I’m so excited to post about my recent experience Paleo Pen Pals! They match you up with another member of the Paleo community which provides such a fun interaction with someone you don’t know! Basically, all you have to mail each other a Paleo ingredient and make a recipe from it! I remember having pen pals in grade school and being so giddy when I would receive a letter from them. This giddiness was felt again when I received my Paleo ingredient from Tanya at Feed the Clan 🙂 Her recipe using the star anise that I sent her is here.
I was pretty nervous to do this because, while I love sharing recipes, I haven’t exactly really created many on my own. Sure, I’ve deviated from other recipes by adding or changing some ingredients, but I haven’t really come up with anything from scratch. After stressing out about this (#firstworldproblems), I realized that maybe I can still tweak something I know about. After all, isn’t that how people come up with some recipes in the first place?
So…here is what Tanya sent me:
Tanya told me the Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey was from a local source in her area, which I loved! I was so excited to see how I could use this in a recipe! When I tasted it, I was reminded of the red chili powder that my mom often used in her many delicious Gujarati (state in India) dishes. I’m not sure if it’s very different from what we get at the supermarket in the states, but that was my experience with it. So basically, this powder was infused into honey and was quite yummy 🙂
I had some home-grown cabbage at home, and my mom had brought some beautiful purple and white carrots from a farmer’s market. So I decided to make a Spiced Honey Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots based off a Gujarati dish I ate growing up. Usually, my mom never added any type of sweetener or carrots, so I was curious about how this would taste. This recipe can also be made without the carrots.
Spiced Honey Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup shredded carrots
3 cups shredded cabbage
2.5 tsp Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
Dry roast the mustard seeds in a pan until they pop – this increases the mustard flavor in the dish. (You can also add sesame seeds to this if you’d like). Heat oil in another pot or wok, and add mustard seeds and turmeric. Let it sizzle for a little bit so it’s mixed in well. Add cabbage and carrots. Mix this thoroughly so the turmeric covers the cabbage and carrots completely. Add the honey. Then cover until the cabbage is cooked but still a little crisp – about 10 min. Add salt.
And VOILA! You are done. At first, I didn’t feel like I tasted the chile flavor. And it still isn’t as strong as my mom’s, but the point is that it didn’t NEED to be spicy. What’s really cool is that the honey flavor really makes it yummy and the spicy kick comes at the end. This can be a great side dish with any meal. You can also add some chicken, pork, or beef to this dish as well. I’ve never done it, but I think it would be really great!
I hope you enjoyed my first real recipe 🙂 Paleo Pen Pals was such a fun experience that pushed me to be creative. I will definitely be doing it again!
Well, I promised some reviews about Pre-Made Paleo, so here is my first one! Just to give a little background, Pre-Made Paleo is based out of Atlanta, and the head chef is Chef Richard Bradford. Their meals are Whole30 Approved and they are designed to be prepared in 10 minutes! The meals are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free, and made without refined sugar. The meats are grass-fed, grass finished, antibiotic and hormone free, free range and pastured. The veggies are hand-picked, locally sourced, and organic when available. Overall, it’s quality stuff!
I contacted Chef Richard to see if I could try some of the meals and review them. He responded quickly and was excited to have me try them! For this review, I’m going to talk about the delivery of the meals, ease of preparation, portion size, and, last but NOT least, taste 🙂
I asked for the meals to be delivered to my office because I’ve had a few things “disappear” when delivered to my place in the city. It was delivered at 10:41am and left in front of my office. Chef I told me that the food would be on dry ice, so it should last the day. I put it in my car after I left work, and I didn’t return home until 9:30pm. I was pretty afraid the meals would be thawed out. I opened the box, and the dry ice was like magic! The food was perfectly frozen, and I threw them in the freezer right away.
For my first meal, I decided to have the Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, Sauteed Kale, and Sweet Potato Salad. The “standard” is to have one protein and two veggies, unless otherwise indicated on the protein packaging. The food can be prepared on the stovetop or in the microwave! This was very exciting to me, especially for lunch meals in the office. Welp, my first meal was at home, so I did it on the stove top. Here’s a video from Pre-Made Paleo’s site to demonstrate preparation on the stovetop:
Here’s are some pics to show my preparation. As Chef Richard indicates in the video, right out the freezer, it takes 10 minutes to cook the meats, and the veggies take 4 minutes.. If the food is thawed, it takes half the time (5 minutes for meats, 2 minutes for veggies).
Then I cut open the bags and drained the excess water from the packaging and served my lunch to myself 🙂
As for ease of preparation, Pre-Made Paleo gets two thumbs up! It was super easy, unless you think boiling water is hard.
Well, here was my lunch. Does it look like enough to you? Well, it does to me. I was satisfied with the portions before, and after my meal.
So, no for the good stuff 🙂 Before I talk about taste, I can tell you that the turkey smelled AMAZING. I couldn’t wait to eat it! I took a bite of the turkey, and it was seasoned well and very tasty. I will say it was on the dry side, and I realized I made a mistake by draining the water. I kind of did that intuitively. However, I added a few drops of water, heated it in the microwave for a little bit, and it was MUCH better. I would say that the dryness was definitely attributed to user error 🙂 I really love sweet potatoes, and I was pretty excited to try them. I would have to say that they were definitely a winner as well. The kale was yummy as far as nutrient-dense greens go 🙂 It was very moist, not too salty, not too flavorless.
I would have to say that my first experience with Pre-Made Paleo was VERY positive. It was delivered as expected, easy to prepare, and it was quite tasty! I can’t wait to report on their other items (hint hint: they were equally, if not more delicious). Remember, these are frozen, shipped, and prepared meals. I can’t say I had any expectations set, but I can say that I was very happy with meal #1.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Chef Richard did comp these meals for me. However, my opinions are strictly my own. I was in no way influenced to review one way or another.
If you’re interested in getting some Pre-Made Paleo meals, follow this link. If you are outside Atlanta and in the continental US, they have 5 meal options, including a 3 meals sample option to try it out. If you purchase their 3 month option, each meal comes to $9.50. For 10 meals, each one comes to $12.50. This includes shipping AND the meals, which is pretty economical when you’re on the go! In my next post, I’m going to share about eating my first Pre-Made Paleo Meal at the office.
Also, feel free to follow my blog by adding your email address below the search bar to the right, so you can be updated when I have a new post 🙂
As of Wednesday evening, I finished my first Whole30! The reason I say “first” is because it was such a great experience, I plan to do it again. I learned a lot throughout this past month. I’m going to summarize my lessons and triumphs in this post, and I hope they are helpful to anyone that decides to follow suit! Overall, you can see my progress on Pounds and Inches (between mid-July and now). I definitely lost some pounds and inches while doing this!
1. BE PREPARED!: There were a few times that I had to resort to making scrambled eggs for dinner. I do love eggs, but I also have my limit 🙂 Cooking a big batch of food over the weekend and throwing it in the freezer is the best bet for preparation and to avoid temptation!
2. Ask questions: While I did try to prepare my meals at home the majority of the time, there were some instances where I ate out in restaurants. I always hoped that dishes would be perfectly described on the menu, but typically they were not. I hated having to basically ask exactly how restaurants made certain dishes. Typically, I’m not very particular with food, so I felt like I was probably perceived as being very nit-picky. Then I realized that I’m doing this for ME. It’s my health, and the only person that will really lose out is myself. Before I ordered, I tried to ensure that there was no added sugar in dishes, and I always asked them to use olive oil for cooking. Another question I typically asked is if they used any cream in the preparation. I’m really glad I asked what was necessary because not only did it keep me Whole30 compliant, but it was also a great reminder that I’m doing this for my own well-being.
3. Hydrate!: I saw the least difference week-to-week when I was not drinking enough water throughout the day. When I drank water, I was more full, and I noticed more loss on my body.
4. A Natural Glow: A huge benefit from my Whole30 experience was how great my skin looked! I’m really not trying to boast here, but it was easy to see the difference. It looks brighter, healthier, and I had less blemishes. Even if I forgot to wash my face at night (unfortunately, I’m guilty of this every now and then), it was still nice in the morning! I even left the house a few times with no makeup, and I didn’t feel as “undone” as I had in the past.
5. Well-rested: I don’t really have trouble sleeping, however, I do typically wake up a couple times in the middle of the night and fall back to sleep. In the past month, I truly felt that my sleep was very deep. If I did get up in the middle of the night, it was usually after 4 am. In the past, it happened a couple times between 1am and 3am. The deep sleep did make it hard to wake up when I had to though. BUT I did end up having…
6. More Energy!: Once I dragged myself out of bed, I really felt like I had more energy throughout the day. In turn, this increased my productivity and improved my mood. I was also less irritable. I really believe this was because I was putting whole foods into my body.
7. Confidence: I really stuck to this program. I thought people would perceive me as being extreme or picky because I was doing this. The funny thing is, many people commended me for my commitment! I really think that I set a good example for myself, and, in turn, it positively affected others. I’m really grateful to whoever cooked me dinner in the past month and was kind enough to listen and comply with my requests. I felt so confident about my ability to really stick to a plan at the end. I always found a way to “cheat” with other diets or plans. This really put my body AND mind to a test, and it only helped me.
As of now, I am starting to introduce non-Whole30 foods back into my diet ONE food group at a time with the rest of my diet staying Whole30 compliant (so when I am done trying dairy, I will stop having dairy and try the next food group). The point of this is to see how each group isolated makes me feel (Do I get a headache? Do I feel congested? Does it feel like my stomach is about to explode?). For Days 1-3, I am re-introducing dairy, I plan on adhering to it for the most part with a few treats scattered about. In accordance with ISWF, I have been introducing certain food groups back into my diet to see how it affects me. On days 4-6, I will have gluten-containin grains such as pasta and bread. Days 7-9 I will have non-gluten rains including rice and tortilla chips. Days 10-12 I will have legumes including peanut butter, tofu, and beans. This is merely an experiment to see if one food group affects me more than others. I’m looking forward to what I will discover through these little experiments.
The best part about this whole experience is that (1) I want to do it again (2) I felt so great that I plan to keep eating this way with a few “slips” here and there (3) I DID IT!