Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Experiment with Homemade Almond Joy Bars

After googling around and looking at other peoples' recipes, I decided to experiment with my own version of an Almond Joy bar.



I used honey to sweeten the coconut flakes, and added some coconut oil and almond flour to the mix. Then, I shaped the mixture into bars and put whole almonds on top and froze them. After the bars were a bit hard and had some substance to them, I melted some Ghiradelli chocolate chips (half semi-sweet, half 60% cacao), and dipped the frozen bars into the chocolate, coating them. I froze them again to get the chocolate hard.




Next time, I think I need to add some coconut milk, and possibly heavy cream to the shredded coconut mixture. I may or may not try using a different sweetener... the honey was nice, but it was kind of too honey-ish. I just want a plain, sweet taste.

But, they still taste good. :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rosemary Flax Crackers & Redless Red Velvet Cake

I love Chowstalker.com so much! I find such gems there, food-wise, and get to experiment to my heart's content. :)

Today my experimentation was Rosemary Flaxseed Crackers.

Before baking.

Another angle.

Into the oven they go...

Warm & crisp & just out of the oven!

Look at that beautiful cheese. I used a parmesan/romano/asiago blend.

YUM!


I followed the recipe, except that I forgot to sprinkle salt on my squares, and I should have done her baking trick/tip to get the crackers to be more harder and cracker like. Incidentally, after a day, they are more like a thin bread. They taste so-so, but the taste of the flax is too overpowering for a bread-like consistency, in my opinion. I will definitely try to get these to a more cracker-like consistency next time. :)




It's my cousin's birthday tomorrow, so I also made a cake! It's a Redless Red Velvet cake, made with coconut flour. Redless because I personally didn't use any dye. :)

It's not that pretty, unfortunately... but so far the frosting is AMAZING!





Hello cake.

Sorry I can't frost...

Gosh this frosting is too, too good. *Licks fingers*

Ready for tomorrow!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Omelette Passed "The Brother Test"

My brother called after his P.E. class at his college, and asked me to make him some food. I made him an omelette... one that I wish I had made for me and my dad! :P

First I cut some baby bella mushrooms.

Time to dice some roma tomatoes!

Chopping up onion.

Mmm... broccoli!

Baby spinach looks so YUM.

All the veggies wait to get sauteed.

Here are the eggs!

A bit of heavy cream & coconut milk are added.

Whipped & frothy!

Some seasonings.

Delicious dairy! Butter & extra sharp cheddar. :)

Veggies cooking in the pan.

I set the veggies aside.

Cheese! Waiting its turn.

I cook the eggs with a paper bag over it so the heat will circulate to the top & cook the top a bit more.

I add all the goodies -- sauteed veggies and cheddar.

Fold!

The omelette is ready on the plate. :)

My brother likes his omelette with syrup... kinda weird?

My brother's omelette, drizzled with syrup & primed with a fork. :)

And the omelette passed the "brother test" -- he took a bite and LIKED IT! Woo-hoo!

Breakfast For Me & Dad (Gluten-Free, Refined-Sugar-Free)

The finished product

Love cooking with butter.

Eggs, heavy cream, paprika, salt, pepper.

The eggs are cooking...

I usually use a silicon spatula when I cook scrambled eggs.

I think they're done!

Gluten-free (but not grain-free) waffle with a bit of pure maple syrup, grain-free pecan muffin with some strawberry preserve, scrambled eggs, and sausage links.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grain-free Banana Pecan Muffins & A Paleo Documentary


I made a batch of grain-free Banana Pecan Muffins earlier, and they were good! I got the recipe from a blog called Gluten Free Real Food, after first spotting it on Dessertstalker.com. She originally forgot to put down the temperature, but I guessed... and I guess I guessed right! :P She has since updated her blog to reflect the oven temp (thanks so much!).

And yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you... these are actual, good quality pictures of MY VERY OWN batch! *gasp*


I had a bunch of camera equipment checked out from school today (well, less than usual, but it always seems like a bunch to me), and figured... hell, why not use the Canon T3i to shoot some pics of the recipe I just made to put up on my blog?

Better than my usual camera phone pics, don't you think? ;)

And here's one I ate with butter... *drools*



What did I have equipment checked out for? Why, thank you for your curiosity good person. :)

I'm actually in the midsts of putting together a documentary about Holly Woodcock,


blogger at hollywouldifshecould.net. I recently discovered her blog after googling about, and wondering if there were any people in the Sacramento area that ate a Paleo diet.

Probably not even a week after finding her blog, an instructor in one of my classes prompted us students to film a documentary about something that meant something to us (yeah, not vague at all) and that was interesting to us. My mind immediately went to Paleo. Well, it also thought about the beauty of Indian weddings, but doing a documentary on Paleo seemed more helpful and lined up a little better with my diabolical plan to infuse the minds of the masses with helpful information about how they could change their lives for the better and eat healthier and, in turn, live healthier...

At first, I thought really big... I thought of sending emails to all of the Paleo gurus that I could think of that lived in Northern California -- Sarah Fragoso and Robb Wolf, and Holly Woodcock came to mind (Holly probably doesn't think of herself as a guru, but I do!) -- and shoot more emails to people like Mark Sisson, William Davis, Loren Cordain, Melicious, and the Whole9 crew.

The problem with this grand idea is that the documentary is only supposed to be 3~5 minutes long, and is due in a couple weeks. So... I had to narrow it down. Plus, the more I mulled over my options, the more I started to focus on Holly. Holly is super-local, down to earth, and blogs about more than just Paleo and Crossfit... like her goal of reading 75 books this year, and girly things like style and fashion

Holly's approach to weight-loss, Paleo, Crossfit, cooking... it's all so practical, real, and devoid of unnecessary fuss or dogma. I felt like her voice was the voice I really wanted to focus on for this documentary. The documentary is as much about her and her approach to Paleo/Crossfit/weight-loss as it is about the concepts in and of themselves, in relation to normal, everyday people.

I want to show people that Paleo is possible for everyone... and that it can be tweaked and molded to fit all bodies and all lifestyles.

So... I had my first interview with Holly earlier this afternoon!

This is me, looking kind of awkward, below :)


And this is Holly getting interviewed! Isn't her house beautiful? The natural lighting was PERFECT.


Today was her initial interview and some footage of her cooking a delicious sweet potato hash, some of which I brought home and ate for lunch (it was YUM!) with some leftover chicken. The next interview will mostly be footage of her at American River Crossfit.

And the best part? The documentaries that we submit to class are all going to be submitted to KVIE, the local PBS station, and have a chance of getting aired on Rob on the Road's project, You on the Road. So who knows? Maybe I will, in fact, contribute in my own little way to the spread of Paleo? 

Yay!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No More Whole30!

Whole30 banner I used to have.
Some of you may have noticed that I took the Whole30 challenge banner off of my blog. Honestly, when I first started the Whole30 challenge, I was super excited and fired up...

I'm still using the cookbook! :)
I was making my own homemade "yummy" sauce, using homemade mayo... I was eating very strict paleo, and not touching ANY dairy, or ANY sugar, or ANY... well, much of anything... that wasn't just plain and straight vegetable or meat. I even finally got Melicious' Well Fed cookbook and rejoiced! I was so happy! (I won it in a Twitter giveaway contest!)

But then came week 2, and I know for sure that I just wasn't mentally prepared for the Whole30 challenge. I am still fairly new-ish to Paleo, as I've been doing it for a little over 6 months off-and-on, and getting THIS strict... I just wasn't ready for it.

I was tired of being paranoid about my food, not being able to make my (dare I say "super?") healthy treats, just because they weren't Whole30 compliant, and not being able to use most condiments, and having to make most of them from scratch.

I love this whey. :)
Plus, school started again, and that added extra stress to my life. I don't want to stress and worry over my food. I want to live a mostly Paleo life, and not beat myself up and feel like an utter failure when I realize there's butter on my steak, or cheese in my lettuce-wrapped burger. I don't want to say no to beef jerky just because it was a little bit of sugar in it. And I want to be able to supplement with unflavored whey powder when I'm struggling financially, or in a huge hurry. I'd rather eat something healthy that is still Paleo, even though it's not Whole30 compliant... than starve. And honestly, trying to do Whole30, I found myself avoiding most foods, and not getting enough calories... especially when it came to snacks to bring to school. I can only eat so many boiled eggs days in a row before I start to really feel sick.

And so... no more Whole30! I'm still eating Paleo, but I'm listening to my heart and to my body. Making low-carb, grain-free chocolate chip cookies makes me happy. Mixing up whey powder with full-fat coconut milk in the morning when I'm pressed for time and still need protein makes me happy (plus I hate having to constantly CHEW all the time... please tell me I'm not the only one!)...

Not doing Whole30 (for the time being) makes me happy. I just need balance right now! Sometime in the future when I've been eating Paleo for a while longer, and have more recipes under my belt, (and a stronger resolve), I'll try Whole30 again.

But for now, I'm back to my norm! Gluten-free, low-carb, low-sugar, Paleo eating! As close to 80/20 as possible. :) The 20% is mostly reserved for Korean comfort foods and sushi. :)

Have any of you finished/tried/ditched the Whole30 challenge? How was it for you? Had you been eating Paleo for a while before you started, and did you find it obsessively mind-consuming? Lol.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wedding Planners, Brothers, and an Angel Nanny = ?


All three are Bollywood movies! 

Ever since I saw my first Bollywood-style film Bride and Prejudice, I've been in love with Bollywood films -- ones produced in India, as well as ones produced in the UK and US.

I remember watching Bride and Prejudice and thinking that I had never seen a more beautiful film, with so much color, exuberance, and beauty. I loved all of the fabrics, all of the many textures, and the architecture. I couldn't get enough of the music, or the dancing, or the striking characters. I loved the fact that there was ancient culture mixed with modern culture, and a sense of individualism and independence that coalesced with a strong sense of family, community, and dependence. Although these elements are usually indicative of Eastern/Asian entertainment, and I often saw these same elements in the Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese dramas and films that I watched, it seemed like Bollywood did it better -- more grandiose. More vivid were the colors, more soulful and moving was the music, and more breathtaking were the landscapes and the buildings... I had never seen such beautiful houses.

Since then, I've seen a good handful of other Bollywood films, mostly via Netflix. Some have been amazing through-and-through in every aspects... others have been great in one aspect, and maybe not so great in another. A couple haven't been so great. But overall, I'm still in love with these movies. Even if a story is weak, the visuals are so stunning, I just have to keep watching. Other times, it's the music and choreography of the dancing that really gets me -- which brings me to another realization.

I'm not a musical person.

I don't know what it is, but I've never been one to get super excited over the prospects of watching a musical. I'm not into live musical theatre, and I'm not into musical films, aside from maybe your basic Disney movie. Other than that... I just don't get it. I never have. I have nothing against them... I just don't have anything for them. And yet, aren't Bollywood movies musicals? I can't explain it. Well, perhaps it's because I find the music more appealing? Actually, that might be exactly it.

Anyway, I watched three Bollywood films on Netflix today: Band Baaja Baaraat, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, and Thoda Pyaar Thoda.



Band Baaja Baaraat
Band Baaja Baaraat is about two near strangers that end up in a wedding planning business together. The one stipulation is that they will NOT fall in love and will not complicate business with a relationship.

Yeah, you know where this is going. Although it's a storyline we're all familiar with, isn't that what makes it so great?

I love watching things like this and figuring out how they fall in love... and waiting until that moment where we can actually see it in the characters' faces.



Then, there's always the conflicts that ensue, and then that final moment in the story where their mutual love is solidified. And in Bollywood, there's all the color, singing, and dancing! I love it. I really enjoyed this film, not to mention the music which was insanely catchy and beautiful to me. I want to find the original soundtrack for it.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
In Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, a guy asks his brother to find a wife for him. The wife-finding brother ends up falling for the girl that he sets his brother up with! A classic love triangle, and while the story started out okay, things kind of got awkward because the wife-wanting brother and the girl actually get married.

Then the rest of the movie's plot centered around finding a way for the wife-finding brother and the girl to get together by reintroducing the wife-wanting brother's ex.



There was a lot of contrived drama and overreaction on the female lead's part, and I just wasn't buying it all the time. I half-heartedly paid attention towards the middle and end... and wasn't completely all that interested. However, the visuals were beautiful, as was the choreography.
Thoda Pyaar Thoda
I just finished watching Thoda Pyaar Thoda. It's cute, has a fair dose of humour, and there's a lot of cute and interesting CGI in it.

Sometimes the CGI was a bit over-the-top and sort of kitschy, but there's a level of fantasy and wonder to it that cannot be ignored, and the kitschy-ness sort of adds to it. It's very cute.

I also liked the music and choreography (I don't think there's ever been a Bollywood movie where I didn't!)

The story is about a business man who becomes guardian to four children after their parents die in a car crash that he is responsible for. Being way over his head, and the children feeling horrible about being raised by the man that killed their parents, God sends down one of his angels, Geeta, to become their nanny. Her job is to unite them and help them find love in each other. It's both sad and sweet. And all very cute. I loved this movie, and the ending was so cute! (How many times did I just say "cute?")





I only wish Netflix had more foreign movies and television shows than they do. I usually watch foreign films and foreign television dramas online, because that's really the only place that I can find them in large quantities and variety... but to be able to watch them on Netflix means being able to watch them on my television screen, which I love, and it's also 100% legal, with no iffy boundaries, and the quality is much better.

I wonder, though: What are some recent, really popular Bollywood movies? I want to watch more, and watch more of what people in India are actually watching, and what they consider popular.

No wonder Bollywood is considered one of the largest film industries in the world (some sources say #1, followed by Hollywood... others say #2, after Hollywood).

Bollywood movies are just too good! :)

~*~*~
Esther
~*~*~

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