The Magic of Mojo, Part 2

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I didn’t climb that tree, pick all those oranges and haul them back to Tampa not to squeeze the most out of them.  Just as good as last week’s chicken is this tasty pork roast; shoulder or butt works equally well and the leftovers are tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.  Pick a day when you’ve either a lot to do with little time to cook or you just want to hang out at home and savor the smell of slow roasting pork. . .

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Start with a nice, large pastured pork butt or shoulder.

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Coarsely chop your onion, peel your garlic cloves and snip some fresh rosemary

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Pulse in a food processor until finely minced

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Stir in the sour orange juice and then in a slow steady stream whisk in the olive oil until well blended.  The kitchen might get a little messy; mine does.  Clean it later.

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I usually use a gallon size Ziploc bag but this piece of pork was too big to fit in one.  Hmmm, what to use?  I used one of my large green bags that I store my veggies in and that worked just fine.  I like to be able to turn it from time to time during the 2 day marinade process.  I always place in a bowl when I put in the fridge just in case the bag leaks.

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Sear it well on all sides over medium high heat; choose your favorite healthy fat

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Place it in a large roaster, pour remaining marinade over, cover and bake at 275 for 5 to 7 hours until meat pulls easily from the bone.

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When done allow to cool for 20 minutes then shred meat with a fork into a bowl or serving platter adding in pan juices to suit.

Suggested sides:  collards, slaw, plantains, yucca — get creative and choose your favorites

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We were doing a daily handstand challenge FB post at our box so I decided to do mine while I was cooking, just thought I’d share. . .

Recipe & Ingredients

6-8 lb pastured pork shoulder or butt (bone in is best)
2 tbs lard, coconut oil or bacon grease
2 cups sour orange juice*
1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
8 – 10 fresh garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3+ tablespoons fresh oregano
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
*if you can’t find sour oranges you may substitute equal parts fresh orange and lemon juice

Preparation

In a food processor place the coarsely cut garlic, onion, oregano and sea salt and pepper and pulse until finely chopped.  With the processor running pour in the olive oil in a slow steady stream.  Remove mixture to a large bowl and blend in the orange juice.  Transfer to a large Ziploc bag and add your roast.  Allow to marinate in the fridge for 24 to 48+ hours.  Remove from fridge at least 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet melt your fat over medium high heat.  Sear your shoulder or butt on all sides until well browned and place fat side up in a large roaster.  Pour the remaining marinade over the roast and cover.  Place in the oven and cook for 5 to 7 hours or until meat pulls away from the bone easily and is very tender.  Allow to sit for about 20 minutes.

With a fork shred the meat into a bowl or serving platter and mix with some of the pan juices.

The Magic of Mojo, Part 1

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There’s just something about picking a fruit off a tree or vegetables from a garden and bringing them to my table that thrills me.  It takes me out of today’s 24/7 go go technology driven world if only for a little while and brings a sense of calm while creating culinary pleasures.

This lovely sour orange tree has been around ever since I first visited my in-laws house in Jacksonville, Florida in 1985.  When I was up there this past Christmas the tree was in full bloom and I climbed as high as I could and gathered a bounty of the abundant fruit.  “What are you going to do with all those oranges PJ”? asked my husband.  “You can’t possibly use them before they rot”.  Ever the pragmatic realist.

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Well, for about a week they looked rather pretty sitting on my counter, table, living room and a few other areas in decorative bowls.

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And then I squeezed those babies, put them in different size Mason jars and then into the freezer and voila, I now have plenty of sour orange juice to last us through the season.  Now, let’s turn this into dinner. . .

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Cut up your chicken into pieces.  We did breasts and drumsticks this go round.  Hubby’s into breasts and I’m a leg girl.

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Process the garlic, onions and oregano in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add the sea salt and pepper and with the processor running add in the olive oil in a slow steady stream.

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Pour into a bowl and add the sour orange juice, stirring to combine.

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In a large Ziploc bag pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 to 48+ hours.  Remove from fridge 1 hour prior to cooking.

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You can cook these in the oven but my preference is always on the grill.  Cook covered using indirect heat for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear.

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Enjoy!  And stay tuned for Part 2 — Mojo Roast Pork. . .

Recipe & Ingredients

3-4 lb pastured whole chicken or pieces
1 1/2 cups sour orange juice*
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 fresh garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
3+ tablespoons fresh oregano
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
*if you can’t find sour oranges you may substitute equal parts fresh orange and lemon juice

Preparation

If using a whole chicken, cut into individual pieces and set aside.  In a food processor place the coarsely cut garlic, onion, oregano and sea salt and pepper and pulse until finely chopped.  With the processor running pour in the olive oil in a slow steady stream.  Remove mixture to a large bowl and blend in the orange juice.  Transfer to a large Ziploc bag and add your chicken pieces.  Allow to marinate in the fridge for 24 to 48+ hours.

Remove from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature one hour before cooking.  This can be cooked in the over at 375 for around 40-45 minutes but we prefer to grill.  Place on hot coals and cook with indirect heat for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear.

Pot Roast on the Go!

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My “30 minute” meals are ones that require little prep not necessarily those that only take 30 minutes to cook.  I’m a from scratch no matter what kind of gal but I had a very busy day Saturday with the kick off of our Box’s annual fitness challenge, a few errands to run not to mention all the domestic chores. On days like those I need a quick and simple meal that doesn’t require a lot of my time and attention.  This one fit the bill.

When you know you have a busy day ahead of you planning is essential.  And my Saturday was packed so Friday night I took out a small rump roast to thaw.  I worked until 3:30 pm; when I finally got home it was time to prep dinner and then I still had a couple of hours of work ahead of me.

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The roast was now thawed so I browned it in some tallow over med high heat in a cast iron skillet and transferred it to my roaster.  I added 3 cut up carrots, 1/2 coarsely cut onion, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 tbs fresh oregano, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Before going off to my other tasks I prepped my sides.  I peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes and placed them in cold water.  I washed and chopped my collard greens, got the pot out I was going to use, placed a tablespoon or so of duck fat in it and chopped the other half of the onion and set it aside with the greens.

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Before putting my roast in the oven I also added 1/2 pound quartered mushrooms and since I was all out of homemade beef broth I added 3/4 cup of red wine and 1/4 water.  I then covered it and cooked for 2 hours 45 minutes at 300 degrees.  Time will vary depending on size of roast and your oven.  Just cook until fork tender.  While it was cooking I went about my other tasks.

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About 30 ish minutes or so before it was due to be done I started the collards and sweet potatoes.  When the roast is done, remove the veggies and meat and keep warm, place the pan juices on medium heat and maintain a simmer.  Take about 1 tablespoon of butter and melt in a small skillet, add 1 tablespoon non GMO cornstarch and cook for about 2 minutes stirring constantly.  Add to the pan juices stirring constantly and cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes until thick.

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With just a little multi tasking the last few minutes your sweet potatoes are mashed, butter added and the collards should be nice and tender.  Voila!  dinner served.  Time to relax!

What’s Your Kryptonite?

Kryptonite

Dictionary.com defines kryptonite as a “fictional substance in the ‘Superman’ series where it weakens the otherwise invulnerable hero, 1943; perhaps from elements of krypton (which is a gas) + meteorite.”  Fortunately this is one substance we as ‘super heroes’ do not need to concern ourselves with.  However many of us have a nutritional form of kryptonite that can be just as deadly.

When it comes to determining the best nutritional protocol for an individual to follow there is a plethora of confusing information out there as well as extremists.  You’ve got your vegan or vegetarian crowd that abstains from any and all animals, birds and sea creatures, your high and low carb and fat fanatics and everything between.  Being an extreme type of person I’ve tried a few of these over the years and it’s taken well over a decade of experimenting with different diet plans to realize that extremes rarely work.

In as few as words as possible as not to get off track most people need a little bit of all the the macro nutrients in varying amounts to support their goals of what they are eating for.  Variations will be dependent on those goals, state of health, activity levels and genetics.  Experiment or hire a qualified nutritionist or coach to help you determine what’s best for you although finding one is often a challenge in and of itself

Generally speaking most extremes do not work or work for long and are not sustainable over the long haul.  Do we need to be dogmatic in our approach?  No and yes if you have a kryptonite.  No to an extreme way of eating long term, it is not sustainable or healthy.  That would include but not limited to vegans or vegetarians, high and low carbers, excessive protein diets and any fad diets such as the  cabbage soup diet.  While a few of these approaches may work for certain people at certain stages of life and health the majority of the extremes are not healthy long term.  Yes to avoiding your kryptonite.

Gluten

Today’s wheat is not the same as yesteryear’s wheat.  There are some people that have an autoimmune disorder  called celiac disease triggered by eating gluten.  An even greater number of people have an intolerance to gluten and the cumulative effects can cause grave health damage.  Those people should NEVER eat wheat/gluten containing grains.  It is their kyrptonite.  An excellent book which goes into detailed information on this is Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.  Better yet, here’s a summary.  My opinion is that modern wheat is not good for anyone however some people are better able to tolerate it and are fine in small amounts.  My husband is one of them and at age 66 has a gut like a cast iron skillet, I do not.  If this is your kryptonite avoid it.

Sugar

Sweet, sweet sugar.  Mmmmm.  Everyone loves a sweet treat now and again.  I do.  Can you have a reasonable portion of a relatively healthy dessert. . .   wait let’s define that. . . either homemade or made from ingredients that do not contain food dyes, high fructose corn sugar, partially hydrogenated fats and other chemicals.  i.e. homemade ice cream from raw cream, a cheesecake with organic ingredients and minimal gluten free flours etc without it causing cravings for more and more?  If you can great.  I am now to the point where I can; I can have a dessert or 2 a week without acting like a starved addict.  If you can’t–if after one bite you can’t sit still on the couch without going back and forth to the cabinet or refrigerator getting another cookie, another bite of chocolate or if you hide it in your gym bag, desk at work away from family, friends and co workers you may have problem.  Does it cause mood swings?  Sugar may be your kryptonite, avoid it.

alcohol

and drum roll please everyone’s favorite. . .  alcohol.  Well, depending on your physique, health and performance goals excessive alcohol isn’t going to help anyone but then again I did say ‘sustainable’.  Alcohol is a part of most everyone’s social gatherings, has been for centuries and will continue going forward.  Once again if you can drink moderately in social settings without setting off an addictive drive similar to the sugar scenario by all means indulge with your friends and family.   If you drink everyday, drink the whole bottle, pass out with memory lapses and worse yet get behind the wheel when you shouldn’t you may have a problem and this could be your kryptonite.  Avoid it.

Moral of the story:  can you control these substances?  Do you indulge so much that they have a negative effect on your body composition, health or performance?  Can you have a reasonable portion or do they create an addictive drive?  You know what the answers should be.  We don’t want to be weird but we don’t want to be stupid either.  Superheroes cannot afford to be vulnerable recognize your kryptonite.

What are You Eating For?

Performance

Performance

Those familiar with this blog have heard me ask that question in regards to training; it’s equally applicable to your nutrition.  The age old cliche ‘you are what you eat’ rings true in regards to what you eat has a bearing on the state of your mind, health and body composition.  At the start of every New Year CF Jaguar holds their annual Better than Before challenge.  This is a great experience especially for our newer members; but your nutritional habits and practices must extend far beyond a 30 day or 8 week challenge, they must become a lifestyle.

And they must be sustainable; one that you can practice and live with for the rest of your life.  Nutrition is no different than your workouts in that it must be practiced consistently and just like your training there are generally different reasons people are embarking on a nutritional journey.

The three main reasons we see people deciding to improve their nutritional lifestyle are to lose body fat, add muscle and change overall composition.  We all want to look good naked or with minimal clothing.  Others want to improve their health; their doctors have prescribed drugs with negative side effects for lifestyle related metabolic issues and many times a change in their nutrition will yield far greater results with zero side affects.  And then some people are performance driver.  Your food is your fuel and the right types and amounts will enable you to excel and reach your potential in your chosen sport.

Look good naked

Look good naked

First determine your goal — what you are eating for. Lose, gain, maintain, better health, better performance.  Be specific as “all of the above” is not an option.  Can you work on more than one at a time?  To a degree but not fully.  One will take precedence.  Most people will fall between a couple of categories.

No matter your goal four things are very important:  Quality, Quantity, Macros & Tracking

Quality:  what should you eat?  Real food.  It doesn’t come in a box, bag or container and it doesn’t come from a drive through.  It comes from the earth, from animals, birds and fish.  If it doesn’t rot or sprout do without.  Ideally your animals and birds should be pastured, your fish wild and your fruits and vegetables organic.  It’s a process; don’t miss the forest for the trees.  Follow these few simple rules and you’re off to a good start.

Quantity:  eat enough to support training and performance but not so much to support excess body fat.  Again, a pretty simple statement that bottom lines it.  Do calories matter?  While they are not the end all be all they definitely matter.  If your goal is to lose fat I don’t care how good the quality of your foods are.  Everything can be organic, pastured, grown and raised on a farm in your back yard; to quote Robb Wolf “if you’re eating like a starved hog” you’re not going to lose weight.  On the other end of the spectrum if your goal is to put on quality muscle and your subsisting on 1200 calories a day it ain’t going to happen either.

Improve your health

Improve your health

Macros:  every food consists of a a portion of fat, protein and carbohydrates.  While most foods are predominantly one of them they still contain fractional amounts of each.  Dependent upon your goals and health we need to pay attention to these as well as the quality and amounts.  Protein is essential for building muscle, cell repair and other functions.  Fat is an energy source and essential for other bodily function. Carbohydrates are another energy source and needed by the brain to function optimally.  Depending upon your goals, activity levels, state of health and individual genetics will determine the amounts of each needed.

Tracking:  you must initially track your nutritional input.  I can’t underestimate the importance of this; if you don’t know what and how much you’re eating you won’t know how it’s working or what to adjust.  You track the progress of your workouts right?  Food intake is no different.  Find an online food tracker such as FitDay or MyFitnessPal and get started.

Think about your training and nutrition goals for the next few days.  Write them down.  Our challenge starts Monday, January 19th and we’d like you to join us and follow along. We’ll be back next week with more information to help you become Better than Before!

Ham It Up this New Year

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Ok so it’s January the 4th.  Holy hell what happened?  I kept up really good through Thanksgiving but lo and behold December, travel and holiday prep got the best of me on keeping up with my blog.  It’s all good as I had a great trip, a great holiday and rang in the New Year with food, festivities and am looking forward to 2015; goals are established and plans/strategies to achieve are in place.

A little late on the posting of our New Year’s day meal but I want to share nonetheless and it will make a great dinner for the upcoming football weekends. . .

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When it comes to hams you can buy them smoked and pre cooked or you can buy a fresh ham.  When I called Whole Foods to order ours they told me they had “no packaged hams” only “fresh hams”.  I had never cooked a fresh ham before but why not.  We ordered one and the Jag picked it up on New Year’s eve.  I did have a slight bout of sticker shock.

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It certainly was a pretty ham; bone in, nice and pinkish and covered with a healthy layer of fat promising a crispy outer skin.

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Score the ham in a diamond pattern.  It’s not just for aesthetics; the delicious glaze will sink through the rind when the layer of fat is exposed.

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Put the rub on the ham, wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight.  Let stand at room temp one hour prior to baking.  Place the ham on a rack in a large roasting pan.

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When an instant read thermometer register 145 degrees the ham is done.

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Allow it to sit for 20 minutes before carving.

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I will admit I was a little nervous on cooking this ham; if I messed up a $53 piece of meat I was not going to be happy.  Would it be tender without covering?  Yes it was; I believe the layer of fat accomplished that.  And I was afraid of over cooking it thus ending up with dry tough meat.  The instant read thermometer solved that dilemma nicely.  As soon as it registered 145 I took it out.  And what you see here was nice tender, slightly pink fresh ham.

I still appreciate a good smoked ham which is what I remember growing up but the fresh ham has a taste all it’s own and well worth the time, $ and effort.  It won’t disappoint and I will make again.

We served with black eyed peas, rice and fresh steamed Brussels sprouts.  That’s our tradition for good luck in the coming year–enjoy!

Recipe & Ingredients

1, 7-10 pound fresh ham, bone in preferred
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grass fed butter, melted

Preparation

Score the outside of the ham in a diamond pattern.  Combine the spices in a small bowl and mix well.  Rub the ham with the spice mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook remove the ham from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature 1 hour before baking.Preheat oven to 425. Place the ham fat side up on the rack of a roasting pan.

Bake for 30 minutes and immediately reduce temperature to 325.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours longer.

Just to see where it’s at check the temperature with an instant read thermometer.  It should be somewhere between 100 and 115 degrees.  If it’s not, put back in the oven and check in around another 20 minutes or so.

Combine maple syrup, mustard and melted butter.  Turn your ham over fat side down and baste with glaze.  Cook for an additional hour basting with glaze every 20 minutes.  Check the temperature again.  You want to thermometer to register 145 degrees when inserted close to the bone.  If it’s not there continue to cook checking every 15-20 minutes as to not over cook it. If it’s getting too brown tent with foil. When you get there, the ham is done.  Remove from over and let stand 20 minutes before slicing.