Sumac Pork Chops in Pesto Sauce

This post has been written sometime during the morning hours of Christmas vacation that I enjoyed at home this year – a rarity in the fast paced life of a workforce gal. I’ve been feeling very inspired this Christmas to write at the expense of my gym visits, but that’s OK, because I ended up with a string of posts that I was going to start posting in weekly instalments come January 2017. But this one must come early as a token of appreciation for having received the most touching compliments already.

When you embrace the fat on your plate you will quickly realize that it doesn’t take much food to satiate you. It takes time though to switch your thinking from I must fill up the plate to the brim to it’s OK to see the bottom of the plate. We’ve been programmed to believe that if we don’t have enough to eat, we might die of starvation before the next meal. However, the truth of the matter is that it would take us much longer than the meager 2-3 hours in between meals (that most people allow between meals) to starve to death. Most of us carry enough body fat to fuel themselves for quite a bit before we’d die….

So this is what I endeavour to make my plates look like, unless, of course I’m making a big bowl of salad 🙂

This is a very simple meal that packs on tons of nutrients and will satisfy the hungriest among us. I know because I fed it to a very hungry meal tester only to see a wide smile on his face when he was done.

 

Sumac Pork Chops
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: LCHF
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Fat loaded, grain and sugar free dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 large Pork Chop (bone in)
  • Himalayan Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • Dash of Smoked Paprika, Onion and Garlic Powder
  • Generous Coating of Sumac
  • 1 Tbs of Coconut Oil or Butter
Instructions
  1. Coat the chop with all the spices and let sit for about 5 minutes while you prep your frying pan.
  2. Turn on the burner at medium heat and let the Coconut Oil or Butter melt in the frying pan.
  3. Place the chop in the frying pan - it's important that the frying pan be hot in order to get a nice browning on your chop. You'll hear it sizzle when it touches the pan - that's a sign the pan was hot enough.
  4. Let it cook on one side for 5-10 minutes before flipping it to the other side.
  5. Once browned flip and let cook on the other side.
Notes
The only way to screw this one up is by constantly poking at the meat in the frying pan. The most important thing to remember is to leave it alone - once you place it in the frying pan, let it cook. If you keep moving it around it will not develop a nice crunchy exterior. Leave it alone and you will be amazed at the flavour and texture. Only flip once.

This goes pretty much for any meat you are preparing this way, if you want a nice crispy exterior let it develop it by keeping away.

Of course, you have to be vigilant not to let it cook for too long or your meat with burn 😉

 
Quick and easy sauce/dressing that has a million and one applications and can spice up any meal, from an unsuspecting salad to a juicy steak.

 

For this meal to be LCHF there is no starch on the plate. Instead, I decided to up the fat content by adding 1/2 an avocado to the plate and generously coat the chop in my own pesto sauce. And since I had some of my roasted grape tomatoes left I added them to this meal for splash of colour and flavour. I should mention that I don’t do anything special with the avocado – I splash some lemon juice on it, sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli powder. I like to taste the avocado rather than cover it up in other flavours and the best way of achieving it is by leaving it as is with minimal spices.

 

 

 

 

 

We tend to be so busy with life, work, house chores and other responsibilities that we forget to unwind and enjoy our meals. Many times food is just simply inhaled when it should be savoured. When I offered this meal for consumption I’m pretty sure that the presentation made a huge difference in the experience of eating. Maybe, just maybe, for some of us the presentation will make us slow down a notch and eat with more care, as if though it was a delicate piece of art that needed not be disturbed, as if though eating it with purpose was able to preserve the integrity of the art even after it’s been consumed.

This is important not only for the experience of eating and savouring the flavours but also for our brains to have  the time to release hormones –  the little messengers telling our body to feel satiated. If you slow down you will also notice that the empty spaces on your plate are not that big of a deal either.

Ps. Day one with no sweeteners was a success – I stayed away from my liquid stevia even at night! It is a transition though, because after my evening meal I still felt like I needed a dessert. So I reached for my favorite fat source – Pure-Creamed-Coconut – added a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla, mixed it all together and had my way with it. Normally I would add a generous splash of stevia in this concoction, but not last night – I let the natural sweetness of  coconut be enough and it was. I also noticed that without the overpowering sweetness of stevia I didn’t feel like eating the whole package in one go. So, my theory on eating more than necessary to satiate when using sweeteners is already coming true.

Is Social Media making us fat? If so, go make some Coffee Vanilla ice-cream fluff:)

IMG_20150813_191758There are very few of us around who don’t have accounts on social media. Even if you despise the idea of it, you belong to at least one of them. You might not be using it, but you’re “on it”. However, most of us use social media, we do it so that we can keep up on things that interest us, keep in touch with friends and family etc.. I use it to keep up on fitness and nutrition related subjects, I follow/subscribe to fitness and nutrition writers and other enthusiasts that I deem might have something interesting to say on these subjects.  

So what do I get out of social media? Mostly, good articles, books to read, other people’s experiences and let’s not forget good recipes. Now, before I get to those good recipes I have to mention the plethora of misinformation out there. You’re thinking “duh!”. Right? Yes, I know this is not any sort of revelation. Everybody knows that you need to be very cautious out there in the virtual space when you go on researching any subject. But let’s take an unsuspecting overweight person who has just decided to get fit and do something about their eating habits.

Before the internet era you’d probably have to go to the library or a bookstore, or maybe you’d seek help with your physician or other such professional. Today, your first point of information is the internet. You’re browsing facebook, twitter feeds and instagram and all of a sudden you realize that you can follow all sorts of people with pretty, delicious looking food on their instagram feeds. Not only that, but they also sport pictures of their physiques and you realize they all look better than you and you put 1 and 1 together and the next thing you know you’re assuming that these people eat all this delicious food and they still manage to look this good!!?? Hey, maybe there is hope! You can be skinny and eat your cake too! So you dig deeper.

You are now looking up certain tags on IG because you’ve acquired some knowledge and you know where to look. Before you know it,  you have found the latest craze that seems to be making people take selfies of themselves because the craze is supposedly making them look good. It’s called “If It Fits Your Macros” aka “IIFYM”, some call it “Flexible Dieting”. All you know, is that these people claim that you can and should eat candy and sweets that you love so much and still be able to look good. The proponents of this diet say that you don’t have to give up the foods you like to be fit and healthy. In fact, in order for your diet to stick and be sustainable (oh it’s a big word out there!) you need to eat what you like, as opposed to all that boring broccoli and chicken!! You come to the conclusion that these people must have it figured out (hence all the selfies) and the more you think about it the more it starts to make sense. It is quite sustainable and manageable to eat the foods that you enjoy, rather than the ones you don’t enjoy, that’s not rocket science. It’s easier to stick to it if you can eat candy all day and surely you will fall off the wagon if you have to eat the same boring veggies and lean meats. The question is : “Can it really be done?” Eating crap and looking good, that is? You try it and you buy into this idea and wait for it to work. But what exactly are MACROS? Oh you don’t intend to dig this deep. It’s supposed to be easy, right? So, you keep eating all the snickers bars, pop tarts and ice-cream because all the most hard core IITFYMers are doing it and taking pictures of it, so it will eventually work, you just need patience.  

But what you don’t know is that there are actually very few of these IIFYMers that do it right or for whom this Flexible Dieting is working. Very few of them are ripped and those who use this principle correctly are not sitting on the couch eating candy all day. The ones that make IITFYM work for them do it smart.

Of course it’s not all bad news and there are things you can take away from them. That’s the beauty of social media, one person creates something and others can learn from it, change it, modify, redistribute it. But ultimately it’s up to us, social media consumers, to sift through, observe, learn, discern, do more research but never blindly follow. You have to use your brain.

So here is what I’ve taken away from all the hype; the recipe for the Protein Ice-Cream Fluff is by no means my invention. Different versions of it have beenIMG_20150813_191750~2 floating on social media, particularly on IG for a while. Take from it what you want or need. I swear by it for the sole reason that you can make it very low calorie for a lot of volume and at night I am a volume eater. Today, my basic recipe (ice-cream only) will only be 189cal! Now, what you put on top of it is what will bump up the calories. The one pictured is 350cal, but if you skip the cream cheese and the nuts you can bring it way down.

INGREDIETS for Ice-Cream Fluff:

  • 1-1/5 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 scoop of Casein Protein Powder
  • 6g Guar Gum (some people use Xanthan powder)
  • Extracts of choice I used coffee and vanilla
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee

DIRECTIONS :
Process on high in a food processor for 10-20 minutes until it becomes fluff. Place in a large bowl and put it in the freezer for cooling.

INGREDIENTS for Chocolate “brownie” curtesy of Kalli Youngstrom:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Walden Farms Syrup of choice 

DIRECTIONS:
Mix everything in a small bowl until it becomes a paste. Pour into a nonstick frying pan and fry, breaking it up so that it’s not flat, but rather crumbly like a brownie.  

INGREDIENTS for cream cheese spread:

  • 30g light Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 5g protein powder
  • 10g Natural (no sugar, no oil added) peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tbsp Walden Farms Syrup of choice

DIRECTIONS: 
Mix well. 

To assemble your ice-cream fluff you will take the ice-cream bowl out of the freezer after couple of hours. Put your crumbled “brownie” on top, smear the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie and add any other desired toppings. Mine had carmel Walden Farms syrup and 10g of dry roasted peanuts. 

MACROS:
350cal, 36p, 11c, 17f. 

EVOLUTION OF THE ICE-CREAM FLUFF:
This one kept growing like a building under construction right in front of my own eyes. I did not plan it this elaborate right from the get go.

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This is what went into the freezer with the thought that there will be some toppings in the form of the brownie and Walden Farms syrup.
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Here I added the brownie, Walden Farms and cream cheese mixture crept in.
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And here I decided that there is lack of texture in my recipe and if this was on Food Network’s Chopped Chef Geoffrey Zakarian would surely chop me 😉

So here you have it, my nightly shenanigans with food 🙂 

How to stay on track with your snacks?

It’s been a while since I’ve made an appearance. I had big plans since March was Nutrition Month and then life got in the way and other things took precedence. It seemed for a while like nothing was going to work the way it should and bad things seemed to multiply themselves like rabbits. During those days making pretty looking dishes did not seem like such a priority. But it’s back to normal (or so I hope) so here I am continuing the focus on Healthy, Nutritious and Delicious meals… because so what March is over! We can just as easily make the Year 2015 Nutrition Year instead of focusing on a particular month. For that matter, why not turn this into a constant. After all, just like dieting, concentrating on a particular issue for a limited amount of time will never give us the results we so desire. So what that March is over?! Does it mean we can go back to our old routine of eating unhealthy foods? No, April is not any different, and May and June and July…  You get the point, I think. 

So, I’d like to tackle snacks today. Main meals seem like such a no brainer when it comes to making them healthy. Pick lean meats, complex carbohydrates (or skip them if you are trying to lose a lot of weight) and green leafy veggies followed by healthy fats and you are right on point. Skip all prepared frozen dinners and cook your food yourself. Now, you might still go astray by cooking them yourself if you pick the wrong ingredients, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

With snacking it’s a different kind of struggle. There is so much misinformation out there that no wonder we get confused. I still highly advocate not buying into hype and advertising of 100 calorie snacks, for example. It’s pure garbage and you will never feel satisfied by those little packages of sugar, you will not stop at one. What I highly recommend doing is making sure you know what you’re eating and how much of it you’re eating. What I mean by that is make it yourself and make sure you know the macronutrient composition of your snacks. You need to learn how to use a simple calorie tracker and put your recipes into your tracker to know exactly how much you’re eating. Why is this important? Because we tend to snack even when we are not hungry. We tend to reach into a bag of *fill in the blank* without even thinking about it. It’s like a nervous tick – a habit that we don’t think about executing – we just do it. And before you know it the bag of chips/ cookies/ pretzels is gone. And if you look at the nutritional value of what you ate you’d be astounded by the amount of “food” you just ate. But, we don’t go back to see and therefore we never know how much we are eating. So how about making something yourself and knowing upfront how much you’re eating? And by “how much” I don’t only mean in terms of size. I mean in terms of macronutrient value.

There is a huge array of different tracking apps and they really are not that difficult to use. Once you input your foods and recipes once, it’s just a matter of adding your daily foods to make sure you don’t overdo it. Once you learn how much food you’re eating to meet your goals you can eventually ditch the app, because you’ll instinctively know how much is enough. I highly recommend MyFitnessPal to start with. There is an iPhone and Android version out there.

So in the spirit of trying out your first snack recipe here is one of my most favourite ones. I call it Red Velvet Fluff Ice-cream.       

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RED VELVET FLUFF ICE-CREAM

Ingredients:

Macros per 200g: 150 cal, F-0g, P-21g, C-15g 
(the recipe makes 7.5 servings of 200g)

Directions:

  1. Put your quark and cottage cheese in a large food processor and blend on high until you get a very smooth mixture. This will allow the cheeses to blend easy and won’t strain the motor of your food processor as much as it would if you added the dry ingredients at the same time.
  2. Once your mixture is nice and smooth like ice-cream add the rest of the ingredients and blend together.
  3. Refrigerate before serving. This will make the mixture even thicker.
  4. If you want the snack to have an icy feel to it like ice-cream, you can put your serving into a freezer before eating. I don’t recommend freezing the whole batch, though. That would make it quite difficult to serve. Just keep the full batch in the refrigerator and only put your individual servings 20-30 minutes before eating into the freezer if you wish. 
  5. Topping of choice: nuts, chia seeds, chocolate chips. I like a rice cake for scooping it out. But you can put anything you like, making sure to include the macros for your toppings into your calorie tracking app. 

NOTE 1:  Cottage cheese has a bad reputation of being a bland health food, but this is not an ordinary cottage cheese! All the moisture of a traditional cottage cheese has been removed and it also doesn’t have the saltiness that regular cottage cheese seems to have. To me it tastes more like cream cheese than cottage cheese. In fact, back home we used to make cheesecake using this type of cream cheese!  Addition of this product in this recipe allows for incredible thickness.

NOTE 2: Quark is simply an amazing product! To me it’s a cross between cream cheese and greek yogurt without the unnecessary stuff from cream cheese that makes it so naughty. It’s fat free and very smooth in its consistency. However, good luck finding it in St. John’s, Newfoundland, though. It is currently available in select Dominion and Elizabeth Ave Sobey’s 🙂

NOTE 3: For this recipe I like to use casein protein powder because it’s very thick. I only add 1 IMG_20150403_120757~2scoop, but you could add more. However make sure that you are not overdoing it, because unless you are trying to build muscle mass by working with weights, you might not want to consume too much protein. I use ON Gold Standard French Vanilla Casein.

NOTE 4: This little flask will last you a very long time if used properly. This recipe yields 15 100g servings so about 10 drops will do. For most recipes you only need a few drops. Most stevia products out there are packed with unnecessary fillers, I find this stevia is perfect just the way it is and doesn’t have any aftertaste and it comes in all sorts of flavourings. My next one to try is English Toffee. I have been using Cinnamon, but can’t say I was able to discern the cinnamon too much.