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Shay's Whole30 Sweet Plantain Tortillas

by Monday, November 12, 2018
We are finishing up our Whole30 this week, and had some meals prepped for the final two days, which included a batch of my favorite IP pork carnitas. Since we're still off All The Things, we couldn't use regular tortillas yet, but I had great success with making plantain tortillas a couple weeks prior and was eager to try to improve upon it. The flavor and consistency of those were mostly good, but they were a bit dry and dense. I hoped to simply mix up a little bit more moist batter, and add some compliant baking powder to maybe add some fluffiness.

Well, best laid plans... My green plantains intended for my tortillas had turned brown in the middle, and all I had were ripe ones. What came next was messy but delicious! The "batter" is more sticky and temperamental, due to the more ripe plantain, but the sweetness from the plantains were amazing and the texture of the tortilla was stellar. Chris made a point to tell me I needed to write this recipe down, so here it is!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 yellow plantains, mid-ripe ideal, with some browning
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, refined, melted
  • 1 Egg Whites
  • 1/8 tsp Whole30 compliant baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp Tapioca Flour, or more (or whatever non-gluten flour you like)


DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut plantains into 2-3" chunks. Boil for 5 minutes to soften and remove skins. (you can also microwave for a couple minutes, if you prefer).
  2. Put all ingredients except for tapioca flour in food processor and blend. If it seems too sticky and wet, add a little tapioca flour to help bind. It should be pretty wet, but able to be molded into soggy ball/lumps with your hands (sounds SO appetizing, doesn't it?!).
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little tapioca flour (you can skip this, but I felt it helped work the batter). Divide plantain mixture into four balls and place well spaced apart on the floured paper. Spread into desired shape with your fingers, wetting them with water as needed to prevent sticking. Optional: Sprinkle flour over the tops, then place a second piece of parchment paper on top. Roll/press out plantain mixture until desired size and thickness. With a couple small plantains, mine came out to about 4" across and 1/4" thick. I would try to make them a little thinner and wider next time.
  5. Remove top parchment paper, if used, and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake another 5 minutes. Check for doneness and remove when browned.
These will reheat well, so you can make multiple batches and save some for later in the week if you wish.

Whole30 Home Stretch: Reintroduction

by Tuesday, November 06, 2018
We are in the home stretch of reintroduction right now. What I can say is: Feh. Nothing has changed, really. Chris MIGHT have a slight corn sensitivity (he got stuffy overnight after having precisely six corn chips, so it seems unlikely, but maybe?), but nothing else has changed. Dairy had no effect, alcohol is back in rotation (though more moderate than before for now), non-gluten grains nothing for me for sure. Tomorrow we do legumes, and Saturday we do gluten grains, then we'll be all done.

We slept a bit better during the middle and end of the experiment, but that's likely more not having sugar, especially in wine or end of day meals or desserts. But nothing like "I SLEPT LIKE A BABY!" Just, "Yeah, I guess I have been sleeping a little better."

We have both cut way back on sugar in our tea in the morning and are more aware of sugar in stuff than before. And I got some new recipes we like very much to carry into the future.

That's about it. Nothing life-changing like they try to promise. 

Is it worth it? I am glad I did it. I don't plan to do it again (some people do it as a reset once a year or whatever). It was a lot of work. I am lucky that I don't have a lot of hangups around food and eating, but some people report feeling AWFUL emotionally/mentally on Whole30 because it makes them even more obsessed with what they're eating and increased feelings of shame, guilt, or worry about what they are cooking/eating. I can totally see that. I had to think about food a lot more than I do, and while some of it was good (aforementioned paying attention to sugar and corn in EVERYTHING), sometimes it was exhausting and/or downright frustrating.

If you want a challenge to reset some habits or thoughts around food, try it. But don't allow yourself to feel pressured and brow-beaten into doing it perfectly in every minute detail if that brings you more stress than you are ready to take on. A lot (a LOT) of people quit after a few weeks due to the stress they felt, and I can totally understand it. We made it, but barely.

Halloween Headdress - Some details

by Saturday, October 27, 2018
I have had some online friends inquire about my process of making my Halloween 2018 headdress, so I thought I would share a few pics and short videos I tried to make during the process. It is not comprehensive, but it may give a little helpful insight?

First of all, materials:
One inch wide transparent plastic headband ($5 locally at Display and Costume)
Clear plastic hair combs
Thin beading wire (I think mine was .024")
Heavy beading wire (I got 18 gauge)
Wire tools (mainly something to clip wires with, but some small pliers are helpful in twisting wire when needed)
High temp glue gun
Multi-temp glue (100 mini-sticks)
Various beads, jewelry bits, and some wedding/holiday floral decorations*

*I was in around the Halloween season, so Christmas stuff was already out. I chose silver, glitter, frosted things for my theme. Luckily, even in the "off season", wedding floral stuff can often have similar glam.

For the glue gun, I prefer high melt for projects like this. Specifically, I was using materials that would not melt under the heat of the glue, which is your number one consideration. After that is considering how strong of a bond you want and your working time. I find that high temp guns have a shorter working time--that is, it cools and sets a little more rapidly. While some might prefer the longer working time and flexibility of a low-temp glue, for this project I was going to be making a lot of items made just from glue, with no structure underneath them; and additionally, they would need multiple layers of glue, where I would need it to set, then lay down another layer on top. My process was sped up a little bit with a faster-setting glue.

Instructions


Prep the headband: I took the hair combs and lined them up where I wanted them on the headband, roughly about 3-4 inches to either side of the center of the headband. I made a little mark with a Sharpie (very tiny, just so I could see). Then I laid down a line of glue on the top of the comb and glued them to the underside of the headband. 

Taking some jewelry wire, I anchored them in place further. I eventually decided I was going to wrap them entirely and lay glue down over it, for extra security and to keep the wire from poking.

Then I started playing around and gluing the biggest pieces and background pieces in place. I knew I wanted something kind of horn-like, so I put these "frosted branches" on either side.


Then I started making a lot of "icicles". These are just multiple layers of hot glue laid down. I lightly oiled the bottom of a glass baking dish and used this as my surface. You can use any smooth, heat-tolerant surface to do this on, including ceramic plates, metal pans, non-stick trays, etc. The oil helps the glue to release. Re-apply between batches, and be sparing--it doesn't need to be dripping with oil to work. Some crafters use Pam, but I just used a paper towel with some canola oil.
I made a short video. I tried to replace the audio, but some stuff on YouTube as an option was either too short or too irritating. So you may get to hear my listening to the Wicked Broadway soundtrack, or a collection of inspirational Unitarian sermons a friend sent to me. Lucky you!
Some more footage of releasing and cutting to shape when needed.
And more, this with me doing some more cleanup with fingers and scissors to get rid of fly-aways and errant glue loops.
And finally, this isn't my headdress but my husband's, which is all made of glue entirely to make an icicle crown. I thought I'd show a little bit of the gluing/attachment. You do this for 15 minutes, and you'll figure out what you need to do for your specific project.
Then I started adding the icicles to my headdress, continuing to add more background stuff (branches, silver glitter doo-dads). And when I felt I had all my icicles in place, I started "encrusting" it with some jewels at the base of the icicles. I didn't want it to appear too "formal" or regular, as I wanted this character to be more "fae royalty" and found-objects, so I made a point to make it a little asymmetrical as I went along. This is NOT easy for a Virgo, I am telling you.

A close up of me starting embellisment. Nothing fancy.

A better look at the overlapping icicles. The three middle there are different on purpose. I bought some glitter covered plastic spiral "icicles" at Display & Costume and covered them with glue to make them irregular and smooth to match the others. These are more rigid and form the central part of the crown.

To help me as I went along, I laid out a collection of icicles on my work surface, which is an old broke-ass cutting mat which conveniently has a ruler on it. Then I could see the length of each and it was easier to make the crown peaked by grading the height of the icicles placed.

And then here is my final result. The center piece was on clearance in JoAnn's jewelry section. I bought this one for this project, but any time I am there I peruse their clearance stuff and will buy cheap materials to add to my collection for future projects. On this project, I am using about 75% new stuff, and about 25% from my stash.


Whole30 Home Stretch

by Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Whole30 Realness:

By this stage in Whole30, it seems a lot of people are feeling improved energy, gut happiness, improved skin, maybe a little weight loss (feeling like clothes fit better, not scale-weight), better sleep, and/or generally good about the struggles of the first three weeks. Some people talk about "Tiger Blood" in week 3 or 4--a feeling of high energy and enthusiasm.

Not so much for me.

I am broken out in weird ways, my energy is no different, my gut isn't really any different, and sleep is maybe marginally better if I am being generous.

I am sick of cooking all the time and not being able to just order a pizza after a long exhausting day, or grab a sandwich when I am running errands.

I miss making a little tea with milk and a lump o' sugar to soothe my spirits on a busy work day or during a stressful time (my mommy made this for me growing up when I was stressed before an exam or going onstage for a play or singing). I haven't had "my tea" in almost two months now, with my gentle ramping up I did weeks before starting Whole30.

I am tired of doing so many dishes all the time.

The meal planning is a part-time job, and we are spending a more on groceries in general. I mean, we ate a lot of fresh food to begin with, but this is...more).

The upside: I still like the food I am cooking very much. It's delicious and satisfying (if not a lot of work). Planning to have real breakfasts, in some form every morning, has been good for my hunger levels throughout the day, and is worth the effort. I am not sick of chia seed pudding yet. Trying new recipes and ingredients I haven't tried before is fun (mostly! Ha!). I discovered there is tons of awesome grain-free and gluten-free options out there that are damn tasty--I always poo-poo'd them!

I am curious to see what introduction will be like in a little over a week. Maybe then I will see what I am not noticing now? Some people report not noticing the ABSENCE of certain food sensitivities, but certainly saw the PRESENCE of them on reintroduction. So we'll see.

7 days to go. We are right now having discussions about what celebratory reintroduction we will have on Halloween. Wine seems an obvious one, but it may be something as simple as rice/grains with our meals that day. We'll see...

But right now...I am just kinda grumpy about it. Here's a photo of Taddy smiling at us all to make me feel better.

Unexpected travel; Whole30 success!!

by Wednesday, October 17, 2018
I DID IT!

I survived a week of Whole30 while traveling! My happy report:

Just one week into my Whole30, I was given an opportunity to go to Rachel Brice's 8 Elements Initiation. A friend was unfortunately injured and could not longer go and was selling her spot. The trick? It would require I drop everything and leave in 48 hours. The intensive being in Portland means it was driving distance away, so that was going for me. And I got a private room at the awesome Northwest Portland hostel, with a kitchen just down the hall from my room. WOOT! I could not have done it quite this successfully without one or both of these incredibly helpful facets of my trip, but my determination to stay compliant saw me through even hiccups in the week.

The Moore Test Kitchen
My husband has been super supportive, and he went grocery shopping with me and spent nearly an entire day playing sous chef to my head chef as I planned out a week of compliant, satisfying breakfasts, lunches, and most dinners in anticipation of the possibility of not finding compliant places to eat (or time to seek ones out). My schedule was going to be very full, and once my car was parked, I was going to be walking everywhere. I was dancing on and off for 5-6 hours a day; plus I was walking 20 minutes to the intensive in the morning and back to my hostel in the evening. I had to eat a compliant breakfast before I went, have a healthy-but-not-too-heavy lunch packed and ready to bring with me, snacks in case I needed them mid-workout, and have a meal I wasn't too tired to prepare when I got back late in the evening.

I got a medium sized cooler on wheels (an Igloo MaxCool from Target), and it was fully packed! I used mainly Ball jars of various sizes, as well as some ziplock bags and Glad food storage containers, which all nestled together well. I planned to go get ice from the corner store every few days, but the hostel had a big shared fridge where you could label your food and store it there, which was SO helpful.

For breakfasts, I boiled a dozen eggs, made up single serving sizes of chia pudding with different fruit-on-the-bottom, mixed fruit and bananas, and Spanish tortilla with sausage my husband made for me (potatoes, onions, sausage, bound with eggs).

Lunches included a pre-made double-baked baked potato and home made bean-free chili, tuna salad stuffed avocado, spicy chicken patties with "sriracha" dipping sauce, apples and nut butter packets, carrots and cashew hummus, single serving containers of black olives, unsweetened applesauce, and guacamole. I made pumpkin n' walnut "power balls" which were a big hit with my classmates as a little pick-me-up before the afternoon push.

Dinners in were things like spaghetti squash with homemade pesto sauce and roast chicken, pork "egg roll in a bowl" with spicy "sriracha" sauce, seared steak with mushroom "cream sauce" over sweet potato "rice".

A typical lunch.
Snacks included nuts, dried mango (a fave of mine any time of year!), bananas, some of the same lunch stuff (carrots and dippers, applesauce, etc), and a couple RX bars (I only ate half of one on my last day when our session ran long and we didn't eat lunch on time). I brought some "baby food" packets, but still haven't had them. I even had enough of various healthy snacks to share with my study buddies in the evening when we were doing homework, which made me happy to be able to share.

Sticky bits: being in a hostel around all the fun social energy, and everyone drinking beer and wine around me, was tough. Not AS hard as I imagined, but yes, still hard. My pal Brittney from Canada would often have one beer and then switch to herbal tea in support of me, and that meant a lot to me. Similarly, we had a lab one night where we were provided popcorn and wine to enjoy while we learned/studied. Popcorn and wine is one of my comfort food combos, so that wasn't the best feeling. But I drank my water and kept my eye on the prize, as it were, while 40 fellow dancers around me drank and munched. *soul crush* LOL Dining out wasn't impossible, but I felt like it created a little hassle, and limiting, for those with me. I felt I had to avoid international restaurants I would normally have loved to have sampled, but with potential language barriers and foreign ingredients I may not recognize, staying on the simple American-fare side of things seemed safest.

The servers were really great and the chefs made my meals colorful and wonderful. The only issue was one where they put corn in with the roast veg, but luckily not much and I was able to push it aside and eat the rest no problem. I did have a case where a group were all heading out to eat and they suddenly decided they HAD to have ramen (Who can blame them? RAMEN, Y'ALL!), so I almost had to go eat alone. But my pal Mandy from CA decided to break off from the group and come eat with me instead, which was really sweet, and we had a delicious simple salmon dish together.

Ultimately, my extensive preparation was the key. I spent so much time and effort making sure that if all else failed, I could go back to my room and have something nourishing to eat at any time, it took the pressure off. I was able to "grab and go" with my lunches, and my breakfasts were simple and kept me full without feeling heavy until my next meal (unlike cereals I may have had in the past which wouldn't last, or pastries or something quick to grab that would leave me feeling bloated and then sugar crash later). And I can say that this clean eating kept me fuller longer, kept my energy consistent, and I was able to get through a physically challenging week of dance-and-more-dance-and-then-some without feeling deprived or energetically tapped. I am not sure I could have said that at any other time in my life under similar circumstances.

So that's my happy tale of success. I am now three days into my third week. Sadly, I am now sick with a bad cold, so I feel like some of my cravings are just now coming on stronger as the desire for "comfort food" goes up as my literal physical comfort goes down. Luckily, my husband is fully on board (he stayed compliant the entire times I was gone--I am really proud of him, a guy who said he wasn't "into this fully" when we started!), and he has taken over cooking the last couple nights so I can rest up and heal. I could see how some people could hit an illness or stress in their life, and absent this kind of support system, feel like giving up. So I know how blessed I am.

Over halfway through. I got this! 




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On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:
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