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{Slow Cooker Recipe} Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork

There are days that I don’t know what I would do without my slow cooker. Those days are usually Mondays. I don’t know what it is about Monday that usually leaves me running around like a chicken with their head cut off. Maybe it’s getting back into that weekday routine after being relaxed all weekend, or maybe it’s because I tend to cram everything humanly possible into the few short hours that the kids are in school. My guess is a combination of the two, but thankfully, the invention of the slow cooker makes one Monday task an easy one.

As I mentioned in my Eating Healthy On A Budget post, I like to purchase meat in bulk. I have staple meats that are always on hand in my freezer, ground beef, pork loin, chicken thighs and chuck roasts. These are staples for me because they can be prepared using different cooking methods, and are perfect for tossing into the slow cooker while still frozen!

Sometimes I plan my week with grand intentions of trying tons of new recipes, but then I wake up with a headache, end up having to go out somewhere or just flat out don’t feel like cooking (I know, that last one is crazy, but it happens from time to time). Those are the times I thankfully for my supply of frozen meat options, my slow cooker and my collection of recipes on Pinterest!

This recipe is actually intended for pork ribs, but I didn’t have pork ribs…I had a pork loin roast, so I figured why not?!

Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork
Recipe Inspired by The Clothes Make The Girl

Asain Five-Spice Pulled PorkIngredients:
2-3lb pork loin roast
2 tsps Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp garlic powder (I used a garlic pepper combo)
2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsps coconut aminos
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 sliced jalapeno (optional – I used some jalapeno hot sauce because I didn’t have a fresh jalapeno on hand)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, Chinese five-spice, and garlic powder, then massage the mixture onto the pork.
2. If using the jalapeno, toss the sliced piece into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the vinegar, coconut aminos and tomato paste. Stir well to combine the tomato paste with the liquids.
3. Add the pork roast and cook on low for about 8-10 hours.
4. When the pork is done, shred and mix with the juices in the slow cooker. Serve.

This pork had a wonderful, sweet flavor with just a hint of spice from the jalapeno. I served this with sweet potato mash and sauteed spinach, but this is yet another dish that would work perfect as a lettuce wrap. There are really very few meats that wouldn’t work well as a lettuce wrap, right?!

I’ve clearly been on a Asian kick with my meals this week. I think it might just be an excuse to eat lettuce wraps and Sriracha, because that is exactly how I used the left overs from this meal today.

Do you own a slow cooker? If so, do you use it a lot or does it just sit on a shelf in the pantry?

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Baked Chicken Fajitas

Everyone has those nights when they need something quick and easy to make for dinner. You may not be into meal prepping yet (which is a life saver) or maybe you just don’t feel like eating what you prepped again, but you also don’t want to sabotage your healthy eating. This recipe is perfect for those nights!

Baked Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4

baked fajitasIngredients:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp mexican oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno, sliced (you can remove the seeds if you prefer less heat. I used a small can of fire roasted green chilies because I didn’t have a jalapeno on hand)
1 large onion, cut into thin strips
2 medium peppers, cut into thin strips (use any color you have on hand)

Directions:
1. Place the chicken strips in a gallon sized zippered bag.
2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Sprinkle over chicken; toss to coat.
3. Put in the refrigerator to marinate 30 min. to overnight.
4. When ready to bake, Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray and place the marinated chicken strips in.
5. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, onion and peppers to the dish and stir to combine.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.

This recipe came in handy yesterday! I was busy studying for my midterm most of the day and didn’t think about dinner until late. Mike and I started working out together at night, so I was able to prep this, toss it in the oven and by the time we were done with our P90X3 workout, our post workout meal was ready and waiting! How perfect is that?!

If you are following a paleo or gluten-free lifestyle, serve these as lettuce wraps and top with a little guacamole, a squeeze of lime and hot sauce, if you desire. If you are non-paleo, but gluten-free, you can use white corn tortillas and if you are just eating clean, serve these with whole-grain tortillas and top as you wish. This is really a great recipe for entertaining too, since it is easy and healthy, but can fit different nutritional lifestyles with ease.

Do you have any healthy, easy, go-to recipes that you rely on when you’re short on time?

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Beef Bone Broth…Who Knew?!

While collecting recipes this past week, I finally decided to give bone broth a try. I’ve seen quite a few people on Instagram share photos of their crockpots loaded with bones, veggies and water, but I had no idea what the benefits of this broth were and why they were doing this. Then I decided to consult my good friend Google, since he always has the answers (he’s such a know it all…it’s a little obnoxious sometimes).

If like me, you are not aware of the benefits of consuming bone broth, please take a moment to READ THIS you’ll thank me after you do.

If you ARE familiar with bone broth, well….WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT HOW AWESOME AND EASY IT IS?!

This is the recipe that I used for mine. I already have a chicken carcass in the freezer and plan on making a batch of chicken bone broth after I roast another chicken next week.

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth
Recipes from NomNomPaleo
Makes about 4 quarts

Bone BrothIngredients:
2 carrots, chopped medium
2 celery stalks, chopped medium
1 medium onion, chopped medium7 garlic cloves, smashed
3.5 lb of beef bones (I used beef marrow bones)
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
water

Directions:
1. Add the vegetables to the bottom of your slow cooker. Then place the beef bones on top.
2. Tuck the bay leaves between the bones, sprinkle with salt and then drizzle the bones with the apple cider vinegar.
3. Add enough water to cover everything.
4. Set your slow cooker to cook on low for 10 hours. (After speaking to some friends, I set mine for a second time and cooked it for 20 hours. After reading the above article, I’ll be cooking it even longer next time.)
5. When the broth is done, pour it through a fine strainer and discard the solids. (we gave our dog one of the bones as a treat)
6. Portion into tupperwares and place in the fridge. If your bones were fatty, you can skim off some of the fat after it separates and sets in the fridge. The broth will turn into a beef gelatin, so don’t be alarmed.

The broth will keep in the fridge for a few days or if you freeze it, it’ll last for several months.

So far I’ve tried heating up the broth and drinking it like a tea and I’ve also sauteed some veggies and then heated the broth with them to make a quick, healthy, lunchtime soup. From now one, I’ll be using this in place of boxed stock for all of my recipes as well. Why should I spend my hard earned pennies on boxed stock that isn’t as good for me as the liquid from the Gods?!

On a side note, Mike and I also started P90X3 last night, so keep an eye out for a review of it once we complete week 1!

Have you tried bone broth? If so, I’d love to hear anything different you do in your recipe. If you’re new to this, are you considering making it since reading this post?

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Paleo, But Not Paleo

While I don’t follow a paleo lifestyle, I do appreciate many of the ideas behind it. I have never been a person to subscribe to just one lifestyle when it comes to food. I prefer to listen to my body, eat as clean as possible and try to stay balanced with my choices. I’m also not one for depriving myself. If I want pizza, I’m going to eat pizza. If I want a regular baked potato, I’m going to eat a regular baked potato and I may even put a little margarine on it even though I know it’s not healthy. I’m such a rebel!

Regardless of this, I have been trying a lot of paleo recipes lately. I do feel better when I eat clean and honestly, paleo is just a strict version of clean eating. I just don’t stress out if I only have soy sauce and not coconut aminos or if I have peanut butter and not almond butter. I have a limited budget for food and I do the best I can when shopping, however there are times that $6 for a jar of something just doesn’t work and that’s okay.

With that said, I got very excited when I found this recipe for Kotleti which are Ukrainian meat patties. It’s rare that you find recipes like this unless you specifically look for them (I don’t know why I haven’t before) but Mike is half Ukrainian and since his mom passed away when he was young, the only traditional recipe we have is her peirogi recipe, which we love. I enjoy showing the kids pieces of their heritage (even though they make a funny face at most food items) and I hope they will carry on the pierogi tradition when they grow up and have families of their own.

I prepared the Kotleti with a spiced roasted vegetable recipe I found and I was pleased with both, especially because they can be made during meal prep sessions.

Kotleti – Ukrainian Meat Patties
Recipe from A Teaspoon Of Rosemary

Kotleti and Roasted VegetablesIngredients
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions
1. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix well using your hands, until everything is incorporated.
2. Wet your hands and shape a two inch ball of meat into an oval and then pat it gently to flatten it into a patty.
3. Heat a frying pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Place about 4-5 patties into the pan. Do not overcrowd.
4. Flip the patties after a few minutes, once they have browned and repeat on the other side. Don’t worry if your patties are not cooked through all the way, they will continue to cook in the next step.
5. While the patties fry, put some water in another saucepan (just enough to cover the bottom) and set it next to the frying pan.
6. When the patties are browned on both sides, remove them with the spatula and place them closely in the saucepan with water, then cover.
7. Once all of the patties are browned and stacked in the saucepan with water, bring that saucepan to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes. This will ensure all of the patties are cooked through while making them moist and tender.

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Paleo Diet Roasted Vegetables
Recipe from AncestralChef.com

Ingredients
2 carrots, peeled
2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 lb of Brussels sprouts
1/4 – 1/3 cup of cumin powder
1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of sea salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Chop up the peeled carrots and sweet potatoes into large chunks.
3. Boil the carrots, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes.
4. Strain out the vegetables and place on a baking tray.
5. Sprinkle with the spices and melted coconut oil and rub everything together.
6. Roast in oven for 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned.

I will tell you that I drastically reduced the spices used in the roasted vegetables and I didn’t have tumeric on hand but they came out really yummy. While I normally just cut up my vegetables and toss them in the over for an hour to roast, I did like the reduced cooking time with boiling them first, even though it meant another pot to wash.

The other upside to the recipes I’ve been trying is that they have all been using similar ingredients, so it allows me to buy some vegetables in bulk and save some money.

Do you have heritage specific recipes that are a tradition in your family?

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