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!)