Archive for June, 2011

June 28, 2011

I can’t… eat pork crackling

Every Monday, I become Coach Jeanna for a local Learn to Skate program. I teach Snowplow Sam 1 & 2, the very beginner level for 3-4 year olds to get accustomed to being on the ice. I teach them how to get up by themselves from a fall and that falling is ok. They learn how to march around the ice picking up rubber duckies and playing games. When teaching little kids who are just discovering their individual likes and dislikes, it’s really obvious when they absolutely love being on the ice. The passion is there from the very beginning. My skating friends and I can all tell you about how we never wanted to leave the ice when we were first starting out, which led to 10+ years of dedication to the sport. Then there are the kids who absolutely hate it.

I have one such child in my current class. He refuses to move or try anything. He probably says “I can’t!” about 100 times per 30 minute class while I try to encourage him in every way possible. “Sure you can! I know you can! Say ‘I can!’ and try it!” No matter how much positivity I exude, it’s a losing battle. I have never encountered such a negative attitude from a 3 year old. But then again, how many 3 year olds do I know? I am shocked at how early “I can’t” becomes a part of a person’s regular vocabulary. “I can’t” leads to not even trying. How will you ever find out that you’re more than you think you are if you don’t even try?

I grew up believing I CAN do anything I want to do, that I CAN be anything I want to be. I continue to believe that I CAN and as a result, obstacles just don’t exist for me. I don’t see them or recognize them. My great fear of failure does not stop me from trying, it motivates me to not fail. Like the little boy in my class, I know so many adults who are adamant that they CAN’T. I wonder if the difference between a CAN and CAN’T attitude starts when we are toddlers learning about ourselves. As adults, parents, educators, and role models, it’s so important to lead by example with a positive I CAN attitude. I’m trying to do my part, are you? And if you’re an adult who CAN’T, maybe it’s time to see that you’re not special – you certainly CAN just like the rest of us. The human body and mind are capable of truly amazing things and if you’re reading this, you’re human.

Speaking of “I can,” I can now boulder without fear! Ask me again after my first real fall, but for now I am past my fear of bouldering. I love how I get better every time I go! I warmed up on some V2s and started to attempt my first V3 climbs. There’s a very noticeable jump in difficulty! I’m even more motivated now. Going again tonight! I should have signed up for a membership sooner, I’m getting so much use out of mine!

I also signed up for Crossfit again. I start tomorrow at 7am… will let you all know how that goes!

Pork Belly

I found pork belly in my fridge yesterday. I thought it was about time for another attempt at making delicious pork belly after I had less than great results last time. After a quick google search for “pork belly recipes,” I decided to make this. Do I ever plan in advance or have ingredients on hand? Nope. So I used dried thyme leaf and a yellow onion. I also didn’t make the gravy.

I WANT to like the crackling/rind/skin. I really do. I keep trying to like eating it, but I really hate chewing it. Maybe I’m making it wrong? I like the flavor, but the texture is just not happening for me. As always, I loved the veggies roasted in pork fat. The veggies turn out extra delicious since there’s so much fat in pork belly. I should have added way more. The thyme was fantastic. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dish and recommend it if you are looking for an easy pork belly recipe. Maybe you’ll like the crackling better than me.

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June 27, 2011

A wedding + too much alcohol

Congratulations Stacy and Travis!!! It was a beautiful wedding and my friend looked stunning! It was such an honor to be a part of her wedding day!

The rehearsal dinner was really difficult because all the food was ordered for us – bread, house salad, caesar salad, fettucini alfredo, spaghetti with meat sauce, chicken parmesan, and cheesecake. I nibbled on the house salad, tasted the meat sauce, and had a glass of wine. I ended up getting more food after the rehearsal at the hotel’s restaurant.

The wedding day started way too early for me. I accidentally woke up at 4:30am and could not fall back asleep. Then I had to go to the 10:30am hair appointment that the bride set up for us at a hair academy. I am NEVER letting a hair STUDENT touch my hair ever again. Once was enough for my nerves! It was their first time working on a real person!! The hot curler touched my ear at one point! I had major anxiety and I was miserable the entire time. I have really long, thick hair, but it curls easily and quickly in the hands of an experienced professional. Well it took 2 hours to curl it and another 20 minutes to pin one side back. Luckily, it turned out ok – loose wavy curls – because of the nature of my hair and the big curler that was used. At least I didn’t get stuck with tight Heidi/Goldilocks/Medusa curls! I did my own makeup after stopping by at Ulta super quick for some fake lashes and eyeshadow. Whenever I get my makeup done, I end up looking like a clown with really messed up eyebrows. I would post more pictures, but I need permission from the people who are in them.

I pretty much didn’t eat anything until the reception that day. I snacked on salami from a party tray because that was the only even remotely paleo food available to me. But dinner was great! It was a buffet with plenty of paleo friendly options. Prime rib, ham, and fresh veggies and fruit!

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Despite my food choices, I definitely wasn’t very paleo on Saturday. I ate a couple of cupcakes and I drank a lot of alcohol. A LOT. ALL DAY. A flask full of whisky, 3 vodka tonics, a shot of tequila, and a glass of champagne… possibly more that I don’t remember. You know how I barely drink anymore and how I get drunk after two? Well I was so tired, I didn’t even notice that I was inebriated until well into the reception. But I never felt wasted or anything… until around 3am when I woke up feeling super sick and threw up all night. Yuck. Never again! I’m limiting myself to two drinks from now on.

I was so tired the next day from the lack of sleep that I only did one jump on a gorgeous day perfect for skydiving. 😦 I also had super bad allergies. I’ve noticed that my allergies have improved drastically since eating paleo, but they flare up like crazy when I feel weak after a day of drinking or eating a lot of sugar.

June 23, 2011

I love Whole Foods!

The last two days have been awesome!!! After years of having trouble with motivation, I’m suddenly super motivated to not just live, but to thrive! And all it took was an answer to the question, “What do I want to do with my life?” I feel like my past two days reflect that – awesome bonding time with friends, awesome food, and awesome climbing. How many more times can I say awesome in one post?

Climbing
I got a membership at the Seattle Bouldering Project on Wednesday! I’ve already gone two days in a row. I love the feeling of accomplishment that you get from being able to see your own progress. Last night I could successfully climb routes that I couldn’t finish on Wednesday. I’m currently climbing most V2 routes pretty comfortably and I think I’ll start attempting some V3s next week. I’ve also overcome the majority of my fear of bouldering – I even jump down from heights that used to make me really nervous! I hope I go more often now that I have a membership so I can continue to improve!
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And now for some really great food!

Sashimi – Kisaku, Seattle
Wednesday’s post-climbing power meal was sashimi from one of my favorite sushi restaurants. I always try to ask for wild-caught only! But I don’t know enough about sustainable fishing to know which fish are plentiful and which I should avoid ordering. That’s next on my list of topics to research!

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Meat from Whole Foods
I love Whole Foods. I think it’s the best supermarket chain around! I just wish there were more of them. I actually prefer getting meat there than at a butcher’s because it’s labeled so well. I love the “Animal Welfare Rating” that indicates how the animal was raised for their meat. The grass fed beef I bought was rated a step 4, pasture centered – “When living outdoors, chickens get to forage, pigs get to wallow and cattle get to roam.” Speaking of roaming cattle, before I opened my eyes and looked at where most meat comes from, I really thought that the world was full of roaming, pastured cows. I had never seen or even heard of a feedlot. If I drive just 30 minutes north of here, there are fields all over with happy cows that are grazing on green grass, lounging with their cow buddies, and mooing and smelling like cows do. Anyway, the rating standard used by Whole Foods is super helpful in making a good choice. I also really like that the origin of the meat is clearly labeled with the name of the ranch and the location. Talbott Ranch has a website with a nice description of how their cows are raised. Apparently the ranch is always open to visitors!

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Meat for the rest of the week: buffalo ribeye steak, grassfed beef New York steak, grassfed ground beef, and prosciutto! I really like the Principe brand of prosciutto, it’s super tasty and only contains pork and salt.

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Buffalo Ribeye Steak

I had eaten buffalo burgers in the past, but this was my first buffalo steak! The meat is definitely leaner than conventional beef, but I think the amount of marbling is comparable to that of grass fed beef. The flavors are pretty close as well. I cooked this steak like I would any other one of my perfect steaks, medium rare. It turned out perfectly, I really enjoyed the meatiness of it. Steamed organic broccolettes on the side. Are broccolettes even real? Broccoli, broccolini, broccolette… they all taste the same.

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BLTA Burger Salad

I was craving a BLTAO paleo burger when I realized that we were out of lettuce. I only had romaine, which are way too skinny and crunchy to be the buns for a burger. So I turned it into a salad! No dressing required; just romaine lettuce, 1 tomato, 1/2 avocado, 2 strips of bacon, and a handmade burger patty! I probably could have just browned the ground beef and had it spread all over the salad. Delicious!

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I have a really busy weekend ahead of me. One of my best friends is getting married on Saturday! Today is the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I am one of the maids of honor and it’s my first time being in a wedding! I’m super excited. I hope my toast makes people cry… in a good way. The rehearsal dinner is at Buca di Beppo, a big family style pasta place with maybe 2 things on the menu that I could possibly make paleo. We’ll see how that goes!

June 22, 2011

“What do I want to do with my life?”

First I’d like to mention that my frivolous life plans include more tunnel time! Here’s a short clip from last week, it was the only part my whuffo mother found even mildly interesting. (You might want to mute, the music they put on the dvds is so obnoxious after a while.)

 

Now on to my serious life plans.”What do I want to do with my life?” I’ve asked myself this question a lot lately. I finally have an answer now! My facebook status yesterday: “I just had an epiphany… I finally know what I want to do with my life! I have a dream and a purpose again and feel absolutely amazing about it.”

Some background info:
Most of my life I thought I wanted to go to medical school and be a doctor, but several life experiences made me decide it wasn’t my path halfway through college. Then I changed majors a lot, studied abroad a couple times, and ended up with a ridiculously wide variety of interests. That has always been my problem, I am always interested in way too many things at once. No focus whatsoever. You can see this in my tendency to collect hobbies. I must know and do everything I want to know and do. I’ve also never faced any obstacles, so the possibilities were endless to me. I ended up graduating with a BA in Latin America Studies and a BS in Public Health with a minor in Bioethics & Humanities. The past six months, I’ve literally been lost. I had many ideas on what I could do, but nothing I particularly felt passionate about and wanted to do for the rest of my life. I did however know that I wanted to continue pursuing public health because of our inefficient, inadequate health care system and because I strongly believe in prevention. So I had been looking at grad school for public health. Then I found another problem, there are so many different tracks to get your MPH! Environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, health administration, global health… the list literally seems endless. I had taken undergrad classes on most of the subjects and I didn’t feel like I particularly favored one over another.

Meanwhile, I had started to really pay attention to what I put into my body. I eat paleo and inquire about the origin of my food. You know how I said I must know everything I want to know? Well that trait led me to research a lot about the paleo diet and the American food industry. This completely changed my relationship to food and my views on the food industry and our government. I experienced so many positive changes after switching to paleo and have seen first hand how what I eat has a direct influence on my physical and mental health. I had no idea that food was so powerful! I became pretty passionate about eating this way and sharing it with anyone who would listen. I want everyone else to feel as good as I do! I also recently discovered a love for weight loss shows where the morbidly obese take back their lives and make a change. I’m always so inspired and moved by their journey and success.

So yesterday, all these pieces (there are more I did not mention) just fell into place as I realized that I am truly passionate about food as it relates to our health. My dream is to help individuals make informed decisions and take back control of their health so that they can insist on changes from our corrupt food and health system. I want to be a part of the solution to the obesity epidemic and help prevent chronic diseases. I can find purpose in my life with those goals. As my first step towards this path in life that has just become so clear to me, I am looking for MPH programs that will help me reach those goals and will start applying in September. 🙂

 

Since this is a food blog, here’s a picture of the Korean beef  short rib stew/broth I ate yesterday. Usually the meat gets cut up and put in the broth when it’s done. But I got really excited when I saw the meat still intact on the bone and had to eat it with my hand. I really think meat tastes better on the bone!
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June 20, 2011

Recovering from last week

I know it has been a long time since I’ve last blogged. I was in the bay area again getting more tunnel time! The whole trip I slept about 4 hours a night and napped a lot during the day. So my internal clock is super messed up. Surprisingly, I wasn’t at all sore after 3 hours in the tunnel in just a few days. Pushing against all that wind is quite a workout! I was drinking coconut water every day to rehydrate and prevent soreness. I got home on Saturday and only had a few hours before having to leave for my friend’s bachelorette party. Needless to say, I was super exhausted after all the tunnel time, travel, lack of sleep, and partying. I also ate like crap the last four days…

Before I left for my trip on Wednesday, I was eating a lot of Copper River salmon – baked with garlic, sea salt, pepper, italian seasonings, and lemon juice.
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I managed to stay paleo all day on Thursday, but it took some effort. Union City, CA isn’t exactly a mecca for any kind of foodie. For lunch, my vegetarian friend and I went to Fresh Choice. What’s awesome about that place is that they list all ingredients, allergens, and whether something is gluten free, vegan, etc. It had a great salad bar. Everything else wasn’t paleo. The place is super vegetarian friendly with very little meat. What did contain meat wasn’t paleo. So my tray was a little empty. I was kinda excited to use one of these trays again, I hadn’t seen one since high school!

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We went grocery shopping in Berkeley at the Berkeley Bowl and I was soooo happy! What an awesome supermarket. They had grassfed beef from three different places, two local and one from Uruguay, which I thought was stupid. I don’t know why this picture is upside down. But I bought several cans of coconut water, grassfed ribeye, organic blueberries, hot coppa, and raw almonds. I ate almost everything on Thursday.
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By Friday, I gave up on eating paleo. I was tired from the lack of sleep and hungry from the lack of constant access to good food. I ate lunch at an Indian buffet with naan, rice, and curries. I hung out with my friend Enrique from the area before my 11pm tunnel session. His mom was so cute! Her homemade, authentic Mexican food was amazing!!! Pretty sure the chicken was paleo, but I had to have some of the rice too because it smelled soo good. I had three bowls! My friend said his mom also makes excellent carnitas. I would love to have the recipe, but she doesn’t cook from a recipe so I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it.

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We went on a drive. By drive I mean 100+mph in his Porsche Turbo on a narrow, curvy, windy, hilly road. Hello adrenaline, it has been a while! I loved the racing seats, otherwise I would have been flying around the car with every turn. I’ll see if I can post the video I took later.
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I got a quick little tour of San Francisco. I think I could actually live there! There are very few cities that I like as much as Seattle. We ended up at Ghiradelli Square for some ice cream sundaes. I picked the Gold Rush sundae which had fudge, warm peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, peanuts, and whipped cream. Could it get any less paleo? I’ve always loved peanut butter in ice cream, but warm peanut butter was even better! I could only eat about 20% of this. It was way too sweet.
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Saturday I even ate french toast for breakfast! The problem with me eating any sort of super sugary foods is that I start craving it. So the rest of the weekend was full of chocolate, scones, and cookies. I also ate noodles! And apple streusel bread! This is why I haven’t been blogging, not much paleo food to post and complete exhaustion. SAD foods make me super lethargic, so all I did was eat and sleep. But today I’m getting back on track despite waking up and immediately wanting nothing but sugar. It’s kinda crazy how I lose my massive sweet tooth if I eat paleo for a few days.

June 13, 2011

No buns necessary

I picked up a couple of hamburger patties along with my T-bone steak on Saturday. My pre-paleo experiences with making burgers at home were all with frozen beef patties from Costco. I was never much of a burger eater. But paleo burgers with grassfed beef patties? I could eat these every day! I ended up eating two yesterday. Who knew life was better without buns?? I used the soft, gorgeous red leaf lettuce I bought at the farmers market. There’s just something so natural about wrapping meat up in leaves. The only complaint I had was that these patties were too small. I’m definitely getting ground beef and making my own big, fat, juicy burger patties next time.

Burger #1
What a wonderful lunch outside on my deck! I sauteed red bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms with some balsamic vinegar for this burger. It would have been even better as a lamb burger with some goat cheese.
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Burger #2
My BLTAO burger!! That’s bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion burger for those of you who are acronym-ally challenged. (I am! Took me years to find out that IHOP and International House of Pancakes were one and the same.) This was soooo good. I cooked the bacon first on a cast iron skillet, then cooked the patties in the bacon fat for extra deliciousness! This had great texture and layers of flavor. No sauces or cheese needed!
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And guess what I have thawing? Copper River Salmon! Tastes even better when fresh, but freezing is necessary when you get at least half a dozen whole fish at a time. We have a family friend who is a fishing boat captain. Several times a year, we receive huge boxes of various seafood as gifts. I’m excited for lots of salmon this week!
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June 11, 2011

Lazy saturday = minimal cooking

Preparing your own food is the most convenient way to stay paleo. That way you know exactly what you are putting into your body. This basically means you have to cook a lot, especially if you like having a lot of variety. But it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming! While I enjoy cooking with a lot of ingredients using multiple pans in multiple steps over multiple hours, sometimes I like being lazy and making something in 10 minutes.

Breakfast
I heat the sausage and fry the eggs in one pan. Yummy 5min breakfast.
– Blueberries
– 1 Tomato
– 2 Eggs – I like mine over medium with a runny yolk.
Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage – I just found out that Aidells makes organic versions of their sausages, I will definitely be looking for those next time. I usually get handmade sausage from the butcher, but precooked, packaged sausage is so convenient! Aidells is awesome because they are all natural and free of nitrates. Always read the label on prepackaged food!
So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk – You definitely want to get the unsweetened kind. Though this does have additives, the ingredients looked ok enough to me. Except the carrageenan, a thickener, which has been linked to cancer. It’s bland at first, but it definitely grows on you! I would like to find some all natural coconut milk.

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MMMM blueberries!!! We have a blueberry plant. I can’t wait to gather my own blueberries!
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Lunch/Dinner
1.2lb T-bone steak with veggies (red bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic)
I like my steaks medium rare, so it only takes 5 minutes to first pan sear and pop in the oven for a perfectly cooked steak. Cooking the veggies takes a little longer, but I start those while my cast iron skillet is heating up in the oven.

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I was super full after eating all of this in the mid-afternoon. Eating paleo is not about eating X number of meals a day every X number of hours. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. I did snack on a couple of oranges and had a little kimchi stew in the evening, but I was completely satiated for the day.

June 9, 2011

Carnitas attempt #3

Third time’s the charm? After two disappointing tries, I finally had a success!!! I loosely followed the recipe featured here. I made just enough for myself again so I quartered the recipe. I didn’t have chile powder, ancho chile powder, or cinnamon sticks so I omitted those. I used olive oil instead of canola oil to brown the meat. I added coriander and increased the amount of cumin (so about 1/4tsp each for just 1lb of meat). I also chopped up a quarter of a poblano pepper (ancho chile is just dried poblano pepper after all) and added that into the water as well.

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The result? Perfect texture! I loved the cripsy brown edges and soft insides. The meat tore apart very easily, but still had substance. The fatty parts were especially delicious! The pork flavor definitely came out this time, highlighted by the subtle flavors of the spices. It did need a little acid – some fresh lime juice did the trick!

I will definitely make this again. I might try staying truer to the recipe and buy the chile powders for next time. But I have another recipe that I want to try next. It requires lard!! I’ve never cooked with lard before and I am pretty excited!

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June 8, 2011

Carnitas attempt #2

Nothing but blue skies last weekend, perfect for some skydiving! I only did 4 jumps on Saturday and chose to spend the rest of the sunshine doing normal people things, like hanging out with my birds… More sun and more jumps this weekend!
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Strawberries = my favorite snack this week. They are SO good right now! Perfectly ripe! (On a sidenote, I’m pretty impressed with my iPhone’s camera, pretty much all the pics on my blog are taken with my phone.)
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Mukilteo Farmers Market – Every Wednesday 3pm-7pm. Maybe it’s because I’m used to the farmers markets in Seattle, but this was so underwhelming. There’s nothing that gets me more excited than farmers markets and I was sooo excited to see all these tents at the Mukilteo beach. But it was so small! Very little produce… I snagged some local raw honey and some beautiful red leaf lettuce. My mom bought a couple of hardy fuscias. I may or may not have bought some toffee after the guy snookered me into trying them…
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Carnitas attempt #2: Pressure Cooker Carnitas
After carnitas attempt #1, I’ve been dying to try making carnitas another way. I still haven’t picked up a slowcooker, so I found this pressure cooker recipe. I used a little olive oil instead of the canola oil and used water instead of beef broth (not possible to find canned beef broth without MSG in it at my grocery store!). I also squeezed in a little lime juice. I only made a third of the recipe just in case it wouldn’t be very good and I’m so glad I did!

After browning the meat and adding the rest of the ingredients:
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Pressure cooker!
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The final result was… mushy. I actually really liked the texture of the meat, just wish it had crispy edges, which I could have attained by keeping it on the stove longer with the lid off or putting it in the oven. I did not care at all for the onion and pepper mush that resulted. I think the serrano peppers were not the right kind of spicy for the best flavored carnitas. I did enjoy the flavor of coriander and cumin together (I had left out the coriander in my last attempt), but that was completely overpowered by the peppers. It was also screaming for some salt. So my journey to make great carnitas continues! Attempt #3 is coming up soon!

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My snuggly baby Maya! She is really the cuddliest bird ever. Like I always say, she’s more puppy than bird… must have been a golden retriever in a past life.
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June 3, 2011

Hello sunshine!!

My fast did not last 24 hours as planned, more like 18, which was enough for me to feel better. It’s really hard to continue fasting while out with friends. The ones who understand feel bad about eating while you’re getting refill after refill of water. The ones who don’t understand ask too many questions, suspect you of having an eating disorder, or tell you how terrible it is for your metabolism. Right.

Anyway, I’ve been hanging out in Seattle a lot lately, which means I have been eating out a lot too. I really miss living on my own in Seattle, but my current living situation is what’s ideal for my birds.

Pollo Cuban Roast Pork Salad w/caramelized onionsPaseo
You may remember from my previous post how excited I was to find a way to eat paleo at Paseo. Last time I got a Cuban Roast Plato and took out the corn, beans, and rice. This time when I asked for just the Cuban Roast pork and the salad, they told me I could do the Pollo Salad – “Grilled & basted chicken breast carved atop a bed of crisp romaine lettuce, sliced purple cabbage, pickled shoestring beets, fresh sprigs of cilantro & drizzled w/ our house vinaigrette & extra virgin olive oil” – and just substitute the pork. This ended up being about $5 cheaper than ordering the plato for the same amount of food. I also remembered to ask for a side of onions and added them to my salad. AMAAAZING!!! I have a love affair going with those onions.
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The Salmon House Carpaccio TrioIvar’s Salmon House
Ivar’s Salmon House has a great happy hour that goes from 3pm to close. Well, it used to be great before my conversion to paleo. Now it is awful. Not a single thing on the happy hour menu is paleo-friendly. Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing at least has seared ahi on their happy hour menu. So I had to look to the regular dinner menu, which has lots of paleo options. I wanted to stay close to happy hour prices so I just ordered the salmon carpaccio appetizer – “Made in house. Thin slices of King, Coho and Sockeye salmon drizzled with a blood orange vinaigrette. Served with wild greens and fresh orange segments.” Let me get all snobby foodie on this dish now: I love the flavor of raw salmon as is, but sometimes a sauce or vinaigrette can add to the flavor in a good way. This was not one of those times. But the blood orange vinaigrette was awesome with the greens. I think having actual blood orange segments rather than navel orange segments would have been better, I wanted it a little more tart. The salmon didn’t get to shine – it was a raw salmon salad, not a salmon carpaccio. Speaking of carpaccio, I’m now having a massive craving for beef carpaccio at 9:30am.
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Tandoori ComboIndia Bistro
Unlike Thai curries which have a coconut milk/cream base, Indian curries contain yogurt. But don’t despair, there’s a tandoori section full of grilled meat marinated in delicious Indian spices! I couldn’t choose from all the options so I went with the “combination of tandoor chicken, lamb, chicken tikka, seekh kebab, fish, and prawns cooked in the tandoor.” I asked if I could have veggies instead of the basmati rice, which the server said was no problem. But they must have forgot because I never received my veggies. It was a blessing in disguise. There was no way I could finish all this meat AND veggies.

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Today is a beautiful day! Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be even better with temperatures in the mid-70s!!! This means I will be skydiving ALL weekend!!! So excited! It has been way too long since my last jump with all this crappy weather we’ve been having. BLUE SKIES!!!