Vinegar Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Not your everyday stir fry, adding a touch of vinegar to a stir fry can really brighten and change the personality of the dish.  Also, by using tamari instead of soy sauce, this dish becomes safer for the gluten-sensitive! Soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans, and so is tamari. However, tamari is produced with no (or sometimes little) wheat and more soybeans. Tamari is also often thicker and darker.

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Change is the only constant

changeistheonlyconstantWhen I started this blog in March 2013, I was in a totally different space. I was feeling inspired by parameters, I was feeling good about helping friends, and I was energized by exercise. I was learning more about myself – what fueled my body and my spirit. I was going strong and feeling strong and helping others feel the same way!  And to top it off, one day my scale showed me a number that I hadn’t seen since high school. Rock on. I was swimming! Then I floundered. Then I flopped. I had all of the excuses, but they’re the excuses. I won’t even grant them the mindspace to list them individually. But my excuses were logical, and forgiving, and enabling, and completely blind. I decided to put my energy into other categories, and that’s okay in the grand scheme of things.  It is valid to choose different priorities. However, if my goal is fitness and health, I won’t ever reach that goal if I don’t prioritize it. I’ll just float around with a goal in the distance but no momentum. So now I’m back. From outer space. There is no need for guilt or regrets.  Indulging in negative feelings now can’t change actions in the past. Besides, that’s where emotional eating starts, right? Don’t eat because you’re sad, and don’t be sad because you eat! Perhaps it’s Spring bringing feelings of renewal – a growing excitement for warmer weather and the activities that accompany it! But now changes – they are a-coming. The domain may be unavailable in a couple days for a couple days. Then there may be some transition pains. But after that, here’s looking forward to a new look, more recipes and dinner plans, more resources, new thoughts and fitness challenges! Until next time…

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Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble

Gluten-/Grain-free Sweet Potato Casserole | Hold the Lemon

I love having a dish that is excitedly requested and expected as a contribution for Thanksgiving dinner, and for me that dish is the sweet potato casserole. This year, I made it four times!  I changed up my traditional recipe to use coconut flour instead of regular white flour so that it would be gluten-free and grain-free, and it was as delicious as ever. Arguably, more so! Granted, it’s still chock full of refined sugars and has full-fat dairy.

I always start with oven roasted sweet potatoes for this recipe, which is the true hero of this dish’s flavor. I recommend roasting your sweet potatoes the day before, or plan to do so a couple hours before starting the dish, so they will be cool and ready to be scooped and mashed. To roast sweet potatoes, poke holes in the sweet potatoes and bake on a foil-lined baking sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes to an hour.  The key for smooth mashing is to make sure your sweet potatoes are super tender. Discard the skins and only use the delicious insides for the mash.

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Pumpkin Muffins (Paleo)

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins | Hold the Lemon

As the weather here in New England intermittently begins to feel decidedly like winter (today there’s a high of 59 degrees F, but just a couple days ago the high was 32!), I find myself holding on to the last vestiges of Fall.  With all of the Thanksgiving dinner food coming tomorrow, here is an easy recipe for a make-ahead small breakfast to get you going the day of before the big meal, or easily grab a muffin or two the day after when you just don’t want to cook.

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Five pieces for a not-boring salad

Five pieces to a non-boring salad | Hold the Lemon

For many people, salads are diet food from the kind of diet that leaves you pushing your fork around your plate searching for the good stuff.  And salads to some are also seen as just the pile of vegetables covered in dressing used as a side dish. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Salads can be exciting! They can be a main meal! They can be an easy way to get creative with food! When my friend Dan asked me for quick tips on what to get at the store for his salads, I was inspired by all of the possibilities. Where do you start? What makes a good salad?  It’s just not lettuce, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, and dressing, right? Right!

Perhaps it’s easier to think of a salad as having five components: greens, protein, crunch, sweets, and good oils/fats. Let’s try this.

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Dinner: Primal Chicken Fingers and Creamy Curry Spinach

Paleo Chicken Fingers and Curried Spinach | Hold the Lemon

I generally tend to stay away from ‘faking’ my way through food I “can’t” have because despite “healthy” ingredients, sometimes those substitute dishes can end up being notably unhealthy. For example, restaurant salads or gluten-free baked goods that often have higher calories and even empty calories because of the add-ons to make them more appealing or the substitutions that bring more to the table than the original does.

That said, they are great for occasional indulgences. Like, this fried chicken recipe I based on one I found in in Primal Cravings: Your favorite foods made Paleo by Megan McCullough Keatley and Brandon Keatley.  I put the creamy curry spinach recipe also found in this book on the side of this meal, so that makes it healthier right? Probably not after I added the coconut milk to it. But, oh yeah, it was good.

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FitBit Step-it-up Challenge!

I, along with many of my friends and family, have acquired FitBits, which is really more than just a glorified pedometer!  I have a FitBit One, which has an activity (and sleep) tracker, but all of them include access to a free smart phone app and web interface, which is where the data magic happens.  The data geek in me enjoys  the activity graphs, the achievement geek in me likes that it gives you goals (10,000 steps a day isn’t easy for a girl with a deskjob), and the social geek in me likes that you can add people you know and have friendly competitions!

FitBit Step-it-up Challenge | Hold the Lemon

The FitBit Step-it-up Challenge

So I’ve been realizing that I’ve been slacking off. And other people have mentioned about how they have been slacking off. So I propose a new challenge, one where other people aren’t your competition, but the numbers are!

Starting July 1st, the goal is to be in the winning group of the week to *maintain* (at least!) the weekly average of steps number for that week, increasing every week by 1,000 steps. The goal is to make it to 10,000 steps, after which we can work on a 10k maintain challenge.

Week 1 – Jul 01 28,000 steps (avg. 4000/day)
Week 2 – Jul 08 35,000 steps (avg. 5000/day)
Week 3 – Jul 15 42,000 steps (avg. 6000/day)
Week 4 – Jul 22 49,000 steps (avg. 7000/day)
Week 5 – Jul 29 56,000 steps (avg. 8000/day)
Week 6 – Aug 05 63,000 steps (avg. 9000/day)
Week 7 – Aug 12 70,000 steps (avg. 10000/day)

Who’s in?

Strategies to get more steps

  • Take the long way into work. Try the far door, take the stairs, walk the whole floor before sitting down.
  • Walk during work. This could be during your lunch break, taking the long way to a meeting.
  • Go to a fitness class!  I can get a good 5000+ steps just from a single zumba class.
  • Make your “average daily steps” your step goal for the day. If you always meet or exceed it, then your goal will keep increasing as will your steps.
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Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto | Hold the Lemon

When my friend Erin gave me and my husband garlic scapes, I admit, I didn’t know what to expect!  But despite not using them before, they weren’t intimidating at all. Garlic scapes are the stalk of the garlic plant, and they have a prominent but not overpowering garlic flavor.

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Mixed Berry Crumble with Macadamia-Almond Topping (Paleo)

Paleo Berry Crumble with Macadamia Almond Topping | Hold the Lemon

The first day of summer is a little less than a month away, but I’m a little impatient this year. I’ve decided that it’s summer now. And summer means grilled meats, salads, and berries! This was a berry day. It was also a dessert day. It was a good decision.

I received nothing but rave reviews for this dessert! Even with no added sugar to the filling, it was perfectly sweet. Finely chopping the macadamias is key to have a flavorful evenly seasoned crust.

My dairy-eating friends loved this as a topping for their ice cream. I’m sure I could have put it on some coconut or banana ice cream and be just as pleased!

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Brussels Sprout Chips

Sometimes you just need a little green crunch. A spin-off from kale chips, I first made these after preparing the Dinner Menu: Sage Chicken Thighs, Brussels Sprouts, and Sweet Potato. I reserved the clean leaves from cutting and prepping the Brussels sprouts, and I waited until the pan drippings from the chicken thighs were cooled.  Delicious easy snack if you enjoy these little cabbages.

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