Herb roasted lamb with lentils

Happy Tuesday all! With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d share one of my new favorite recipes with you. It’s not a traditional holiday recipe, but it’s delicious and nutritious nonetheless.

Lamb is one of my favorite meats when I can get my hands on some grass-fed or locally grown cuts – it’s flavorful and very versatile. I’ve recently discovered lentils and I must say, I’m very impressed with their nutritional profile – one cup of cooked lentils packs 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber! I’ve combined the two to create a simple, delicious dish – the perfect comfort food for chilly fall and winter evenings.

If you give this recipe a try, please let me know how it turned out and what you thought of it!

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Herb Roasted Lamb with Lentils

2 lb boneless lamb shoulder (New Zealand recommended as it is more likely to be grass-fed)

1 cup lentils

1-2 yellow onions, cut into rings

3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed

A few fresh sprigs of thyme

A few fresh sprigs of rosemary

Salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Place lamb shoulder in center of crockpot and add 1 cup stock (homemade preferred but a combination of water and red wine or red wine vinegar will work too).
  2. Surround lamb with lentils. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  3. Pluck thyme and rosemary to cover meat and lentils. Add crushed evenly. Top with onion rings.
  4. Set crockpot to low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Divide into 3-4 servings (8 ounces lamb per serving)

Enjoy!

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Personalized nutrition services to help you achieve your goals!

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As some of you know, I not only provide personal training services, but I also specialize in nutritional services as well! If you feel like your progress has stalled, or you just don’t know where to begin, consider one of the following options:

Shopping List – A one-time list of the optimal foods to pick up every week at your specific market, farm, etc. This will include many options and alternatives so you can pick and choose foods that fit your preferences and budget.

Recipes – Pick an option of 1, 2, or 3 meal recipes per day. You can request 3 dinner recipes in 1 week; 5 breakfast ideas; or 3 meals and 1 snack for every day of the week – the meals, days, and numbers are up to you!

Food Log Analysis – I will provide a log for you to record your food intake for a minimum of 3 days. I will analyze it in terms of calories, carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, share this information with you, and provide recommendations. The more details and specifics you include, the better my feedback will be! Include portion sizes, brands for packaged goods, etc.

Traditional Q & A / 1-on-1 Nutritional Counseling & Education – This can be in person or via email, text, or phone. We can either have a back and forth conversation, focused on your specific questions and concerns. Or it can be structured by me, basically conveying the most important information for your specific goals in terms of nutrition, hormones, sleep, etc.

I look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

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Paul’s Palate: Lamb Roast Recipe

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Today I’ll share one of my favorite dinner recipes for lamb roast and veggies.

I love this recipe so much because: 

  1. It’s affordable. Depending on the time of the year, you can buy lamb shoulder from New Zealand or Australia for under $6.99 a pound! Considering most grass-fed beef roasts can be over $10 a pound, this is an amazing deal.
  2. Since it’s imported, there’s a better chance the animal was raised in a more humane and natural way. Recent reports suggest that Australia has begun to create lamb feedlots, but, for the most part, lamb from New Zealand and Australia is probably raised in open pastures, eating primarily grass.
  3. It has a milder flavor than beef, meaning the flavor of the dish can be more varied. It can be light and minty or hearty and spicy – it all depends on what herbs, seasonings, and sides you use!
  4. Lamb is one of the healthiest foods in the world! It offers roughly the same amount of vitamin and minerals as most grass-fed beef, but with less fat. This means you may get the same amount of nutrients as 8 ounces of beef, but with only 6 ounces of lamb, thereby reducing your total calories.

So, without further ado, here is my go-to recipe for a boneless shoulder of lamb:

  1. Wash 5-10 carrots, 2-3 cups Brussels sprouts, 1 cup mushrooms, 1 yellow onion, and 5-10 sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, in warm water and apple cider vinegar.
  2. Cut all veggies to desired thickness and pluck herbs from stems.
  3. Mix thyme, rosemary, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 5 crushed cloves of garlic in a bowl. Rub this mixture on the outside of the lamb evenly.
  4. Place carrots in crockpot first, followed by mushrooms and then lamb. Surround lamb with Brussel sprouts and place onions on top.
  5. Pour ½-1 cup beef or lamb stock over vegetables (careful not to pour over the lamb as this will rinse all the seasonings off). If you don’t have any homemade broth / stock available, don’t buy store-made versions (they will be loaded with sugars, chemical thickeners, and rancid man-made fats), just mix ¼ cup water with ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce, ½ cup red wine or red wine vinegar, and a little mustard.
  6. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.

And voila – you have an amazing meal with less than 30 minutes of prep time!

Lamb provides a substantial amount of protein, and a moderate amount of healthy fat, particularly beneficial omega-3’s (assuming it is grass-fed). As such, it is the perfect center-piece of any meal. Feel free to experiment with different veggies and seasonings…just make sure you have some plants to compliment this protein.

Let me know how this works for you, and what seasonings you like best. See you all next week!

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Homemade Ice Cream!

Has everyone tried replacing canola and corn oil with coconut oil after my post last week? Your arteries and inflammation levels will thank you! Haha.

This week, let’s use a coconut product to make homemade ice cream!

One of the most amazing things about thoroughly steeping yourself in nutritional knowledge is the ability to make any dish healthy.

I have been eating homemade ice cream every weekend night and am still able to lose about a quarter to half a pound of fat a week (summertime is when I focus on leaning out).

Feel free to adjust the amounts of the following ingredients as you see fit.

  1. Pour 4 tablespoons grass-fed heavy cream, 1/3 cup coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of raw almond butter into a blender. Add half an avocado and a banana.
  2. Optional ingredients to add while blending: a teaspoon of honey (I find the banana is sweet enough); half a scoop of chocolate protein powder (to bump up the protein content and add a sweet, chocolate-flavor); shaved raw cacao (I avoid the stimulants in cacao if eating the ice cream at night).
  3. Pour into a bowl and place in the freezer. Whip the mixture with a fork every 30 minutes. After about 2 hours, it should be the consistency of ice cream.
  4. Top with berries and / or crushed macadamia nuts.

That’s it! No need for an expensive ice cream maker or sacrificing your long-term health for store-bought ice cream.

Compared to the store-bought versions, this will be loaded with essential healthy fats (Omega-3, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, and Lauric Acid), all improving cardiovascular function and decreasing inflammation.

The avocado and berries will also provide a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals. One serving will provide 25-50% the daily requirements of Vitamin C, E, B6, K, Folate, Choline, Calcium, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese.

If you use protein powder you will also be getting important amino acids, improving performance, recovery, and mental functioning.

Clearly this meal offers quite a few beneficial nutrients, but check out the problematic elements, found in commercial ice cream, it does not contain:

Casein. The primary protein in dairy that causes allergic reactions and can damage the gut. (If someone has a life-threatening dairy allergy, I would recommend forgoing the heavy cream as it may contain traces of casein.)

Lactose. The sugar found in milk that makes “lactose intolerant” individuals sick after consuming most dairy products.

Gluten. Plenty of ice cream brands still contain gluten. If you recall, gluten has the ability to affect every cell in the body and cause hundreds of different health issues.

Corn Syrup and other sweeteners. The sugar in this dish comes solely from banana and berries, and occurs with over 20 grams of fiber, thereby slowing the release of the natural sugars.

Artificial Ingredients. Most ice cream contains various artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Many of these have been strongly correlated with cancer and neurological disorders.

Some of these ingredients are used to increase shelf life while others are used to decrease production costs (honey costs more than corn syrup and coconut milk more than dairy).

But, other ingredients are used to cause over-consumption, thereby increasing a company’s sales. For example, artificial sugars, gluten, and liquid dairy can easily override our body’s natural hunger signals.

I know from experience that I can easily eat over 1,000 calories of store-bought ice cream and still be hungry. However, when I make this recipe with a full avocado and more nuts, it adds up to less than 800 calories…and it is a challenge to finish. When consuming this much fiber and naturally occurring healthy fat, your satiety levels cannot be manipulated.

I would not recommend this as a daily meal for someone trying to lose weight as it does combine a fair amount of healthy fats and natural sugars…

But, if you are cleaning up your diet and afraid that you’ll never be able to enjoy ice cream again – don’t fear! With enough creativity in the kitchen, anything is possible!

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Bolognese

One of the dishes I miss most since replacing grains with vegetables is Spaghetti Bolognese.

I do not miss how the processed, high-carb pasta overrode my hunger signals, causing lethargy, bloating, and unhealthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

A few years ago I found the perfect substitute for highly-refined pasta products that are packaged with enough preservatives and chemicals to allow for a nearly infinite shelf-life…

A spaghetti squash!

Below is my adapted recipe for an all-natural version of Spaghetti Bolognese:

1.) Select your favorite ingredients for the tomato sauce. I like onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms and two cans of tomatoes – one crushed and one diced.

2.) Empty the jars of tomato sauce into the largest pot you own and turn the heat to medium-low (if it starts to bubble and splatter, turn it down a little).

3.) Chop up veggies to your liking and stir into tomato sauce. Add herbs & spices to taste.

4.) Add ground beef, pork, or preferred protein source (local and naturally fed is optimal). Cover and let sit on low heat. Stir every 5-10 minutes to break up meat and ensure equal cooking.

5.) Heat oven to 350 F. Cut spaghetti squash in half, length-wise, and scrape all the seeds out (you can throw these out, add them to the sauce, or toast them in the oven with spices).

6.) Place both halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet and place in oven. Start checking the texture of the squash after 25 minutes. The shorter they cook, the more the final result will resemble al dente spaghetti.

7.) Remove squash from oven and drag a fork along the inside to create spaghetti strands. Continue to cut/scoop the spaghetti onto a plate or bowl. One squash can make 3-5 large plates of spaghetti.

8.) Check the Bolognese sauce to see if it is done to your liking. You may also want to add butter or heavy cream to reduce the acidity of the sauce and bump up the nutrient density.

9.) Pour your sauce on top of your spaghetti and enjoy!

Spaghetti

I love this recipe because it allows me to enjoy one of my favorite childhood dishes without any of the negative effects on my health or body composition. Also, there isn’t much preparation involved, just time spent checking how the sauce and squash are cooking.

Keep in mind that you will need to experiment with different cook times to find out how soft or hard you like the spaghetti strands. I’ve always been a fan of a slight crunch, although cooking for longer may provide the softer texture some people prefer. Just be patient and give this recipe a few tries before giving up and returning to the less-nutritious packaged options.

For the sake of comparison:

One-cup of whole-wheat spaghetti has about 200 calories, with over 30 grams of refined carbs. It contains a significant amount of manganese and selenium.

One-cup of spaghetti squash has about 40 calories, with less than 10 grams of natural carbs. It is higher in Vitamin A, C, K, B, Calcium, and Potassium.

I hope this recipe helps provide a healthier alternative to the beloved American-Italian dish!
Enjoy!

Pizza In A Bowl

This week I’ll pass along one of my favorite “weekend recipes”. I call it that because, as you’ll see, it contains some indulgences that I wouldn’t recommend people eat on a daily basis. However, when compared with the original dish this is based upon, it is far healthier and can be a perfectly safe meal to consume.

Growing up, my favorite day of the week was Friday’s. On this night, my family would order pizza and I’d get an entire large pepperoni pizza and finish it all in about 15 minutes.

My biggest fear before eliminating grains was that I would miss pizza. But, after 30 days without bread substances, I ordered a pizza and, after one slice, ended up eating the toppings off the pizza and throwing out the crust because of its cardboard-/sponge-like consistency. Sure, it is salty and garlicky, but compared to the tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings, it added nothing to the flavor.

Finally, after 2 years of grain-free living, I realized that, as a kid, the bread was merely a delivery medium for the best part of the meal. Whether it’s pizza crust, topped with cheese and sauce, or pasta topped with Bolognese sauce…it was never the grains my body craved, but the salt, fat, and protein (again, all things that are necessary for life…particularly for a growing boy).

So, without further ado, I give you, “Pizza in a Bowl”:

1.)    Pour half a cup of unsalted, pure tomato sauce into a saucepan and turn stove on low

2.)    Put a few tablespoons of butter into a frying pan and place over medium heat

3.)    Place desired amount of ground beef into frying pan and chop into small pieces with a spatula as it browns

4.)    Once the meat is sizzling, chop up mushrooms, olives, onions, garlic, and whatever other topping you enjoy most, and toss into frying pan

5.)    Keep stirring the toppings around as you add your favorite seasonings to the tomato sauce

6.)    Once the beef is cooked, pour everything into the saucepan and stir for a few minutes

7.)    Turn off the stove and pour your sauce and toppings into a bowl

8.)    Shred your favorite cheese on top (if you tolerate dairy)

9.)    Enjoy!

You can try experimenting with your own favorite ingredients, or the ratios of each of these inputs. I tend to use more beef and the result is closer to chili, but still amazing!

I mentioned that this is a good meal to indulge with…that depends on the ingredients you include. I usually slice up some dry salami or pepperoni if I can find relatively healthy options. This can be difficult between the use of nitrites, nitrates, or corn syrup to preserve the meat and enhance the flavor. Also, the incorporation of cheese will greatly increase the calorie content so beware!

As with all the recipes I post on here, keep in mind that all the beef and dairy should be 100% grass-fed and the vegetables and other ingredients are ideally locally and naturally grown.

That last note is important to mention because, believe it or not, grass-fed beef is actually leaner and less inflammatory for the body than most white meat (such as chicken, turkey, or pork).

Typing up this recipe makes me realize that I need to do some posts on dairy, nutritional comparisons of red and white meats, as well as the use of nitrites and other preservatives that may be found in prepared meats. But, I’ll save those topics for another time.

Let me know if you enjoyed this healthy alternative to typical pizza and what your favorite ingredients are! See you all next week!

Salmon on Asparagus

I received such positive responses from the steamed mussels’ recipe that I decided to post another recipe – this time for smoked salmon!

The best thing about salmon is that it has the highest Omega 3 content of almost any food in the world…however, make sure you buy wild-caught!

Food producers feed corn to farm-raised salmon, thus increasing the omega 6 content while decreasing omega 3 content. This is to say nothing of other negative outcomes from feeding a species a food they can’t properly digest.

I am aware that high-quality wild-caught salmon can be quite expensive, sometimes over $20/pound. For this reason, I would again urge everyone to check the pre-packaged, frozen seafood section. I know the store near me has frozen, wild- and sustainably-caught salmon for $5/pound…this is after a buy-one-get-one or half-price sale that seems to be permanent.

I like to cook my salmon on a bed of asparagus but honestly, the asparagus can end up being as expensive as the salmon so feel free to substitute another vegetable!

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Salmon in Parchment Paper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut two sheets of parchment paper about 1 foot by 1 foot

Fold both in half and cut the edges to form a half circle

After unfolding each, you should have 2 circles, equal in size

Line asparagus in middle of one sheet and place salmon on top

Add olive tapenade or coconut oil on salmon

Place the second circle over everything so the edges of parchment papers line up

Going around the outside of the circles, fold the edges over, sealing the sheets

Place on an oven tray and cook for 12 minutes

Remove from oven, cut open parchment, and allow to cool

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One important detail of this recipe is the use of parchment paper. This will protect the salmon from direct heat, resulting in a steaming affect, protecting the omega 3’s and other nutrients from oxidization.

Chopped olives or coconut goes well with this, but avocado or sweet potato would work too. Basically, you want to make sure you pair an energy source, a carb if you’re active or a fat if you’re sedentary, with this complete protein.

Like last time, I have to indulge my nerdy side and list the impressive nutritional profile of salmon:

Just 3 ounces contains the following:

22 grams of complete protein

2200mg Omega 3 and only 190mg Omega 6

40-60% daily needs of Selenium, Vitamin B12 & B6, and Niacin

20-25% of Riboflavin and Phosphorus

10-15% of Thiamin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, and Copper

It also contains trace amounts of activated Vitamin A (retinol), Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, Zinc, and Manganese.

While on the subject of salmon’s nutrient content, it is worth discussing the value of salmons’ high selenium content.

Our oceans have very high levels of mercury which could be quite dangerous, particularly for smaller people and pregnant women. Some sources even recommend limiting fish intake for this reason. While this may be a good idea for larger fish that don’t have as many minerals and nutrients, such as tuna, limiting consumption of salmon would be a terrible idea.

Chemically, selenium binds with mercury, thereby removing it from the body and eliminating any danger. The one downside of this process however, is that much of the selenium content of fish is not absorbed. For this reason, you may want to make sure you are getting enough selenium from other sources (just one or two Brazil nuts will give you all you need for the day).

And with that, you now have two amazingly beneficial, and hopefully tasty, recipes. Both should amount to about $5 per serving or less and provide a great deal of your nutrient needs for the day.  Also, considering both are seafood dishes, they would be perfect additions to a vegetarian diet.

Enjoy!