Monday, December 22, 2014

My Paleo Adventures

Well it's been a while since I've posted. Life be cray and blogging has dropped down the priority list. Quality over quantity, right?

A lot has changed in the last couple months. I began Crossfit 4 months ago and love it! (at Crossfit8035,check them out) I started the Paleo diet 10 weeks ago. You've probably heard of it but to sum it up, you eat like a caveman. You eat only things that were around during the Paleozoic era. So... no bread, grains or any type of processed food (trust your own research though). Obviously, that's a challenge in today's society but I took on the challenge and have adjusted surprisingly well!

Edited:Results after 10 weeks: Lost 5lbs, 10.7% Body fat and feel great! I can notice when I eat a processed food, how awful my body feels. I'm finally a believer in how much Nutrition REALLY matters.

Challenges for me:
  • Learning how to eat/enjoy vegetables. 
  • Bye cheese! 
  • Bye processed lunch meats!
  • Bye Fong's (except for cheat meals)
  • Less alcohol and selective drink choices (Tito's and soda water)
  • Spending even more time cooking and planning meals than I had before
  • Reading food labels and spending more $$$ on quality ingredients (coconut oil, grassfed beef, cage free eggs)

Challenges are just opportunities to succeed though!

Because.... why not?

Below is a collection of my favorite recipes/websites for the Paleo lifestyle. Please comment on any recommendations or questions you have:

Favorite Site:  Simple recipes and funny commentary by my future wife

Favorite Store: Trader Joe's, reasonably priced for something located in West Des Moines (#burn).

Savory Breakfast Casserole
Breakfast Lasagna -Sweet, spicy and every taste in between-Highly recommend

Bacon with Pancakes...:
3-ingredient-simple-protein-pancakes :favorite pancake so far
Almond Flour Pancakes

Chicken Enchilada Bake
Enchilada Chicken Stew
Old Fashioned Slow Cooker Stew
Paleo Pizza -Really Good Crust!

Paleo Creamy Chicken Chili
Paleo Southwest Meatloaf
Meatza -A pizza where the crust is made of meat AKA meatloaf.
Buffalo Chicken Mini Meatloaf
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders
Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Favorite Snacks: (EDIT: Dried fruit not recommended as much as regular fruit)
  • Dried Mango from Trader Joe's (holy crap this is good)
  • Organic Banana Chips
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Anything covered in homemade guacamole 
Biggest Fail: Okra and scrambled eggs (apparently Okra is slimy and gross?)

Obligatory Picture:
Here is an experiment and a win! Taco meat stuffed Acorn squash topped with guacamole:

First time having acorn squash but it won't be the last.
Hope you enjoyed! Follow the blog and post some feedback!
Happy Holidays/Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/New Year!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Savory Breakfast Casserole (Paleo)

I have the day off and I'm out of breakfast leftovers. I've been sick of the usual breakfast recipes so I looked for simple paleo breakfast recipes. This is what I found...

Looks slightly watery in middle but tasted great and wasn't watery at all.

It tastes so much better than it looks

I had to go with this recipe because I love casseroles and I had all the ingredients (except the onion). As you may know, I try to go as high protein and lower calorie as possible so this fit the bill. The seasoning combination was awesome--the Sriracha really makes this dish. It's very zesty bordering on overpowering with the Sriracha and pepper. The texture was very similar to egg puff muffins (you've made those by now, right?) with a slightly crispy edge but soft and eggy on the inside.  
Some items of note:
  • I used a cheese grater to shred the sweet potato--it worked really well.
  • I recommend using a wider dish as it took a little longer for the eggs to not be runny on top
  • I think my dish was more of a a 6x6 than the recommended one so I had to cook for an additional 25 minutes to make sure all the eggs were cooked (again, using a wider dish would probably help)
    • Be careful doing that though as I probably overcooked the edges leaving it in so much longer.
  • I used Jennie O breakfast turkey sausage instead of Chorizo
  • I used Crystal Farmer's liquid eggs instead of traditional eggs
Nutrition info:
Sausage (1lb): 550 Cals, 70g Protein
Eggs (12 servings): 360C, 60g Protein
Large Sweet potatio: 225C, 4g Protein

I split this up into 4 servings (284C, 33.5g Protein) instead of the recommended 6.

Any other Paleo breakfast recipes I should try?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Brat Pizza

When I have a day off, I like to cook for the next couple days. I didn't have much inspiration except that I didn't really want to heat up the house on an already warm day. I found a new type of Pizza Crust (Golden Home Ultra Thin Crust) at HyVee which had less calories and carbs than most crusts.

The crust I bought actually recommended grilling it so that fit my first criterion. Out of no where, I came up with trying to make a Brat's summer so you HAVE to have brats. That was an awesome idea. It kept the warm temps outside, cooked the pizza super fast (4-6 minutes) and made it perfectly crisp.

I came up with the recipe mostly on my own but I used a little bit of inspiration from this recipe. (I didn't see too many brat pizza recipes). Wisconsin-bratwurst-pizza/

Before the grill
Cooking the Brats:
I cooked a 5 pack of beer brats on the stove in a 12 oz beer, fresh garlic and some sliced onions (1/4th of an onion). Just boil the brats in the beer, garlic and onions and cover around 10 minutes; or longer if you want to get more flavor (Yup, I cooked beer brats in more beer). I know boiling brats doesn't give you the awesome color you get on the grill but my grill cooks hot and usually pops out a bunch of the juice (flavor). Plus, boiling allowed me to cook in beer, onions and garlic.

So decorate how you want. I used a can of pizza sauce, a bag of shredded cheddar cheese, a bag of shredded mozzarella, 1/4th of an onion sliced. I split all of that between the 3 crusts that came with the pizza. I decided I'd make a 3rd pizza that was a little different. I added ham and turkey pepperoni in addition to the brats and onions.

As you can see, I cut the brats in circles, added it with the other ingredients, and threw it on the grill (grill on super low). I grilled for about 2-3 minutes then rotated the pizza and then cooked for another 2-3 minutes. It came out evenly cooked and perfectly textured.

Beer, Brats ,Onion...Merica!

Meat Pizza! (Sorry, cannot figure out how to rotate the picture)

This turned out soooo awesome! The brats had awesome flavor, the crust was just the right crispiness and the cheese was just melty enough. I normally don't like uncooked onions so maybe they could have been cooked a little more. However, I used yellow onions and they cooked just enough to be a little sweet so they weren't bad.

I love meat but I actually recommend the Brat/Onion combo more. Brings out those flavors and the cheese more. Anyone have some other grilled pizza ideas? I plan to do this at least one more time this summer because the crust I bought was so good!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

HOQ - Grass Fed burger

As a health nut, and someone that is working towards eating less processed foods, I had to check out HOQ.

I had actually had been wanting to try grass fed beef so I had to go with the grass fed burger. It comes with root fries which reminded me of a mix of regular and sweet potato fries.

The setting is really nice as it sits in the East Village. Very modern and clean. We went on a Tuesday night so it wasn't too busy. All in all, it wasn't bad. You get a good sized burger but it still is $16 for the meal. I don't know how it compares with other grass fed beef burgers but it didn't taste as good as a normal burger. It was prepared well though, just lacked much flavor.

HOQ definitely seems to be a niche restaurant. Meaning, I would only go if my #1 priority was to eat this way. I do prefer to eat at local restaurants and value healthy eating--I just don't see myself choosing that restaurant over others. I love the idea, but the portions for most of their dishes are pretty small and it's pretty pricey. I do agree that eating healthy is an important priority and I hope they are successful.

What do you think of HOQ? What did you get?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Royal Mile - Potato Cake Benedict

Well Royal Mile, you found another reason for me to visit you...breakfast. As if you couldn't take enough money from me between drinks and I have to stop by for breakfast on the weekend. Fine! I'll just sign my house over to you.

One of the first nice Saturday mornings of the year, I went for a bike ride to the Royal Mile for breakfast amongst friends. They've only had the breakfast menu out for a couple months but I have been eager to see what the breakfast is like. And yup, it's just as awesome as the rest of the food. I went with something unique, the Potato Cake Benedict.

Potato Cake Benedict:
Potato cake with chopped bacon, sliced cheese, 2 poached eggs, choice of sauce, Guinness braised potatoes, choice of toast.

It was really good. I've only had potato cakes a few times and these were probably the best I've ever had (though it helps to be smothered with some toppings like these). The texture is like a fried hashbrown on the outside and creamy mashed potato. Then throw some perfectly creamy eggs and sauce on it and you just won breakfast!

All and all, the breakfast is well presented (especially with real sunlight on the patio) and I can't find anything wrong with it. This was my first breakfast here so I need a few more before I can rank them amongst my other favorite breakfast places (Mullet's and the Farmer's Market). This dish, is a recommended try! I'll be back here soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014


I don't normally eat seafood but I went to Splash with the fam. What is a safe dish for a non-seafood eater? Shrimp of course! Actually, I've ordered chicken here before and it didn't taste very good--serves me right for not ordering what the restaurant specializes in.

I went with the Sake Grilled Shrimp. It comes with 4 very large pieces of shrimp, sweet potato mashed potatoes, black bean mango salsa. The seasonal vegetable I chose was the Brussels spouts smothered in some butter and bacon glaze--nice!

The shrimp was pretty big and tasted awesome--easily the best shrimp I've had in my limited shrimp experience. The sweet potato mashed potatoes are awesome as I love sweet potatoes. They are super pureed and definitely loaded with some butter and sugar. The sprouts were decent with the butter and bacon combo splash! The black bean mango salsa wasn't bad. Every single thing on the dish offered a unique flavor!

Many of you have been to Splash before but if you haven't, don't come here unless you plan to spend some cash! It's one of the higher end places in Des Moines. Great for a special occasion or if you really want to impress someone! The restaurant setting is multilevel and pretty awesome--reminds me of the 90s for some reason (that could be a good or a bad thing).

What's your favorite thing to order at Splash?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

I got this recipe from the 100 days of crock pot recipes list I've previously blogged about. The recipe is at the below link:

In the recipe, I used corn starch as I didn't have arrowroot starch. I also didn't have garlic powder on me so I used 1 clove of fresh garlic which turned to be just about right for me. I recommend shredding the chicken at the 7 hour mark also so the flavor will get absorbed by the chicken.

I've actually made chicken cacciatore the old fashioned way before and I think this recipe is very solid version of the same thing, but easier since you are using a crock pot. The taste was pretty good, and the thickness isn't too bad. It could be slightly thicker but I don't think most people would complain. I like A LOT of sauce and I like it thick and this sauce met those needs for me for the most part. The ingredients are simple too!

I recommend this if you want to try to make your own pasta sauce. I've only made pasta sauces from scratch a few times and I think this is a pretty solid recipe to dip your toes into. Of course, if you want to be paleo, you don't want to use corn starch and you would want to find something paleo friendly to lay the sauce on.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Royal Mile - Fish n Chips

This is at least the 3rd time I've blogged about the Royal Mile so you should know they are my favorite place for a beer. I keep finding good dishes here as well.

Shane coerced me into trying the Fish and Chips, which I was told by many people are the best in Des Moines. I never order Fish and Chips...or fish for that matter anywhere. This, however, was really good! I generally avoid deep fried foods but these somehow have a lighter deep fried taste than normal deep fried food.

Not much for me to say here other than get the fish and chips if you remotely like fish! I would even order it again if I ever have an urge to have something on the deep fried side--hey, it still has fish in it!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Loaded Paleo Nachos (Sweet Potato Chips)

I love sweet potatoes, nachos and chips. I also am aiming to sparsely use wheat/grains in my diet so this recipe was perfect for me. Special thanks to Karla Walsh for the recipe and letting me use her mandolin slicer.

I mostly used this recipe for the sweet potato chip idea. The chips by themselves taste good. I used just regular salt on most of them and the taco john's potato ole seasoning on some others (both good!). I decided to make my usual taco beef recipe (1lb of ground beef and 1 packet of Taco seasoning).

I let these cook about 25-30 minutes. Depending on the thinness, some will get done sooner. I left some in longer than 30 minutes and they got slightly burned. They don't have the crisp of a typical potato chip...but these will not poison your body like a delicious, crispy potato chip either so that's a nice tradeoff.

Sweet Potato chips (This is probably about 2/3rds of what I got out of a huge sweet potato)

My rendition of the nachos buried under: taco meat, greek yogurt and salsa.

If you do like I did and just make this recipe just for the chips, I think you will be happy. I may have smothered my chips too much as to where I didn't even notice they were there. I think you have to be careful how much you put on your chips because they are a subtle flavor and crunch. If you do make the other items in the recipe, please let me know how they turn out.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pizza Poppers (Pizza flavored egg muffins)

I've been pretty sick of my normal egg puffs (liquid eggs, seasoned and baked in muffin tins) for breakfast. This is something similar but with a lot more flavor (A LOT MORE).

I managed to make a batch of 11. Notice the burn marks, that's all from this recipe.
A close up to see all the ingredients packed in to it.

For those of you that track calories:
6 liquid eggs servings: 180
1/4 C Sundried Tomatoes: 100
1/3C Almond Flour: 240
1.5 servings of Turkey pepperoni : 105
 4 T of Coconut Oil: 480
Total= 1,105 Calories/4 (3 puff servings) = 276 per serving

Coconut oil is really good for you but if you wanted to shave some calories, you may start by cutting back on that. They end up being pretty oily with the coconut oil and the sundried tomatoes (I bought Classico's brand in a jar).

It's amazing how much flavor are in these. If you're like me and just sick of plain eggs, or traditional breakfasts, try this recipe. The garlic and Italian seasonings dominate the flavor but you get a little almond flour and egg texture with it. The flavor is so good you could probably serve these for a unique dinner.

I actually made these a 2nd time already and I used paper muffin cups which helped keep them from sticking to the pan. The biggest problem I have is the cooked eggs sticking to the muffin tin. I didn't have this problem when I cooked the other eggs so not sure what is the different now. I also have issues stretching this recipe into a large # of servings. I made a double batch of this recipe (except for the oil) and it only made 17 cups worth. These are pretty rich with flavor so you do not need many (2-4) to have a hearty breakfast. Still, I highly recommend making these as they taste amazing. What do you recommend for breakfast?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

100 days of Unprocessed Meals (Crockpot)

Rising in popularity is the Paleo diet. I don't claim to know a lot about it but I know it involves eating foods that haven't been processed. Over the last couple of months, it's been my goal to eliminate wheat from my diet. I haven't knocked it out complete but I've stopped by bread/tortillas and I don't buy tortilla chips unless I plan to entertain. 

Today I plan to share a link with you I got from a friend which features a ton of  different recipes that are unprocessed (according to the author). Oh, and these are crockpot meals so I just made your life easier, you are welcome!

Recipes tried thus far...

Because it's winter (and I've been lazy) I've tried only the soup recipes, specifically: Gluten Free Taco Soup, Southwest Chicken Crock Pot Soup and the Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup.

Of the 3, the Taco Soup was the best. It has a ton of flavor and a lot of veggies in it. My only knock is the chicken was a little bland. You could fix that by seasoning it when you cook it (before adding to the crock pot). If you want to break the rules of paleo, you can add tortilla chips or cheese. Don't worry, I did too haha.

The Cheeseburger Soup was pretty good, especially at first. The potatoes don't soften up as much as I would like but it somewhat reminds me of Smokey Row's awesome cheeseburger chowder. I even threw a few pickles in my soup and it tasted very close to a cheeseburger. I would make this again!

The SW Chicken Soup was a little on the bland side. If you make this, I recommend using FRESH cilantro as opposed to the squeezable cilantro which taste sour and gross. I doubt I'll make this again with all the all other similar options on the list.

See anything you want to make? Recommend any? What Paleo/Unprocessed recipes do you like?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

La Mie - Sausage Omelet

Happy Valentine's day to myself! Shane decided to grace me with his presence with a trip to La Mie. As I've been told, I need some more breakfast places on the blog so Shane suggested La Mie (nestled in the Roosevelt Shops). I was ALL for that choice since I've heard great things but have never been.

Sausage omelet, toast and some green tea
At 9am on a snowy Valentine's Friday, this place was pretty packed but there was still space to sit. The people at the bar where we sat were friendly and the overall energy in the building was nice--it felt like breakfast in a "fancy" big city restaurant.

I chose the Sausage omelet which was decent. It was a lighter egg and a lighter sausage which was actually welcomed after a late night the night before. The taste was solid and it came out pretty quick. It wasn't the most delicious/amazing omelet ever but it was well done. At 6.50$, it wasn't cheap but not terribly overpriced--it was expected with a quality place like La Mie.

The toast wasn't bad either, it was a nicer quality than your average bread but nothing earth shattering. My favorite thing would probably be the endless amounts cups of tea (of various choices). If I had a lazy morning, I could certainly come here to chill and get hopped up on Green Tea.

Salmon omelet, toast and some coffee for Shane
Shane, as always, classed up the place with the Salmon Omelet. I'm pretty sure there can't be too many places in DSM that serve that but he recommended both of our types of omelets so he knows what he is doing.

La Mie had an awesome vibe going that makes me want to go back even though the food wasn't epic (it was still solid though). This would definitely be a place to go if you want a pastry. The guy next to us got the French Toast with Peanut Butter, Bananas, and bacon....that looked awesome. Since I rarely eat much bread based foods, I would save that breakfast for after I run a 5k. I would also like to go for lunch to get this: pepper beef (sandwich) with poblano pepper, roast beef, provolone, onion, mayo dijon"

What do you recommend here? Any other breakfast places you recommend I check out?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Americana - Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf

For a late dinner after a happy hour, a group of us went to Americana. My decision was between the Americana Burger and the Bacon Wrapped Meat loaf. As a meatloaf enthusiast, I had to go with the latter.

As usual, I took about 3 bites before I remembered I have a food blog...

If you haven't been to Americana, it's only been around a few years but is known for it's awesome weekend brunch special (which I highly recommend). They have an awesome 2 story set up and a modern, semi upscale atmosphere. You know me, I'm a no frills dude but it's always nice to stop in here to class up my life.

So the presentation on the meatloaf was nice, but I really don't care much about presentation. The taste was decent, the "ketchup sauce" they used was a sweeter version (I prefer saltier). The green beans are really thin and a more rubbery version than most of us are used to (rubbery probably means fresh though, right?). The cheddar potatoes were decent, pretty creamy but not overly flavorful. Since this place is upscale-ish, it was $17 which seems high to me but again...I'm cheap and no frills.

Many people at my table got either this or the Americana Burger...I wish I would have chosen the burger as it looked really good. Overall, I still like Americana but since I don't have as sophisticated a palette as others, I would probably only stop by on rare occasions and get the simpler dishes. Overall, Americana is a cool bar that serves some pretty good drinks. Anyone have any favorites here?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Salsa Chicken (Crockpot recipe)

I have yet another crock pot recipe. I got some inspiration from my friend Kristi, who made a taco/shredded/crock pot chicken recipe. I tried to find a similar recipe to what she did to make sure I had all the measurements correct. I found this recipe, which combines things that I pretty much always have on hand. Plus, it's a great protein boost with the chicken and Greek Yogurt (which I used in place of sour cream). Oh, and it is really simple, versatile and cheap.

In the crockpot, I pulled a lot of the salsa/juice out.

On a bed of spinach (and I snuck some tortilla chips in there also)

I was starting to get sick of shredded buffalo chicken (didn't think that was possible) so I thought I would try this because I love taco seasoning and chicken. I am also sick of cutting raw chicken and cooking it in a skillet and I get to avoid both of those things with this recipe. This turned out pretty good! This wasn't perfectly creamy because I used so much salsa but had a nice zing to it and wasn't overly runny.

I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and I ended up using a whole jar of salsa (16oz). If you use a whole jar of salsa, you could probably use an entire bag (2.5-3lbs of chicken thawed). If you use half that amount of chicken as the recipe suggests, then you are probably OK with a half jar of salsa.

This would work OK with tacos (although the chicken might be too wet), great for nachos and salads. I definitely recommend you try this if you like chicken tacos and America!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hessen Haus - Bavarian Stroganoff

Hessen Haus is one of my all-time favorite bars since I turned 21 and was a Drake student. Strong beers and a fun atmosphere. Still to this day, I come here on my birthday to drink a boot with friends. When most people think of the Haus, they usually only think of the beer. The food here is as good as quality as any other Court Ave restaurant.

The menu has a wide array of foods: authentic German food, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas. I really liked their Hunter's pizza (see previous review) and actually convinced my dad to get it. On this trip, I HAD to get something even more German. I always liked beef stroganoff (even if it was Hamburger Helper) so I went with the Bavarian Stroganoff.

Bavarian Stroganoff
German Spaetzle presented in a rich sour
cream sauce with mushrooms, onions and your
choice of lightly seasoned beef or pork 11.99
This was really good. The spaetzle has an awesome soft texture (think Gnocchi). That texture mixed with the thick and creamy sauce makes you so comfortable, you'll want to take a nap at your table. I went with chicken (as opposed to beef or pork) and it was incredibly tender.
If you like Gnocchi, I recommend having a dish with their spaetzle, it's awesome. The only reason I may never order this specific dish is because there are so many other dishes here I want to try. This is comfort food in uber form. What do you like here?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Smokey Row - Breakfast Casserole

First time having brunch at Smokey row. I went with the breakfast casserole per recommendation from Shane. It was $7 and comes with 2 pieces of toast. It's your typical breakfast stuff all baked together: eggs, hash browns and cheese.

Not a lot to say about this. It was decent. The cheese tasted a little dry as it may have been sitting out or not really cooked fresh. Nothing to write home about. I do love the atmosphere and location of Smokey Row. I like their tea selection and their apple cider with caramel. I've never really been too impressed with their food (other than the cheeseburger chowder is awesome) but everything else there is awesome. Any recommendations for food, drink or board game there?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tacopocalypse - Breakfast Burrito, Habanero Orange push up

After a couple hours of racquetball with the guys, I worked up a pretty huge appetite. It was 2pm so I went with the "I Can’t Believe It’s Not Breakfast Burrito" which contains: Poblano Potatoes, Bacon Chorizo, Scrambled Egg, and Chihuahua cheese covered with our sausage gravy

Sooooooo good!

So I've had two burritos here and I really like them. I feel like they are pretty filling and more worth the price (but still 8 bucks). Not completely sure if it is better than a panchero's burrito but it is different and great flavor. My two favorite taco fillings are the poblano potato and the bacon chorizo and this has both in it so it's perfect for me. This filled me up despite the huge appetite I had, not sure the 2 tacos for $5 would have done that.

Spicy, tasty but small and expensive
 At first, I didn't think I was full so I decided to try for some ice cream. They had Orange Habanero push up pops...yeah how can you pass on that? They make the ice cream homemade and they create a plastic push up pop container. Great idea as it brings us all back to the days where we had these as a kid. The ice cream was very creamy and had a nice delayed spice to it...pretty impressive. But this little tiny thing was 2 bucks for basically about a scoop of ice cream. Still pretty awesome.

The verdict, I've found more tasty items here. I think they are slightly overpriced but they do a good job with the food.