Monday, August 19, 2013

Get Poppin'

One of my favorite foods is popcorn.  (Yes, I am aware that it is not Paleo) I have been known to, ahem, have popcorn for dinner.  This may or may not have occurred last night.  For those of you who don't know much about popcorn there are many different varieties and kernel sizes and pops.  My favorite is Ladyfinger hulless popcorn.  Yes, all popcorn has a hull, it's the seed coating, but when you pop these tiny kernels the hull virtually disappears.  This my friends leaves you with a bright white, tiny, crunchy, delicious popcorn. Which in turn will leave you with more time on your hands later because you won't need to floss out all the hulls that are stuck between your teeth.  Some of my favorite brands are Little Pops and  Tiny but mighty Popcorn.  For those of you in New England you can purchase the Little Pops at local grocery stores.  For the Southerners you can purchase the Tiny but mighty Popcorn at Fresh Market.  Both of these popcorn products are grown in the U.S.A., non-GMO, an heirloom variety, and most importantly delicious!


You may be asking yourself, "How do I pop said delicious popcorn?".  Easy.  I own 2 different popcorn popping contraptions, The Whirley Pop and The Catamount Popper.  However, if you don't any popcorn poppers you can easily make stove-top popcorn with a large pot with a lid.  For the Whirley Pop and the Catamount Popper, use as directed.  Please find the instructions for heavy pot popping below.


How-to-pop the perfect batch of popcorn:

Recommended oils: sunflower, safflower, coconut, canola, grape seed and vegetable
Note: “expeller pressed” oils are the healthiest and best quality.

  1. Heavy pot with lid + 2 to 3 tbsp oil + 3 test kernels + Med/High heat
  2. When you hear a test kernel pop, remove the pot from heat
  3. Add 2/3 cup kernels, shake to distribute evenly in the pot, and return to heat
  4. Leave untouched until popping vigorously (approx 2-3 min), then shake pot occasionally (every minute or so)
  5. When there are 2-3 seconds between pops, remove from heat and immediately pour into a bowl. Season with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Ladyfinger popcorn is by far my favorite snacking popcorn, but if you were making Cracker Jack or Kettle corn you would want to use mushroom popcorn.  This popcorn is synonymous with movie theater popcorn, Cracker Jack, and the usual popcorn that you find at amusement parks and state fairs.  You will also find that much of your time after eating this popcorn is spent flossing hulls from between your teeth.  This popcorn pops up large-head kernels good for coating with sugary substances.  Cracker Jack and Kettle corn are actually pretty easy to make in your kitchen.  You will gain praise from your friends if you decide to bring some for a party.  I usually make my kettle corn in my Whirley Pop, but use a large pot if you don't have one.  Also, be careful!  Melted sugar is HOT and will burn you.  I would suggest adding a little cinnamon as well if you want a little cinnamon sugar flavor.  

Kettle corn:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, stir in the sugar and popcorn. Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps.

Cracker Jack: 


  • 4 cups plain popcorn, popped
  • 1 cup peanuts, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup

Place the popcorn and peanuts on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Place the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and place the pan over medium heat. Stir until the ingredients have melted and are combined. Allow the mixture to reach 240 degrees, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the caramel onto the popcorn. Using a spatula, carefully toss the popcorn until the caramel coats the popcorn completely.
Place the popcorn in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the popcorn from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, break up the popcorn into large pieces.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eating Like a Caveman

Well.. sort of.  I'm not one to jump on the "new fad" bandwagon, at least not before doing some research on the topic.  I can't say that I would even consider myself on the wagon.  It's more like, it's riding in a parade and I'm standing on the sidewalk, waving, admiring all the hard work that was put into the float wagon. I feel like that's OK. "Imitation if the best form of flattery", right?  Many people associate the "Caveman Diet" or "Paleo" with Crossfit.  Now lets not get crazy here people, me and Crossfit, I don't think so.  Honestly, I tried it once and I thought I was going to die.  That was the day I learned I had mild asthma.  I've never wheezed in my life!  Also, I feel that many of the Crossfit centers are not focused on form, which is so important to prevent injury.  Again, I did Crossfit once and ended up with asthma and a tweaked back muscle.  All the power in the world to those who do it, your bodies are akin to those of Gods, bravo!  Me on the other hand, I'll do my own routine and try to eat less junk.

It's actually pretty simple if you think about it.  Eat food, not chemicals.  At first I was gong-ho about eating Paleo.  I visited the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market, grabbed all my local meats and veggies and didn't spend too much money in the process.  However, the food prep for the week was too much.  I am someone who enjoys cooking and baking and it was too much for me.  I was literally in the kitchen all Sunday prepping food for the week and I didn't even finish.  There were some items that couldn't be pre-prepped, like some of the veggies which I wanted to use for a side dish during the week.  It was too much.  I enjoy my weekends and John and I usually don't lock ourselves inside, we're out and about enjoying our weekend freedom.  A few weeks after my Paleo fail a co-worker told me about a Paleo delivery service.  I was intrigued.  I'm not usually for paying someone for something I could do, but if they delivered the food and I got to keep my free time, it seemed like a win.  John and I had the Paleo delivery meals for a few weeks and I supplemented breakfasts or dinners.  All in all the convenience was great, however, I can't say I liked all the meals, and the price was kind of steep.  So I decided to put the Paleo delivery on hold for a bit and attempt to make the majority of our meals.  Honestly, it's been going OK.  I can't say we're eating clean for every meal, but I feel like 80/20 is good too.

This Week:

The only picture I took was of dinner the other night which consisted of the marinated chicken, thyme sweet potatoes, and salad.  

Overall, I've been trying to make us "cleaner" meals.  Meaning, no chemicals or preservatives.  The outcome is pretty tasty, but it does take some planning and time.  One tip - I do try to cook up a lot of protein at once.  That way we can use it up throughout the week with breakfast and lunch meals.  Also, sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower are easy to whip up and will last you throughout the week as a side.  You don't have to be perfect, you can just strive to be better.