Vegetable Dopiaza (P/PB)

Moving to the UK meant adapting to a lot of different foods, not necessarily to anything odd, but mostly adjusting to the availability (or lack thereof) of some of my go to favorites. That is why I have loved transitioning to a Paleo/Primal lifestyle, as it is so easy to load up on veggies and good quality proteins (nearly all UK beef is grass-fed for no extra cost, which is awesome!). This means that my weekly shops are cheaper and more nutrient dense per dollar/quid.

Thus in my quest to make paleo/primal versions of mine and my bf’s favorite foods, we have been on a quest to perfect our favorite curry dishes (considering it is the national dish of England and all).

We’ve made a few attempts, the results being edible, but not nearly as good as out of a jar of sauce or a good quality curry house (probably because those are loaded with oil, sugar, cream, etc). Additionally, I know there are tons of paleo curry adaptations out there, but I really don’t like when recipes have more than ten ingredients…it’s just not practical.

Then yesterday happened, and we made an AMAZING vegetable dopiaza (which means having “two onions”), from scratch. It was so easy and delicious, and could easily be adapted to include keema, chicken, or paneer (our fave protein options for curries). Additionally the spice level is easily adjusted. I like things SPICY! So I just add some extra chili flake to the top of mine when it’s done and it’s perfect!

So here is my finally successful Paleo Dopiaza recipe! (I will split it into two parts, first the sauce, then the overall dish)

Dopiaza Sauce Recipe:
Ingredients
2 large onions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced root ginger
1-2 cups Passata (250-500ml)
EVOO (or favorite cooking oil)

Method:
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Stir in cumin seeds and cook until they start to pop.
3. Add chopped onions and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Season with turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
5. Add in the Passata and simmer 5-10 minutes. (I used about a cup, as I like a thick sauce for veggies, but if I was cooking meat in the sauce I would add 2 cups instead)
6. This step is totally optional: add your sauce mixture to a blender/food processor, blend until smooth, and set aside. I did this as I was going to be adding more chunky veggies for the final dish, but I think when I make it with chicken I will leave it unblended as I’d like to have the pieces of onion in tact.

Paleo Vegetable Dopiaza
Ingredients:
350g Mushrooms, sliced
1 head of Broccoli, chopped small
1 onion, diced
Prepared Dopiaza Sauce

Method:
Sauté mushrooms until juices have released and evaporated. Add in the onion and cook until soft. Add in the broccoli and stir to combine. Lastly, pour in your prepared Dopiaza Sauce and simmer until broccoli is fully cooked. Enjoy!

Notes:
To make this with chicken, simply summer the chicken in the Dopiaza sauce until cooked thru.

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(Finished dish, with extra chili flake on top. I ate mine plain, but you could easily add rice, tortillas, or naan)

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Green Smoothies

I like salads, I honestly do. But I really don’t wish to be eating “rabbit food” as my gpaw calls it, all day err day. Which is basically the recommendation for greens. (See this hilarious buzzfeed video where a nutritionist truth bombs some staffers). However for the last two years, thanks to Betty Rocker and the girls over at Simple Green Smoothies, I have enjoyed getting tons of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, basically #AllTheNutrients through green smoothies. They are my go to breakfast, as I usually don’t feel like eating anything until about noon, but I can easily drink liquids early in the morning. Now I know that some people, including my fellow Whole 30/Whole 9 groupies do advise on not “drinking” your food. BUT, I think the main problem with smoothies is that people usually make them with 80-100% fruit (sugar overload), and if its between making a green smoothie for breakfast or having no breakfast at all, I’m definitely opting for the smoothie which nourishes my body. Instead, I opt for a ratio of about 60-70% greens and 30-40% fruits. Now my parents both have Vitamixes, which slightly spoiled me during school breaks as I could make the most amazing smoothies out of literally anything. But now, me and my humble Philips blender do just fine. Bonus: smoothies, as opposed to juices, leave you feeling fuller for longer because #Fiber!

The basic makeup of a green smoothie is this:

  • Greens (spinach, kale, chard, collards, etc)
  • Creamy Fruit (banana, mango, avocado)
  • Other Nutrient Dense Fruit (apples, pineapple, peaches, plums, pears, melon, berries, etc)
  • Liquid (water, coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk, yogurt, etc)
  • Extras: nuts and seeds (chia, hemp, almonds, etc.), dried spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin spice), fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint), Protein Powders (flavored or plain, whatever fits your dietary needs/restrictions)

My Go-To Smoothie Combo (makes 1 Paleo PostGrad sized serving, or two smaller glassfuls)

  • 2 cups fresh Spinach
  • 1 medium Banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 small apple or a few chunks of pineapple (depending which is in season)
  • One cup (250ml) cold water

In the blender place ingredients in this order: water, banana, apple/pineapple, spinach. Pulse a few times, scraping down the sides if needed, then blend slowly increasing the power. If you have a high powered blender you will probably be done in about twenty seconds. With my basic blender, I usually let it go 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, then go for 30 more seconds. Pour into drinking vessel of choice and enjoy!

Green Smoothie

(we all know Scott Disick is the best Kardashian #LD) 

My favorite add-ins: my most often add-in is Chia seeds, as I usually have them on hand, or protein powder. However I actually prefer the smoothie plain, and since I normally have it with my Protein “Bulletproof” coffee, I don’t need to add any more protein to the mix.

Note: If I am using frozen bananas (sometimes my bananas go super ripe before I can use them fresh, so I break them into chunks and freeze), then I follow the exact same recipe, but place the bananas in last. This way there is a nice amount of smoothie to help act as a buffer between the blades and the frozen banana.

I do my best to drink a green smoothie every day, but nobody is perfect so I probably have about 5 a week!

**one day I will have a vitamix or blendtec…its on my list of real life things to buy once I have some monies again**

 

Cheers! xx

Sarah, The Paleo PostGrad

 

 

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

In my quest to make the perfect potatoes, I have recently turned to oven-roasting them as I find it is the quickest and easiest way to make deliciously creamy and flavorful potatoes, without all the cream and butter necessary for making mashed potatoes.

This recipe is based off of one of my faves from Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg (2.2lbs) small roasting/fingerling potatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Dry seasonings of choice (I use: garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and Italian herbs)

Method:

  • Place baking sheet on middle rack of your oven. Then set the oven to preheat to 500ºF (for my fellow British peeps, that’s 250-260ºC with the Fan, if your oven goes that high).
  • Wash your potatoes, remove any eyes, and slice in half.
  • Once oven in preheated, remove the baking sheet and line with parchment paper (optional, but makes for easier clean up)
  • Place all your potatoes cut side down on the tray.
  • Drizzle your evoo over all the potatoes and liberally season (I like to use a basting brush for this step)
  • Reduce Oven temperature to 425ºF (220ºC) and place tray back into the oven.
  • After 10-15 minutes, check the potatoes and rotate the pan.
  • Cook an additional 10-15 minutes until all the potatoes are tender.
  • Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I am obsessed with this method! Having the baking sheet be preheated allows for the cut sides of the potatoes to get just as crispy as the exposed skin without any need for stirring (or in my case-breaking the potatoes)
  • You can definitely use fresh herbs/garlic, but I almost never have them on hand, but always have dried available.
  • I don’t have any pictures just yet, but as I am making these again this week, I will be sure to take some to add for yall!

Cheers! xx

Sarah, the Paleo PostGrad

My British Thanksgiving

So this year was officially my second time spending Thanksgiving in the UK. Although this year missing out on my favorite holiday with my family hit me a bit harder than the last, I am getting to see them for a full three weeks over Christmas, so instead of being bummed out I spent the day enjoying a ME day. I slept in, did some yoga, and read an entire book that has been sitting on my Kindle for over a year. It was the last book (#15) in the Morganville Vampire Novel Series. I have been reading them since undergrad, at the suggestion of a friend with a love of YA novels similar to mine, so it was bittersweet to be reading these character’s stories for the last time. But now this means I only have five books on my Kindle to-do list as opposed to six! (I still have to read the last Mortal Instruments novel, the next novel in the Bloodlines series, and the most recent Stephanie Plum novel, just to name a few…but I promise I have some educational/adult books on there too like Confidence Code and a slew of biographies).

In addition to Thanksgiving, I spent most of last week planning for my graduation on December 9th! Our final dissertation grades were FINALLY released on Nov 26th, after waiting since September 1st. It was a tortuously long wait, but I’m happy to share that my results fell in line with my taught courses grades, meaning I will be graduating with the distinction of Merit (basically the British way of saying Honors). Hopefully now I will start to hear back from PhD prospects, but that’s another story.

Due to all the planning, I did not do much “exciting” or new cooking last week, and instead went to some standbys: roast gammon, pork chops, roasted veggies, and scrambles. However I did perfect my Roasted Potatoes Recipe, which I will share in another post. But this week I am back on my meal planning track so this week we are having: Veggie Dopiaza, and Roast Chicken with Zucchini Gratin. I only have two meals (aka four nights) planned because on Friday I am traveling!

Where am I Going? Well, my Mom is coming to the UK for my graduation, but instead of coming straight to Manchester, we are doing a weekend with some family friends in Cheltenham! I am really excited, as it is always nice to get a mini-weekend vacation in, but also just to go somewhere new and see old friends. My bf and I are taking the train down Friday morning, then I will have to do some graduation shopping (obviously any excuse for a new outfit), and then Saturday we are going to Picton Castle! I love going to castles and stately homes, but this one is special, as my mom’s side of the family can actually be traced back to “ownership” of the castle, which is pretty darn cool. Sunday our hosts are throwing a party for all the local Canadians and their families (they are Canadian), which will be the perfect excuse to wear my tacky Christmas sweater, it plays music and is amazing. Overall it should be a very fun weekend, leading up to a return to Manchester for graduation next week!

I cannot believe it is December already, as November seems to have gone by in a blur, but I cannot wait to write about and share my December workout calendar and holiday goings-on.

Cheers! xx

Sarah, The Paleo PostGrad

Honey Face Wash

Part two of my journey to find at home/natural skin care solutions is me using honey to wash my face. “What?!” You exclaim. Well apparently honey is full of skin healing and soothing properties. You can get a full rundown here, but basically honey is naturally antibacterial, full of antioxidants, and helps to open up pores making it easier to unclog them (that’s a lot of skin care buzzwords from just one product).

However not all honey is created equally. In order to reap the full benefits of this superfood, you need to use raw honey. As CrunchyBetty explains in her post about why raw honey is essential “A huge part of the healthful properties in honey comes from its enzymatic components. When you heat honey on high (or pasteurize it), you’re killing almost all of those things. This leaves behind honey that takes a very, very long time to crystallize, but is lacking in quality nutrition.” So basically honey sold in grocery stores has been heated to temperatures so high that it essentially destroys all the beneficial properties honey naturally contains. Essentially turning all the bees’ work into nothing 😦

After enough research, comparing honey face wash to other methods (mainly the Oil Cleansing Method “OCM”) I was convinced that this was the way to go for me. I don’t think that the OCM would personally work for me, not because the idea of putting oil on my face freaks me out, but more because I know my breakouts have more to do with bacteria and less with oily/dry skin causing clogged pores (whereas my pores are super duper open, which is a whole other problem haha). So three days ago I popped over to what I like to call my local hippie shop, The 8th Day Co-op. It’s about the size of my apartment and is stocked with so many vegan/vegetarian/natural products it’s like heaven (but as they don’t sell animal products I usually only go there for the specialty things I can’t get at my local store). They also do awesome take-away, but that’s a post for another day.

At the store I was able to find an awesome, organic, fair trade, cold pressed, raw, forest honey (once again more buzzwords).

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I chose it over some of the other more “local” UK honeys because, while they all said “raw” in hidden places on the label, this was the only one that said that no heat was used whatsoever, while the others were brought up to around 40°C (around 100°F). I purchased my honey (for less than I pay for my normal clean and clear face wash, which is already the cheapest option at the store, as I don’t have neutrogena level money) and have used it the last three nights in place of my normal clarisonic and drugstore face wash combo.

So what did I do? After doing an arm test to make sure I didn’t have some brand new honey allergy, and placing some honey in a smaller container, I hopped in the shower per usual. Then, when it came to face washing time, I took about 1/2-1tsp worth of honey and massaged it over my whole face. I then let it sit for 3-5 minutes, which isn’t necessary but I wanted deep cleansing, then rinsed per usual.

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(Photos: me with my travel sized honey container, with the honey on my face, and post rinsing it off…of course the lighting is terrible so just ignore that you can’t actually see the blemishes that do really exists lol)

Conclusions so far: While it’s a bit awkward to take small amounts of honey out of the jar, once you start to use it, it does not feel sticky at all! It becomes amazingly water-soluble and feels very light. I also like how the pollen and small crystals in my honey act as a scrub, without needing a brush or harsh exfoliatior. Afterwards my skin definitely feels soft and clean. I know it will take a few days for my skin to not feel dry afterwards, since previous products have totally dried it out and kept it from producing natural oils. But so far I really like it! I have been following it up with my Green Tea Toner, and either a bit of Jojoba Oil or some Aloe Vera Gel.

Note: if you wear heavy makeup, which I mostly don’t, this won’t remove it. Instead you can use many natural oils to remove your makeup first (or tons of other methods) and then follow it up with the honey face wash.

Ultimate final verdict- It cleans my face well, leaves it noticeably softer, was easy and inexpensive to find and buy, and it help cut down on the number of things I need to get ready each morning/night, and I mean if you end up eating some of it in the process it tastes much better than any benzoyl-peroxide face wash I’ve ever used 🙂

Let me know if you have any favorite diy skin care, hair care, general awesomeness tips!

Cheers! Xx

Sarah, The Paleo PostGrad

Chorizo Mac and Cheese (PB, kind of)

Remember in Friends where Joey finally got a TV show called “Mac and Cheese”?! haha I do always appreciate a good food pun, and while his show was terrible, this Chorizo Mac and Cheese is amazing!

So I know I haven’t done a meal planning explanation post yet, and I promise I will, but basically I plan to eat six dinners at home a week (sometimes we only end up eating five, then use the last as lunch on a weekend). But for feeding a small group of two people (I guess that’s really not a group, but a pair #semantics), in order to get the most out of our groceries we eat every meal for two nights-once fresh and once the next day as leftovers **gasp**

Side note: Not going to lie, I love leftovers. I grew up eating them, I lived on them through college, and used them as lunches while I had a job after graduating. And since most food items are sold in portions made for a family of four, doing it this way is a super easy to cut back on both food and money waste.

Anyways, if you do the math, six nights of eating in, divided by two nights of each meal, equals three different meals a week! While I normally choose what to make, based off of interweb or instagram inspiration, I do acknowledge the fact that my boyfriend, who did not sign up for paleo eating and has therefore become what I like to call #paleobyassociation, and is also British, has foods that he likes to eat for dinner (pasta bake, curries, pesto spaghetti, etc). With this is mind (especially when I can’t come up with anything good to eat for dinner) I leave one meal every week or so blank as a “boyfriends choice”. Honestly, usually his choices fall pretty in line with my 80/20 paleo eating, so it’s a win-win!

Last week we went to the Manchester Christmas Markets and there was this one stand, selling salami/pepperoni type meats, and of course they had an amazing deal on (10 sausages for 10 quid! When just one chorizo alone was selling for £5), so naturally we bought it. This led to the creating of a boyfriend’s choice meal that is not really paleo, but could easily be transformed into a paleo meal. It is however, by my standards Primal, as it only uses whole and cream (which don’t bother me like milk does). And maybe I snuck in some gluten-free pasta while he wasn’t looking, so close enough haha. (also I love velveeta cheese mac and cheese, not the box kind, but from scratch, because of childhood memories and such…this means that usually I avoid making more adult type mac and cheeses because making a roux requires ingredients I never have on hand and why bother if it isn’t yellow?! Just kidding)

With that, here is my:

Chorizo Mac and Cheese (with no complicated roux required!)

Serves: 2-4 (depending on hunger level)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250ml) Single Cream
  • 100-120 grams White Cheddar Cheese, shredded or diced
  • 100 grams Chorizo, removed from casing and diced
  • ½ of an onion, any kind, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 50-75 grams of Pasta per serving(we used 75g of penne x 4 servings=300g)
    • **my sister texted me saying she didn’t know how to measure grams, so if you don’t have a scale, its roughly 1/2-1 cup per person**

Method:

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil for your pasta. While that is happening, sauté your chorizo and onions together for 5-10 minutes, until soft but not burned.
  • Add in your garlic and cook another 30-60 seconds until fragrant
  • Pour in your Single Cream and bring to the boil (btb), then reduce to simmer.
  • At this point you will want to add your pasta to your now boiling pot of water, which has been salted because you do whatever Mario Batali tells you to.
  • Once the cream has reduced (think béchamel consistency), add in the cheese and stir until melted.
  • Drain your pasta (once desired level of al-dente or baby food soft is reached), and add it straight to the pan with the cheese sauce.
  • Stir to combine and enjoy!
  • Recommended: if you intend to eat some of this as leftovers, I suggest putting it straight into containers before you eat any as otherwise you may just eat it all in one go.

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(photos: yes I made my sauce in a wok, 1.5 cup serving with broccoli! yay greens veggies!)

Lastly: to make this officially Paleo friendly, just swap the sauce for any number of paleo “cheese” sauces like this one or  this one (both of which I have made and can vouch for their deliciousness) and spiralize your favorite veggies or use brown rice pasta (if you are into that).

Cheers! xx

Sarah, the PostGrad Paleo

Green Tea Toner: the start of my natural skincare experiment

So we all know the endless benefits of tea, particularly Green Tea, for health: see herehere, and here. But while we normally hear about using green tea for weight loss, I was very intrigued by the repeated sources I found stating how good it was for dry and red skin, and let me tell you why.

I have been blessed with fairly good skin throughout my life. In high school I rarely had more than a few blemishes at a time (which were easily coverable). But when I entered my first year of college, I had a terrible breakout all over my cheeks, which my dermatologist could not figure out the cause. I tried everything under the sun to help stop the problem and heal my skin, but nothing worked. Luckily, once I started using Pevonia products (which a friend of my mom’s, who owns her own spa business/teaches/has every esthetician license under-the-sun is a large supporter of due to their use of botanical products) my skin cleared up like that! I believe that this was largely due to the propolis serum, which for those who don’t know, “Propolis is a resinous mixture that bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive”(wikipedia, source of all random knowledge), basically it is what bees use to protect the hive. However, being as I am on a college budget (and living in a new country), I haven’t used this product in over a year, and last month I got a crazy breakout in between my eyebrows that just wont go away.

This coupled with my lifetime of super dry skin sent me on an internet research weekend, where I looked into homemade/diy skincare products that used natural or botanical ingredients to help heal and repair skin. This is how I discovered the uses of Green Tea for skin, as I decided I didn’t want to buy, grind, and distill my own propolis (I’m not quite that dedicated haha). And with the information I found, I decided that the easiest way for me to give it a try was by creating a Green Tea Toner. (I know not everyone likes toners, but I always have as I like that they get every little bit of remnant dirt/makeup out of your pores).

So here is how I did it:

You will need:

Good quality Green Tea

Something to Brew the tea in

Any add-ins you want to use (I will get to this in a bit)

And some kind of storage vessel

Basic Green Tea Toner Method:

  1. Brew one cup of tea and steep for 3-5 minutes (so one bag of the green tea per cup of water, simple).
  2. Remove the tea bag and place the liquid in your airtight storage container
  3. Using a cotton ball or pad, swipe the green tea all over your face 1-2 times a day.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to three days

Sounded simple enough, and I knew I could get decent green tea at the store near my house. But I wanted a bit more oomph with my toner so I went for a baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda for my non-USA friends) add-in of 1Tbspn (15ml) per cup of tea (added in between steps #1 and #2 (it will cause a bit of foaming, just wait for that to subside before storing). According to the interwebs, baking soda helps calm skin from irritants such as burns or cuts and can also act as an exfoliator. Baking soda also give this mixture a longer shelf life than basic green tea toner. It can be stored at room temperature for approximately 8 days and in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks. BONUS: two weeks worth of this toner cost approximately £0.06 (aka like 10 cents), needless to say, my bank account now is really into the idea of me making my own skincare products.

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(photos: ingredients!, brewing the tea, adding in the baking soda, adding to my nifty bottles, and labelled with the date/date to throw out otherwise I will forget)

Other add-in possibilities:

Witch Hazel, Vitamin E, Tea Tree Oil, Honey, Rosewater, Lavender Oil, Rosemary Oil, and Lemon Juice

So far I have used the toner twice a day for four days and I love it! I can tell that the redness in my skin has diminished, and the slight exfoliating properties of the baking soda have really helped get rid of my dry, flaky skin around blemishes. Now I think when I use up this batch, I will try making a plain batch without the baking soda to see if it is different, but for now I like having the extra boost and shelf life.

I also plan on trying to make it with Lavender Oil and Rosemary Oil once my current blemishes have healed (and also as an alcohol free aftershave for my boyfriend)

And don’t forget: if you use any astringent add-ins (like baking soda) you are probably going to want to use a good moisturizer afterwards (I’m currently seeking out the perfect jojoba oil and aloe vera gels to try)

What products do you use and love? I’m always on the lookout for new things to try! (coming soon: Raw Honey Face Wash)

 

Cheers! xx

 

Sarah, the PostGrad Paleo

**I am not a qualified skincare or health expert, just seeking out good options for my own skincare regimen, experimenting with different products, and sharing my findings with my internet cousins**