Happy New Year! Did you pave the way for luck and money to enter your life in 2015 with black eyed peas and greens or is there something else that’s a little more traditional for you? Gil and I met friends in the city for BBQ yesterday and enjoyed Hoppin’ John fritters and collard greens side dishes there, so there was no need to rush home and cook another meal simply to allay my superstitions.
I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions and resolutely avoid making them, but the time is right to start making some dietary changes. Now that the parties are over, the travel is done and life is returning to normal, I can stop making allowances for “just this once” or justifying another wheat or fried food-laden meal with this twisted logic: “I’ve already eaten bread (or fries) this week. How much worse will I feel if I do it again?” (For more classic excuses — a few more of which I made — check out Gretchen Rubin’s piece on self-sabotage.) Starting today, I’m getting back to the Primal Blueprint plan with its 21-Day Challenge and look forward to feeling good again, healthy and strong. I know a lot of people are skeptical about primal/paleo generally and gluten-free diets specifically, especially when there’s been no celiac diagnosis, but I know how my joints ache and pop when I eat wheat, I know the number it does on my stomach, and how much older I feel when I indulge even a little bit. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to ditch sugar after the sheer number of cookies and other desserts I ate over the last two weeks!
But before I start posting all of our nutritious primal dishes, here’s one last carb-y hurrah for you:
Mac and cheese is the world’s most perfect comfort food, don’t you think? Even bad boxed versions are tolerable, but when you start it from scratch, there’s nothing better. So when a friend posted a link to a recipe that promised the creamiest mac & cheese possible — and without a bechamel — I took notice. I don’t find the task of bechamel-making too onerous, to be honest, but if anything could get me one step closer to mac & cheese nirvana, I was willing to try it.
The recipe was originally published in Modernist Cuisine at Home and uses calcium citrate to keep the cheese’s oil and milk solids mixed when heated instead of allowing it to separate into a big greasy mess without the benefit of some medium (such as bechamel) to hold it together. SCIENCE! Chemistry was not my strong suit (she says, in the understatement of the year), but I needed to try this, so I ordered the Modernist Cuisine-recommended WillPowder Sodium Citrate from Amazon, which turned out to be the best value for the money I could find online.
I used a combination of cheddar and gouda and found it very creamy and quite rich, as you’d expect from a recipe that so revels in cheese. The only drawback is that you must eat it right away or it will solidify into a block (à la melted Velveeta) as it approaches room temperature. But you can always adjust the proportions to make just what you need. I reheated leftovers with a little added milk, but they just weren’t the same.
Find the recipe here. Playing with your food has never been so satisfying.
Oh, well, ok. I guess I do have a little more to share since the pictures are taken, anyway. As everyone knows, Christmas season is fueled by cookies, so I whipped out my favorite paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe to make a special batch just for us. I like to top them with Maldon sea salt before baking to give them a little extra pop, but otherwise stuck to the recipe as written. Gil devoured about 85% of them, but I got to enjoy a few. So many other cookies found their way into my mouth when I was in Louisiana that these don’t even tempt me now.
One the one hand, it’s a sad state of affairs. On the other, this sweets aversion will make my life relatively easy for the next 21 days as I go full primal. I haven’t decided if I’ll post my progress daily or just in bi-weekly digest form, but I’ll be sharing good primal-friendly recipes here, either way.
Happy New Year! Are you doing any sort of month-long challenge, too? Let me know in the comments so we can hold each other accountable/cheer each other on!