whisked eggs.

Pour into pan over bacon and sweet potato. Use a spoon to evenly distribute chunks in your omelette.

When the sides start to bubble and have set enough, flip your omelette and cook until egg is set and cooked through.

See – really not Jamie Oliver worthy…

But you can also add kale, zucchini or whatever else your fridge or vegetable crisper holds.

The Primal Challenge Day 30 – The Finale

Day 30. The final day. I’ve been putting off writing this post for as long as I can. Probably because it is officially the end of the challenge, and I’m not sure I want it to be.

My procrastination has led me to tackle my own version of chewy mocha power balls (no berries, a few extra dates) and a double serving of frosty fruit smash. I then ate half of it and put the rest in the freezer – I’m still worried about Friday’s skin fold test.

I wanted to make the paleo banana bread recipe, but my sister in law did and ate four pieces of it in one day, so I’m a little scared. You know my track record with other backed paleo goods. And nuts.

Lizzy told me today post WOD she felt posting the MODs each night was therapeutic, and she would miss it. I guess I feel the same way about my blog posts.

I started the idea for my first post when the voice in my head that often talks to me seemed to make a little bit of sense. You know that voice that often tells you what you should and shouldn’t do? Well mine often says it in a more colourful way, and sometimes rather than just saying yes or no, entire paragraphs of often useless drivel and one sided conversation ends up swimming in my head.

The beginning of the 30 day challenge  – something so new to me given I had never tried to cut out any food before, let alone multiple food groups – seemed to ignite that voice in my head and send her on a sugar fuelled drive, so much so I had to get it out.

Just as Lizzy did with her MODs, I found the writing therapeutic, and it was a simple way to reignite a very rusty passion and habit for writing.   I never expected others to like it, or to follow or to share it, or to comment. Or that on day 28 a random Crossfit Rookie News website would pick it up (where were you day 1?!).

So I know I don’t want that to be over.

But most of all, I don’t really want the 30 day challenge to be over, because I’m slightly scared of what I will do when it is.

There is still that bottle of wine (or three) in the fridge. Right next to the ciders and the beer and the mixers ready for the gin and vodka. I never normally drink during the week (when I am at home – if I am travelling, out to dinner or just out for drinks of course this rule does not apply) but there is part of me that is worried I might bust out a vodka on the rocks the moment I’m able to.

A few ears still remain of the Easter bunny that was eventually cracked open on Sunday night. I almost want to eat them now in case my husband gets to them first. I have the fear of missing out – a stupid fear – like there are no more Chocolate Easter Bunnies in the world. Like normal rabbits, they seem to be quite effective at multiplying and running around in other peoples gardens when not wanted.

And a few Tim Tams – the original, not those that have tried to catch up with crazy modern times and added more sugar to the already existing overflowing amount. There are a few of them left too.

The wheel of double Brie cheese is almost calling my name from here.

I don’t think I really want to eat these things (well maybe only a little) but once the word ‘challenge’ is removed from this entire clean eating gig, then my mental barrier which has been effectively blocking these nasties from me will be lifted, and maybe then I’ll return to my human self, loosing all superhero self control I had during the last 30 days.

I think that might be scarier than the primal fear I first felt.

So, reflection time. What exactly have a I learned/experienced/felt during these 30 days I hear you ask? Yes I literally hear you ask. Almost every day someone asks me if feel better, have I noticed a difference, has it been worth it.

So here it all is – sugar sweet, sweat and tears…

Lightbulb moments –

#1

I was VERY naïve when it came to some foods and healthy eating. As a 30 something who was actively exercising, and had friends who thought I was already on a very strict eating plan, I was in some way shape or form kidding myself.

Sugar is sugar, regardless if it is in chocolate cake or muesli bars. The entire time I was saying no thanks as others ate over stimulated Picnic bars (my ultimate favorite) or pieces of cake – and silently judging them for it – I was doing the same thing with my Carmen’s muesli, muesli bars, fruit, packaged soup and other no longer –never were – healthy foods.

Here Miss Sugar is no longer center stage. She has been reduced to a mere understudy in her now dirty and ripped tutu and doesn’t seem so attractive anymore.

#2

Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  I mean EVERYWHERE.  Hidden in much of what I had in my pantry and used every night for dinner, and then wondered why neither of us could loose any weight.  In case you think I am exaggerating, here is a list of where Miss Sugar hides, loitering in the curtains waiting for the main star to break her leg so she can take over….

  • Masterfoods dried herbs, including Lemon Pepper, Garlic Pepper Seasoning, Chicken Seasoning, Roast Vegetable Seasoning to name a few.
  • Tomato sauce – all brands
  • Fish sauce – most brands
  • Moist coconut flakes – yeah this little sucker almost had me!
  • All supermarket stocks
  • Premade pasta jars – a regular in my household before this
  • Most pre-packed nut mixes
  • Most ‘mixed fruit’ packages also include extra sugar – why I don’t know.
  • Most things that are ‘flavoured’ are not really natural and the ‘flavour’ is in fact sugar.
  • Most ‘light’ or ‘lite’ options
  • Salad dressings and mustards
  • Some herbs in jars (eg ground ‘fresh’ ginger)
  • Most things in jars eg curry powder, paste etc
  • Tinned foods – especially soup (did I mention this was my lunch most days prior to day 1?)

#3

Dinner can consist of food, real food, and still be satisfying without rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, quinoa, potato as a side option.

This one was hard to accept, because most of the above is – or was – a staple and favourite of mine.

#4

Corn is a grain. Yep I know, seems obvious – but I am blonde remember.

#5

Just because you are going through a learning journey relatively late in life, does not mean others are – so don’t presume their ignorance is as low as yours and preach to them if you want to have friends in the future.

#6

Eggs and smoothies keep you much fuller than sugar muesli and fat free milk for breakfast and you can never have too much bacon.

#7

Expect headaches, maybe a few stomach cramps or joint pains. Maybe that crazy voice in your head will scream at you so violently you want to poke out your own eyeballs with a spoon and swallow them with your hide the greens smoothie, or maybe you will just feel like shit for the first few days. It’s normal, deal with it.

#8

Don’t eat kale stems if you want a normal digestive experience the following day….

#10

Red wine jus – the only sugar coming from the red wine and balsamic vinegar – does not classify as a challenge fail. Paleo gingerbread – verdict is still out.

#11

You might like to ask permission to eat eggs at your desk in the morning before you warm them up in the microwave. Especially if in a communal office.

#12

Some supermarket eggs might look happy but they are not so watch out. Just because they have a smile printed on them, does not mean they are free range or organic, so check the packet carefully. Along with the coconut milk. There are many sneaky tricks talented marketers (like me) do to convince us the food we are buying is good for us, when really it is just crap.

#13

Paleo is not a dirty word – although the spellchecker seems to think it is (red line has been driving me crazy last 30 days).  It is a choice, not a diet, but a lifestyle for sometimes, often, almost always or every now and then. It’s a personal choice, and one that should be respected.

#14

It’s really not that hard. You can just say no. You look on the back of the pack, on the side of the jar, wherever the ingredient list is hidden and check what’s in it. Then you make your choice, and move on.

Hardest parts?

You probably want me to say laying off the booze.

For those that know me, you probably expect me to say laying off the booze (someone did ask for my advice on where to stay somewhere the other day as I would know all the local watering holes….) but really, I don’t think that was it.

Nor was it the often ridiculed, eye rolling, back handed comments and full face slaps I got during the 30 days from people like the pre primal me. Full of spite, bitterness, often a little resentful and mostly just very naïve and unaware.

The preparation was fine, I am an organised person by trade, and even though I love them, the potatoes didn’t even get me in the end.

Hardest part – worrying about not fitting in. By not taking that chip, or sitting on your hands so you don’t eat another olive because they are the only thing you can eat so you have had about 30 already, or not having that wine ‘just to be social’. Perhaps this is my own insecurities leaking through, but not being ‘normal’ or not ‘fitting in’ or being an ‘inconvenience’ and therefore making people unhappy was the hardest part for me, personally.

Oh, and the nuts. Of course, the nuts. That was pretty hard.

Best parts?

Well I have done a PB in both deadlifts and back squats – well above my own body weight – and I’ve improved in many other things too. Although still cant get a handstand….

I have a much bigger and better appreciation for real food. I no longer buy supermarket meat. Yes I used to. I tried to say it was a cost saving method, (please don’t judge me) and now get my vegetables from a market. My eggs are always smiling, where, ill be honest, before they were not.

Many, many new recipes to try at home for dinner and beyond.

My ranting, posting, blogging and talking to others has had an impact somewhere, even if only a few people. But I know of some who have actively made changes and just like I used to get happy feeding them poison, now I get happy by steering them away from it (don’t fear team, I will still bake for you).

Skin fold test aside (Friday people, Friday!) I’m sure there has been a difference in my body even if only on the inside.

The best part?

I did it.

Game set match.

I side kicked that stupid tutu wearing ballerina Miss Sugar and her toe dancing seduction to the no gluten and grain ground with little more than a few eggs. Well a lot more really, but I’m running out of stupid analogies and need to wrap this up.

The point is, the 30-day challenge is over and I’m a little melancholy because I enjoyed discovering more about real food, and I enjoyed writing about it and discovering more about myself.

So a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped or read my ‘boring blog’ along the way – too many to mention – but in particular Bec & Lizzy from Primal Junction, and those who encouraged, supported, and shared the 30 day journey with me, even those not participating formally in the challenge but ate clean ‘almost always’, ‘sometimes’, ‘every now and then’ or ‘most of the time’ (just lay off the banana bread for a bit Heidi) 😉

IMG_0430 IMG_0428 IMG_0429

The Primal Challenge Day 22

Like any normal Sunday this one was spent preparing my food for the week. I say ‘normal’ but really it has only been three Sunday’s and apparently you have to do something between 21 and 28 times to make a difference.  Regardless of that, my Sunday saw me making and eating food.

 First off was my own chicken stock, (receipe thanks to Sarah Wilson) so I was sure it was sugar free. I used an organic chicken and simmered that baby for over six hours with some lovely aromatics like onion, salt, pepper, celery and carrot.

While the chook was on the go, I moved to the slow cooked rib recipe courtesy of Jake, although I did have to change a few ingredients thanks to my now almost empty vegetable supply.

When the stock was simmering and the ribs were slow cooking I headed over to Mum’s for a roast pork lunch. I took my own vegetables – parsnips and sweet potato roasted in coconut oil, and steamed green beans and tried to not ask if the pig had been roaming free in a grass paddock or was trapped in a cage being chased by needle holding farmers pumping my pork full of preservatives.

Either way, lunch was delicious. Although when the hot homemade apple crumble came out for dessert I declined, and had to waive away my mother’s protests.

There is nothing in here you can’t eat

What’s in it?

Oats, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, apples, a bit of honey…

So the only thing in there I can eat is the cinnamon and some of the apple.

We’ll try the zucchini slice then.

You put flour in that too. That is gluten.

It’s only a little bit.

It doesn’t matter, just like when Grandma put a ‘little bit’ of bacon into the vegetarian quiche – then it’s not vegetarian anymore.

No word of a lie. My grandma did actually put bacon into her quiche she had made especially for my vegetarian sister, and then got angry when she wouldn’t eat it.

No, it won’t kill us, nor will cutting off one of my feet, but I don’t want to do that either.

After lunch I returned to the safety of my own kitchen and tried to forget about my mother’s sighs and my brother’s jeers at my blog. He is sure nobody would want to read it, and does not understand why I am doing it, posting useless dribble up on a site when I’m not that interesting to begin with.

A pillar of support and constructive criticism from someone who has not read one post… but he is right, I’m not that interesting.

So I won’t bore you with details of how I emptied the vegetables from my stock, added them to the ribs rather than discarding them, shredded the chicken to use it in salads and lunches and dinners during the week and froze Tupperware containers of my primal paleo sugar free stock before moving onto my own version of egg & bacon muffins, let’s call them 3.0.

They were quite tasty, recipe below –  

  • 9 eggs (from happy, free-range chickens)
  • 12 long, skinny slices of bacon (Cannings)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 tin coconut cream
  • 1 onion
  • 2 spring onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil

Method via primal junction website.

I even made two with no bacon for my vegetarian sister in preparation for our road trip tomorrow.

My blog bagging brother gets nothing.

1008805_10200588332125638_1721063767_o 1008953_10200588331005610_210880668_o 1077338_10200588336005735_1121479173_o

The Primal Challenge Day 19

Two new learning’s over the past few days. The first, even if your husband reads your sms wrong and when you asked to turn the lamb shanks off he turns them (literally) instead, and they remain in the slow cooker for almost 20 hours – they still taste amazing.

Honestly, amazing. I was a little angry when I found out they had been left on (ok maybe more than a little, my ‘flashes’ of anger may have had a mob like mentality in this case) and was pleasantly surprised when the meat still fell off the bone and was not the ‘old boot’ I thought it would taste like.

Amazing. We ate with pleasure and even incorrect sms reading husband loved the entire clean eating meal, with the cauliflower and carrot puree replacing the mash staple that normally comes with shanks.  It was possibly my favorite clean dinner to date. And so easy!

Because I was feeling like I was on a roll, and I had almond butter, I whipped up the frosty fruit smash for dessert and put it in the freezer next to the low fat ‘light’ sugar filled ice-cream my husband would have for his dessert. It actually was pretty good frozen too and took me longer to eat which I think might come in handy at times when I’m craving something sweet and need my hungry mind and full body to synchronize.

I’m still excited over the lamb shanks because I kept two for tonight to eat before racing to the football. As a last minute request I got offered a few tickets in a corporate box for North V Blues and given I won’t be making use of the free food and drink almost declined. But by then I had forgiven said husband, and he is a Carlton supporter, and it means ill get to eat both leftover lamb shanks while he eats the gourmet finger food….

My second learning was that left over lamb shank sauce also assists to make amazing baked eggs. The pleasure of a new breakfast treat when you work from home and have the benefit of an oven! I took inspiration from the Primal Junction recipe but replaced the chorizo for Cannings new primal paleo bacon, added half a green capsicum, and along with the tinned tomatoes added in a decent amount of the lamb shank stew – tomato, carrots, garlic, zucchini, basil and oregano. Topped with two eggs it went into the oven and I was ever so excited.

The bowl was pretty big.

Actually it was enormous.

And I ate it all.

And loved it.

I could have had the bacon a little more crispy, and if I was on the dairy a bit of feta on top would have been a nice extra, but I loved it all the same. I’m not sure if it was the oversized bowl meant for two consumed by one, or because my trail mix was safety in the office filing cabinet but I did not need to snack once until lunch. I was full the brim (just like the baked eggs bowl).

I didn’t even think of nuts or sugar or fruit once. I drank water and my belly was full and I had another realization – maybe I just need to eat more for breakfast! Maybe my hands can hold more eggs and I just need to fill up a bit more in the morning!

To prove my point I made a baby spinach salad for lunch with tuna, avocado, capsicum and two boiled eggs bringing my daily total to four. I even boiled another one, he was the last in the carton and I felt sorry for him with no friends even though he was still smiling, so I prepped him for a snack later on.

My food wins today mixed with my recent massage at Revive Holistic Health, returning to CFHE and my physio treatment at Evolutio have helped me to lift my form and look at the second half of this challenge with a renewed focus and determination.

I know that sounds all Brady Bunch like and full of false bravado, but it has!

AND my constant sugar and primal eating talk continues to have a positive effect on others.

My previously mentioned sister in law sent me an inspiring message of her day 2 clean tasty monkfish red curry promising me there was no hidden sugar inside and that she even bought the coconut oil – I’m still waiting on the recipe and won’t mention the day 3.5 text you sent SOS style.

A college from work thanked me for breaking the “it’s inappropriate to eat eggs at desk rule” so she could follow suit and while wine was still a challenge as was the chocolate box she had to walk past every trip to the bathroom, her clean sugar free breakfast and lunches are going well.

Everyone is winning!

However, I do have to make a slight apology to my non-clean eating friends who will be attending Christmas in July tomorrow night.

Why you give someone on a no sugar and no gluten challenge a traditional Christmas pudding to make (apart from my fantastic recipe and baking skills) is beyond me. The care I provided to this ball of calico now hanging in my laundry before being boiled for six hours tomorrow was not what it should have been.

I ran short of currents, so just added more sultanas. I ran out golden syrup so opted for the honey. I ran out of brandy so used brandy essence. I ran out of mixed peel so just dealt with it.

Clearly I was not prepared or pumped for this wonder which is very uncharacteristically like me.

Apart from the fact I could not face another supermarket visit (almost every day this week is enough), I of course cannot eat nor taste the Christmas pudding. And while I would love everyone to love it, I figured by the time it is served tomorrow night a)everyone will be too full of food b)everyone will be too drunk to taste c)only half of the people going can eat it anyway and d)it will be drowned in brandy cream or ice-cream anyway.

Which (latest light bulb moment) means more than half of this big pudding will come back with me….

And I put nuts in it which means husband, nor brother in law nor sister in law can eat it when I see them on Sunday…

There is only 11 days to go, and pudding lasts for a long time…..

Shit.

IMG_0378 IMG_0379 IMG_0382 IMG_0385 IMG_0374

The Primal Challenge Day 2

Last night I dreamt of chocolate cake.

I was stuffing a slab of moist goodness down my throat when someone pointed out to me that chocolate cake contained sugar. I threw the cake on the ground in disgust where it lay dormant among piles of half eaten pieces and crumbs previously discarded.

It was a ridiculous dream, because I don’t normally eat chocolate cake to begin with and of course I know it contains sugar. But something in my subconscious was warning me. I’m so scared of tripping up and jumping to the dark side, even without realizing it, that I have momentarily put away the apron and stopped – much to my team’s disgust given I have been promising them a cake for over a week – baking.

My homemade delights have been put on hold, just in case I go to lick the spoon or taste the icing, or worse still that one muffin or cupcake will come out all wrong and I will be tempted to taste it to ensure it’s till moist inside and suitable for sharing.  Sorry team, it’s just too soon.

Breakfast was hard enough.

I realized in a panic yesterday afternoon that Tuesday bought not one but two meal’s that involved eating out – someone else cooking them for me and taking away my control. The first a baby shower breakfast.

I rushed over to my sister, who happened to be organizing the said gathering, with fear stricken eyes and panic in my voice and blurted out something about needing to give dietary requirements for the breakfast.

She looked at me with scorn in her eyes – Why, what cant you eat? She spat, her voice was laced with irritability.

I looked at her with nervous apprehension. Despite being sisters we look nothing alike, yet this could have been me a week ago. Arched eyebrows, narrowed, scorn filled eyes. That look of – really, you are doing THAT diet!?

I can eat eggs and bacon.

Well it might be too late, it’s a buffet.

Just no dairy, no gluten or grains. If it’s too hard ill work it out.

So like my boyfriend, everything he CANT eat you are CHOOSING not to.

Yes (said meekly)

I’ll call them to see.

I went home and made a frittata just in case. Bacon, egg, tomato, leek and zucchini. A full 12 happy healthy eggs with smiling faces that almost winked at me with joy as I cracked them open and added them to the bowl.

Lucky I did.

The breakfast of what not to eat. Plates of blueberry and orange muffins, so light and moist they almost danced on the plate. Scones, still warm from the oven, lightly buttered sour dough toast, my favorite fruit toast. Full fat cream, honey, processed full of sugar strawberry jam.  Fruit. All sweet fruit, strawberry’s, melon, kiwi fruit. And my all time buttery favorite – croissants.

It was paraded before me, each item vying for my attention. Perhaps the waitress was tipped off, as she seemed to only ever find empty places right in front of me where she proceeded to mercilessly dump the food, and just like those happy, healthy eggs, the muffins and croissants seemed to wink at me, beckoning me to come closer. There was not one egg or piece of bacon in sight.

I ate five red grapes and two long blacks and smelt all the sugary goodness with a smile. Tried to forget the chocolate cake that still gnawed at my subconscious and instead thought of the clean eating, happy egg frittata I had waiting in the office fridge.

Egg’s had never tasted so good.

Especially after 100 kettle bell swings in this morning’s WOD and a skin fold test that left me with pen marks randomly drawn on my body – thanks Bec ;).

A few slabs – I mean pieces – of frittata and I was back to myself. Meal plan complete and I had passed the first test of eating out, by not really eating.

My next test – only a few meals away – dinner out tonight with colleagues. A steak restaurant so should be ok, but dinner with colleagues normally includes wine, and entrée and dessert and… oh boy. Let’s hope there is no chocolate cake on the menu….

Breakfast frittaa2 frittata