Monday, November 7, 2011

Weeks 8 & 9: Still Going Strong

Hi all! I'm sorry I missed blogging last week. I have a cranky toddler who is teething and didn't sleep much. Poor little guy. Molars aren't fun coming in, but they sure will expand his food repertoire soon! Thankfully, he's feeling better this week.

Right now, Nicholas is about 50% Paleo. He's 14 months old and no longer breastfed. (I wish I'd found the Primal lifestyle sooner or he might still be!) He eats what I do at home for the most part, with the additions of Cheerios and the occasional graham cracker. At daycare, he eats the regular food provided there. I could send stuff in and insist he eat that, and may do that in the future, but I'd rather work on improving the food at home first for my whole family.

Lately, we've had an extremely tight food budget to work with. Somehow we managed to feed everyone and I was able to stay Paleo for just $61 total- stretched out over two weeks! We dug into the freezers, used up the last of the farmer's market produce, and have been trying to polish off the remainder of the garden produce that I cleared out two weeks ago. We've had lots of stuffed peppers, salsa and other goodies! I don't think my family has noticed we were so tight, with the exception that there weren't a lot of snack foods floating around the house. There rarely are, though. We try to keep the fruit bowl filled on the dining room table to encourage healthy snacks.

This week's budget is much better! (I'm still up to my eyeballs in tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins!) I stocked up at Aldi, which is still my favorite store for many basics, and was surprised to find some Paleo-friendly offerings there! For instance, did you know their canned tuna and salmon are wild caught? Or that their milk is hormone-free? Yes, it's still pasteurized (and technically not Paleo per se), but it's a vast improvement over what you get in other stores- and cheaper! I'll be blogging about my finds this week. I found a great blog call the Aldi Spot that follows their prices, special buys and other deals there. It's worth checking out.

I also picked up some hormone-free, antibiotic-free, additive-free steaks from Alwan and Sons Meat Company here in Peoria. They have great meat. It's still grain fed, but a great alternative to the store fare, which is loaded with all kinds of garbage, including ammonia and carbon dioxide. It's crazy what the FDA is allowing stores to put into our food supply, especially the meat. For an eye opening peek behind the food industry's veil of secrecy, check out the movie Food Inc. It's a good introduction to the issues Big Ag and Big Food doesn't want you to know about. (Netflix and Amazon Prime have it for streaming. You can also find it through your local library.) I've pledged to buy my meat locally, from a butcher or farmer as much as possible. I'm still researching the best way to purchase a side of grass fed beef and will post my findings as I learn more.

Anyhow, we made a delicious stuffed flank steak that's "almost-Paleo" (it has cheese and salami in it). It's a family favorite that everyone loves and it's so easy! (I'll be posting that one soon.) I seem to cook a lot gateway meals for my non-Paleo guys, who are quickly becoming converts! They don't mind eating a delicious, healthy hunk of meat along with some veggies. They still snack on grains, which I try not to keep in the house.

My oldest son, who is 21, is really struggling with digestive issues lately. He's always had trouble with milk products, but seems to be much worse. His father also has digestive problems (and refuses to even see a doctor for it, which floors me). I've suggested he keep a food log and read my copy of The Primal Blueprint. I think Mark Sisson does a great job of explaining the Primal\Paleo approach that's liveable. He recently released the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge which I bought (with my Amazon gift cards from my Swagbucks, of course!). I'm hoping these books will help my son to be healthier and happier.

Personally, I'm going strong as I enter my 9th week of Paleo eating and have lost 15 pounds! Allergy season for me is done, and really wasn't bad at all. People have been sick around me for a couple of weeks, at work and home, but I've felt just fine. I am happily 90/10 or 80/20 most of the time. I don't tend to eat things that you'd consider cheats, but occasionally will have rice with my food or potatoes. I am not even tempted to eat wheat in any form, or sugar for that matter. I did have a caramel apple for Halloween and felt sick about 2 hours later. It still tasted GREAT, but I didn't like the after effects. I'll stick with my fruit salads!

I also had some champagne and a small slice of the topper from my wedding cake as my husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. The cake didn't taste all that great, but I enjoyed the moment and didn't feel guilty at all. Next year I'll make a Paleo cake and knock his socks off! I'm really lusting after a copy of Make It Paleo by Bill and Haley from the Food Lover's Primal Palate website! They have some awesome cakes in there!

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to the holidays this year. Perhaps because I have more energy, I'm not sure. For Thanksgiving, I'm thinking about buying a locally raised turkey from Yordy Turkey Farm in Morton. They are well known locally for having excellent turkeys. Their prices aren't bad either- $2.29 /lb for a 20 lb or bigger bird. I believe they are allowed to run free (need to check but I think I've seen farm tours on the news where they are running all over the place.) They are raised without hormones and are fed grain grown on the same farm. They are also packaged with no preservatives or additives. That sounds like a great place to start, and I can't wait to try them out! Stay tuned!

I hope you all are having a great week! Please feel free to post and tell us how you're doing, what you're working on and what new things you're learning and experiencing!
 Kim :)

PS. The weather has been so blah here, I haven't exercised hardly at all! Time to kick myself in the butt and get to the gym!

PSS. Please note that I don't have an Amazon affiliate because I live in the lovely state of Illinois (which passed an Amazon tax this year). I post links to books I like and recommend. I don't make any money off of them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Week Seven: The Balancing Act

Hiking with baby last weekend!
It's been seven weeks now since I started eating a Paleo\Primal diet. I'm losing an average of 1.5-2 pounds a week and feeling great is pretty normal. The only thing I wish I could change is my level of stress. Unfortunately, eating Paleo doesn't make stress magically go away. It will make it easier to deal with. For the past two weeks, most of my efforts have been thwarted by a lack of money, time, or ability to complete a thought because either something is falling apart, the baby is taking something apart, or some other crisis has reared its ugly head.

Oh, the joys of motherhood. And work. And life in general. Funny though, I've had plenty of energy to deal with it all. Maybe not enough patience, but definitely energy. I'm finding that I really need to work out to deal with my stress levels. The problem is, every time I bring my gym bag so I can work out over lunch, I get a call from daycare telling me my son has yet another fever and I must not only pick him up but usually have to keep him at home the next day. Argh. That happened again today.

There are just some things from our modern day life we can't eliminate. My job is to troubleshoot problems all day, and I'm pretty good at it. There is some stress that naturally comes with it. There's plenty that comes with being a mother to four boys. And there's quite a bit involved with being married to a mechanic (trust me on that one!) In short I feel like I'm always troubleshooting, day and night!

There's also financial stress that won't go away anytime soon unless we win the lottery. Student loans that being paid back, a debt management plan in full swing, child support, daycare...the list goes on! The bills do get paid. There's food on the table. But never much extra of anything. We're thankful for what we have and know this phase of our lives won't last forever. Some days, it does seem that way though.

On the bright side, I've been researching local grass fed meats and will be blogging about it as I learn more. I found a local butcher called Pottstown Meat & Deli that sells them and I can buy it directly from the same farms as well. This is a nice baby step - I can preview the meats before buying a side of beef. I found a surprising array of local pork, beef, chicken, turkey and even buffalo there! Most are pastured. They also carry local, organic eggs and milk.

They also sell the cheaper cuts of meat, so I was able to make my first grass fed purchase for a whopping $12. I was stoked! I found buffalo neck bones for 1.99/lb and beef tongue for 2.99/lb. I thought about trying the Beef Tongue Taco Bites from Primal Palate that looked good. I'm just hoping I can get past how that tongue looks. *shudder*

I made the neck bones into a beef stew tonight that was pretty good. I'd like to tweak the recipe before I post it, since I think I can get more flavor out of it if I cook it differently next time (forgot to do things like braising first!) I cleared the garden I shared with a friend this summer, and had plenty of goodies to throw in the stew, along with a few farmer's market finds. Yum.

I also cooked up the last of the farmer's market squashes- delicata and buttercup. Delicious! I'll post recipes soon. There's tons more to write about and share, just not always enough time! Where does the day go?

Anyhow, I hope you all are having a healthy, happy and primal week!
Kim :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Foods for Thought: The Great Disconnect

Since I adopted a Paleo\Primal way of eating, I've been researching alternative sources to conventionally produced foods. Having access to good, wholesome food shouldn't be hard, or expensive, though at first glance it sure seems that way. But as I started to dig, I was surprised by the options in my own backyard that I didn't know existed. I have lived here for over 20 years,. How could I not know about the lady down the road with the fresh herbs and eggs, or the farmer two towns over whose family not only runs a fantastic CSA at a low price, but has published books on the joys and trials of keeping that farm going?

I was also floored by how bad some of my choices really are for myself and my family. That whole grains weren't so wholesome, and some fats are actually good. That so much of what's supposed to be "healthy" breaks down into glucose and keeps us on a never-ending hamster wheel of blood sugar highs and lows that eventually leads to diabetes. 

I had an inkling of how poorly conventional livestock are treated in their short and miserable lives, but I was truly ignorant about the genetically engineered, heavily sprayed corn that surrounds my town and just about every other one in Illinois. I was also ignorant of the plight of small farmers who must either yield to Big Ag and their insane patent threats, or be driven out of business. It's overwhelming at times to even know where to begin to rectify it all.

As I drove by these fields today, I found myself amazed at just how disconnected I've been about where my food comes from, how it's produced and who's producing it. I thought I lived in the land of plenty. In reality, I live in the land of frankenfoods.

Was I stupid or just asleep? How did I become so disconnected from what I feed myself and my family?

1. I believed our food supply was safe. Most of us grow up being told we should eat our food and clean our plate, because there are starving people in China, Africa, or wherever. We are lucky to have food, so eat up. What's important is that we have food on the table, not where it comes from. Right?

But the sheer numbers and sizes of food recalls over the past decade are a wake up call to all of us. Why should anyone- adult or child- die from eating a hamburger or a piece of cantaloupe? Clearly our food supply is not as safe as we've been led to believe.

And repeated requests for transparency in the food industry often go unanswered. In documentary, after documentary, food companies declined even to be interviewed, let alone filmed. What are they hiding? And why should we continue to buy their products if they don't want us to see the basic conditions those products are made in? I would think a company that takes pride in its product would welcome customers with open arms to come see how their food is made. But more often than not, the reality is just the opposite.

2. I believed I was making healthy choices for myself and my family. Who hasn't heard about the evils of cholesterol and the praises of low fat diets and whole grains? How could we possibly know that the very things we were being told to eat might actually be contributing or even the causing our health problems?

A good portion of what we've been told about health for the past 50 years is based on biased studies or misinterpreted data. Sometimes the results were skewed to the viewpoint of  whoever funded the study. How is that still considered research? It sounds more like advertising to me.

Thankfully, there are independent studies and researchers that can't be bought. It's interesting to see what they are finding as they go back through the studies and data for another look. What they are finding contradicts EVERYTHING we've been told for decades. There are some big dollars at stake for the industries who have benefited from the misinformation of the past. You better believe they won't back down without a fight.

Some examples:
  • Check out the push back to the recently released book, "Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis. The Wheat Council and the Whole Grains Council have practically declared war on the man for suggesting genetically modified wheat may be the cause of many modern day illnesses, including celiac disease, diabetes and obesity.
  • Go back through any of the media blowback against Dr. Atkins for daring to say that fat was not making America fat. That it was most likely carbs. Today, low-carb diets are well accepted and there's an increasing volume of independent studies to back them up, but 10 years ago, the media had a field day villifying the Atkins diet. 
  • Non-food related: Check out what Dr. Sears has to say about SIDS studies funded by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (the companies that make cribs) and the pervasive misinformation about the family cosleeping, a common practice in many other countries.
In essence, what we've been sold as health news isn't news at's advertising, cleverly disguised as studies and statistics.

3. I never thought about it much. Keeping food on the table is hard enough as an adult. Getting food into your children is extra hard sometimes as a mom. And then trying to keep everyone fed (especially with teenagers!) is a challenge. I'd just point my car to the store, look for the best deals and throw them into my cart without a thought as to where it came from. I am ashamed to say that I spent many, many hours tracking sales, organizing coupons and searching out grocery stores to stretch my money, but not once did I think to spend any time tracing where my food came from, how it was raised, and who raised it. Occasionally I'd throw something marked "organic" in my cart, but that was the extent of it. 

But let's face it, once we step inside the grocery store, most of us are on autopilot. That's not by accident. Grocery store "music" is designed to make us relax and shop longer. Displays and shelves are set up to entice impulse buys. Candies and snacks are set at a child's eye level near the registers to encourage the emotional blackmail that ensues when they see them. Talk about leverage!

Product packaging promotes the idea that everything inside is fresh off some farm. But it's just a suggestion, not reality. Meat and produce are enhanced with colors, solvents and gases to make us think they're fresh and wholesome. Nevermind that the meat may be starting to spoil; and the produce was picked early, artificially ripened and in some cases waxed, then shipped hundreds, even thousands of miles to reach the store, and then left on display for who knows long.

We are deceived and manipulated by appearances and encouraged to let our appetites and impulses drive our shopping choices, rather than our conscience. Information is purposely withheld or convoluted to prevent us from making choices or believing we even have choices! They call this "marketing". They should just call it what it is, lying and cheating!

4. Most profoundly, I was never really connected in the first place. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. We occasionally drove by a farm, but the only time I ever visited one was on a field trip. The origins of my food were never even a blip on my radar! I discovered a love for gardening as an adult, but mainly as a hobby, not a necessity.

What's sad is that most of the farms around me now are not growing anything humans could eat. The crops must be highly processed or fed to animals before anyone can consume them! Sadly, I never made the connection between the fields outside and my dinner table inside until recently.

Our Legacy 

There's a part of me that's very angry about all of this. I feel like I'm waking up from a bad dream. (Like that Matrix guy that would do anything for a real steak.) I look around and so many people are still asleep. And not just about their food supply. Call them Food Zombies, Political Zombies, whatever you like.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks! All is well. Go back to sleep!

But I can't go back to sleep. I'm tired of being lied to, misled and downright deceived. I want the truth- untwisted, unbent. Just the plain, hard, lovely truth in all its nakedness and ugliness and vulnerability. I ache for its simple, powerful ability to shine through all the lies and get to the core of what really matters. Does it even exist any more? Or did we kill it completely for the sake of making a buck and a catchy jingle? I believe it still does, and. I'm ready and willing to make whatever changes it takes to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

I look at my children and wonder what kind of legacy we are leaving for them. I don't want to leave them a world full of toxins, frankenfoods, debt, and disease. If nothing changes, what will they have to hope for and look forward to? Childhood obesity? Juvenile diabetes? Heart disease at age 20? A drastically shortened lifespan? What happened to wanting the best for our children and how did we end up so far from that goal?

The Greatest Disconnect

Finally, I think we're disconnected from far more than our food sources. We've certainly lost our connection with nature. That's not the price of progress, it's the price of stupidity and arrogance. There are several movements currently attempting to regain that connection, such as clean eating, sustainable agriculture, ancestral health and even veganism. There is a sense of loss in all of these movements (as well as others) and an attempt to restore what's missing.

But the problem runs deeper. We are disconnected not only from creation but from the Creator as well. We forget why we're here and where we come from. We are driven to accumulate money and things at the expense of everything else in our lives. Often too late, we realize they never really mattered in the first place. Somewhere along the way, we lost site of what was really important -our relationships- with our family, friends, planet and Creator.

I think we need to do a huge reassessment of how we live our lives and make better choices, even if they are painful ones. Nothing will ever change if we don't. We'll continue to pollute the earth, our food supply, our children and ourselves with far more than just bad food choices. We'll pollute them with bad life choices too.

With that said, this series is about making better choices for ourselves, our families, our country and our world. To live thoughtfully and leave this earth better than we found it. Big change starts one person and one decision at a time. It starts right now. Won't you join me? Together, we can start a "Great Reconnect".

Quick Update: Foods for Thought Series

I've spent some time this week researching what will be a series of articles called "Foods for Thought". They'll be about our food choices and the food supply- conventional, local, and everything in between. The first ones will be on grass fed meats; how to buy them, where, what's a good price, etc. There's a lot more to it than I originally thought, and it's all very interesting.

But there's also a deeper story at work here, that is touching several nerves (at least in me) about why I've gone Paleo\Primal, and how to practice what I am beginning to preach. I will try to get these articles up as soon as possible, because I do think it's important information. In fact, I think it's so important, that I've actually registered a domain and added another blog to cover the topic in the future if necessary.

But I don't pretend to be an authority. I just want to share my thoughts and what I'm learning and would love to hear yours as well. Please feel free to comment on any post you see on my blog. I don't want this to be a one-sided conversation, especially in the next few weeks as I get these articles up. Some of these issues are tough, but timely. The only way we can change what is going on in our country, and in our world, is one person and one family at a time. And if we don't do that now, when will we do it?

Lots of "food for thought". Please share your thoughts below or on any of my articles!
Kim :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Week Six: Holding Steady

I'm in my sixth week of Paleo and going strong! I've been at it since September 5th, and have never felt least until Aunt Flo visited with a vengeance. Every once in a while she really knocks me out, and apparently it was my turn (I hardly noticed last month.) In celebration, I've been hitting the Brownie Batter Smoothies pretty hard. Maaaan, are they gooood!

They're a little carb heavy, so needless to say I haven't lost much weight drinking them but haven't gained it either. They are especially good made with butternut squash or banana squash, which I tried for the first time last week. Delicious! I also tried Asian Pears and they are absolutely amazing, especially in a fruit salad.

Not all my new eating adventures went well. I made turnips for the first time ever and didn't peel deep enough. Apparently there is some bitter threshold you must peel past to have the nice, mild, peppery sweet taste they are known for. All I got was a mouthful of bitterness that left me shuddering. I'm trying to summon up the courage to try them again! All of it's great fodder for future articles. I have TONS of ideas (and energy), just need to find the time to write them all up!

Overall, eating Paleo is definitely becoming easier. I reach for fruit and veggies, and try to make sure there's always some cooked meats or eggs on hand. I don't even notice or crave wheat and sugar based items.  And who would when I get to eat such awesome foods? I took a few pictures (below), I couldn't help myself. (Click each one for a bigger picture.)

Apple, Nut & Dried Cranberries
Pears, Figs & Pecans
Pecan-Crusted Fish, Sauteed Mushroom & Veggies
Sticky Chicken, Sauteed Onions & Peppers

I mean, really. With food like this, who wants to eat anything that leaves you feeling bloated and nasty? I eat well, sleep well, and my usually awful fall allergies are barely noticeable. I can keep up with my toddler, who is into everything, wakes me up at night and picks up every sniffle from daycare (I'm working towards getting him as Paleo as possible too!) I work in health care and people are sick around me, but I feel fine. I have energy and smile all the time. If it never gets better than this, that's perfectly fine with me!

Hope you have a wonderful and HEALTHY week!
Kim :)

PS. I'm down 12 pounds since I started and my size 12's are starting to become loose. All while eating these awesome foods! I'm in love!

Found Money: 12 Ways to Fund Your Paleo Lifestyle

Paleo and Primal living can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Often, there are ways to either bring in more income or shift existing income from something that is no longer important into your new priorities and values. These techniques can be applied to anything, but I'm going to show you how I'm doing it to support and enhance a Paleo\Primal way of living and eating.

  1. Amazon- I have gone through my cookbooks and weeded out the ones that really don't apply. I don't plan on using Martha Stewart's baking bible or a book on artisan breads any longer. I didn't use them much to begin with. As I sell my stash of non-applicable or non-touched books, I'm putting that money into building a paleo-friendly library. I "audition" the books I'm interested in by checking them out from the library. If I really love them, I find them used on Amazon or and bookmark them. When I sell my old stuff, I buy my new stuff.
  2. Swagbucks- You can earn Swagbucks for searching, clicking on ads, filling out surveys, using coupons and making purchases online. They add up quickly, and can be used to redeem gifts cards to places like Amazon and Paypal. Since May, I've earned over $60, which I've used to buy diapers, Paleo cookbooks and Paleo foods. They have quite a selection, and it's an especially good deal if you combine with Subscribe and Save items. (Think coconut oil, real maple syrup, Enjoy Life chips and more.) To earn points, I mostly search, find bonus codes, and click on ads or tv spots. Check them out here.
  3. Ebay- A no brainer- your trash may be someone else's treasure. Perhaps you're simplifying and got some knicknacks that might bring in some $$$. I'm a kitchen gadget freak. I'm selling the ones I no longer need- such as my pasta machine. That money will go towards things that will enhance my paleo kitchen- perhaps a mandolin slicer, a new cast iron skillet or a bag of almond flour.
  4. Side jobs- Is there something you're really good at and can do for cash? I fix computers on the side. I often get a decent stream of side jobs, but pick and choose since I have a baby and my time is limited. I recently fixed someone's computer and was able to fund my reward for losing 10 pounds- a new pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They retail at $100, don't go on sale (yet), and there are no coupons for them. But they are wonderful shoes, and I'm glad I was able to raise some extra $$$ for my pair.
  5. Cut something else-is there another area of your budget you can cut back or eliminate to fund the things you want? In the past, I've cancelled cable tv and bought an indoor HD antennae that gets most of the channels we'd ever want to watch. I've also been able to move over to a company cell phone due to the type of work I do. I've also cancelled my landline and gone with skype for my home phone. These savings were then put into other areas- groceries, Christmas, etc.
  6. Barter and Trade- Can you trade services for produce from a friend's garden? Or eggs or meat from a local farmer? No money changing hands also means no taxes to pay! That can save you 10% right there, depending on where you live. Swap kids' clothes with friends who have kids older or younger than yours to save $$$. Several of us are losing weight at work, so we swap business clothes!
  7. Get it cheaper- Shop Goodwill, yard sales, eBay and Craig's list to get non-food items cheaper. As I'm losing weight, I fill in the gaps of my clothing needs with clothes from Goodwill. I don't want to spend much until I'm at my goal weight! Last year, when I got married, I shopped there and found all of the suits my sons wore, a petticoat for my wedding dress and heart shaped dishes to put floating candles in. I purchased many of my wedding decorations from Craigslist. We spent very little and had a fabulous wedding!
  8. Share-I couldn't garden this year because I'm in a rental, so I shared one with a friend, helping weed and pitching in for seeds, plants, mulch, etc. As I'm researching grass-fed beef, I'm asking friends if they'd like to go in on a cow with me (they call it "cowpooling" lol). 
  9. Get it Free-Instead of buying, borrow books from the library, tools from friends, etc. Don't be shy about asking, just put the word out. Just make sure you're willing to return the favor by loaning things out as well. Just don't forget to write them down so you can remember where they went!
  10. Do it Yourself- Save money by fixing things yourself, mowing your own grass, shoveling your own driveway, cutting your hair, etc. 
  11. Renewable Resources- Invest in items that don't have to be replaced and/or renew themselves. Buy heirloom seeds for your garden and save them from year to year. Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones. Use cloth napkins and towels instead of paper ones (in fact, you can replace most paper items with fabric ones like our grandparents used). Any area where you can eliminate additional purchases frees up money that can be shifted into the things you want. Like grassfed beef! Or farm fresh eggs! Or a CSA subscription!
  12. Give- Call it Karma or whatever you like, I believe the Lord blesses those who share. What better way to make more room in your life for more of His blessings than to give to others? Right now, I've been "blessed" with way too many clothes and other assorted items. I am passing them on to those who need them more. I know that every act comes back to haunt me, good and bad. Though this strategy won't raise money, it will free you to enjoy your life more, make more room for the things that matter, and help you let go of what doesn't. The peace that comes from giving is priceless! And it also invites the same thing back into your life- gifts from others of things you need, when you need them.
What ways have you found to afford the things you love? Please share your ideas and tips with us below!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's In Season: Fall

One of the easiest and oldest tricks for eating well on a budget is to eat in season.Whether you grow your own food, buy it at the farmer's market or shop at the grocery store, you'll often get the freshest food at the lowest price if you catch it in season.

Here in Illinois,our growing season is coming to a close, but boy do we go out with a bang! Local orchards offer all kinds of apples, grapes, and pumpkins for picking. Farmer's markets offer a dizzying array of melons, squashes, greens, corn, crucifers, root veggies and herbs. Many grain and pasture-fed animals are butchered in the fall (as well as spring). And there are so many things available to plant for next year- flowers, fruit trees and more.

If you have a root cellar or cool basement, many fall veggies and fruit keep especially well. You might also consider canning, drying or freezing the surplus to get you through the winter. Those who are lucky enough to have cold frames can keep growing through a good portion of the winter. One of my favorite gardening personlities, Eliot Coleman, does this in Maine of all places! It's a dream of mine to grow things like he does. Check out his book, The Four Season Harvest, to learn more about how he does it. (He has a couple of excellent ones on year-round, organic gardening.)

Here's a list of what's in season in my area (your mileage may vary):

Bell Pepper
Brussel Sprouts
Squash (winter and last of summer)
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Turnips (and other root veggies)
Wild Mushrooms

Here are some resources to help you find out what's in season near you, where to get it and what to make:

Eat the Seasons
Sustainable Table
Local Harvest
Local in Season
Simply in Season Fruit and Vegetable Guide
Government Fruits and Veggies site
CUESA- Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (Excellent site!)
CUESA Seasonal Fruit and Nut Chart
CUESA Seasonal Vegetable Chart
Eat Local Simple Steps
Eat Local Challenge
Primal Toad: Leveraging the Farmer's Market to Save Money

Simply in Season
The Victory Garden Cookbook
From Seed to Table
From Seed to Skillet
Serving up the Harvest
Eat Local Simple Steps

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brownie Batter Smoothie

Sometimes, we just want some chocolate. Or chocolate cake. Or brownies. Especially, at certain times! How about something that tastes like brownie batter? Mmmm.

This recipe started as many of mine do- as a wild concoction of what I have on hand. It turned out surprisingly good! The ingredients may throw you, but the chocolate overpowers the milder flavors of the squash and banana. They really aren't noticeable but give a good texture- like cake or brownie batter! The chips and pecans reinforce the brownie-like taste of this smoothie. I didn't add ice because I loved the consistency, but you could if you wanted it to be more like ice cream (and avoid the temptation to stop at Dairy Queen!)

1 cup cooked winter squash- pumpkin, acorn, or butternut (I used butternut)
1 1/2 cups almond, coconut milk or milk of choice (I used almond and a little whole milk)
1-2 tsp Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 small banana
1-2 tsp Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
1-2 tsp pecans
sweetener of choice- Stevia, Honey, or Splenda (I used Splenda)
  1. Whirl together squash, milk and cocoa. Add banana and blend some more. 
  2. Add mini chips and pecans, blend again.
  3. Sweeten to taste with sweetener of choice. I rarely ever use artificial sweeteners, but I thought this one was good with Splenda in it. 
Makes 2-3 very filling servings.

  • Refrigerated, cooked winter squash is best for this recipe to get the right consistency. Hence, it's a great way to use up leftovers!
  • People who eat a lot of sugar and junk food probably won't like this. I've noticed my taste and tolerance for sweet stuff and other things has changed a lot since I went Paleo and completely took those things out of my diet. 
  • You could freeze this, perhaps even in ice cube trays or popsicle molds to keep handy when you're having one of "those" days and need a chocolate fix! Just whirl in the blender or let it come to room temperature or eat as a popsicle. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week Five- Things I've Learned

Last week was a strange week. I spent most of it tired, fighting off the illnesses that everyone else around me had. Interestingly enough, I never got sick! My weight fluctuated up and down, which was annoying. I had a day or two of a few cheats- an organic granola cookie, a piece of homemade breakfast pizza, some mashed potatoes and gravy...nothing earth shattering. Strangely, I lost weight instead of gaining it!

Here are a few of the interesting lessons I'm learning:

  1. Make sure you're getting enough calories- I've been plugging in my foods into The Daily Burn for about two weeks, and was surprised to see that some days I was getting less than 1000 calories. I was fine on fat and carbs, but needed more protein and calories. I think that's the real reason my weight loss stopped. I simply wasn't getting enough. Interesting enough, when I added the calories of my small "cheats", I started losing again!
  2. Try not to be too legalistic about being Paleo- I like what Kurt Harris at Archivore says about the Paleo\Primal diets- that it's not a reenactment, but an example that we can pattern our diets after. Our ancestors were adaptable, as we should be. Perfectionism isn't healthy.
  3. An 80/20 approach may be more comfortable than 100% Paleo- I love Mark Sisson's approach in The Primal Blueprint about this. Striving for 100% can drive you crazy and drive you back to the old habits you're trying to break. Of course, if you're allergic to wheat or dairy, you may have to keep yourself closer to 100%. But for those of us with no severe allergies and a non-Paleo family, it may be easier to relax a little from time to time- as long as it's the exception and not the rule! 
  4. You don't need fancy ingredients to eat well- Actually, simpler is better. While I would love to try almond flour, coconut flour, and some of the other ingredients that are in many of the fancier Paleo recipes, I haven't had room in my budget. Eventually I will. 
  5. Stay adaptable- For the past month, the fanciest things I've used are almond milk (bought on sale, but you could also make your own) and cacao nibs (which I already had from an earlier health kick). Everything else is straight from the local farmer's markets or on sale at the store (I've had very good luck at Hy-vee lately, but also shop at Aldi's). I am currently searching out alternatives to the stores. It would be great to get the bulk of my purchases from local farmers and my own garden, but this will take a while. In the meantime, I adapt my meal plans to what I can afford and what I can find. Just like Grok did!
  6. Your measurements may be a better indicator of your success on a Paleo\Primal diet than the scale: I am down 11 pounds and solidly in a size 12 this week. This is shocking to me, because the last time I was at this weight, I was closer to a 16. I cannot believe how many inches I have lost! I wish I had taken my measurements when I started. What's interesting is I'm not exercising all that much. I'm walking a lot and occasionally sprinting, but not much more yet. The reduction in inches is from eating better, not from exercise. I can't wait to see what happens as I incorporate some weight lifting and the occasional intense workout into the mix!
  7. Let the way you feel guide you- If your body feels great, ignore the scale. I started this diet\lifestyle for the weight loss, but immediately fell in love with how great I feel and the wonderful food. I have never eaten so well and felt so good! I am learning that weight loss really is secondary and to not worry so much. Kind of like that saying "Do what you love and the money will follow". If you focus on your health, the weight loss will follow.
  8. Know your eating triggers- Personally, I don't have many eating triggers. I don't have a sweet tooth. I don't smoke or chew gum or have any other oral fixations some people struggle with. I can smell something good and walk away. I don't tend to crave anything but the occasional chocolate or creamy treat. As long as I'm not starving, I'm usually ok. But there is one BIG eating trigger I have that makes me want to eat anything to feel better: exhaustion. The few cheats I've had over the past few weeks were directly linked to how exhausted I felt. Knowing your triggers is half the battle- then you can start to deal with them, planning ahead with good, nutricious foods that satisfy, or in my case, planning to get more sleep! 
I hope these tips are helpful to those of you who are considering or have just started a Paleo or Primal diet. We are all learning everyday. But what a wonderful journey it is!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week Four Down

Well, it's been almost a month since I started the Primal Blueprint and the Paleo way of eating and I feel fantastic. I have lost 10 pounds and two sizes in clothing. I have way more energy and have finally started sleeping well too (I was hyper the first couple of weeks). The sleep probably has to do with the fact that I'm exercising more. After today's walking with intermittent sprinting, I know I'm going to sleep like a baby!

I was going to write this great post with pictures of all the awesome things I've been eating. About how I love this way of eating and never, ever want to go back. And how great I feel. But I noticed something this past week. My weight loss screeched to a halt. Don't get me wrong, 10 pounds is great and I'm not complaining, but I was also hoping to see a little more come off the first month. I do think I stumbled across the reason why I haven't. And it's a big fat DUH. Some things I'd forgotten when I was on Atkins, that some of the Paleo books kind of skim over. Like the amazing amount of carbs in fruit.

Sure, we can eat all the fruit we want once we are at our goal weight, but probably not when someone has 40-50 pounds to lose like I do. Sigh. I plugged a few of my wonderful fruit salads (that I've been meaning to take pics of and write up to post here) into and was shocked to discover I've been eating about 90 carbs a day...just at breakfast! Sob! I guess they are going to have to go or only be a special treat, maybe on a day like today when I'm doing cardio.

So yeah, no wonder the weight loss slowed down! I've also been enjoying the nuts and almond milk a bit TOO much. They have been great diversions from the junk I used to crave, but I think it's time to cut back and find some other alternatives. Fruit has become my candy, and nuts have become the chips. Looking at Paleo food porn doesn't help. There are a lot of AWESOME recipes out there that really need to be put in the "occasional" or even "cheat" category rather than every day fare.

Time to crack open the Atkins and low carb cookbooks too and see if there are some good induction-type paleo-friendly snacks I can eat without feeling like a bunny. When I was on Atkins, I relied too much on their shakes and snack bars. This time, I intend to stay as Primal and Paleo as possible.

This isn't an entirely bad thing. I love a good challenge! It helps that right now I have two pans of Sticky Chicken in the oven that smell incredible. And it's totally Paleo. Will post the recipe asap- it's an old family favorite that smells and tastes amazing (and almost no carbs! WOOHOO!)

Once the Primal Blueprint challenge is over around October 12th, I'll be starting my own personal low carb challenge to see if I can lose another 10 pounds in a month. Judging from my past experience on Atkins, that shouldn't be a problem. I had forgotten how carb sensitive I am. There may be good calories and bad calories out there, but a carb is still a carb- even the good ones!

Anyone is welcome to join me. I'd love the company! I think it's a great time to do a challenge like that...just before the holidays but not during the holidays. That way, if we have a couple of extra carbs, they won't do as much damage, right? So who's with me? I'm thinking of starting around October 15th- November 15th or something like that.

Let's get creative, have some fun, and get into great shape before those holiday parties! We'll see what happens. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad

Want something crunchy, delicious, easy, primal and decadently Asian? So did I, so I whipped up this easy peasy Asian Chicken Salad. You can make a bunch of chicken ahead, chop and put it in the freezer for quick lunches or dinners when you really don't feel like making much. Get creative and clean out that fridge! I made this from ingredients I had on hand.

Asian Chicken Salad

1/2 cup soysauce, tamari, liquid aminos or coconut aminos (whichever you prefer)
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 stalks green onions
1 clove garlic, chopped

1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
lettuce and\or greens of your choice (spinach, arugula, etc)
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
any other toppings of choice (this would be great with pickled ginger, bamboo shoots, almonds, toasted sesame seeds, other Asian veggies, whatever you've got! Also pairs well with kimchi.)

Balsamic vinegar
Sesame oil

1. Make the marinade: Combine soysauce, sesame oil, green onions and garlic.
2. Marinate chicken breasts for at least 5 minutes per side or longer (up to 30 minutes)
3. Dump the chicken and marinade into a grill pan and cook on both sides, turning to avoid excessive burning. Most of the marinade will absorb into the chicken.
4. Deglaze the pan with a little water to add more flavor or moisture if needed. Cook meat until no longer pink in the center (I'm guessing about 15 minutes, but could be longer depending on thickness of chicken breasts).
5. Let cool and prepare lettuce and greens. (Tip: If you tear your greens by hand, rather than cutting with a knife, they'll last longer.)
6. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.
7. Arrange salad: Put the greens on a plate, topped with chicken. Grate the carrots with a potato peeler or grater directly over the plate. (You could also cut them into match stick sized pieces if you like them better that way).
8. Top with sunflower seeds and other toppings of choice. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and sesame oil.


Cost Breakdown: 

$3.16  - 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, bought on sale @ Hyvee for $1.58/lb
$0.99  - 1 head romaine or leaf lettuce, on sale @ Hyvee- .99 a bunch
$0.05  - 1/4 of an organic carrot, bought @ farmer's market for $1/bag
$0.02  - 1 clove garlic (I buy huge braids at Sam's Club for $4-$5)
$0.30  - 3 stalks green onions
$0.18  -1 tbsp sunflower seeds ($2.99/ 8 oz bag, approx 0.5 oz in a tbsp)
$0.23  - 3 tbsp sesame oil ($20/gallon, 256 tbsp in a gallon)
sprinkle of balsamic vinegar

TOTAL: $4.93

This makes 4-5 good sized salads (though you may need to add a bit more greens). Not bad for about $1/salad! A salad at a restaurant would easily cost you more than this entire recipe costs to make. (Funny how we'll often easily spend $5 or more on lunch or dinner out, but forget just how much we can get in grocery $$$ for the same amount!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Farewell Summer: Use It Up Recipes

The summer is over, but sometimes the bounty still lurks in our fridges, waiting to be used up or thrown out. This year I shared a garden with a friend and my mother in law planted extra to share with us as well. Needless to say, I've been up to my eyeballs in garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for months. I've certainly enjoyed it and tried to make the most of it. I've managed to can salsa, pickles, and chopped tomatoes (with a 1 year old, this is an accomplishment!) We've had our share of BLT's (before I went Paleo). I've made tzadziki sauce that was to die for, along with sunshine pickles, spaghetti sauce and a failed attempt at cucumber kimchi.

At this point, we've eaten them every which way we could figure- cooked, raw, and everything in between. And yet there are still plenty left. I just don't think I can conjure up the excitement to get through canning another batch of whatever, so what to do with what's left?   Two easy solutions cleaned up my fridge and will preserve the harvest for a few weeks to a few months: Gazpacho and Fermented Salsa.


I love Gazpacho and often take it to work in my coffee cup. Some people don't like the pulpy texture but I love drinking (and chewing) my salad! It's kind of like salsa in a glass, and it only takes a few minutes to whip up, but will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long. If you love V-8, this is a great alternative. Celery and lime juice add a salty\savory taste without any added salt.

And oh yeah- this is a great way to use up odds and ends of veggies when you're cleaning out your fridge.

4-5 large tomatoes
1 cucumber
bell pepper
lemon or lime juice (just need a few slices for 1 batch in the blender)
1 jalapeno - seeded or not, if desired

1. Chop all ingredients into large pieces.
2. Blend on high in a blender for 1-2 minutes.
3. If too thick, add a little extra water. If too spicy, add more veggies. If not spicy enough, add more hot peppers.

Tip: Throw your squeezed lime or lemon slices into a pitcher of ice water and enjoy! (Remove them after 1 day, or they will turn the water bitter).

Lacto-Fermented Salsa

Nourishing Days has some wonderful articles on fermented veggies. Shannon has her own version here:

Here is the one from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She has en entire section in her book about the benefits of fermented veggies with lots of recipes. I quadrupled her recipe to accomodate my gallon-sized jar and critical mass of fresh tomatoes and jalapenos. It looks beautiful and I can't wait to taste it!

Lacto-Fermented Salsa
makes 1 quart

4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 small onions, finely chopped
¾ cup chopped chile pepper, hot or mild
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon salt)
¼ cup filtered water (do NOT use tap water)

Mix all ingredients and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Press down lightly with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer, adding more water if necessary to cover the vegetables. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator. (Should last a few months in the fridge.)

Easy Pork Loin and Decadent Stuffed Chili Peppers

As a mom of four hungry guys and a husband who eats more than all of them, I'm always looking for simple, delicious, hands off recipes that don't break the bank. They also need to be Paleo\Primal or close to it. While this one isn't strict Paleo (it has cream cheese), it's a fantastic "gateway" meal, especially if other members of your family aren't Paleo\Primal. My family hasn't jumped on the bandwagon...yet. But they love the food! And this meal is quickly becoming one of our favorites.

Don't be intimidated by the length of time it takes to cook- it's a "fix and forget" type of meal. The hands on time for the pork loin is under 5 minutes. The chili peppers don't take that much longer. The key is to defrost the pork loin overnight in the fridge or sous vide style- put it in a sealed plastic bag and sink it in some hot water for a while. I'm always surprised how fast it thaws (and I like steering clear of the microwave when I can!)

You can see the video here: or watch it below. (This is an entry for the Make a Primal Blueprint Recipe Video contest. Wish me luck- I want those cookbooks!)

A note on the video: This is my first cooking video (with the help of my very talented oldest son Sean), so it's far from perfect. The baby was fussing a bit in the background, I desperately need a haircut, and I still have a ton of weight to lose. And I forgot to say stuff or repeated myself. And paleo is spelled wrong at the end. Oops. Oh well. I did it anyway and it was fun! Hopefully we'll all see the weight fall off as I do more, right?

'Nuff said, here are the recipes:

Easy Pork Loin

5 lb pork loin, thawed
kosher salt or other salt of choice
ground pepper (fresh is best)
herbs of your choice- I like rosemary, thyme and sage from my garden, fresh is best but dried is ok
chopped fresh garlic (I forgot this in the video, but makes the pork smell and taste amazing!)

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Put pork loin in a baking dish with a cover. Sprinkle salt, pepper and herbs on all sides.
3. Cover and cook 1 hour. Just before 1 hour mark, make the stuffed chilies (below)
4. Uncover pork loin, bake another 30 minutes along with chili peppers.
5. Serve with steamed veggies, a salad, applesauce or more pork loin and chilies!

Kim's Decadent Stuffed Chili Peppers

The butcher counter at Hyvee has been selling something similar to this for $6.99\lb. I figured I could do better at home. I'm not sure how much mine weighed, but I made 8 halves and 4 full, large chilies for $6.50 (about 80 cents a stuffed pepper). I know we had a lot more than a pound of them!

2 boxes (about 8-9) Anaheim chili peppers
2 - 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
1 lb bacon

1. Wash chili peppers and slice lengthwise, discarding seeds (unless you want these hellishly hot!)
2. With a butter knife, fill insides with cream cheese.
3. Wrap with bacon (we did 6 halves that were wrapped and stuck the other 6 together, then wrapped).
4. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until bacon is crispy (depends on size of peppers, dish you're cooking in, and your oven.)

A note on handling peppers: I don't use gloves, but you may want to. If you forget to wear gloves and later find your hands burning, rub some coffee grounds on them. I think it's supposed to neutralize the oils or something.

How much did it all cost?

Everything in this recipe was bought on sale, at farmer's markets, or grown by myself. No, the bacon and pork weren't organic or grass fed. I've only been doing Paleo\Primal for a little over three weeks, but that's the point - if I can pull this together, so can you!

$10    - 5 lb Pork Loin- sale, 1.99\lb @ Hyvee
$2      - 2 boxes Anaheim chili peppers $1 ea @ farmer's market
$2      - 2 pkgs 8 oz cream cheese $1 ea @ Kroger
$2.50 - 1 pkg bacon on sale @ Hyvee (yes, I found this on sale just last week!)
$1      - 1 pound fresh green beans @ the farmer's market
$0      - herbs from my garden, and miniscule amounts of kosher salt and pepper

TOTAL: $17.50

We made 8 half peppers and 4 full ones and tons of pork loin. We fed four of us last night. Two of us had leftovers for lunch and there's still enough for another dinner. Depending on how much your family eats, you could easily get 2-3 restaurant-quality meals out of this. That's $6-$8 for an entire paleo-friendly meal! Plus, you could freeze this and keep it on hand for a busy day. I haven't tried freezing the peppers (they get eaten up too fast!) but the pork loin and green beans freeze great.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three Weeks Down!

I've just ended my third week on Primal Blueprint\Paleo and am simply amazed by the transformation taking place! I have lost over 9 pounds and almost 2 whole sizes in clothing. Just before I started, I felt swollen and tired all of the time. I literally hurt everywhere. Within the first few days there was a huge difference both in my energy and how my body felt. The swelling was immediately gone and my clothes felt a lot looser. I had been almost out of a size 16, pushing towards an 18. Now all of my size 14 pants are falling off! After only 3 weeks!

I still have a tremendous amount of energy, which is great because so does my toddler. I literally did not stop moving all weekend. I was either chasing him and trying to keep him out of everything, or I was taking him for walks, visiting with friends (and chasing him there), apple picking, or taking 3 out of my 4 boys to go see Return to Hogwart's, a special Harry Potter reenactment put on by the Peoria Park District. (We were on our feet for a few hours there, but it was great fun.) I also cooked, cleaned, fixed computers and put baby latches on everything. Phew! I think I got in all of my low level aerobic activity for the week!

Speaking of physical fitness, I also joined a gym last week. There is a nationwide chain called Cardinal Fitness (also known as Charter Fitness) which is a basic gym- just treadmills, ellipticals, barbells, isolation machines, etc. It reminds me of my army days! They offer a $20 a month membership. That's the cheapest I have seen anywhere. It's just down the street from where I work, so I can go over my lunch hour to get in a few primal workouts a week

With winter coming, I think this will keep me motivated through the blah months. The Midwest is one of the most beautiful places on earth from May through October. But November through April aren't so great. I have a hard time getting outside to do anything during those months, and I have no place to workout in my tiny house (and no free time either, really.) The gym seemed like a good solution. Most of them have classes, saunas, indoor tracks, daycare, etc, but they came at a high price ($50-$100 or more a month!) And that's not really what I want or need anyhow. My baby is in daycare too much already. I don't want to spend even more time away from him. And my schedule is too busy to worry about getting to classes right now. I hate saunas (they make me throw up and pass out), and there's a track behind my house I can use three seasons out of the year. During winter, I can walk at the mall (as long as I "forget" my wallet, ha ha!) Right now I have a few favorite parks and areas of town I like to walk at to keep things interesting. I'll miss them when the weather gets bad!

I also gave myself my "10 pounds lost" reward a little early last week. I splurged on some Vibram Five Fingers shoes to keep myself motivated and walking (I haven't bought shoes of any kind in many years). I love them! My feet are still adapting a bit, but they are so comfortable. Unfortunately, there isn't much savings on these by purchasing online, and it's best not to. You really need to try on different styles and sizes to figure out what works for you. I must've tried on about 20 pairs, and was surprised to discover that I fell between sizes in almost every style except the Bikala. Those fit me perfectly, so that's what I ended up with. I am wondering if I am closer to a half size since my last pregnancy. I haven't bought shoes since then, so that would make sense. Just something to keep in mind when you're considering these shoes.

How did I justify paying for them? I've only ever spent $100 on footwear once before, and those were on my Merrell gortex hiking shoes, which I have worn for over 4 years. They are still holding up but starting to wear out a bit as they're seen quite a few miles. I just did some computer sidework which made up the difference for my Vibrams. Hopefully I'll have them for years too (I wear everything out!) So I consider them an investment rather than just a purchase. An investment in myself and my health. That's something most of us moms forget to do....invest in ourselves. So I made most of my rewards investments as well as encouragements to keep going.


 How are you doing on your own health challenge and what kinds of rewards are you planning on giving yourself?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Accidents: Double Chocolate Paleo Brownie Crumbles

Double Chocolate Paleo Brownie Crumbles - yum!
The other day the chocolate monster reared its ugly head. I wanted chocolate and I wanted it NOW! Of course, I had no chocolate bars in the house, and I had previously satisified a peanut butter cup craving with BiPolar Paleo's PB cup smoothie recipe, but I wanted something more. Something chewy and gooey and chock full of chocolatey goodness. I was checking facebook when I came across this luscious looking recipe for Zucchini Brownies from Fast Paleo. I had most of the ingredients, but not all of them. I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Well, I ended up substituting a little TOO much. I didn't have almond butter, so I thought I'd "whip some up in my food processor". Except I made it with raw almonds and coconut oil. It was delicious, but it wasn't almond butter! I also substituted organic chocolate nibs, which I had never known what to do with, in hopes they would somehow bathe the zucchini mixture with their chocoliciousness. I mixed everything up and it smelled amazing. I poured it into a smaller pan than I should have and baked it for the recommended time.

The brownies weren't cooked enough, so I added more time. Still not done. And the chocolate nibs only dotted the mushy zucchini mixture. Oh, what to do, what to do! So I mixed in some unsweetened baking chocolate (ingredients: chocolate!) and added a bit more honey (not perfectly Paleo but good enough for me!) At least it LOOKED like brownies now! I baked them a while longer, took them out and let them cool.

The results were surprisingly good. Not to sweet and very moist and chocolatey. The brownies didn't hold together (probably because of the raw almonds). They were more of a mixture of a brownie and a granola. And by themselves they were a little bitter (they are NOT a sweet brownie at all), but who am I to ever abandon a failed recipe? I can always recycle it into something else!

I nibbled it a bit here and there that evening and found it was actually really good, just not as sweet as a brownie. And the nibs in there were awesome! Slightly crunchy and chocolatey and oh so good! The next morning I packed up some yogurt and topped it with my brownie crumbles and some dried fruit. Delicious! Today I used the crumbles for the base of my fruit "cereal" mixture. On top of the crumbles, I sliced up a banana and a kiwi, then topped it off with some pecans, walnuts and dried cherries. It was amazing! And everyone at work was jealous, which gave me the opportunity to tell them I was doing Paleo and how fantastic the food was! I don't think they were listening. They were too busy salivating over my breakfast, which took me all morning to eat!

Double Chocolate Brownie Crumbles

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • i tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 cup organic chocolate nibs
  • 2- 1 oz squares of Baker's Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Squares 
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a food processor, grind raw almonds and then add coconut oil and grind again. 
  3.  Combine all ingredients except baker's chocolate in a large bowl.
  4. Pour into a greased baking pan. (I used an 8 inch round deep pie dish.)
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes. 
  6. Chop baker's chocolate squares into several pieces. Remove pan from oven and scatter chocolate pieces around pan, mixing them in thoroughly to create a big chocolately mess.  Drizzle another tablespoon or so of honey as well. Mix well.
  7. Return to over and bake 15-20 more minutes. 
  8. Let cool, then enjoy the gooey, double dark chocolately crumbly goodness! 


  • Great as topping or a bottom for whatever kind of creamy or fruity dessert you'd like to make! 
  • You should probably refrigerate this after the first day. My first batch was eaten quickly, but alas, I had to throw a bit of my second batch out because I didn't eat it fast enough. There's nothing to keep it from molding. If in doubt, refrigerate or even freeze for later!
  • Non-paleo family members who haven't given up sugar will tell you "these aren't real brownies". (Ask me how I know this, lol).  That's ok, more for us!
Adapted from Fast Paleo's Zucchini Brownie recipe, which I will make when I have all the actual ingredients very soon! Looks delish!

Have you had a happy accident in your kitchen when trying to cook up a Paleo dish? Let's hear about it!