Paleo Diet? They’re Extinct. You Know That, Right?

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Pa·le·o di·et: a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.

I was reading an article about the Paleo Diet and it began with “The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic!” Well it apparently didn’t do a whole lot for caveman genes ‘cause they’re extinct. And since acquiring a slab ‘o mastodon to hurl in a fire is incredibly difficult these days, the Gastroslacker knows to just move on.

 

outhouse Fad diets occupy a similar place in the Gastroslacker outhouse as another contemporary phenomenon, superfoods.

 

Superfood:a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.

 “Though there is no legal or medical definition, superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, and prolong life, and people who eat more of them are healthier and thinner than those who don’t.”~Health.com

In other words, “We can’t prove it scientifically, and you’ll probably sue our ass  off for making wildly improbable claims if you eat like we suggest and get really sick. So please, pay attention to our disclaimers, but not before you go nuts and spend next year’s food budget on Goji berries”superfoods

 Depending on whose blog post went viral on any particular day, super foods can be a berry, a grain, or better yet, exotic weed. The only requirement being  that it is native to a geographically inaccessible location such as Outer Mongolia or the deepest reaches of Papua New Guinea. I learned this from an article on a website that also offered tips on how to safely use a pressure washer. I kid you not.

Look I’m a Gastroslacker, I ain’t got the time or the money to eat healthy OR badly, day in and day out. I’m a sucker for a double decker cheeseburger loaded up with bacon and a side order of fries, I just can’t afford it three times a day. I like salads too, I just don’t want to marry their leafy little butts. And you bet I like vegetables, but I’ve seen the dirty, sordid secret of Veganism.vegan

In a weird kinda way I guess that’s called moderation.

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Grilled Cheese Domination

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OK, grilled cheese sandwiches don’t dominate, I mean why would they have to? Personally, if I were a grilled cheese sandwich I’d be content with my status as an iconic American comfort food.

There is simply no such thing as a bad grilled cheese sandwich. Folks who say otherwise are not likely to survive the coming zombie apocalypse so why even have them in your life? Even that 50’s suburban housewife version with two slices of American cheese on white bread is delicious.

grilled cheese

But I’m a Gastroslacker and every once in a while I like to amp it up, so here are some easy, inexpensive ways to bring the rock star to this classic sandwich.

Obviously, mix up your breads. Many grocery stores carry a phenomenal bread selection, some feature in store bakeries. Find a bread you like then take different cheeses, pile them on and boom!! You’re a grilled cheese zen master.

And since there are so many breads and cheeses to choose from you have an infinite number of combinations to amp up your next grilled cheese sandwich.

Need some more ideas to lead you to the grilled cheese promised land? Remember, Google is your friend. Here’s just one site with recipes for 50 different grilled cheese sandwiches. And don’t forget, in Gastroslacker land you are free to take ideas from more than one recipe and bring them together to create your own personal masterpiece.

But what I really wanted to do in this post is tell you about a cool little place I found in S. Ft. Myers on the way to the beach called…….

11eleven

To my knowledge, it’s the only restaurant in Ft. Myers with a rave review from Food Network star Alton Brown. And its mission is Comfort Classics Revisited.

“Think all of your childhood favorites – grilled cheese, waffles, baked potatoes, flatbread…and then think bigger.”

Here’s CHEF CHRISTA LEIGH describing the dining experience she wanted to create……

“Ubiquitous childhood staples are given new life within the confines of 11:eleven. Creative, interchangeable ingredients allow you to turn simple comfort foods into your newest craving. However, unlike the memories of childhood, at 11:eleven you have the choice of tapping into your inner chef. You are encouraged to use the ingredients as you see fit, customizing your creation to please your individual palette.”

Translated into Gastroslacker, that means you choose your toppings, then choose whether to have them on artisanal bread, waffle, pretzel, or baked potato. Its grilled cheese on steroids. And with a menu that’s both whimsical and filled with delightful surprises it’s a fun filled little slice of Gastroslacker heaven  that won’t break your bank.

Try it, you wont be disappointed, and tell ’em Gastroslacker sent you. (for hours and location go here)

Scratch Made VS Store Bought

You know you’re a Gastroslacker when you’ve figured out that ….

You don’t need a kitchen higher tech than Houston Mission control. houston

No one needs a spice cabinet larger than your average Walmart Superstore.wharehouse

Some vaguely food like objects have no reason to be in any recipe other than to brag you once cooked with them.weird veggie

And scratch made is not always better than store bought. In fact, you don’t need any of that to eat pretty good unless you THINK you do.

By now the Gourmands of this world are fixin to go all Bates Motel on us, but that’s another post.

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Now times a wastin, so lets get right into the scratch made vs store bought debate. Scratch made is usually more costly than store bought, seriously time consuming, and often yields far less than the effort invested warrants.

Take this recipe for scratch made mayonnaise. Leaving aside for a moment that it comes with a salmonella warning, it takes up to two weeks to finish it.

Really? I’m a Gastroslacker, I ain’t got time for that. I’ve got a ham and swiss sandwich calling to me right now.

“But, but, its all about the taste.” you say.

OK, lets go there.

I like my mayonnaise smooth, not tart. Guess what? There’s a store bought brand for that. In fact most grocery chains have a large enough selection of mayonnaise that unless you’re a Gourmand or a Foodie in the end stages of your addiction it won’t be hard to find one that fits your taste buds.

Wanna take your store bought mayonnaise to DefCon 4? Dude!! You’re a Gastroslacker! That’s a walk in the park for us. Mayonnaise is a blank canvas and we’re the artists.

Lets bring some heat to the plate. Scoop a cup of mayo into a bowl, add some ground black pepper, a dash of red pepper flakes, a touch of chili powder. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over it, store bought of course, for a citrussy touch, mix it well then cover it and let it sit in the fridge for an hour and BOOM! You got a sandwich spread fit for the Gods.

Take your mayonnaise south of the border with a dollop of your favorite salsa, some sour cream, chili powder, and ground pepper.

Got some parsley, chives, basil, and oregano hanging around? Mix them up with a cup or two of your favorite store bought mayonnaise and you’re the proud creator of an herb mayonnaise that goes great on anything you already use mayonnaise on.

These mayo’s are easy, fast, inexpensive, they taste great, and best of all you can make them with a bowl and a spoon. How cool is that?

Now you might notice that I don’t specify ingredient amounts in my so called “recipes”.  That’s cause I want to encourage you to experiment until you get it the way you like it. I did supply some links to recipes to help you get started, but really, you’re a Gastroslacker, man (or woman), and that’s a license to play.

Originally I was planning to get into all kinds of store bought goodies but I can see I’ll just have to roll ’em out over a series of posts. So that’s it, have some fun and stay tuned cause next time we’re going all Gastroslacker on grilled cheese, and while we’re at it we’re gonna visit a restaurant in SW Florida that takes grilled cheese to the moon and back.

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Unleash Your Inner Mac n Cheese

mac n cheese

 

Look, if you have Mac n Cheese for an inner child that’s just weird. Seriously. But that’s none of my business.

Mac n Cheese has been a staple of our diets since prehistoric men banded together to hunt and slay the mighty macaroni. Today it’s most visible on supermarket shelves in boxes with NEW!, IMPROVED!, written all over it. Surprisingly, many boxed Mac n Cheese brands are quite good and all a Gastroslacker needs to relieve the boredom is to jazz it up a little.

Of course, we start with bacon. Just before you’re about to pour the cheese sauce onto your pasta, add some bacon bits to the cheese then mix into the pasta as directed. It’s simple, inexpensive, and tasty. It might even be enough to rekindle the fire of your childhood love affair with Mac n Cheese.

bacon bits

Spoiler alert: Bacon adds great flavor to any dish including bacon, so what I’d suggest is that you fry a batch of bacon and crumble it into bits and store it in a container cause we’re gonna use it a lot. What I do is cut the bacon into pieces and then fry it, but it works fine either way.

Mac n Cheese is the greatest thing to happen to comfort food since fermented grapes, and that’s the reason why it lends itself so well to the Gastroslacker treatment. You can add veggies and meats in just about any combination you can dream of at minimum cost and in just a little time. So have at it, Mac n Cheese doesn’t have to be boring and neither do you.

 But…….

If every once in a while you find yourself with an extra ten bucks or so in your pocket and you want to take your Mac n Cheese dinner to DefCon 4 and serve it to adoring crowds, it’s all about the cheese, Baby!

cheese sauce

And it takes no more time or cooking skills than it does to crack open a box of store bought Mac n Cheese. All you need is a box of pasta, some butter, heavy cream, a little flour, and a couple of cups of the cheese you like best (I prefer grated parmesan and cheddar) and you’ve got a Mac n Cheese dinner so dreamy you might not want to share it.

And now my friend, you’re a little further into the Gastroslacker world. A world where you don’t have to be a five star chef to learn to enjoy food a little better, even if just occasionally.

Oh, and BTW, remember that cheese sauce trick. It works with just about anything that calls for melted cheese. You can take a cheese dog or cheeseburger and make it nuclear. I once made a cheesy broccoli and rice dish with it and had a hard time deciding whether to eat it or smear it all over me.

Next time we’re gonna talk about store bought vs made from scratch, if only to annoy the hell out of a gourmand.

 

This is Gastroslacker

There are four kinds of eaters.

First, we have the Gourmand. Anytime you overhear someone talking about fruity undertones in a cup of coffee you have stumbled across a gourmand. Their sentences are sprinkled with gourmandy words like bechamel, gastrique, and presentation. Gourmands are damn near insufferable.

Next come Foodies. Foodies are wannabe gourmands, always trying out recipes on their friends, watching food shows, and stockpiling cook books in case a food apocalypse is just around the corner.   Show them a shiny new garlic mincer and they vibrate like an Irish Setter puppy that just spotted a squirrel.

And then there are the Gastroslackers.  Gatsroslackers are comfortable with a bacon cheeseburger, but aren’t opposed to mixing it up once in a while (more on that later). Gastroslackers don’t have to know the culinary arts, they just have to be friends with someone that does, like a foodie.

Finally, you have the “Eats Pork and Beans from the Can” folks. Their idea of upscale dining is when their chicken nuggets come with Cheetos. We’re not going to talk about them.

Now I’m a Gastroslacker with faint traces of Foodie in me. I like watching the Food Channel but don’t have the net worth it takes to have a Gourmand equipped kitchen or a pantry stocked with exotic vegetables, meats, or a spice cabinet bigger than a warehouse. I don’t care how good a meal sounds, if it costs more to prepare than it would to fund a child’s education, it ain’t gonna happen in my house.

 So how does a Gastroslacker on a limited budget and a kitchen the size of an ashtray get himself a good meal? It’s simple really, mix it up.

Let me illustrate. Take the simple hot dog. Who doesn’t love a wiener on a bun slathered with mustard? I was raised on them and they’re still good in my book. But once in a while I want a wiener with some pizzaz that doesn’t require an entire ecosystem to be sacrificed at my altar. Next time just add bacon, cause bacon goes good with anything (including more bacon). The trick is in not using an entire slice of bacon that simply overwhelms the wiener. Crumble the bacon into bits and one strip of bacon can power up as many as four dogs. It’s delicious and you should try it.

So that’s what this blog is all about, how to eat well, to take simple foods and jazz ‘em up a bit for variety. Often a recipe has just one element that can transform a dish without having to use the whole recipe. In short, you can enrich your diet whenever and however you want.

 

Plus, we’re going to visit some local SW Florida joints to see what the crirics are missing, take a look at some store bought stuff that violates one of the seven deadly gourmet sins (not made from scratch) but are just flat ridiculously tasty.

 

I hope you come back next week cause were gonna go all Gastrolacker on mac ‘n cheese.