Thursday, October 8, 2015

I Know... Crazy, Right!

Pork Carnitas "Tacos" with Sauteed Peppers and Curtido
I started following Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less on Facebook a few months ago because in addition to struggling to keep my eating under control, I may or may not have a spending problem. *sigh* I know, I know. I'm shameless. I have several theories why I'm like this, but I'll save that for my therapist! Anyway, so I saw Ruth's book and website and thought she might have some wisdom I could glean. Well, as you can imagine, when she offered up her program Living Well Spending Zero (LWSZ) at the beginning of September I signed up! Then we started Whole 30... the week before the LWSZ program was supposed to start. Whoops! I didn't put it all together until we were totally committed to the Whole 30. I didn't want to flake out or make yet another excuse to not do it, so I decided since I had already committed to LWSZ I would just jump in and do both! I know... Crazy, right!

The idea of spending ZERO is super intimidating. And since we are on Whole 30 it's not like I can just pull out whatever's been in the back of my freezer for dinner (I'm talking about you Al Pastor from Christmas last year!), or the 20 cans of beans I found in my pantry. Seriously, why do I need so many cans of beans?! Fortunately the LWSZ program accounts for necessary food spending and things you've already committed to. *Phew!* We decided to set a reasonable, not too tight but not too spendy, budget for ourselves, and gave ourselves a very modest Costco budget. And you know what? So far so good. I actually went to Costco and only spent $40!!! Can you believe it?! That NEVER happens! Just the necessities: eggs, broccoli, bananas, almond milk, and napkins. I was so proud. So were my boys. Aren't they the cutest!
I only spent $40 at COSTCO!!

Honestly, I thought this would be much harder than it has been, both challenges really. I mean we had already started eating much cleaner and eliminating a lot from our diets so that helped a lot with the diet, but I had not been cutting back on spending at all. I had been thinking about the challenge and trying to prepare myself mentally, but that's about all the preparation I did. Funny thing, I woke up on October 1st and thought, "I want to go shopping!" So far that's the extent of my withdrawal.

What I've found is that I am an emotional eater/shopper. When I'm stressed or when I don't get enough sleep (thanks little man for keeping me up all last week!), or when I feel uncertain or sad or insecure, I eat. Or I shop. Or I do both. Boo. It's something that kills me on the inside. I know that I should run to Jesus, but I avoid getting intimate and allowing Him to deal with the issue at hand. I want to be better but if I'm honest I find that healing hurts. It's uncomfortable to change.

But I feel like I've been ready for change for a long time. Obviously, since I've been talking about Whole 30 for a year now! Now though, my heart is ready for change. And I think that is what I'm learning here in this first week of LWSZ. I'm ready. I'm ready to move forward. I'm ready to take action. I'm ready to change.

In this first week of our spending freeze we have spent barely more than a third of what we had spent last month by this time. One week and I have already saved almost $650. Wow, that seems like a lot. I told you I have a problem. Last month we had already eaten out three times, I had one Starbucks run, our Costco bill was like "add a zero" to what I spent this month, and there were about 8 shopping trips divided between Home Goods, Michaels, Ross, and Marshalls. Wow! I'm tired just thinking about it. So, yeah. Now it's out there. And I'm glad. It's freeing. And more than that it's empowering to know that I don't have to go running all over town buying up whatever I can find to be happy. (In my defense, I was decorating for Fall, and Hubby had given me a budget to decorate our bedroom. Just sayin'!)

Over the weekend we had to figure out what to do with ourselves other than go out to eat and go shopping. Yeah, it's pretty much tradition. We watched movies with the boys. We went to the park. And we made the most delicious carnitas! I served them with curtido (Salvadorean coleslaw, as I like to call it), and sauteed peppers and onions, in lettuce cups. OMIGOSH! They were so good! I found this recipe on Host the Toast, which I adapted for the ingredients on hand. Delicious and thrifty!

These Lettuce Wrap Carnitas Tacos are kid approved!

Here's my recipe for Braised Pork Carnitas:

1 (4-5 lb) lean boneless Pork Roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3" chunks
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1-2 cups Green Chile Salsa with tomatillos (the kind from Trader Joe's is good!)
1 large White Onion, diced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Chipotle in Adobo, from can, chopped, plus 1 teaspoon sauce
2½ teaspoons Cumin (I just put in a couple palmfuls because it adds so much flavor!)
1½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper (and some garlic powder if you've got it!). Add the olive oil to a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot add the meat. Let it sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until brown. Cook the meat in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan.

Throw the meat into the slow cooker once it has seared on all sides. On top of the meat add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir it up after about 3 or 4 hours to make sure all the meat is in the liquid.

After about 6 hours check the meat to see if it is ready. You're looking for tender meat that shreds easily. You'll know if it's ready when it falls apart with just a little tug. Taste for seasoning. It may need more salt and pepper. Turn the broiler in your oven on high and make sure your oven rack is in the top 1/3 of the oven. Shred the meat and put it in a single layer on a sheet tray.

Now here's the magic: pour some of the broth from the slow cooker over the meat and put it in the oven to broil for 5 minutes. Now pour some more broth over and broil for another 3-5 minutes. You want the meat to start to crisp up and brown on the top. I had to do the full extra 5 minutes, and then a little longer with the oven door cracked. Basically you're getting crispy carnitas without having to fry them! I know! Brilliant!!

Once it's browned serve it up on your favorite mode of transportation into your mouth! What's your favorite taco shell?

*P.S. Sorry for all the blog look changes! I'm not crazy, just like to redecorate. ;-D

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