Apple & Cherry Stuffed Pork

Pork has been on sale at River Valley Market for a few weeks now. Depending on when I’m able to get there I usually stock up on whatever is a good deal! Most of their meats are locally sourced, pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free- so the good news is you can’t really go wrong there! Same for the butcher shop in Northampton: Sutter Meats. Everything there is top of the line, although it’s a little more expensive so I tend to just get specialty items there like marrow bones.

Anywho, the last few times we’ve eaten pork chops the recipes have been super basic: grilled, seasoned and baked, etc. So today I wanted to change things up a bit. I’ve stuffed pork chops with all sorts of things, but growing up I HAD to have applesauce with my pork so for me, pork and apples are like peanut butter and jelly. When I was thinking of other ingredients to add to the mix I quickly shuffled through the usual suspects like pears, bacon, cranberries, and decided to try out cherries! For shits and giggles I googled stuffed pork recipes and what do you know- I definitely wasn’t the first one with this idea!

PaleOMG popped up as one of the first recipe links so I happily followed her recipe (with a few variations) and it came out pretty darn good! Heres what I used:

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 thick cut pork chops
  • 1 medium apple, cored and finely diced
  • 3/4 cup red cherries, pitted and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TB coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees

-In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in 1 TB of coconut oil until translucent

-Add the apple, cherry, cinnamon, garlic powder and cloves to the skillet an cook until soft, about 6 minutes

   

 -While stuffing is cooking cut pockets in the pork through the fatty side of the meat, be careful not to chop off a finger or cut through to the other side!

-Season the outside of the pork chops with salt and pepper then stuff them with as much yummy goodness as possible

-Place stuffed chops on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes

-Then enjoy!

  
 

 

 

 

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Crispy Slow Cooked Ribs (Paleo, AIP, 21dsd)

The last week I have been doing some self-experimentation and seeing how my body responds to different types of stressors. 

If you read my last post I went on a rant about how exercise (aka Crossfit and Olympic lifting) seem to have such a great positive mental and emotional effect on me that it seems to negate the “stress on the body” factor. Physically it is demanding, and my body has been getting stronger and more stable each week, but with every step forward there are bound to be some bumps in the road. 

I have had a long history of right-sided shoulder pain caused by a pinched nerve in my spine. I stay on top of it as best as I can with weekly trips to the chiropractor, bi-weekly accupuncture, and a massage once a month. These things help greatly but sometimes things go arye. I experienced that last week when I was doing snatched and something caused a pinched nerve, but this time on the left side. The pain was pretty serious and I couldn’t lift my left elbow past parallel without excruciating shooting pain. This might have been one of the most frustrating moments for me… I wasn’t doing anything different, didn’t catch the bar in any super awkward compromised position, it just was one of those things that was going to happen regardless of what I did. 

Upon leaving the gym I scheduled an appointment with my chicopractor for the following day and also made a doctors appointment because my frustration got the best of me and I decided that I wanted to get X-Rays. Not only of my neck but also of my collar bone which has recently developed a large bump, that I am fairly certain is a contusion from the barbell but I wanted to be sure. You know if you google “lump on collar bone” you get everything from fracture to cancer and multiple other scary sounding things. 

Well, after my Chiro appointment I felt 95% better, had full range of motion back, only a slight tightness in one position. From there I went to the doctor, who (warning: western medicine vent coming up) told me that I shouldn’t be lifting, working (bc my job is physically demanding), or going to the chiropractor, and should take anti inflammatory drugs….. 

I’ve spent a lot of time educating myself on natural ways of healing, and also know how our modern day health care system works. What the doctor told me didn’t surprise me at all and when she followed her prognosis up with “that’s what I tell all of my patients” it really hit home. Now would be a good time to strongly suggest to everyone reading this to go and download the Underground Wellness Podcast and listen to episode titled “Gerland Roliz: Ex-pharma sales rep tells all”. It’s a game changer in so many ways. 

Anyways, the doctor did provide me with what I went in for, which was the X-Rays. They may or may not be of any actual help or value in the end but for peace of mind I wanted to take a deeper look. In the mean time I have been back at the gym, snatching and completing all of my lifting without pain, thanks again to my chiropractor. I have found a way to cushion my barbell so it doesn’t irritate the bump on my collar bone, and my anti-inflammatory diet keeps my RA in check.   And to celebrate: let’s get to that recipe! 

This recipe was based off a recipe from: https://salixisme.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/aip-paleo-pork-ribs-spice-rub/

However I didn’t have some ingredients so I improvised and instead of creating a sauce for the ribs, I mashed the parsnips from the crockpot which made a tasty flavorful side dish!😄

Ingredients:

  • 1 large rack pork ribs
  • 2 TB  spice rub (see below)
  • Juice from 1/2 an orange
  • 2 TB bone broth 
  • 1 extra large or 2 medium parsnips, diced
  • 1 TB Fresh thyme
  • 2 TB chopped scallions

AIP Spice Rub

    • ½ tbsp Himalayan Salt
    • 2 tbsp granulated garlic
    • 1 tbsp dried oregano
    • 1 tbsp dried minced onion
    • 2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • ½ tsp turmeric

    Instructions:

    -In a large crockpot, add the diced parnsips, orange juice, bone broth, scallions and fresh thyme 

      
    -In a bowl or herb grinder combine ingredients for the spice rub and mix thoroughly

    -Rub mixture over the entire rack of ribs

      

    -Cut the rack in half and place on top of the parsnips in the crockpot

      

    -Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours

    -Preheat oven to broil

    -Remove ribs from the crockpot and cut into individual wings

    -Place on a baking sheet and broil until crispy, about 3-5 minutes 

    -While ribs are broiling, transfer the parsnips to a large bowl and mash with a fork or hand mixer until no large chunks remain

      

    -Serve mashed parsnips with crispy ribs and enjoy!

      

    Not Your Average Pizza (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    What better way to celebrate the end of my first Crossfit Open than with some pizza?! Don’t worry I kept it paleo, of course. I know I haven’t posted much at all lately so I’ll use this post to briefly sum up my workouts and experience.

    Out of the 5 Open’s workouts I ended up doing 15.1 and 15.3 scaled. I chose to do them scaled because I was coming back from an injury and a reoccurring pinched nerve in my neck. When the opens began I couldn’t hold anything overhead with snatch grip without excruciating pain in my right trap, and the muscle that I pulled in my back was at about 85%. Prior to the opens I had been doing strictly squats (I followed the Smolov Jr. squat program) to let my back and shoulder heal. My mindset going into the opens was to listen to my body and only do things that wouldn’t put me at risk for re-injury. Looking back I think I made the right decisions in deciding which workouts I had to do scaled, but I also know that I am capable of doing them RX’d and plan on taking them on again in the future.

    The last two workouts were mentally challenging for me. 15.4 was the only workout I did twice. The first time I attempted 15.4 I hadn’t done a handstand pushup in… months. Even when I did do them in the past I wasn’t very good! I hadn’t practiced before the workout, I was coming off of a long week of work and I was mentally and physically pretty exhausted. I ended up struggling so bad with the HSPU that I only got 6 reps total. For some reason I just couldn’t figure out how to get my feet to hit the wall and stay there! It was the first workout were I have ever felt defeated. The next day I came into the gym and got some lessons on HSPU technique from Heath, the owner of our gym, which helped tremendously. The following monday I attempted the workout for the second time with Heath as my judge, who carefully planned out when I should make HSPU attempts and how long I should rest to be successful at those attempts. I ended up with a score of 15 which is more than double my first attempt. Still nothing to write home about but it was a mental accomplishment for me and it helped give me some perspective on how to navigate workouts like that without getting frustrated.

    The last workout of the Opens was a doozy. With there only being a few movements left to choose from, its no surprise that it was thrusters and rowing! A little background on my history with those movements: rowing drains the living daylights out of me, and thrusters give me flashbacks to the first (and only) time I did Fran, as the final workout of a competition that I completely bombed… It also happened to be when my back was still injured and all I remember was pain and embarrassment. So, if you could catch my drift, this is one workout I was not looking forward to. On the bright side, I took the lesson I learned from 15.4 and tried applying it to this workout by taking friday and saturday to work on thrusters, improve my technique, and put some time in on the rower. When Monday rolled around I felt slightly better about the workout but I still had anxious thoughts that I was battling. I went into the workout with a planned rep scheme that ended up going out the window as soon as I started the thrusters but my overall goal was to stay calm and keep the thrusters feeling strong. I ended the workout in 13:38. Overall I am glad its over and also very thankful to have had a great coach (thanks Alice!) who helped keep me calm and focused.

    At the end of the day I have learned a lot of lessons from this Open competition! I still have a long ways to go and many things to work on, including my own anxiety when it comes to competition and things that I am not that good at. I came in 2,134 out of 11,255 women in the North East region, not bad for my first opens, room to grow for sure. I am looking forward to seeing how much I can improve in a year, starting with getting stronger!


    Now, back to that whole pizza thing. This recipe was based off of some delicious cabbage wrapped dumplings that I made from the 21 day sugar detox cookbook. Its essentially a deconstructed dumpling on top of a crispy, crunchy, nut and egg-free crust.

    Ingredients:

    For the crust:

    • 1 1/2 cups tapioca or arrowroot flour
    • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
    • 2 TB. coconut oil
    • 1-2 TB. water
    • 1 TB. italian seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • (optional add-ins if you aren’t worried about FODMAP’s: 2 TB. onion, finely chopped and 2 cloves of garlic)

    For the toppings:

    • 1 lb. ground pork
    • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
    • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
    • 2 medium carrots, shredded
    • 2 cups red cabbage, chopped and steamed
    • 2 TB. coconut aminos
    • 4 drops fish sauce
    • 2 TB. coconut oil
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • pepper to taste

    Instructions:

    -Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place your cast iron skillet in oven to heat up

    -While oven is heating, steam cabbage and grate carrots and zucchini with a box grater or mandolin

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    -In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt coconut oil and sauté carrots and zucchini for 2-3 minutes

    -Add pork and chicken or turkey, coconut aminos, fish sauce, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until no pink remains in the meat

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    -While meat is cooking, prepare the crust

    -In a small pot heat coconut oil, coconut milk, water and salt until warm

    -Add the wet ingredients to the flour in a large bowl and kneed with your hands to combine

    -Add in italian seasoning and continue mixing until a large ball of dough forms (you may need to add some extra water)

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    -Remove *PIPING HOT* cast iron skillet from the oven and very carefully roll out the dough into a large crust in the pan. I usually keep my oven mits on when doing this to ensure that i don’t burn my hands

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    -Then add steamed cabbage and meat toppings and bake in 500 degree oven for 12-15 minutes

    -Cut and enjoy!

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    Crispy Pork Belly (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    If you have never tried pork belly, my friend and boss, Alex will tell you it’s “bacon’s older, wiser and more handsome brother”. It’s every bacon lover’s dream come true: bigger, yummier, juicier bacon! It’s the perfect topping for burgers and salads or in benedict’s for breakfast (as you will notice if you ever stop into Jake’s.. Pork belly is all over the menu!)

    Pork belly isn’t one of those things that you can easily find at the supermarket but if you stop into your local butcher they will more often then not have some, or tell you when it will be available. This recipe has been a long time coming for me. I absolutely love pork belly and when I found out I could get some at Sutter Meats I was thrilled! I’m not going to lie I tried to make it a few different ways, taking some ideas from recipes I had seen online and pointers from the butcher on how to cook it, but I just never go the results that I wanted. At Jake’s we have perfectly cooked crispy pork belly and although it took me 3 tries, I finally got the same results! (Thank you Alex for your cooking tips!)

    I will say where I went wrong was by thinking I could cook the pork belly in a short period of time (aka have it ready by the time my burgers were done cooking) and thats just not possible! This recipe requires a lot of prep and a lot of cooking time but its SO worth it. Give it a shot!

    The steps:

    1. Make Pork Broth
    2. Cure Pork Belly
    3. Braise Pork Belly
    4. Sear Pork Belly

    Total time needed is approximately 3 days. You can make the pork broth in the crockpot (24 hrs) while you are curing the pork belly (3 days) and on the last day allow about 6 hours to cook, cool and sear the pork belly.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 lb. pork belly with skin
    • 1 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. coriander
    • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp. cloves
    • 1/4 tsp. ground fennel (optional, omit for AIP)
    • 2 cups pork broth (use the same recipe as my bone broth but swap the marrow bones for pork bones)

    Instructions:

    -First and foremost, make sure you have pork broth and a few days to make the pork belly before you need it!

    -Score the skin side of the pork belly with a sharp knife, be careful because although the skin is though, the layer of fat below it cuts very easily!

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    -Combine sea salt, black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and fennel in a small bowl

    -Rub herb mixture into the pork on all sides

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    -Let the pork cure in the refrigerator for 3 days on a wire rack

    -On day 3, rinse the pork belly, cut into desired sized chunks and place it in a stock pot (one that has a lid)

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    -Cover pork belly with pork broth and place it in a 250 degree oven, covered, for 4-5 hours

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    -Remove from oven and let cool in the refrigerator

    -Once chilled, remove the pork belly from the braising liquid and cut the skin off of each piece

    -Sear the skin and pork belly in a skillet over medium heat until the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered off of the pork belly

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    -Save the fat to cook with!

    Notes: The pieces of skin will get nice and crispy! These are called “cracklings” and I like to use them as crunchy snacks, croutons on salads, or chop them finely to use as a garnish for plates that can use a kick of flavor and a little crunch! I think they got their name because they are probably as addicting as crack… seriously, you will see!

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    Pork Belly Slices

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    Bonus cracklin’s and bacon fat 🙂

    Guacamole Stuffed Squeeler Bugers (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    Yesterday was my day off for the week so I celebrated by hanging out with some of my best friends and of course cooking all day. I love cooking and it makes it even more enjoyable when you have appreciative mouths to feed! I also got to ride my horse in the morning and took a nice long Epsom salt jacuzzi bath to add some therapy and relaxation into my day. More about the importance of magnesium and Epsom salt baths coming soon!

    

    This is how three gluten free girls get down on a Sunday: tea’s all around!


    I started the burgers by making individually wrapped guacamole squares and throwing them in the freezer so when we were ready to cook the burgers, the guacamole was frozen. Avocados are listed as a “moderate FODMAP” food, so in order to keep these on the lower-FODMAP side I used one slightly ripe avocado and one unripe avocado. If you have a hard time determining how ripe avocados are the coloration is a pretty good determinant, but you should also feel each one. The more ripe the avocado is the more “squishy” it will be. Be careful not to buy avocados that are over-ripe because they will have black spots on the inside. 

    

    From left to right: the darkest avocado is the most ripe, while unripe avocado is green. 

     Ingredients for the Guacamole:

    • 2 avocados (one slightly ripe, one unripe)
    • 1/2 fresh lemon (or lime)
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

    Instructions: 

     -Cut the avocados in half and remove the seed 

     -Scoop the meat out of the avocado into a large mixing bowl. For the unripe avocado you will have to use a little elbow grease to get the meat out, and before adding it to the bowl I suggest chopping it into small pieces because it will not “mash” like the slightly ripe avocado will 

     -Add the lemon, cilantro and salt to the avocado 

     -Mash with a fork until the mixture is well incorporated and on the softer side 

     -Scoop about 2 TB. of the mixture onto some plastic wrap or parchment paper, forming into small squares or circles

     -Wrap each glob of guacamole individually and throw them in the freezer for a few hours until frozen

    

     For the Burgers:

    • 1 lb. grassfed ground beef
    • 1 lb. pasture raised ground pork
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    Instructions: 

    -Preheat grill to medium-high heat 

     -In a large mixing bowl combine beef, pork, salt and pepper 

     -Toss well to combine then section into 1/4 lb. balls 

     -Remove your frozen guacamole squares or circles from the freezer and work them into the center of each meatball forming them into patties 

    -Grill for 5-8 minutes per side depending on how you like your burger cooked 

     -Top with whatever you like and enjoy!

    I topped our burgers with Irish bacon and wrapped them in rainbow chard. Yum!

    

    Egg-less Break-fast. (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

    Breakfast is one of the meals thats like clockwork to me. I have just about the same thing every morning which takes all the planning and stress out of my morning routine. I make small tweaks to my breakfast when certain foods aren’t available but I generally keep it as: some sort of meat cooked with a leafy green or other vegetable, 1/2 an avocado and a soothing warm beverage. This breakfast works well and enjoy it so much that I actually looked forward to breakfast before I go to bed. (Or maybe I just love to eat?)

    One of the hardest parts about starting the Autoimmune protocol was changing my breakfast… NO eggs, and NO coffee! I’ve had eggs and coffee for breakfast for the last 6+ years of my life! It was the epitome of breakfast to me and I had a REALLY hard time trying to wrap my brain around not consuming two of my favorite things anymore. Lucky for me I knew the day would come when I had to follow strict AIP and therefore had mentally been preparing and brainstorming ways to survive when the change occurred. I started slowly switching over to decaf coffee to avoid the caffeine-headache-withdrawals, while also trying to have bone broth with breakfast instead of coffee from time to time. This process got more difficult when I started working at a breakfast restaurant and am surrounded by eggs and coffee all day… but anyone who has been battling with severe autoimmune disease will tell you that there is nothing more motivating than the thought of one day being out of pain.

    I also, fortunately, love all food, so having something different for breakfast wasn’t the worst thing in the world but I knew I would miss the convenience of eggs.

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    😦

    So my new AIP and low-FODMAP breakfast now consists of:

    • 1/4 lb. of ground beef, turkey or pork
    • 1-2 cups of kale or spinach
    • 1/2 cup avocado*
    • 2 TB. coconut oil or tallow
    • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp. himalayan sea salt
    • 1 cup bone broth

    * avocado is listed as a moderate FODMAP food, but for those of us that need larger quantities of fat (are very active), avocados that are NOT very ripe contain less FODMAPs!

    I usually start by throwing my bone broth in a pot and bringing that to a boil. Once boiling I remove it from the heat and put it in my mug with 1 TB. of coconut oil. Once the oil has melted I blend and forth it with my handily frother and set it aside to cool.

    In a large skillet I melt the other TB of coconut oil or tallow(from the broth) over medium heat. Then I add in the greens, pre-cooked meat, turmeric and salt. Sauté until the greens have wilted and the meat is warm, then transfer to a bowl or plate. Top with avocado and enjoy with the bulletproof bone broth

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