Bacon and Sweet Potato ‘Pie’

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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Packing Paleo

You know it’s serious when you change your flight dietary preferences to gluten free.

I wish, to be honest, there was more than just a drop down. Perhaps a multi select box, or a free text field and that way I could add in the additions. Gluten free also means dairy free, but of course grains, potatoes, and sugar all find their way onto that small plastic wrapped tray of ‘food’.  If there was the option to choose more than one, I could have gone diabetic friendly also, and hoped that I was left with more than a rice flour sugar fuelled cake and a thimble of soy milk.

Ok, so there was more. A few bits of lamb, some sugar filled sauce, a pile of greens and some potatoes that I really wanted to eat. The only thing that stopped me from pushing them onto my white plastic fork was the fact that if I was going to break for the starchy goodness, they were going to be half decent, not microwaved pre-prepared plane potatoes.

There was also a box of sultanas and a tub of two fruits. Both claimed they were natural and healthy, and I think even sported the heart tick approval, but the nutritional panel on the back showed more than just goodness. Lots more. Like sugar more. Like 63.5g of sugar per 100 gram.

Of course its natural sugar, but over 50% of those dried things is a little too much.

I ate the greens, ignored the potatoes, picked my way through the meat, left the gluten free bread, tried to leave the juice behind and eat only the two fruits and succumbed to the coconut gluten free macaroon.

Half way through the four and a half hour flight when I was starving (after the same flight attendant who had previously provided my gluten and dairy free meal offered me cheese and biscuits and a packet of Anzac cookies) I popped a few of those dried grapes into my mouth and was surprised and shocked at how sweet they tasted. Too sweet. I had to stop eating them.

I should have just had the free wine that was offered. At least then I would have forgotten I was starving.

Travelling with such a long list of requirements is hard.

A day trip to Sydney, not so hard. You can pack your full lunch in one bag and not have an issue with excess luggage. You can decline the meal and not risk starvation, and even though the security guards look at you strangely during the bomb check, they keep their mouth closed.

A week trip to Perth, not so easy.

Before my flight like general Sunday afternoons, I spent cooking my week’s worth of meals. An oversized smoothie that I froze and added extra chia seeds in it to help it last the plane ride and beyond. Some chewy mocha balls to ensure snacks during the week were covered. A few pieces of the left over paleo gingerbread and three of my paleo banana and berry muffins. The standard nut trail mix and a few tins of tuna.  I even went so far as to bake a new paleo crust-less sweet potato quiche and while I froze half of it for my return, I took a piece of that too just in case I had to (god forbid) miss breakfast at the hotel one morning.

I know it sounds crazy. It looked slightly odd also.

All these Tupperware containers full of food going through security, getting put in the overhead locker as I was sitting under a bulk head.

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When my stomach was rumbling so badly on the flight, and I took out one of my muffins from the bag overhead, the passenger next to me didn’t know what to think.

Personally I think he was a little jealous. Mine looked much better than his frozen/thawed/sugar preserved cupcake.

I was hoping my muffins would make at least the flight trip, so before I could be tempted by anything else I packed them away and tried to forget about them.

But I am not that strange.  There are others like me who also pack paleo.

Nom Nom Paleo recently called out to her social media following remarking “I may not have time to pack any food for my flight tomorrow….”

She got 56 comments asking for help to determine where she could get paleo friendly food.

I got about 56 odd looks for packing and travelling paleo style.

But despite the strange looks and carting my containers from customer meeting to office, to hotel and beyond, I was glad I had taken the time to do it.

My Perth friends did remark they had supermarkets and organic shops over here (yes even Perth is not that behind, just don’t try to visit one after 9pm) which also helped to fill my stomach paleo style during the day, and let’s just say nights – well I tried as hard as I could… it was the wine that got me in the end.

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

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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 23

As many of us know, some more than others, eating food is often an emotional thing. It can bring comfort during stress or sadness, to those both eating it and those making it, and celebrations often revolve around it.

During exams I used to stock up on energy drinks and packets of lollies and chocolate. All the things I thought I needed to wash down the multiple cups of coffee between studying. In the romantic comedies we love to hate, during the epic post break up scene the lead female is generally pictured tucking into ice cream, or chocolate, eating peanut butter or jelly straight from the jar. How many times have we said we are only eating it because ‘we are having a bad day’? The moment something we want to celebrate happens in our lives, we arrange to go out for dinner, or drinks.

We over eat to compensate for something, we eat the wrong types of food because we are too mentally drained to think about what we should be eating, or we forget to eat because our mind is simply elsewhere.  Or on the flip side, we eat that extra piece of cake because it’s a special occasion, or because we ‘deserve it’ and that extra bottle of champagne is popped because we have worked hard, and now its time to celebrate.

When someone dies, food is often the easiest way people can communicate and show they care. Fridges and freezers are full of home cooked meals, many of which will never get eaten by those left behind to grieve.

What we put into our mouths is often the result of the way we are feeling, and can also impact the way we continue to feel.

Today was an emotional day for my family as we said goodbye to one of our own, and if there was any day I was tempted to break the challenge it was today.

But I didn’t.

I over compensated and packed not only my breakfast, but also those making the four-hour car trip with me. My bacon & egg muffins 3.0 went in one container, my sister’s vegetarian version (3.1) went into another. A (small) container of almonds and macadamia nuts to share with my sister-in-law who has kept dairy but is otherwise desperately trying to eat primal. One green apple for me. A bottle of water for each of us.

We set off early.  The muffins were gone before we had even reached the freeway, so Colac was our first stop for breakfast. I put up with more ridicule from my brother, who this time also thought it hysterical to pile a teaspoon full of white grain sugar and wave it in front of me chanting ‘take your medicine’. I might point out at this stage he is 30 years old. I managed to find a smashed pumpkin with poached eggs and rocket breakfast – hold the feta thank you.

Probably one too many coffees – two long blacks before 10am and another at 2pm. It was the only thing (apart from water) I sought out during the post service gathering. Party pies and packaged hot food was waved before me, white bread sandwiches stacked high on tables were a popular favorite.  I’m sure there were other items but I never went over to the table to see just exactly what was there. I didn’t quite trust myself.

Then the cakes.  Larger than I have ever seen before lamingtons with extra cream in the middle. Lemon slice, caramel slice and my sister-in-laws favourite, jelly slice.

I could see her eyes light up when she saw that red topped sweet being unpacked by the church ladies behind the counter, the jelly glistening in the light, its slight wobble throwing teasing shadows in our direction.

me – Don’t do it.

her – But it’s my favourite.

me – It’s not worth it.

youngest sister pipping in – I’m going to have some

me – Not helping.

I lost sight of her for a moment as my grandmother bought over a stranger who had at one time babysat me when I was two and visiting Warrnambool with my family. No sorry, I didn’t remember I was muttering, eyes searching the crowd for Heidi.

I found her, not one piece of jelly slice in hand. Still I was not confident in her determination, her sweet tooth would give most of the elderly that were around us that day who used to bake for a living a run for their money – and we were in the country so that was saying something.

I bet it’s not even homemade.

I assured her when I eventually made my way through the crowd and was able to take my post as bodyguard once again.

You reckon?

Nope, look at it, its all the same size. Look at the base.

In truth, I wasn’t that sure of its roots. It could have been homemade, I was just looking for excuses.

Ill just go have a look at it.

I kept my eye on her again, but I need not have worried. Again she returned empty handed, and for the next few hours the jelly slice, along with all the other food types on our banned substance list (which was everything available) remained uneaten.

Which meant by the time 3:30 came, we were positively starving.

I shared the nuts, well really she took one handful and I had the rest (we were in separate cars) and when they were gone I downed the green apple. Heidi had told me a recent trick of hers was to eat protein just before the fruit. It would mean the sugar levels in fruit would not just spike your insulin, so you felt fuller, and it would also mean I didn’t binge on nuts as much.

I followed the advice, and I’m not sure if it was because I had run out of nuts or because I had no other food with me and still a three hour drive ahead before we stopped in Geelong for dinner, but I didn’t feel hungry anymore.

On the way to dinner Heidi sent me a text –

My self control today deserves a mention

For sure! By passing the jelly slice in a tough emotional situation… Big mention.

And she did! Not one rule broken today. Not one sweet, not one sandwhich. Not one piece of toast  – even the gluten free toast – at breakfast.

Dinner in Geelong meant more ridicule from my brother. I was ready to eat my arm off but instead ordered crispy skin salmon with the green beans, no butter, and hold the lentils but can I please have a green salad instead no dressing?

The food came and was quickly eaten. I always leave the salad for last and the first forkful revealed it was not naked as I required but fully dressed with what I thought was vinegar and olive oil – but couldn’t be sure.

But I was emotional, and hungry. And so I ate the salad and thought if there was any sugar in that vinegar dressing then too bad. I had made my choice, eat it and be full. Heath (my ridiculing brother) took great delight in taking a photo of me eating said salad and promising to put it on his blog, which was all about failed challenges….

I ignored him (again) and was just thankful I had not spent the entire eight hour car ride up and back today listening to his jeers, jokes and jibes over my eating behavior.

A BIG shout out however to his better half over her refusal of the jelly slice, and an even bigger one to all my family, both here and in Warrnambool as we remember beloved Sandi.

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The Primal Challenge Day 17

Just over halfway there, and I am well and truly in a mid season slump. Today I ate three pieces of fruit and wanted more. I’m stuffing nuts down my throat like it is my last day on earth and despite having a piece of frittata and a cup of smoothie for breakfast, my mind tells me I am hungry by 11. Which there is no way I should be – I’m not even training and getting up an hour later!!

Now some of you might be rolling your eyes thinking wow, three pieces of fruit… but the recommendation is two per day and I gauged, and I’m not sure if it classifies as a challenge fail, so I’m overly disgusted and upset with myself.

Ok so the pieces were small, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. It was a shared fruit platter, so not like I ate the entire lot, but I did feel guilty.

Ok so I’m leaving out the 10 red grapes I also ate.

See – mid season slump.

I only had my lunch three hours ago and I’m hungry again.

Plus –only a few days ago I was walking around promoting my clean skin thanks to my clean eating and almost throwing away the dry shampoo. As if to prove a point, or perhaps in protest, my chin is riddled with blackheads and teenage acne and my hair on day two is in a high ponytail and heavily sprayed.

I know I was a late bloomer in high school, but this is ridiculous! Are my cravings and withdrawal symptoms coming so much later than first prescribed? Or am I a victim of some other bout of hormone tampering!?

Either way, day 17 is no fun.

Not that I am ready to throw in the clean eating towel, it’s just damp on the rack, hanging loosely and not really smelling the best.

I’ve decided I need a pick me up to get my mind off the fact I have to spend hours making a Christmas pudding full of things I can’t eat for our Christmas in July dinner this Saturday night, by making lots of things that I can.  And because I am still struggling with my sweet tooth, tonight it will be frosty fruit smash (if I can find almond butter) and the holy-moly banana pancakes (again if I can find almond butter).

I also had my meat delivered today to work by Canning’s – including the paleo bacon. Score.  I couldn’t wait for the weekend and their birthday discount celebration and knew I would get more stuff then anyway, so stocked up – and by the weight in the bag (I had to take the lift) I might have again gone a little overboard.

Time to re-calibrate the grocery bill budget.

But I know that bag of goodness holds my lamb shanks and ribs ready for two new primal recipes just in time for Thursday and Friday night and the cold weather we are meant to be expecting.  I’ll even prep the slow cooker tonight ready for the ribs tomorrow.

Tomorrow I can FINALLY go back to some sort of training and exercise (thank the thighs) which should also peck me up a little.

Actually as I am writing this and thinking about all the great things I can make and then eat, my mood is somewhat increasing to almost positive and I think I can feel the first shakings of my slump.

Don’t get too excited, my skin is still saw and red from when I tried to push the puss out of it in front of the work bathroom mirror.

Maybe I’ll even make my own almond butter….

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The Primal Challenge Day 15 – Half Way!

I arrived at work later than normal this morning (8am) because I am still off the exercise which means I leave home about the same time as every mother in their oversized four-wheel drive and need to battle the traffic of Camberwell to reach my daily grind.

I was not feeling the best for a few reasons –

  1. Still no exercise
  2. Still painful back
  3. Work moving day. I was losing the desk I loved (natural light, space, close to kitchen and thus food supply) and moving to sit with my new team. I couldn’t decide if it was just the desk I was upset about losing, or saying goodbye to the old role and starting the new. Sappy I know, especially when I was only moving twenty meters to the other side of the room and I’m excited by my new role, and given my old role has not been replaced yet, will no doubt be doing that too, but change always brings a sense of melancholies.
  4. Traffic.

Maybe I am pre-menstrual. Too much information? Sorry I apologize.

So when I finally got to my desk carting my laptop, ipad, handbag and two bags of my weekly food, I was pleasantly surprised by the brown paper wrapped cookbook I found waiting for me.

Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar.

I forgot I had asked a friend to get it for me, and it was a great Monday morning surprise!

My cooking and my baking will be taken to an entire new level with this easy to read, follow and fall in love with cookbook. And as one person said ‘if I could get legs like that I would quit sugar too!”

Along with my new cookbook, another clean eating friend sent me an image of this little treasure which I never knew existing (and haven’t decided if it’s a good thing I found out about it). Paleo chocolate!!!

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At first I thought it was a little controversial and somewhat contradictory – I mean isn’t clean eating all about stripping back the processed, the man made, the human touch? And looking at this elegant wrapper and patterned dark chocolate goodness, I’m not sure it’s all that well aligned. But it is handmade, gluten free, dairy free, soy free and has no refined sugar. So I guess when I get to the local health food store post this 30 day challenge it is worth a taste test.

Speaking of controversial and contradicting, that’s exactly what my sister Megan pointed out via email I was like after yesterday’s blog post….

Subject line – It’s too late for you!

This comment contradicts everything you listed….

You are one of those people!!

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Ouch.

But she was right, I was!

Somehow I had started a war on sugar with my nearest and dearest and at the same time started a war on morals… and judgment and contradiction….

The email banter continued when my other vegetarian clean eating sister joined in….

Heidi (Vegetarian clean eater who has been ranting about organic and free range for many years)–

I distinctly remember a time not too dissimilar to this at a family do when everyone was chowing down on junk and someone offered me a soft drink and when I said I don’t drink soft drink S Mase rolled her eyeballs at me!

MY HOW THE TIMES HAVE CHANGED!

Megan (Often gluten free due to boyfriend, but otherwise open to all food groups. Favourite meal used to be cheese and tomato sauce on Strasberg) –

YEAH STACEY, YEAH!!!

I’m going to poison you with sugar as punishment

Me (clearly new to this eating plan, but now I have found it look down at those who don’t know it’s there) –

That must have been a while ago, I have not drunk soft drink for a while….  Thanks for your support friends. I know I am eating humble pie but you don’t have to make it taste so bad

Megan –

Poiiiissssssooooonnnnnnnn

PS I assume this humble pie has no sugar?

You see what being the oldest of six siblings four of whom are girls gets me right? No wonder I was driven to sugar.

But I did deserve it.

I have been parading my relatively new (day 15) clean eating practice in front of others who didn’t deserve it. And as I am finding out, many others who have silently and with far more humbled modesty quit sugar or gluten or something previously but unlike me did not feel the need to wave it around in front of others faces’.

But it’s now HALF WAY…. Surely I get some grace of goodness for being so good?

No wagon fall off, no slight hiccup (let’s just forget the red wine jus shall we?) nothing! I have a new eating plan I have stuck to with determination and grit and actually (for the most part) liked it.

I am amazed by the support (excluding the above) I have received from friends and family who make a conscious effort to ensure what they have prepared can be adapted to suit my needs.

I am also startled by what I can only call the ‘paleo revolution’ with many different forms of primal clean eating coming out of the woodwork – or caves if we need a bad pun – and offering up menu plans and advice, and as we have seen with the chocolate, food lines.

So 15 down and 15 to go, a new cookbook in hand, some more MODs coming fast and strong and only one major event looming on the horizon that brings me trickle of nerve Next Saturday’s girls Christmas in July dinner…

But never fear, paleo friends are near, and tomorrow is day 16…

sarah

The Primal Challenge Day 12

I remembered to bring in the rest of my chocolate cake to work today. Double dark chocolate mud cake. I bought it in, took the lid off the Tupperware, cut up the cake and called everyone over for a slice.  People have come and gone all day to take a piece or two (it’s a big cake) and I have sat here, and smelt the chocolate goodness. I’m in a dizzy haze of second hand sugar euphoria.

It’s almost enough. Not quite, but almost. This actually is the one cake I would eat and today my headache had returned and my back is not the best and I couldn’t finish the WOD so I’m slightly depressed, so a piece of moist, dense, sickly sweet chocolate cake would be just what I needed right?

Wrong.

I am eating a banana (still can’t cut out fruit completely, it’s my only piece today) and pretending it is in fact the chocolate cake. The smell that still lingers in the air is actually making it easier, if I close my eyes and block my nose it’s almost reality.

Thank god the last piece was taken and I didn’t have to pack him away and take him home again. That would have been too much.

I love baking. I love the precision and actually finding it soothing in a crazy dough kneading sort of way.  But most of all I love making people happy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a bit of charity work but I’m no Australian of the year – I’ve left that title to the amazing Shane Crawford after his Melbourne to Perth ride for Breast Cancer. I’m just talking about making people happy with instant gratification, and I can do that through food.

So I bake and I cook and I share it all with a smile and a warm bubble of pleasure runs through my body every time someone takes another cookie or slice of cake.

But today, I did feel a little differently. I felt a little guilty.

There were a few remarks about how I was ‘making them fat’ or ‘poisoning’ them with sugar when I was not eating it – of course their comments didn’t stop them from taking cake – but they did make me a little more self aware.

Was I making them fat and poisoning them? Would they be just as happy if I bought in a sugarless, flourless, almond meal cake or some protein powder balls?

I think the answer is no.

Unless…. I never told them it was sugarless/flourless and completely clean…..

Regardless, now that I know about the dangers of sugar, should I stop playing with it in the kitchen? This would involve an entire new hobby – an entire new library of cookbooks, an entire new set of carefully labeled Tupperware containers, (yes slight obsessive compulsive disorder) with an entire new set of ingredients. 

And – shock horror – what if this type of food doesn’t make people happy??!! I’m like Jerry Seinfeld – I want to be everyone’s friend – I don’t want enemies due to my poorly baked and horrible tasting kitchen catastrophe. 

Plus ill have a new team from 1st August; they don’t need a boss who tries to poison them by eliminating poison!

Oh chocolate, oh sugar, look what you have done to me – and I haven’t even eaten a piece of you – not even a crumb   – or licked the knife.

Please sugar; please don’t take away my social status. If I’m not the positive team player with a mean competitive edge especially when she is hungry – then I could be nobody. Well not quite, but its Friday afternoon, time for a bit of dramatics.

Can I bake a cake or two, a tray of cookies, a pie, a tart, and some scones just for special occasions? Can I throw in a cup or two of sugar (or three as this recipe called for) and not have my conscience eat away at my inner angel?

Surely we all have a sugar choice – and if I can bake it and not eat it – then others can also choose what to put in their mouth.

As long as they know, and as long as there is a choice.

So –

Post Challenge Firm Commitment Number 1

  1. Experiment in sugar free baking and hope that like a packet of sugar free extra I can still make people smile.

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The Primal Challenge Day 10

Last night I had a slip up. It wasn’t major and it was purely by accident, but it happened.

I was having people over to dinner. A UK colleague, my sister and her boyfriend – who not by choice but by necessity doesn’t eat gluten, fructose and dairy.

No worries! I told him

I’m all over it.

By now I was in day 10, so of course thought I was a professional at this clean eating gig. Dinners were a breeze. The chocolate cake I would not eat was done, the ganache icing not even tempting. Too easy.

Plus I was cooking lamb. And I’m good at lamb. A beautiful lamb shoulder I was going to slow cook with lemon, garlic and oregano. I had done it before to rave reviews so was strutting around the kitchen with an air of confidence I didn’t deserve.

Especially as I forgot to turn the oven down after its preheating cycle and ended up roasting my slow cooked lamb for an hour before realising. Fail.  So my slow cooked meal morphed its way to a roast.

First fail of the night – lets move on.

Vegetables. Lots of them. I did corn for the grain eaters, steamed broccoli and beans, tried kale chips for the first time – delicious! (although my no fructose friend confirmed via google they were on his banned substance list). Potatoes and sweet potatoes, all cooked in coconut oil, which I had finally managed to track down (and to ‘borrow’ a back up jar from my sister-in-law) and covered only with salt and pepper.

But the lamb.

It was always going to be my achilles heel of the night and now it was roasted (not very well) deserved, and needed, a sauce to join him on the plate. At least for the guests that could eat it.

So I quickly made a gravy for those that love it before finding a new, easy to do red wine jus.

Butter, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, beef stock and of course half a cup of dry red wine.

I’d like to carry on about how the smell of it made me want to drink the sauce straight from the fry pan as it lay simmering, but it didn’t. Nothing about the way the butter sizzled in the pan or how the garlic and onion began to caramelize made me want to try it.

I poured it in a gravy jug without a second thought, but happy I had tried something new and piled it and everything else on the dining room table, dinner was served!

Plates were pilled high, wine was poured, bread was buttered.

I left off the corn (oh how I really do miss you) ignored the bread and loaded up on my meat, greens, sweet potato – no standard spud you can not join in, I’m sorry – and those delightfully crispy and salty kale chips.

I was halfway through telling a story and cutting my second bite of lamb when I realised what else I had done.

My face paled, hands flew to my head, knife and fork clattering on the white porcelain plate as they dropped from my fingers, and as my sister put it I ‘did something really girlie I have never seen before’.

Oh shit.

Whether it was the excitement of my own story telling, the comfort and confidence I had taken too far and paraded around the kitchen earlier or my pitchfork holding red devil appearing again and taking over control, I don’t know.

But whatever it was, however I had done it, there on my plate, covering the piece of my already bitten lamb, was a drizzle of that red wine jus.

I continued my girly, incoherent babble for a few moments longer, my colleague looking at me with a wide eyed expression and no doubt wondering if he could silently slip out of this madhouse now and make a run for it (we had only known each other a month), my sister reassuring me it was only a mouthful, her boyfriend staying silent, and my husband declaring I should just ‘scrape it off’.

Instead, horrified and humiliated, I got a clean plate, rescued what vegetables I could and served a few new clean slices of meat, pushing the red wine and butter infested ones with their jus over to my husband.

Then I checked and tripled checked everything on my plate again – just in case.

No sauce, no gravy, no jus, no bread, no butter, no corn, no potato. Mineral water, no wine.

I really didn’t enjoy (apart from the kale chips) the rest of the food. I felt slightly sick over my previous potentially potent forkful.

I will NOT call this a failure.

I refuse to.

Even if it was – which it wasn’t – I’m using that cheesy old saying of ‘I’m still a winner’.

It as one mouthful – small mouthful – and something totally unintentional, purely by mistake.

An accident, not a failure.

And it shook me to the core.

How careful I must still be, how diligent! This clean eating gig of mine was still in rehearsals and it would be days before I made it to the live show and it became a habit not a hindrance.  If this was The Voice I would have just lost the battle round.

Bloody jus. New recipe, first time I had ever made it. I blame the lamb, and the oven, and myself for needing a jus to begin with.

Even hours later, when everyone had left, and I was loading plates with gravy stains and bowls with brownie crumbs and ice-cream drops – none of which were mine – into the dishwasher I was still highly annoyed with myself.

My competitive spirit – the same one that once threatened a team mate to ran faster or I would poke his eye out with a spoon – was annoyed that I had, on some level, failed.

The feeling of failure followed me to bed and left a bitter taste on my not so clean eating tongue.

I’m sure the men at airport security this morning would have been rolling their eyes with laughter as I x-rayed my two bacon and egg muffins, container of macadamias and almonds, my banana and water.

And I’m sure the other lunch goers were rolling their eyes with impatience when I checked if any of the salads had gluten or dairy, and made the poor order taker recite dressing ingredients to me.

And I’m sure she was rolling her eyes in annoyance when in the end I asked if she could make me up a salad with only the vegetables I wanted don’t put on any dressing, was the chicken free range, and can she make it up in front of me so I could see what she put in it.

Today I wasn’t taking any chances.

Because yesterday I had a slight failure   accident.

Lessons learned –

  • Confidence is ok, being cocky is not
  • I make a good red wine jus
  • It takes longer than 10 days to break a lifelong habit
  • Muffins in Tupperware don’t beep through the airport security, but they do capture strange looks and ensure you get called over for an explosives and drug screening