Stay Tuned

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my blog!

My reasons for procrastinating?

  • December birthday celebrations.
  • Work dinner with the Ambassador of Kenya to the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Friend’s concert in a “secret” location. Seriously. We weren’t given the details until the night before. I AM SO EXCITED.
  • More December birthday celebrations. What can I say? All the best individuals are born in December. *hint hint*
  • Helping my CF box move to its new location!

I will be sure to blog about the events and post an entry for each Paleo meal I’ve made this week.Teaser: Tonight I made a yummy baba ganoush eggplant dip, roasted cauliflower, mini bratwurst and a gigantic salad. DELISH.

So stay tuned! I’ll be back soon! For the time being I leave you with this incredible tune. Be sure to turn up the speakers.

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Gruhnkohl and Roasted Chicken

Gruhnkohl and Roasted Chicken [Paleo]

During the week I always try and prepare my lunch the night before. Sometimes this doesn’t really work out. Case in point, I completely forgot to prepare anything Sunday night (to be fair I was still in Ommmm mode from my CrossYoga class – all I wanted to do was sleep) and ended up throwing things in a bag before running to catch the S Bahn Monday morning. So my breakfast and lunch consisted of the following:

ImageExcept, once I saw the picture I thought to myself “Um, wow. Way too much food.” So I left a nectarine and a fruit bar behind. I KNOW. IT MADE SUCH A DIFFERENCE. 

Let’s get to the focus of this post, my lunch for tomorrow. I decided to make something fairly easy and went for gruhnkohl (a.k.a. cooked kale) and roasted chicken. You will need:

– Chicken breasts
– Jar of gruhnkohl
– Spices (Whatever your little heart desires)
– Two onions

I should have used fresh kale and cooked it myself, however, I bought this jar of gruhnkohl before going Paleo again and it seemed like such a thing to waste. The ingredients were gruhnkohl, water and salt. So I poured the contents into a strainer and ran cold water over the gruhkohl for about 2 minutes. Dumped it in a pan with water that was about 1/2 an inch high and set my stove on medium heat. 

ImageWhile it simmered, I chopped my onions up and chose my spices. Tonight I went with ginger, chili powder and garlic powder.

ImageJust add those to your pot of gruhnkohl and stir until everything is heated up. I make the gruhnkohl first because its super quick and now the spices can really soak into your gruhnkohl while you make the chicken. Mmmmmmm. For the chicken, I slapped the uncooked chicken breasts onto some wax paper, covered them in spices (parsley, chili powder, garlic powder, and ginger) and stuck them in The Teufel. I had The Teufel set to 5. *See previous posts about the dreaded Teufel.

ImageAfter about 15-20 minutes I flipped the chicken over, re-spiced, and let them sit in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. 

ImageThe chicken was so juicy! Added to the gruhnkohl I had a perfect little dinner.

ImageThe rest has been stored away to have as lunch and dinner for the next couple of days!  Time for me to hit the sack so I can dream about eating this tomorrow. 

Crananacoa Cakelets

The Hell is a Cakelet? [ Paleo & Vegetarian]

If you find yourself asking that very question (which is indeed what a friend asked me earlier today), let me explain. It is a new creation by yours truly. I can not, however, take full credit for the coining of the term. I was chatting with a good friend earlier in the day and told him about my plans to make a “banana cranberry dark cocoa tahin butter cupcake”. His response? “Haha wow. That’s a mouthful.” So I gave him the task of inventing a name and he delivered beautifully. I informed him that he would now be naming all Cassandra creations. (I also promised him 25% of the profits if I ever make a cookbook and become famous.) Win-win situation overall.

So yes, a Crananacoa Cakelet is an almost Paleo treat. I threw in 90% dark chocolate (organic & fair trade) because I made the cakelets for a friend’s birthday dinner tomorrow night. She isn’t Paleo so I figured what the hell, she can have a trace amount of sugar in her cakelets. If you want these to be Paleo – DON’T FRET! All you have to do is take out the dark chocolate, which is exactly what I did for myself. I made some delicious Paleo Banana Cinnager Cakelets (oh my god I am awful at creating names). For the Crananacoa Cakelets you will need:

– 5 Bananas
– 2 and 1/2 Tbsp Tahin Butter (Sesame seed butter)
– 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon
– 3 Eggs (Go Free Range!)
– 4 squares of Dark Chocolate (I used 90% Fair Trade, Organic)
– Handful of Cranberries

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Image(Just so you can see how close to being Paleo this recipe was…)

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(There was way too much happening in the first picture to fit the cranberries in.)

Here comes the tricky part. When I create recipes I just go with the flow a.k.a. I don’t track time very well or take much note of temperatures used (not that it would help much seeing as The Teufel is well, the devil). Come to think of it, I am probably one of the worst people to be writing a food blog. Hah. Right, so I preheated my oven at 6. *If you have yet to read my previous blog posts, my ancient gas oven only ranges from 1-8. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that would equate to any normal/functioning oven. So yeah. Preheat yours at the equivalent of 6. 

Prepping was super easy. The beginning is just like my Banana Pancakes – simply break your bananas into pieces and throw them in a blender. Add the eggs. Add the tahin butter. Add the cinnamon. BLEND. Once its done transfer it into a mixing bowl and add your chocolate and cranberries. 

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(LECKER)

Stir well and then place into your cupcake holders. Since this was my first try I only filled my cupcake holders halfway up. For the future, I will not hold back. Fill those bad boys almost completely to the top! Trust me.

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While these were baking, I went ahead and made the Paleo mixture. Enter my Banana Cinnager Cakelets (seriously though, I need a new name). To make them, you will need:

– 2 Bananas
– 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon
– 1/2 Tbsp Ginger
– 1 and 1/2 Tbsp Tahin Butter

Image(Again, just throw it all in a blender and blend away!

Everything turned out great! The cakelets only took 15-20 minutes to bake. Again, I can’t stress enough that you can go ahead and fill your cupcake holders almost to the brim. The cakelets will rise in the oven but then sink once they’re taken out. So if you fill them only half way, you get these:

ImageIf you fill them all the way up, you get these:

Image(The Paleo cakelets are the ones that aren’t exploding with chocolate and cranberries.)

I really hope you guys can figure out what the normal oven equivalents are to The Teufel. When you do, please let me know for future reference! Danke! Hope you try this recipe out because it’s delicious!

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes = My Favorite [Paleo & Vegetarian]

Bummed after my Bacon Wrapped Disaster Dates I decided to make a breakfast that would be sure to lift my spirits – Banana Pancakes! Got this recipe from one of my dear friends while living in Amsterdam. Its inspiration? We were broke graduate students trying to stick to Paleo diets. For this delicious breakfast (lunch, dinner, snack, whenever you decide to eat it) you will need:

– 1 Egg
– 1 Banana
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Like I said, this can easily be made on a graduate school income (a.k.a. NO income). Cut up the banana into little chunks (or if you’re too lazy in the morning coughlikemecough just break it apart with your fingers) and drop them into a blender. Add your egg. Now push the blend button. All done.

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This will make about 6 mini pancakes. I use a bit of coconut oil (adds to the flavor) to fry them in the pan. They cook much faster than a normal pancake would, so keep an eye on them! That, ladies and gentlemen, is it!

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Fabulous breakfast made in less than 10 minutes. You can get fancy with them by adding various items: dark chocolate bits, sun-butter, cinnamon, fruits, etc. Mmmm, leckerrrrrrr!

My Banana Pancakes definitely put a smile on my face before heading out to the CrossYoga session this morning, which was a total success. It was my first official yoga class and I loved it! It was not easy, no no, but that is exactly why I’m motivated to keep it up. After the yoga session everyone tried the various Paleo treats that were brought in and oh my word, a friend made a Chocolate Zucchini Cake – IT WAS DEVINE. Side note: I am obsessed with everything chocolate. Hardest thing to give up for Paleo. She gave me the recipe but I will be damned if I try it out before defeating The Teufel. I want it to be perfect!

yoga(CrossYoga!)

Right. Time for me to snuggle on the couch, drink hot lemon water, and watch some sci-fi for the rest of my Sunday. NAMASTE.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Bacon Wrapped Disaster Dates [Paleo]

You read that right. This turned out to be quite a fail, but because my blog is more of a “follow me on my journey even if it sometimes sucks” blog rather than a strict food blog, I have no problem at all posting my cooking fails. I woke up this morning well rested and motivated for the CrossYoga session my CF box was hosting. In my previous post I shared the recipe for the Sweet Potato Almond Butter Cookies Squishies I  made to bring along as a Paleo snack. Well, since they came out squishy I was determined to bring something more aesthetically pleasing (I could already hear people whispering “Who in the hell brought rubber cookies…”). Enter cooking fail number one, Bacon Wrapped Disaster Dates. To make, you will need:

– Bacon
– Dates

ImageWell that was fairly easy. Before beginning, go ahead and preheat your oven to about 200 degrees Celsius. Now for the prep – put your strips of bacon on a plate and heat them up in a microwave for about 1-2 minutes. This will cook them a bit and make it easier to wrap them around the dates (otherwise they fall apart…at least they do with me). Since dates are tiny, you can go ahead and cut your bacon strips in half.

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Now comes the part where you simply roll your dates up in a strip of bacon and use a toothpick to hold them together. When you’re done, you’re ready to stick them in the oven!

ImageRight. So that was easy. How could someone possibly fuck mess that up? I’ll tell you how. With an ancient German gas oven that I have yet to figure out. Seriously. If anyone knows what 200 equals on an oven that has a range from 1-8, HOOK A SISTA UP.

Image(The Teufel)

Image(Seriously. WTF DO I DO?)

Well after 10 minutes I smelled something crispy in the air. I ran to the oven and took my Paleo treats out only to discover they were ruined. Completely burnt. If the following picture doesn’t convince you, well, just trust me. They tasted like ash.

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*sigh* It’s okay. I won’t let this get me down! I will be making these again sometime during the week, preferably before heading to my CrossFit box so I can share them. I WILL get them right. I WILL defeat The Teufel.

Sweet Squishies

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Cookies Squishies [Paleo & Vegetarian]

Tomorrow my CrossFit box is having a yoga event and people are bringing Paleo treats to share, so I thought I’d pitch in. Found a recipe for Paleo Sweet Potato Cookies here and decided to try it out! However, as you can see by my title the term “cookie” turned out to be quite misleading. I expect a cookie to crunch. These do not crunch. At all. They are, for lack of a better word, squishy. Doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious! To make them, you’ll need:

  • 1 Cup cooked sweet potatoes (mashed)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3-4 Tablespoons almond butter
  • Generous sprinkle of cinnamon

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As I’m back to strict clean eating (you can read all about why in my first blog post) I try and get products that don’t have processed ingredients and are grown in a friendly environment. Luckily, living in Europe (especially Germany) this is quite an easy task. Ze Germans are all about being green and not allowing toxins into the body. Have you ever been to a German doctor? No? You basically need to show up missing an arm with blood spraying everywhere to receive a prescription for ibuprofen (okay, I exaggerate). Still, doctors here are all about “herbs” and “the natural way” so when it comes to buying food in Germany it is fairly easy to find products like Free Range Eggs (bought at REAL) and pure Almond Butter (bought at Bio Company). If you’re living in the states try and steer clear of High Fructose Corn Shit Syrup and attempt to get your eggs and meat products Free Range or Grass Fed. If you’re a poor graduate student, say fuck it, and get the cheapest items on the shelf. I know that feel, bro.

Now as you can see, my sweet potato was rather large so I ended up with 3 cups of cooked sweet potato instead. So I tripled the rest of the ingredients as well. Was that the right thing to do? Who knows? What you’ll quickly learn from reading this blog is that I am by no means a professional cook / baker. I just find cooking and baking fun! During the work week I will usually create recipes that are quick and easy. On the weekend when I have more time, I’ll usually look up Paleo recipes to try out. Like these cookies squishies.

Anyways, simply mix all of the ingredients together until you’re left with a bowl of mush. Don’t fret if the mush isn’t firm! Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and then bake for 10-15 minutes on one side, flip and then allow to bake for another 5 minutes on the other side. If you have an ancient German gas stove (that you’re afraid will explode every time you “turn it on”) like me, then preheat your oven at 7 and allow the cookies squishies to bake for 15 minutes on each side.

All done! Enjoy!

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New

That’s right. I’ve FINALLY taken the time to sit down and create a blog.

So what’s the focus?

Mainly, to share recipes. I know, I know. Everyone and their mom seems to be making food blogs these days. What will be different about this one? Umm, hello, I’ll be writing it. Obviously. Aside from that major point, however, the recipes I’ll be sharing will be both Paleo friendly & allergen free. However, don’t be surprised when my blog posts begin to branch out to other areas of my life (in typical Sagittarius fashion).

Why now? What’s the inspiration?
(Get ready for a long explanation. Like, seriously.)

The past 1 & 1/2 years of my life have been the toughest I’ve ever been through. In February of 2012, I had my third case of chronic urticaria which was without a doubt the most difficult one yet. For those of you who have no idea what that is, it’s hives – a type of skin rash that reddens your skin, burns, stings and itches.

It sucks. Hard.

A majority of people with chronic urticaria, which means the hives last for periods longer than 6 weeks, are unable to find a known cause. It can result from both allergic and nonallergic triggers (such as emotional stress) and tends to appear once every 7-8 years. Getting hives as an adult was much harder (on me) than getting them as a child. I’m a control freak and here I was suddenly faced with something that I had absolutely no control over. I saw doctor after doctor. Had blood test after blood test. No results. Took every kind of allergy medicine in the book. I mean, EVERY kind. I went from over the counter drugs like Benadryl to prescribed medication and even liquid steroids. Nothing helped. Day after day I was covered head to toe in hives and wheals. After a month of it, I entered a state of depression. I felt helpless and completely trapped in my own body. I lost 20 pounds in no time as there were days when all I ate was one saltine cracker (and I was still scared to eat that). Finally, another round of blood tests revealed that my body reacted to certain allergens. I could begin keeping my hives at bay by controlling what entered my body. Except it wasn’t just a couple of things my body reacted to. Nope. Turns out I’m allergic to a ridiculous amount of things.

Cow Milk
Whey
Tomato
Spinach
Beef
Bell Peppers
White Cabbage
Rye
All nuts with the exception of cashews

This meant reading the ingredients for every item of food and OMG it turns out nuts, milk and tomatoes are in EVERYTHING. Go ahead. Try and think of some of your favorite foods and let me know if they’re Cassandra allergen free. Didn’t think so. Despite everything, maybe my third case of urticaria was really a blessing in disguise? Suddenly I was forced to eat clean. Cleaner than clean. Further self research on hives (I told you I was a control freak – can’t even trust doctors) taught me that the strongest antihistamine is essentially adrenaline. This meant every time I was in the gym lifting weights or running, my hives disappeared. About 10 minutes after my workout was done? They returned. Workouts became my escape. I went running before work & during my lunch break. After work I went straight to the gym. Then I discovered CrossFit. A friend explained how it was life changing, the best workout in the world and once you started you became obsessed – it was like joining a cult. GREAT. Still, I gave it a shot and holy hell he was right. A WOD took only seconds to make my hives disappear. Added plus? Instead of being a chore, working out was now fun. FUN. Within 4-5 months I had my allergies under control and thanks to clean eating and CrossFit I was in the greatest shape of my life. Life was grand.

What happened, you ask? I quit my job and moved to Amsterdam to pursue graduate school. -___-

Now hear me out, I don’t completely regret this choice. My job situation had gone to scheisse and after my year at UvA I graduated a M.A., met some of the greatest people in the world and had created some of the best memories. All at a cost. Financial stress & thesis stress interrupted my daily workout routine (I’d forgotten how mentally exhausting school is in comparison to work). I slacked on clean eating – spent endless hours sitting on my ass in the library eating stroop waffels and way too many nights drinking disgusting amounts of alcohol. My muscles turned to flab and by the end of the year I was almost 25 pounds heavier than when I’d arrived. Starting in January of 2013, I got tonsillitis five times. I was at wits end and unhealthy in every sense of the word. As soon as I got my degree, I left for my parent’s house back in Germany, had my tonsils removed on October 1st and got a job (!). Which brings me to…

Berlin.
Yes. New start. New place. New job. (OMG I HAVE AN INCOME!) New beginnings, right? Well, not exactly in the way I had hoped. Start of November I found an incredible CrossFit Box to start working out in. Unfortunately I was way too eager to get back into shape and instead of a.) letting my body heal properly after surgery b.) letting myself settle down in a new place and c.) gradually building strength, I pushed myself way beyond my limits. Went to the gym every day of the week and ignored a crazy intense (and growing) pain in my abdomen region. I wrote it off as soreness. Then it got to the point that I could no longer sit up to get out of my bed or breathe without feeling pain and I decided it was time to head to the doctor’s the following day for a check up. That night around 2am, however, I realized my entire lower abdomen had swelled with gigantic pockets of air/liquid. I completely freaked out and left for the ER. I was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis. Blood samples revealed that abnormally high amounts of creatine had leaked into my blood (normal levels: around 200, my levels: 40,000’s) due to torn muscle fiber. Luckily I had checked myself in before having the “coca-cola urine” symptom meaning my kidneys weren’t completely shot. The highest risk from rhabdomyolysis is kidney failure, however, I was quickly treated with IV bicarbonate fluids. One of the scariest experiences of my life. Second weekend in a brand new city. Away from my family and closest friends. All that ran through my head was “What if I die here on this disgusting hospital bed surrounded by people who don’t know me?” The nurses had to struggle to get any answers out of me because all I could do was cry. Like, cry waterfalls. Sob. Heave. You get the idea. The next day I received a call from a girl I had just met offering to stop by and bring some essentials (deodorant, toothbrush, etc). I also got calls from friends all over the world checking to see if I was okay. The day after my absolutely amazing mother showed up from Heidelberg to take care of me (P.S. – She’s the greatest mom in the world. Yes, I realize I might be biased…). I was eventually released from the hospital and on the mend (or so I thought).

Then two weeks later I realized my hair was falling out in large amounts. My once long, thick, soft hair was now above my shoulders, stringy and felt like straw. This is when I broke. Pretty sure I cried for three days straight.

Why?
Why this?
Why now?
Why me?
(Is that a violin playing? WTF?)

I went to see a doctor in hysterics and she quickly bitch-slapped me back to reality with her words. “Stop crying about your hair. We’ll fix it. You should be thinking about the fact that you should have died in that hospital room. But you didn’t.” Ummm, excuse me? Oh right, rhabdomyolysis can = kidney failure which can = death. Well shit. She was right. After blood tests it was revealed that I had no new condition or imbalances causing my hair loss. Which only meant my mom (mothers know best) and my closest friends were right – it was my body’s reaction to the insane amount of stress from these past 1 & 1/2 years.

I’ve finally come to terms with that and I’m determined to heal.
To get back to 100%.

Right after my doctor’s appointment I headed to a salon and told them to chop all my dead hair off. I’m now taking Vitamin B5 which specifically helps with hair loss, strengthening fingernails and helping your skin get healthy. I’m learning new ways to relieve stress such as meditation and yoga. I’ve decided to eat clean again. I’m at the end of a four day detox and I feel great. Better than I have the entire month of November. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason I’ve created this blog. To help me stick to my clean eating and drag you along in this new chapter of my life. Yes. Now you finally have your answer!

I’m ready for a truly new beginning.
A new year.
A fresh start.
A chance to take charge of my life once again.
In essence, I’m ready to be reborn.

Hence the decision to name this blog after, well, myself. My middle name. Renée (coughitmeansreborncough).

So let’s begin.

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