Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lola...Paleo Einstein?

Lolas Journey:Einstein  Is reported to have kept several sets of the same outfit in his closet so that he could simply grab an outfit without having to think about what he wanted to wear.  I am approaching Paleo the same way.  So far, I am happy eating the same things as it keeps me from thinking about the food too much right now.  I am trying to switch gears from food being "entertainment" to food being a "nutritional necessity".  Making food less of an "event" and learning what "comfortably full" and "satisfied" feels like.

I am in the swing of my Paleo adventure.  I have tightened my belt a notch (sometimes 2 depending on the day !!!!)   The scale has not reflected too much of a change but I FEEL a difference:  Less tired, less logy, less mood swings, less bloating..MORE FOCUSED.  

I have been doing Paleo about 80-20% minimum... 100% on a good day.

Typical day consists of:

Breakfast:  Hot soup.  Yup. You heard me right. :) Italian Wedding soup MINUS the pasta or Beef and Tomato Soup (both with copious amounts of garlic and red pepper )

Lunch:  Poached chicken, lettuce, artichoke hearts (sometimes a bit of feta cheese in there)... with olive oil/red wine vinegar and pepper.

Dinner:  turkey sausage with broccoli and mushrooms (and garlic) OR Turkey burger salad with melted feta (theres that crazy feta again!), -your basic turkey burger cut up on a plate with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and thousand islands dressing.  Yesterday I ate out at Red Robin and chose the Avo-Cobb-O salad !  I usually get the southwestern chicken but it has corn and black beans so I bypassed it for something else.  I did indulge in 2 mozzarella sticks and a handful of sweet potato fries. :)

I have been eating fresh fruit salad as well:  watermelon, mango, strawberry, kiwi and some  pineapple.  I readily admit Ive been eating too much of this. (my son is enjoying this as well !) Ive also been eating some vinegar based coleslaw after work before dinner time. (again..my son is diving in and enjoying this instead of cookies after school !)

Eating the soup in the morning gives me something warm to start my day with and I can make a huge pot of soup that lasts me the week.  No thinking in the morning.  My son has also started eating soup in the morning before school which beats eating cereal and milk ! YEY !!!!

Times I have veered:  Movies...I ordered popcorn...a big ass popcorn.   Ive had some chocolate Belvita or Apple Cinnamon Belvita in the evening.   Still enjoying coffee in the morning with flavored creamer and I have not given up diet soda yet....YET. (thats a tough one!)  I usually drink one during lunch at work.

Im not drinking enough water either.  Need to work on that.

New for this week:  I started taking fish oil capsules to combat aches and pains from work.

The adventure continues!!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sara - Recipe: Maple Brussel Sprouts Amandine

(This post was inspired by a contest over at Cavegirl Cuisine's website.)

Maple Brussel Sprouts Amandine

2tbsp bacon fat
1/4c blanched, sliced almonds, lightly toasted
8-10 medium brussel sprouts
pinch of black pepper
3tbsp maple syrup
In a pan (that has a lid!), melt 2tbsp bacon fat over medium heat.
While fat melts, remove stems from sprouts and cut them in half, lengthwise.
Once fat has melted, place sprouts in the pan, cut side down. Cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes.
Turn over each brussel sprout in the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper and drizzle with maple syrup.
Cover the sprouts and let them cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Place sprouts in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining liquid from the pan. Top with toasted almond slices.
I served this with pan seared steak - SO GOOD.
Even our pickiest eater devoured the sprouts. 
Thank you, Cavegirl, for the inspiration!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sara: Homemade Chicken Stock

I was never one to do things like make my own broth.  Honestly, if it could be purchased from a store, I saw no reason to make something myself.  Who has the time?  Who wants to use all that effort?  I work full time and have three kids – why make chicken stock when I can just buy it off the shelf?

As it turns out, there are more than a few reasons.

  1. It’s easier than you think.
  2. I can control what goes into it
  3. It’s not overly processed and/or full of salt/preservatives.
  4. Making your own is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying the good stuff and a lot better for you than buying the cheap stuff.

The first time I made my own broth, I was amazed at how much I wound up with.  Surely it would take me MONTHS to use all this broth, right?  Wrong.  We went through almost all of it in just about 2 weeks.  I’d use it for cooking veggies, making soups, adding flavor to just about anything savory.  You can take leftovers, chop them up and add a few cups of homemade broth and – boom – instant soup. 

I like to use my crockpot for making broth.  I don’t have to watch it as closely, I can leave it on for 24 hours, and I can slow cook some chicken meat in the process.

Here’s how I do it:

You’ll need:
  • 6qt (or bigger) crockpot
  • 1 chicken (free range, if you can afford it!)
  • ½ white or yellow onion, chopped
  • Herbs of your choosing (optional)
  • Other veggies (optional)
  • Lots of water
(Really, even the onion is optional!  I just like the extra flavor it gives.)

I bought a free range bird this time – I figured if I was going to use this broth in everything, I’d go for the gold and get the best I could get.  The smallest bird I could find was over 5lbs!  It wouldn’t even fit in my crockpot.  I removed the breasts (saved for another meal) and cut up what was left until it fit.  I crammed that sucker in!

You can put the onion on the bottom of the crock or down the sides of the bird – wherever there is room.  Season the chicken before putting it in the crockpot.  Fill with water and either turn it on high for 3-4 hours or put it on low for 6-8 hours.

Tight squeeze!

Once the chicken is cooked, pull it out and take all the meat off the bone that you can.  Throw everything else back into the crockpot.  Add more water and turn it on low for another 4-6 hours.  At this point, everything should have fallen off the bones. At this stage, I used a slotted spoon to pull everything out of the liquid.  Any meat I missed before went in one container, cartilage/skin/inedible pieces that weren’t bone went in a bowl (I tossed this stuff) and the bones went back into the pot.  Add more water!

Left to Right: Crock, yucky stuff, meat!

I left the crockpot on low for another 12 hours or so. 

Check out that color! 

The next morning, I turned it off and let it cool for a bit.  Once it was cool enough for me to pick up the crock, I placed a strainer over a large bowl/pitcher and poured the broth in.  I wound up with so much, it didn’t all fit in the bowl I was using!  (Final measurement came to roughly 12 cups of broth.)
Put a cover of some kind over your container and stick it in the fridge for a few hours, letting the fat rise to the top.  Once it has, skim the fat off …and do with it what you will!  (I discard it, but I know others save it for cooking.)

I have no idea why this pic won't rotate for meeee!!!

I’ve heard of people using ice cube trays for freezing their broth. I don’t have any ice cube trays. The first time I made this broth, I had no idea what to do.  That’s when I came up with using a muffin tin.  Each cup on the muffin tin holds just under ½ cup of liquid.  I filled 2 tins and stuck them in the freezer. (The rest I put in a plastic cup and stuck in the freezer as well.)

Once the stock is frozen solid, pop them out of the tin (you may need to dip the cups in warm water to loosen) and place them in a Ziploc bag back in the freezer. 

Frozen flavor pods!


I spent $16 on this free range bird, but from that I was able to get: 2 large breasts (enough to feed all 5 of us a main course for dinner one night), enough meat for 3-4 servings of chicken salad, plus 12 cups of broth.  Not too bad, if you ask me! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lola: Day 1. chapter 2

Day 1.  Chapter 2.

Like so many other dieters, I have bits and pieces of different diets running through my head and it becomes blurry.  Eat only proteins, eat whole grain, food combining principles of eating vegetables and whole grains together. Eating proteins with whole grains.   Eat fruit alone.  No fruit at all.  Eat beans and rice.  Oy vey!   Paleo.... I mean this whole thing makes sense doesn't it?  Eating cleaner, less processed foods to help your body run better.   You wouldn't put sand in your gas tank and expect it to run well, do you?   The more the food is to its natural state..the better is it for you.  The foods we have become accustomed to eating are for convenience. Work keeps us busy, families keep us busy and the store shelves are filled with foods that take 5 minutes to prepare..from box to table!   I've never been a frozen food meal maker or a boxed mac and cheese kind of girl.  I cook.  I like to cook.  I bake.  However my good intentions of feeding my family healthy meals may have been misguided.  Pastas, homemade breads and cinnamon rolls, cookies biscotti, homemade cornbreads....and the list goes on. 

My goal is to take my usual homemade food recipes and tweak them to be healthier, smarter, more Paleo friendly.   Italian wedding soup now is pasta free.  Chicken Noodle soup will be chicken vegetable.  Minestrone will not have pasta but extra zucchini.  Cheese is going to be a struggle for me.  I use Parmesan, Feta... and other strong cheeses for salads.    I love fresh vegetables.  I love salads.  Ive lived dairy free before. (Ive always been a firm believer in the not drinking milk.  No other animal does..why do we??!)  When thinking back to the time in my life that I had the most energy, was at my ideal weight and  felt the most empowered..I was eating Paleo and didn't even know it.  It was prior to meeting my ex husband.... (that could be why also, but I am focusing on the food right now..bear with me.)  I ate vegetables, lean proteins, soups, salads and no dairy.    My head was clear, my face was clear, I was lean and a force to be reckoned with.  I miss that woman.

That brings us back to : PALEO. 

I am on chapter 2.   I have been reading information on the internet as well so I decided to jump right in.   

Spinach and chicken meatball soup for breakfast, more for lunch along with some chicken salad..sauteed chicken tenderloins and mushrooms for dinner.   I am not a big breakfast eater so some kind of  soup may be my choice every day.

I don't know all the details of it so far.  I haven't given up my coffee with sugar free creamer yet. (YET).   I confess I had a few Wilbur milk chocolate Buds. (google it ...they are tasty !)  But overall, I have been satisfied and may even say 'energized'.   I did laundry, yard work, shopping and didn't take a nap!  My feet are still sore, my body still sore overall (in my defense I did just walk a bazillion miles on vacation...okay..that's a stretch.  Maybe it was only a million miles.)   The main thing I noticed was I wasn't logy, overfull, overly cranky or overly bitchy.  -Can I say that here :)

I worked ahead a bit on my food (prepping is everything right?).  I bought a head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut it for snacks and salads. I cooked turkey sausage for tomorrows breakfast along with eggs for tomorrow.   Lettuce is cleaned and cut in the frig.    Tomorrow after work I will poach more chicken, boil some eggs for salad and cook some turkey burgers for turkey burger salad. (just like a hamburger without the bun...see what I did there..?! )

Also thought about taking some leftover poached chicken and making a chicken taco salad sans sour cream, cheese and shell. 

On my immediate grocery list is Almond butter to go with apples for snacks.  

Overall, I think today was a success.  :)  



Sara: "I couldn’t believe I was paying that much $ to eat that pure CRAP"

Yesterday, I was feeling lazier than usual. I love cooking, but just didn't feel like it last night.  I texted Rick (my husband) and told him I wished payday was already here because I had zero desire to cook. 

He wrote back, "Pizza night?"  I don't take much convincing to not cook AND eat pizza!  We wrote a check, picked up the pizzas and chowed down.

I slept horribly - I spent most of the night in some kind of intestinal distress.  I can't even tell you how many times I ran to the bathroom.  I joked with Rick this morning that I was on the "Pizza Diet" - you just eat pizza...and then spend the next 12-24 hours crappin' your brains out!  (ew - sorry!)

Last night, when I couldn't sleep, we were emailing each other while he was at work. I told him I was regretting the pizza.  In his next email, he said something pretty groundbreaking.

photo credit: http://danielctw.com

"I don’t blame you on the pizza. The other day when I took the boys to McD’s, I was sitting there thinking about how I couldn’t believe I was paying that much $ to eat that pure CRAP. It was awful. That’s the last time I’m eating there."

It's true!  We spend SO MUCH money on crap and then try to say, "Ohhh...I try to eat paleo, but it's just so expensive."  Instead of spending $20 at McDonald's for lunch, spend $20 on a couple pounds of grassfed beef that can be used for at least two meals (more, if you have a smaller family).  It's amazing when you think about it.

My favorite example is chicken nuggets.  My kids have a strange love affair with chicken nuggets that I will never understand. I recently discovered Ian's brand frozen foods. I'm not touting this as Paleo-friendly food - I discovered these before I decided to try the Paleo way of doing things.   Still...read this description of their chicken nuggets:

Our beloved best-seller, Ian's Allergy Friendly Chicken Nuggets are a classic childhood favorite, made with wholesome antibiotic and hormone free skinless and boneless white chicken breast meat. We've made them with no wheat, no gluten, no milk, no casein, no eggs, no nuts and no soy, so they're friendly for all kids of diets!  Easy to prepare in the oven or microwave.  Also available in a 20oz Family Pack!
Chicken nuggets (skinless, boneless no added antibiotics or hormone* chicken breast with rib meat, canola oil, potato flakes, water, sea salt). Coated with batter: (water, yellow corn flour, corn starch, baking powder, garlic powder, sea salt) and breaded with cornflake crumbs (milled corn, cane sugar, sea salt). Cooked in canola oil. Chicken raised without added antibiotics or growth hormones. *Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones in poultry.

So, yeah, there are some non-Paleo ingredients.  But compared to McDonald's chicken nuggets?  No brainer.  It's easy to see which one is better for your body.  Ian's nuggets are "expensive," though.  $6 for 3 servings!  (That's the best price I've found so far - at Sprouts.)

However, if we're willing to spend $4.50 on a happy meal, then maybe we need to step back and re-evaluate our priorities.  I'm just as guilty of this as anyone.  It's hard to get out of the "quick fix" mindset.  It's cheaper and better for us to have something like Ian's and some fruit at home...then go to a park.  But McDonald's has been ingrained in our minds - and our childrens' minds! - as this great "treat".  The food comes in a fun box and when you're done, you get to go play on the indoor playground!  Who cares if every single thing about the meal is sub-par?

photo credit: http://frisco-tx-homes.com
I'll tell you who cares.  I do.  My husband does, too.  You should, too!

Rick's also starting to notice the difference in how he feels when he eats junk.  We lose what little energy we had (because, let's face it, how much energy can one have when working full time and parenting three kids??).  We feel bloated and cranky.  I even have skin issues that flare up. And my legs swell!

When we eat right, we have an extra spring in our step.  We sleep better. We're happier because we feel better. The more we detoxify our bodies from these poisons we've been eating, the more we notice the difference when we "fall off the wagon."  Making small changes here and there can do a world of good.

My goal for this weekend is to cook ahead.  If I have a few things in the freezer that make for a quick meal, then the next time I'm feeling lazy I'll be less likely to resort to fast food.  I honestly don't think expense is the most difficult part of eating Paleo - planning ahead is.  If you don't have a plan, then you're far more likely to give in to old habits, which will likely lead to regret!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rachael: Feels like the first time....

I think I'm having my first adverse reaction to bad foods. The Hubster has been sick with a chest cold since the weekend, and he wasn't interested in food last night. I was feeling too lazy to cook, so I went to Taco Bell, and shall we say, overindulged.  Other than feeling a little gassy this morning, I was fine.

But as the day wore on, I started aching in all my joints, and tonight, I can barely get out of a chair. I've reverted back to the pain I was in this past spring. And I don't like it. Not one bit!

Here's hoping that the message gets thru my big, ol' thick skull...no more grains for you, Missy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

I've been craving soup lately. Sometimes I just don't really feel like eating, but a bowl of warm soup sounds good.  When you have frozen homemade stock on hand, making a quick soup is much easier than you probably think.  The homemade stock brings so much flavor to whatever soup you add it to that you don't need to season it much, either.  It's almost fool-proof.

(I'm running low on homemade stock, so I will cook up another chicken this weekend and make a post about it in the near future.)

Last night, I roasted some butternut squash as a side for our dinner.  This was a large squash, so I knew I'd have quite a bit leftover - seemed like a perfect time to whip up some soup for the following day!

(I confess I didn't take any great pictures of the process because - once again - I was doubting myself and wasn't sure it would be something I'd want to share.  Silly me.  I've decided to post the recipe anyhow because there are pictures online very similar to what I had on hand. My cell phone couldn't have done this well, though!)

 First, I cut the butternut squash lengthwise and removed the seeds.  I then removed the skin from the squash with a sharp knife and cut the squash meat into approximately 2" squares (not an exact science!).  I used my Misto to coat the pieces in a little olive oil (can easily sub coconut oil, but I'm out due to making a batch of fudge).  Then I sprinkled a little nutmeg on top (maybe 1/2 tsp - not necessary).

photo credit: http://momsinablog.com

On a cookie sheet lined with foil, I roasted the squash for about 20 minutes at 400 F, turning the pieces over halfway through.

If you're making the squash just for the soup, you could just cut the squash in half, lengthwise, remove the seeds, oil/season the inside and place it face down on a cookie sheet.  Cook at 400 F for about 40-50 minutes and then scoop out the insides.

So now... the soup!

Butternut Squash Soup

  • ~5 cups of roasted butternut squash meat
  • 5 cups homemade chicken stock (or other flavor, if you prefer)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

photo credit: http://www.tasteofhome.com
Mine looked this creamy...but without any dairy!


Place everything in a bowl and mix with an immersion blender until smooth!  (You could also use a food processor, if you prefer.)

I prefer hot soups, but this one could be served cold as well - it's delicious either way.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Rachael: Why Paleo?

Those are the two simplest words...but the meaning behind them is so complex:

Why Paleo?

People ask me what the difference between following the Paleo Diet versus following a no- or low- carb diet such as South Beach and Atkins, or just going vegan?

So let me break it down, and bare with me. I have to give you some of my background and share how I came to be where I am now.

But first of all, I am not a dietician nor a nutritionist. I cannot give nutritional advice legally or charge you money for that advice. I have to state that up front because there are some states that are actually censoring people for blogging about their nutritional habits. Diabetes Blogger Sues NC Agency for Censoring Site.

However, I am going to share with your my journey, and the research I did to get me there.


I've been a diabetic for a little over 10 years. Most of that time, I lived in denial, ate what I wanted, and watched my weight go up and down, my energy leaving me, my joints start to break systematically down, and my feet start to go numb.

Fun, right?

Over the years, I would attempt to reign it all in. I'd go to the Doctor, read books on how to control my diet, Try and figure out what kind of exercise my broken down body could tolerate without injuring myself further. When I didn't find anything that worked, I pretty much stopped trying to move. I was put on progressively higher and higher doses of medicines in order to control chemically what I couldn't seem to do naturally anymore - blood sugar, blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. And the coup de grace: Wellbutrin, to control my resulting depression.

I found that in the summer time, I'd eat a lot more fresh veggies because they were available and reasonable. But in the winter time, starting, oh around Halloween, I'd fall off the good food wagon, and start eating crap. Fresh veggies are more expensive in the fall and winter, and the holidays were about enjoying yourself, right?

From Halloween through Thanksgiving, until after Christmas. Then I'd attempt to eat better as my "New Year's Resolution, which lasted for a couple of weeks, until my birthday at the end of January. Through the chocolate-soaked month of Valentine's, I mean, February..and then Easter.

Wow, did I just spend 6+ months eating candy and crap and calling it "The Holidays?"

Yes, I did.

And then wait for summer again, when fresh veggies and fruits were plentiful and "cheap" again.

Where are you going with this? I'm getting there, don't rush me....

I read the Atkin's book. However, it was an original edition put out in the 60's, and I didn't give it too much consideration, other than to chuckle and think, "Wow, this doctor says I can eat all the bacon I want!"

Around 2005 my husband I decided to give the brand new South Beach Diet a try. I wasn't working at the time, and systematically went through the menus, making everything and following the plan to the letter. It was pretty easy to get into, so long as you loved to cook, and had all the time in the world to prep and cook the delicious meals in the original book. Then I got a job, and wasn't available to spend 3+ hours chopping veggies to make gastpacho anymore.  Plus, there wasn't as much of a web presence for SB, and the limited menu in the book became boring. I also, around this time, developed a rather large and insanely embarrassing "sensitivity" to sugar substitutes  like Splenda and Aspertame. As well as dairy.

I didn't know it at the time, but my gut was breaking down with all the crap I'd eaten over the years.

So, once I got over the crushing realization that I couldn't drink diet sodas anymore, I started to feel a little chuffed about NOT putting chemicals in my body. Except, at, you know, "The Holidays." And I still didn't really know about high-fructose corn syrup, and what that does to your body (despite what the FDA says).

Wow, am I an idiot. I freely admit this.

Fast cut to 2008. I hadn't been to a Doctor in about 2 years. I wasn't taking any diabetic meds, I'd given up going to the doctors. But I slipped on a patch of ice in my driveway and dislocated my knee. A trip to the emergency room, and a knee brace for a week led me to a hospital stay for a very scary situation with a blood clot that developed behind my knee, and was creeping up my leg, making its way to my heart or lungs.  With the resulting bloodwork of the hospital stay got me back into see a doctor about my diabetes, my cholesterol, my high blood pressure, etc.  I really couldn't deny the fact that my body was giving out on me, and I wasn't even 40 yet.  I started trying to reign in my sugar in take, moving onto low-fat items in the grocery store.

In 2010 I got pregnant, but lost the baby near the end of my first trimester. It was discovered that I had several large cysts on one of my ovaries, a present left to me by the endometrosis fairy who visited me in my 20's. I had surgery to have that ovary removed.

In 2011 I had surgery in my right hand to have my thumb joint replaced. Arthritis was attacking my joints pretty severely, and I was finding it harder and harder to move through out the day.

I was putting off having my knees 'scoped and a possible hip replacement. But knew they were in the very near future, because I couldn't even walk around the block anymore.

My 2012 New Year's Resolution was to NOT have surgery this year.  I knew I needed to feel healthier, but cutting out more and more foods that I couldn't tolerate was getting depressing.

Cut to May, when my husband stumbled across The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I have no idea what brought that book into his life, but he read it, and it resonated with him. He wanted to try it, and talked to me about it. He asked me to read the book, and I did. And it resonated with me. Robb Wolf explains in simple, yet concise terms "why" eating naturally is the best thing for your body. He gets technical, but not boring, explaining what your innards do to digest food, and why you gain weight or get sick from eating things that your body hasn't evolved into accepting (cavemen didn't have Splenda or corn syrup, yo).

It's been 3 months since my hubby and I have made the attempt to cut out the crap from our diet, and we feel great. My don't crawl out of bed anymore, knowing that it will take 2-3 hours of mobility before my joints "warm up" enough to feel human again.  I'm able to walk around the block without wanting my hubby to get the car to get me back home. I've lost 20 lbs. and I have energy again.

And my blood sugars are better than they have been in years. I've got a blood test scheduled for the end of the month, and I'll let you know how it goes, but I have the feeling that my doctor's will be most pleased with me.  My goal is to reduce and hopefully get off the meds within an years time.

Atkins and South Beach and the Paleo Diet all have their good points. I would venture to say that the Paleo lifestyle of eating is "evolved" from Atkins or South Beach by going back to our body's genetic past and looking for what our ancestors did right. However that's oversimplifying it a bit.

If you haven't heard me pleading lately for you to read the book, here it is: READ IT. And try it.

Your body will thank you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rachael: Paleo on Vacation, & Did Caveman Have State Fairs with Food on a Stick?

Ok, so my brain is a happy jumble all mixed in with the endorphins of eating well, and getting healthy.  I say this so that you understand that the subject of this blog post makes me smile.

Last night the hubby and I went to our State Fair, and walked our legs off looking at the food, the rides, and going to the night's big concert. Did I say we walked? oh yes...our Paleolithic ancestors knew the benefits of walking, but would have have understood the benefits of fried spaghetti and meatballs on a stick?

Would they have liked it?

No, we didn't try it. We actually didn't even find that particular booth, and I wonder if it was a joke. In fact, we didn't eat very much at all at the state fair. The smells were enough, though. Funnel cakes smell amazing, but I wasn't very tempted.

I don't say that to sound snotty. It really didn't matter to me if I ate it or not, and when I realized that, I was happily able to wander, not consumed by my usual need to ingest every sugary fried dough item in my path.

Very, very liberating.

The Hubster and I figured that we would relax the Paleo and indulge, because neither one of us had been to a state fair before, and we wanted the whole experience, even if it meant rocks in our tummies afterwards.

We did both eat a greasy Philly cheesesteak sandwich, that really didn't sit well with me, and I will happily decline it the next time. Unless I happen to be in Philly. Because, you know...you gotta. At least once. Right?

Anyway, as I was saying, smelling the differing foods at the State Fair was good enough for me, and I was content to marvel the deep fried snickers bar, but not eat one.

Go me.

However, our roving correspondent, Lola, is currently on vacation, and I got a message from her that she's having a difficult time with "Eating on Vacation"  (cue dramatic movie music).  She's been trying to stick to salad's and meat products, but that she is not feeling satiated. As we all are, she's also trying to keep costs down, and is running into instances where she's forced to either spend $$$ for a healthier alternative, or eat badly to save money.

I know you all can relate to Lola's situation, so give me some tips for Lola to eat better, feel better about what she's buying, and things of that nature, please!

You can leave a comment here, or at our companion Face Book page at Paleo Life in the Real World.

Or both.  :)

The two tips I've given her are:

1.  She needs more fats in her meals. Meat and veggies only are not going to make her feel satiated and happy.

2. If she's craving sweets, she should go to the store and get some fruit and some bittersweet chocolate from the baking aisle. Both can travel in her purse for emergency sugar cravings.

So what have you got that can help our little Lola out???

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rachael: Sweet Potato Chip + First Try = Mixed Results

photo from www.examiner.com
I'm always up for trying a Paleo version of junk food.  When I saw this recipe for homemade salsa with sweet potato chips, I knew I'd have to try the chips. I've made my own salsa before, and it's fine, but until my own tomatoes are ready for "salsifying," I can wait patiently.

But I couldn't wait to try to make chips. Crispy, crunchy, salty chips. Mmmm....

Sorry, I got lost for a second there.

I apologize, but I didn't take pictures of the process, but if you click the link above, the Amazing!Paleo chick does a great job of showing the process.

Thankfully, we'd recently purchased a mandolin to make even slicing of the sweet potatoes easy. I am not a precision slicer.

I followed Amazing!Paleo's directions to the letter, and was mostly happy with the results, except my chips did not all get crunchy. I waited for them to cool down, like the directions said, but several stayed limp, especially on the middle of the bigger chips.

So tip #1: I learned is that the skinnier the potato, the better off you are going to be for the crispiness factor. The wider the potato, the longer it's going to be to make them crunchy. Or you're just going to have to deal with limp chips. No Bueno.

Tip #2: The recipe on the blog says 10 minutes, give or take, on 375F.  The next time I try these, I'll do it longer at 325F. Lower and slower would DEFINITELY the way to go. I was in danger of incinerating my chips if I left them in longer than 12 minutes.

But I have to say, that despite the edges of a lot of the chips being burned, and the middles not being crunchy, the sweet potato chips tasted AWESOME. Seriously.

I will be making more of these. They will be a welcome addition of a treat to our Paleo Lifestyle.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sara: "I don't wanna feel sick any more!" Sara's New Motto

Yesterday, one of our remote offices decided to treat some of us to lunch by having it ordered in.  She ordered an assortment of foods from Jason's Deli. A month or so ago, I would have looked at these foods as fairly healthy options.  Various low fat wraps with veggies, pasta salad with veggies and a tangy vinegarette, blue corn chips with salsa, potato salad...and a big plate of cookies.

I told myself I'd just have a little.  A little couldn't hurt, right?

I grabbed one of the half-wraps - turned out to be chicken salad - and a small scoop of potato salad and went back to my desk.

The tortilla tasted awful - tasteless and dry... gummy in my mouth.  The chicken salad wasn't impressive, either, honestly.  Neither was the potato salad.  I still ate most of it, though.  I think the "free food" alarm was going off in my head. Not sure why else I would eat something that tasted so bland.

A little while later, I went back.  I don't even know why I went back. Old habits die hard, I suppose.  I grabbed a scoop of pasta salad.  There were two cookies left - both were white chocolate macademia.  I convinced myself it was kismet and took one.

Back at my desk, I ate the pasta salad. The salad dressing was the saving grace - nice and tangy.  There were olives and peppers in it, too, which I love.  The pasta wasn't doing anything for me, though. 

I'm not going to lie, the cookie was kinda tasty.  I ate the "chocolate" and nuts out of it, mostly, leaving the dry bits without any fun stuff behind.

And then it happened.  Within an hour, I felt like I'd eaten a bowl of rocks.  My stomach just felt awful. I was so gassy another hour or so later that I was in pain just sitting at my desk.  I kept wiggling and twisting, I got up and went for a little walk. I just wanted relief.

Walking out of the building at 5pm, I started burping.  My body was NOT happy with me.

By the time I got home, my left ankle was starting to swell. I still felt like there were rocks in my stomach. 

I ate a Paleo dinner and felt better.  I even worked out last night - first time in a while. 

This morning, I was in a rush. I'd let the morning slip away from me and two minutes before I needed to leave I realized I had not prepared anything to take for lunch.  I panicked.  I have no cash until payday, so going out wasn't an option.  I grabbed a bag of broccoli slaw and some balsamic vinegarette.  I headed to the freezer in the garage, content to claim just a mild defeat by grabbing a spicy black bean veggie burger.  Then I realized I had fully cooked frozen chicken tenderloins out there!  (Tyson makes a kind that's not perfect, but lower in salt than most store-bought frozen grilled chicken. I bought the bag a couple of months ago.)  I grabbed a few of those and tossed them in a ziploc.

Add to that a bag of baby carrots, a peach, a Larabar and some pistachios to snack on and I was set.

I received an email this morning from our admin letting us know that there was still some Jason's Deli food leftover from yesterday if anyone wanted it.  I told Rach and Joie about the email and how my immediate reaction was, "NO NO NO!" (In my head, of course, I wouldn't want to be rude!) 

The way I felt yesterday after eating those foods was awful.  I was miserable all afternoon and into the evening.  Talking to my husband, I wondered aloud, "Did I just feel like that all the time before and not notice?"  I can eat Paleo foods until I'm stuffed and not feel sick afterward.  No amount of Paleo foods make me feel bloated and ill. 

I don't wanna feel sick any more. 

My friends say I'm lucky because I have the almost instant reaction to these bad foods.  That's a good way to look at it, I suppose.  I'm still shocked at how badly my body reacts to things I used to consider "healthy" not so long ago.

I put my lunch together today and the plate of food just made me smile.  Not only are these foods very tasty, I know they're doing good things for me as well.  I know when I'm done eating, I'll feel satisfied, not sick.

My body is healing with this diet.  I don't consider this a "low carb" diet because I still eat plenty of fruits and veggies, so I'm getting my carbs. I'm just getting them from a more natural source.

As my body heals, I have more energy. As my energy increases, I move more, exercise more, etc. 
And with the better foods and extra movement comes weight loss.  Yes, I need to lose weight, but being fat was never enough to convince me to eat right long term.  I'm not eating just to lose weight any more.  I'm eating for my health.  Not just some theory that might add three years to the end of my life - my health today. Right now. 

If I want to feel good today, I need to eat well today. 

How life changing is that?

Rachael's week in Paleo

This week saw a huge change in my blood sugar. I’ve dropped 40 points in my AM fasting state within the last 2 weeks. Part of this was a medicine small medicine tweak that my doctor and I decided on last Friday, but I also believe it has a lot to do with converting over to a paleo lifestyle.

I have to take a minute to say that I was not able to do the 30 day lifestyle change that’s described in Robb Wolf’s book, or on other Paleo-centric blogs out on the interwebz. My brain and I (and yes, I think of us as being 2 different entities most of the time, because I fight with my brain on a daily basis) would not be able to mental handle such an abrupt cut off.

However, the beautiful thing is the farther along on my Paleo Journey I go, the less I’m craving breads and sweets. And the more fun I am having finding “new” comfort foods. For the first time since being diagnosed as a diabetic, I am enjoying what I do eat, knowing it is lower on the glycemic index than the processed foods I used to eat, which makes my insulin levels rise and fall shorter and slower levels over time.  This is an all-around health boost.

This weekend, I had to go buy new undies, because mine were all falling off me.  What a great problem to have!

I also found a new store that recently opened up called, “Greater Than Grains,” and is our city’s first ever gluten-free shop. I was amazed that the people running the store really seemed to get a totally grain free lifestyle! I was able to find several things I haven’t been able to find at the local grocery stores, like bags of unsweetened coconut flakes (for making our own coconut milk!), arrowroot powder, and they had freezer cases of organic/nitrate free meats! I cannot wait to dig into that. I will be visiting that store a lot in the near future.

All in all, it was a pretty great week. I can think of only 2 meals that were not Paleo-iferic.  That’s pretty darn good for my husband and I.  As we see the benefits we are both happier with ourselves.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sara's First Week on Paleo

In all honesty, I would say I spent about 70% of my first week eating Paleo.  Evening was usually my downfall. My husband works nights – after the kids were in bed and he was off to work, I’d find myself stress eating.  Nothing full on terrible, but not Paleo foods, typically.  Even so, I’ve noticed some changes.

My ankles have been MUCH less swollen over the past week!  And the times they’ve puffed up have been because I chose to eat something I shouldn’t have. I was PMSing last week, so it was a rough time to restrict myself.  I kept some bittersweet chocolate on hand for cravings. I actually forgot about it by the end of the week, oddly enough. I still have some in my desk drawer. 

Yesterday, I went about 85% of my day eating Paleo foods. Last night, I sent a picture of my ankles/feet to Rach because I was just so excited.  You could see the bones in my ankles and feet – I had ZERO inflammation in my legs by the end of the day.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen that.

I need to work on my night time snacking.  I’m not necessarily feeling the effects of these “bad” foods because I’m asleep when it hits, but I know it’s not helping my insides, plus I’d probably sleep better if I would cut that out. 

I’ve made small changes for my family as well.  Rick usually eats what I eat when he’s home – I do the cooking and he's a former vegetarian, so there's not much he won't try.  The kids have not fought too hard on the few changes I’ve made for them, which is nice.  I’ve switched us over to almond milk.  I bought one jug of cow milk this week, but only because our middle son is home now and he doesn’t seem to be a fan of the unsweetened vanilla almond milk I’ve been buying.  Maybe he’ll like my next batch of homemade – we’ll see. 

I’ve also been cutting out the starch from our dinner.  I usually served meat, veggie, starch – pasta or rice, etc.  No one seems to have noticed.  I did the same at lunch time over the weekend, too.  More fruits and veggies, less junk.  Thankfully, my kids love fruit!

I’m slowly converting our pantry/fridge/freezer over to more Paleo-friendly foods.  School is about to start up again, so I’m trying to focus my efforts on portable foods for lunches. I’m not cutting out sandwich bread (for the kids) at this point, but I’m sticking with the organic whole grain breads we get from Bountiful Baskets instead of buying store bread that’s full of preservatives. 

not my photo, but the same bread we buy!

Onward and upward!  All I know is eating this way makes me feel great. I’m also impressed that I’ve lost a few pounds over the past week.  I don’t think I’ve ever LOST weight while PMSing before!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Recipe for Dinner: Salmon and Slaw

Tonight I was home late because I'd gone grocery shopping after work. My lunch and p.m. snack were but a faint memory. I was tired, foot sore, and cranky.

And hungry.

But I did not want to make dinner.

People tell me that part of the problem with sticking to a Paleo-esque diet is all the prepping and cooking, and planning, and shopping...

Honey, I did South Beach when it first came out, and followed the memu in the first edition of the book for the first month before I felt confident enough to mix it up on my own. And I was cooking for 2 other people in the house who were also doing the diet - so I know from prep time. And cooking, and shopping, etc. ad Nauseum.

But it seriously, doesn't have to be a big-assed deal. Take tonight, for instance, I didn't want to cook, so I made the quickest thing I could thing of.

I made Salmon Filets and Broccoli Slaw.

Isn't this a beautiful dinner?

It really does taste as good as it looks, too. I know, because DaHubster is behind me making yummy sounds as I type this.

The salmon filets were cooked my favorite way - half pan seared, half poached. That sounds complicated, but all you do is get a skillet really hot, with a tiny bit of oil. Then put the filets in the pan flesh side down, cooking for two minutes. Flip the filets over, pour in chicken stock halfway up the side of the filet, cover, turn the heat as low as it will go, and let it finish cooking about 4-5 minutes. I threw some green onions in there before covering, too.

Easy, right? And it took all of 10 minutes.

The slaw took maybe 10 minutes as well, and here it is:
  • Buy per-shredded Broccoli slaw from the store, and if you are so inclined (as I was), an additional bag of shredded carrots. I only used a handful of the carrots, btw.
  • Slice up 1 or 2 green onions
  • Mix in a bowl.

Dressing for slaw:
  • 2 parts Red Wine Vinegar (or lemon juice if you don't use vinegars)
  • 1.5 parts good olive oil
  • about 1 teaspoon brown mustard (for emulsification)
  • about 1/4 teaspoon honey (to cut the acidity)
  • Spices to your liking. I used salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano
Put into a jar with a lid and shake. Then lightly coat your slaw.


Now, as far as vinegar not being Paleo, well...that's your determination to make. I use it, and I don't think there's too much a problem with it. It's technically not "of the time frame" but I haven't heard any overtly negative reactions bodily too it, so I'm not really worried about it.But if you do not want to use vinegar, lemon juice is a very good substitute.

So really, it was 15 to 20 minutes of prepping and cook time. And I have to tell you, I am not feeling so cranky anymore, now that I've eaten that.


Introduction:  Joie


   My turn.  I'm Joie (pronounced JOY. It's French. I'm not.)   I'm half Italian, with the love of pasta and breads and all that goes with it.  I'm a Midwestern girl who's been surrounded by dairy and cheeeeeeese and whole grains and county fair sweet delights.  Now I'm deep in the heart of Texas, where Southern fried everything, fast food Nirvana and ethnic carbohydrate overload is the norm.  No wonder I've been pudgy/heavy/thick for most of my life... and downright fat since entering my 50's.  I'll be 52 next month.
     I contracted breast cancer at age 50.  Survivor, here.  During that time, I threw all caution to the wind and dove into my comfort foods to "cope with the stress."  Bad idea.  My weight reached heights never seen before, and my internal numbers skyrocketed.  I was put on blood pressure meds, and water pills, and cholesterol meds, and was approaching the need to test my blood sugar levels regularly.  Reality check, please?
     I turned to my Dr., who put me on The Ideal Protein Plan.  It worked for a while, but was soooo restrictive and monitored... then became very pricey. The best part of THAT plan is that it prepared me for the next step.

Enter my friend Rachael, creator of this page.
A chat, a link, a book.  The Paleo Solution.  :)

     Now?  I'm about off my meds, with the exception of my cancer hormone suppressor.  I'm a size down and feeling so much better. The aches and pains of "getting older" are less noticeable.  The thought of eating like this for the rest of my life is not a scary thing.
     I still need help.  Stress, life in general, and the old bad habits of wanting to eat everything in sight still gets to me.  Temptation is hard to resist.   It's not easy, but I know it's what my body needs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Introduction: Rachael

"Hello, I am Rachael, and I'm addicted to sugar."

(murmers of "Hi Rachael")

Yes, well...it's true. I've been chunky all my life. In my twenties, I went from chunky to obese, and I've been fighting that back for the last 20 years.  Slowly, I have been winning.

I have managed to lose and keep off around 40 lbs for almost 10 years. But I have quite a bit yet to go. I also have Type 2 Diabetes, arthritis, and in need of several joint replacements, of which I refuse to have, because I know they won't solve the problem. 

I have dieted, counted calories, attempted to exercise (without injuring myself) for quite awhile now. I have tried Atkins, I loved the South Beach Diet when it first hit the scene, but I didn't have the time to prep every single meal it called for.

I read the "Eat Right for your Blood Type" books when they came out. I'm an O, and it said that my blood type was best suited as the hunter/gatherer type. There was a lot of "blah-blah-blah" as to why, but it was so clinical and dry that it was hard to swallow. I wanted to ask the author to take me to dinner first.

Yes, I really did say that out loud.

My husband recently read a book called, The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf. He asked me to read it. I did, and not only did it tell me why Hunter/Gather foodstuffs are better to eat for humans, he told me (and everyone that reads the book) - why. He's a former biochemist who's studied what goes on in the gut when you eat good and bad for you food.  And he presents it in a way that is technical, but not dry. It's informative and quippy at the same time.  And I recommend this book to every one I talk to.

Because the thing is, Atkins, South Beach, Blood Type, and Paleo - call it what you will, but ALL of them call for Lean Meats, Low Carb, little to no processed food, and varying degrees of starches and veggies.

I choose the Paleo lifestyle to emulate, because I now have a pretty good idea what I can and cannot eat anymore in relation to what goes on in my stomach, intestines, and pancreas after I eat it. The purer the food the better, including fats. Processed flours and sugars (especially sugar substitutes) I can't hardly tolerate anymore.

It's not just that sugar, carbs, and junk will make me fat. It's also that low-fat, over-processed items will make me sick. And make my joints hurt. They have for years, and I was too busy stuffing my face with tacos and twinkies to listen.

I'm sorry, Body. I'm listening now, as best I can.

Recipe: Stuffed Pork Chops

When I get the urge to make something new, here's what I do:
I read through three or four recipes that are similar to what I want to make and steal a little bit from each of them - technique from one, an ingredient from another, etc.  I then tweak it to make it my own.

Last night, I made some Paleo-friendly stuffed pork chops and they were SO yummy, I wanted to share.  Unfortunately, I was not confident they'd be awesome from the get-go, so I didn't take pictures as I went.  All I have is this lovely pic of my leftovers!

3-4 thick cut, boneless pork chops
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 small apple, diced (I used Fuji)
3 dates, diced
3-4 baby bella mushrooms, diced
1/8 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
sea salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute the onion in the coconut oil over medium heat until the onion begins to soften.  Add the apple, dates, mushrooms, cinnamon and allspice to the onions and oil. Mix to coat everything in the oil and saute for a minute or two.  Remove the mix from the pan and place in a bowl.

Using a sharp knife, create a pocket in the side of each pork chop, fanning the knife out to make the pocket as big as possible (without cutting through to the other side!).  Stuff each chop with as much of the fruit/veggie/almond mix as it will hold. (Note: If you keep the opening just approx 2" wide, the chop will almost seal itself. Secure opening with a soaked toothpick, if needed.) Season the outside of the chops with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Place the chops in the pan and brown on both sides (roughly 2 minutes per side).

If your pan is oven-proof and has a lid, simply place the lid on the pan and pop it in the oven.  If not, you can place them in a baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (the more stuffing you were able to jam in there, the faster they'll cook!). 

I paired my chops with sliced zucchini and squash that I cooked in some homemade chicken broth.


Introduction: Lola

I am a 41 year old divorced mother of one 12 year old.  I work a part time job at a deli/bakery (34 hours a week) after being a stay at home mom for 12 years.  I am currently a solid 30 pounds overweight.  I would like to use Paleo Diet to shed extra pounds, increase energy and to gain  control over my life and eating habits.

I have ordered the Paleo Diet book (not received it yet).  I can tell you what I have ate for the last 2 days that HASNT worked!

Monday for breakfast I ate a piece of zucchini, basil swiss cheese quiche.  Lunch was celery.   When I came home I promptly ate leftover breaded chicken nuggets and french fries then fell asleep for 2 hours.  Not good.

Tuesday I ate canned bean salad for breakfast, for lunch I had Wasa crackers with swiss cheese and when I came home I ate copious amounts of potato chips and a peanut butter cookies.  Fail.  Again.

This generally isnt the way I eat- Honestly!!!!!  I am so tired and exhausted from work I am a zombie when I get home.  Im not sure if I am actually "hungry" when I eat.  Also, the wrong combinations of food are tweaking my blood sugar insulin level which effects energy level.  I have spurts of clarity when everything falls into place : I hit the gym when I should, I work out at home doing push ups, I eat my leafy greens and lean proteins and drink 64 oz. of water a day.  Heck, I even read motivational quotes and positive affirmations!    My "moments of clarity" are becoming less and less frequent.

I am also painfully aware that the foods I have been eating make me tired, logy, miserable and achy.  My job at the deli means 7 hours of standing up, walking around, carrying products, using meat slicers etc.   My legs hurt when I get home.  My back hurts...I am physically exhausted.   Losing weight would mean less stress on my joints at work, less aches when I get home.  Eating better combinations of food means I will be more alert, less tired and have more energy to spend AFTER work as well.   I feel out of control with food and eating..I look forward to being in control of my weight, my energy and MY SELF.

Tonights goal will be : Make a salad (at the very least cut the lettuce and have it ready) for a salad for TOMORROW after work.  I may even make it and put it in an individual serving dish so it is all set for me when I get home.  Less thinking after work may help!  I need to conquer my mindless, impulsive eating.     

Another goal for this evening is log back into MYFITNESSPAL.com (to track my calories, what I eat and my exercise).  Not necessarily for the sake of the calories but so I am completely aware of what I am eating.    If you want to look for me on there, my name is: Lolafrancis.

.............and so the journey begins!