Sunday, September 9, 2012

Are you still doing paleo?

In short - sort of. It has been a really hard few months, for reasons I won't go into, though with a newborn in June, some will be obvious. We are still conscious that the standard American diet sucks and have a fair number if good meals, but with the uncertainty of working around kids and other problems, it has been so difficult to plan. It may be possible to do paleo with spontaneity and creativity on the fly, but not for us, not working on so little sleep. And frankly, take-out is easy, and paleo ingredients mostly don't keep very well. So, we stray a little. Some days a lot. But I hope once things settle down a bit, we can get back to looking after or long-term health, and what we eat is a lot of that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not feeling so great... and I'm frustrated.

I'm really starting to think that my less-than-paleo eating is starting to make me feel sick. I had rice, cream cheese, ice cream, and a significant amount of processed sugar last night, and this morning I feel wretched. Nauseated, headache, aching all over, stuffiness, that kind of thing.

I'm pretty sure that milk and I do NOT work very well together. Almost every time I consume regular ice cream I end up being stuffy. However, it takes several hours for these symptoms to crop up, generally overnight. I guess it hits my digestive system and that's where things go wonky.

I also believe that sugar is likely a bad idea for me. When I say sugar, I am referring to granulated white or brown sugar or HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). It seems that when I do consume any significant amount, I end up being super-lethargic. But as with milk, it seems to take a while for the effects to hit my system.

As to rice, I simply don't know. Rice is generally considered "non-paleo" in most common paleo circles, but as it is a grass and not an actual grain, I wonder if it can actually be acceptable.

Alas, I could likely nit-pick such things till the end of time, but after a time there seems a point of diminishing usefulness in this particular line of thinking. The Paleo way of eating has no real lines of delineation aside from the basics, being the following:

1. Eat veggies, meat, nuts, and fruits
2. Don't eat tubers, legumes, dairy, sugar, grains, or processed foods.

And even these basic things are debated regularly on forums, blogs, and in books. It's starting to seem a very contentious type of diet, as there are a mass of contradictions in recipes and philosophies. There seems a general " eat what is right for you" type of mindset, once you get past the foaming-at-the-mouth paleo zealots who say there is only one way or the half-hearted paleo dabblers who eat in this fashion only when it suits them.

Eat what is right for you. Doesn't give me a whole lot to go on. At least everyone seems to agree that grains, beans, lots of cane sugar, and processed foods are out. That's about it, though.

I do hope to find my balance in truly healthy eating soon, as this kind of debate wears thin and annoys quickly.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Respect the mandoline

Everyone warned me, but did I listen? Yeah, I did. I just figured I would be careful and I'd be OK. Wrong.

So anyway, I sliced off the end of my finger with the mandoline. Here's how it happened, and the lessons to be learned. Don't worry, there won't be any pictures, except this one:
It's the *ring* finger - I'm not flipping the bird. Yes, my awesome wife decorated it as a Jayne hat.

I had a big cut of beef, partially thawed, which I intended to cut thin and make jerky. Problem is, I hadn't cut off all the gristle on the edges, and it was a little too solid still, so it wouldn't go through the mandoline easily like it's supposed to.

I thought if I just sliced off that gristle, it would go better, and so I was pressing a little too hard, and... I don't remember if my hand slipped, or the meat, but it doesn't matter. I slipped, and I was looking at a little piece of skin lying on the cutting board and a chunk missing out of my ring finger.

Could have been a lot worse, really. It was a clean cut, small, didn't hit any bone or finger nail. I applied pressure, elevated, wrapped it, and sought medical attention. (In case you're ever in this situation, that's what to do. BTW, no, they can't reattach your missing bits.) I could have cut a lot more, or a lot more deeply. It's going to be fine.

Lessons learned:

1. Everything going through the mandoline should fly through it with ease. If it doesn't, just don't use it! Simple as that. If you're having to apply any real pressure, you have a chance of slipping like I did. It's not worth the risk.
2. Do all your modifications before you put something through the mandoline (before freezing if it's meat). It's just there to make little slices. It's not for detail work.

I think this can still be used safely, just with great caution. One of my friends recommended these cut-resistant gloves. I think I'll get some - could be useful for all kinds of cutting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ice Cream, Adjusted

My guilt became more than I could consciously take upon my second day of consuming Ben & Jerry's.

Why? Two things- corn syrup and bean gums.

The bean gums I have less of a problem with, as they seem to be relatively far down the ingredient list. But corn syrup? BAD. VERY BAD.

It's the main culprit for my guilt, especially because I'm feeding someone else inside me. Because of this, I felt the need to obtain some ice cream with a smaller and less processed ingredient list.

Off to Whole Paycheck we went in search of a slightly more wholesome heartburn killer. Yes, loaded with cane sugar still, so "wholesome" is a pretty loose term. It would be fabulous to find full-fat milk ice cream with some kind of natural sweetener... oh wait... that's what making yer own ice cream is for. Which I will do. Eventually.

But until then, I suppose I'll have to content myself with Talenti Coconut Gelato and Breyer's Chocolate Ice Cream. And Ciao Bella Peach Ginger Sorbet.

I just hope the cane sugar, bean gums, and dairy don't mess me up too much. It'll certainly add to the baby weight I've already gained. :P

Fun with the dehydrator

I tried dehydrating a bunch of things over the weekend: sweet potatoes, apples, and beef. Results were mixed.

First of all, I take back what I said about the mandoline not being good at slicing sweet potatoes. That was because those ones had been sitting in our kitchen for months getting dried out and tough. When I sliced up fresh sweet potatoes, it was no problem.

I seasoned some only with salt, some with salt and cinnamon, and some with salt+cinnamon+cayenne (I like it hot). All got a little olive oil sprayed lightly on top of the spices. They dried up nicely. If I left the skin on, the edges were curled up in a pretty way. But I overdid the salt on all of them, and I didn't really care for the texture on any of them - I guess I'm expecting sweet potato chips like the ones that get fried in oil. Doesn't seem to be a way to make that with a dehydrator. Also, when I left them out for a few hours after drying them, they sucked up some moisture and were basically limp leather. Not too tasty.
They looked pretty good and were crispy... at first.
So, I moved on to apples. I think it's pretty hard to go wrong with apples. I had four different kinds of apples; I think the Granny Smith, Fuji, and Gala came out well, with Braeburn a little lackluster. For these, I threw together a little seasoning including lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The sliced apples were in this for a few hours while I did other things.
On top I left one row of plain apples for comparison. Two trays below were flavored. Didn't feel a need to peel any of them - good nutrients in those peels!
I also blended up some apples (peeled this time) and some pears with a teaspoon of cinnamon in the food processor so I could dry them into "fruit leather" (somewhat like Fruit Roll-ups, except without adding weird stuff to the fruit).
Pear-apple-cinnamon blend on the mat

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ice Cream

So, I am having massive heartburn. I have tried basically everything paleo under the sun. I have even scoured the interwebs to see what people have suggested. Guess what? To paraphrase the words of one chick, "basically, NOTHING helps heartburn in the paleo diet".
How bloody encouraging. So, I am going back to my old standby from when I was preggers with Aria- ice cream.

No, it's not "Whole30 paleo", but I'm preggers and I can't really do hardcore paleo. Not while acid is burning my esophagus. I need to sleep, and I need to feel decent, and Luke (ever the realist) said, "look, if it keeps you from feeling like crap, do it. There is no guilt in eating something that actually helps make you feel better." And you know, he's right. I have to do what works for me.

Don't get me wrong- I'll still be eating paleo. Just with the addition of ice cream. So, there you have it. And I can't say I won't relish it, because I LOVE me some ice cream. Especially with chocolate and nuts. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakfast: I used to hate Brussels Sprouts

For breakfast this morning I figured we needed some more veggies. I cooked up a recent favorite: Brussels Sprouts and Soppressata.
It's even colorful!

And, since we had it, I cut up a luscious mango too.

This took me about 45 minutes without the little one bothering me (she woke up at the end!). Read further for details:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


It's one of those days. I just didn't really feel like being bothered with much. I made sweet potato biscuits, though. And conquered the mountainous pile of my clothes that have been looking at me for well over a week. I even got together some zucchini noodles and meat sauce for dinner. I just didn't feel like doing anything that was on the never-ending list of things to do, so not much of great importance or usefulness.

I did finish "Lost in Austen" and "Vanity Fair"(the one with Reese Witherspoon-- I don't know if there are any other interpretations) on Netflix. I have never seen Reese Witherspoon in a costume drama, nor have I heard her bust out an Accepted English accent before. She was pretty convincing, even though I would have never expected her for a period role. Good on you, Reese. You make quite a convincing Waterloo-era social climbing, headstrong woman. Plus, the hair and costumes are ridiculously accurate and sumptuous. And you look awesome in them.

And I just love Lost in Austen. There's time-travel, Edwardian costume, comedy, and romance. And all the lovely dialogue. I could watch it basically every day, if I could. Seriously. It's that amazing. And Alex Kingston and Jemima Rooper are so brilliant.

Random rabbit-trail of a post, I know, but I will write something of consequence shortly. Honest. But today, I have day off. Mama needed it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Learning in the Kitchen, ep.2

Oh dear. Yet another failing of sorts. This... thing was supposed to be Cucumber-Melon Chilled Soup. It didn't turn out exactly as I expected. AND it took me over two weeks to own up to this lovely.

I took some honey, some sad melon that had come into my possession and a large cucumber and threw them into the blender, hoping that by some miracle I would end up with something edible.

The result? Pretty enough. Edible? Nothing doing. 
Ultimately, this was not what I was aiming for. Then again, I've never even made a chilled soup of any kind. Still... I'm pretty sure that it wasn't supposed to be grainy and lifeless. Yet another thing to retry at a later date. Or maybe the cucumber/melon combo is better left to prosciutto hors d'oeuvres and scented body lotion.

Learning in the kitchen, ep. 1

Adventures in Ugly Paleo Dessert Land

Banana Almond "Dump Cake". Looks precisely like its name. Why do most of the Paleo desserts turn out so ugly?

The aforementioned cake stuck like a mother. Thankfully, I was able to soak/scrub off the majority of the nasties.

This is my sad attempt at trying to make the poop dessert look better. I think I just succeeded in making it MORE like poop, assuming that's possible. 
Hey, at least it tasted pretty decent. Aria had no problem snarfing down her portion.
It took me almost a week to own up to the fact that I actually made this monstrosity. I finally swallowed my foodie pride and am now making the post. I know that screw-ups are inevitable along the path to understanding how to cook what you're cooking, but my perfectionist nature is less than happy about the ugly. Hopefully this will happen less as I cook more. I want to eventually be the kind of cook that just looks in the fridge, freezer, counter, and pantry, snatches whatever motley assortment of things she can, and makes awesomeness out of thin air. And food. I know that this will take a while, but I think I can do it as long as I keep experimenting and keep looking at recipes. Darn learning process. I want awesome now.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Paleo eats, day 27

Breakfast: bacon and eggs with orange juice
Snack: banana mug cake- nom
Lunch: didn't really eat lunch
Snack: nuts
Dinner: maple glazed pork tenderloin and asparagus
Dessert: avocado-based chocolate pudding with a whole can of coconut milk!
Sorry about the lameness of this post, but I got behind. The preggers thing is really wearing me out more than I had planned. That, and Aria refused to go to bed until Luke got back from his performance of Carmina Burana. 10:30. Crazypants.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Paleo eats, day 26

I woke up this morning with a massively stuffed-up nose, grumpy, and feeling nauseated/gross/heartburn-y. The only thing I can attribute this to was the meal last night.

In the future I shall strive to make my cheats smaller and not meal-pervasive. Maybe more like a small cup of ice cream OR fries OR a bacon cheeseburger, not all at once. And maybe once a week, so preggers me doesn't get too crazy with the craving thing. I think one scoop of ice cream per week, if that, sounds very reasonable to me.

Oh well, like every paleo noob, I have to learn from experience that I can't load my system with formerly eaten, non-paleo foods without having adverse effects. My body has gotten used to processing clean, good-for-it food; obviously it's going to yell at me for basically putting "foreign bodies" into my digestive system.

Anyhow, food for the day--
  • Breakfast: frozen grapes and hot Ginger Soother drink -- both for nausea and feeling not great. They really do work a treat, as long as you don't eat too many grapes or slug back the ginger stuff. Barfing ensues with that.
  • Lunch: Cinnamon Toasted Overn Roasted Whole Chicken with fresh steamed green beans
    • holy guacamole. So awesome. It looked super-scary because it was black as pitch and smoking up the great room, but it tasted great. Do not be decieved by appearances when making this, eat it as it is, and you will be pleasantly surprised. 
    • had a random allergic reaction that wouldn't go away for almost 2 hours. Boo. I have no idea what that was all about. Probably some malfunction-y glitch in my immune system. I feel so broken sometimes.
  • Snack: macadamias
  • Dinner: cold leftover roasted chicken and green beans; no reaction this time, thankfully
  • Dessert: chocolate mug cake
    • eh, it was okay, but it was pretty dry and dense. I guess I was hoping for more of a spongy cake. It was, however, made better with the application of further maple syrup and almond milk. It was a bit reminiscent of the chocolate island dessert I've had before at Bahama Breeze, which is very tasty. Gotta work on the consistency...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The richly-deserved cheat meal of glory

Sarah here...

So, Aria had been driving me nuts with her whining and being a drama queen, I had a cramp in my leg that wouldn't go away, and Luke was wanting run errands that would take a large amount of the evening.

This was not going to fly with my fragile, frustrated, hormonal self.

Luke asked me what I wanted, and in a very downcast manner, I replied, "I want ice cream". After this mopey statement, I proceeded to have a massive, messy, hormonal cry/pity party, and Luke was a sweetheart and kept close by. Even Aria was making "shhh" noises, laying her head on my lap, and patting my leg saying things like, "Awww, okay Mama? Okay." Very cute. My kid's a little caretaker.

Luke made the valid point that I have had a hard time with my diet/food allergy nonsense and even said he thought I had performed "quite admirably" in my quest to try to be a good little paleo. He also said that he could tell I was trying to do right not just by myself, but for the family.

Because of this, he felt that (assuming I was not going to have a guilt trip over it) I should either indulge sensibly or I should be proud of myself for not succumbing to the easy route.

Clearly, the latter was not very interesting to hormone-riddled me, so I went with eating what my body was craving: the lovely Lucky 32 restaurant.

So, feeling much better about life (despite still maintaining a red nose and flushed cheeks from my cry-fest), we got dressed and went to eat.

And oh, the nommage. The glorious nommage.

We know quite a few of the waitstaff really well (we're pretty regular customers) and they absolutely adore Aria, along with knowing that I can eat about 2 bread plates of their pickled okra with basically no help. And they certainly remembered this time.

I chose Lucky 32 for my indulgy meal because all of their food comes from local farms, making everything a bit more expensive, but the difference in flavor and freshness is beyond comparison. Also, they can make a mean grass-fed beef bacon burger, which is exactly what I had.

On top of said burger I had fresh melted cheddar and gobs of rich mayo. I even went without the bun and wrapped it in lettuce, so I kinda felt that was points for me. ( I know, a dubious switch-up for the gobs of mayo, but whatever.)

With the burger, I had some tasty hand cut fries and some more okra, and as the piece de resistance I split a three-scoop, farm-fresh, OMG-I-have-discovered-nirvana sundae. It had 2 scoops of butter pecan and a scoop of vanilla with real hot fudge on top. And let me state this: if you ever get your hands on this Homeland Creamery crack, you will not go back to the store-bought ice cream. Ever. Seriously.

All in all, total bliss was achieved, with not a hint of guilt in sight. I went to sleep a VERY happy woman.

Paleo eats, day 25 and recipe!

News update!
I am approximately 30 weeks along in my pregnancy, with 10 more weeks to go (or thereabouts). I'm not saying an exact date for two reasons:

  1. I don't want folks annoying me as it gets closer to some due date that the doctor basically pulled out of the air, and
  2. I have learned, from Aria and her shenanigans when she was born, that babies come whenever they dang well please. No point in trying to get them out before they're baked or freaking out if they come sooner than you planned. Basically, unless you're having a c-section, babies aren't big on bending to schedules because it's convenient. It's just one of those things that will go better for you if you roll with it, rather than stressing about timelines.

Ok, right... food...

  • Breakfast: frozen grapes, sunflower seeds, and cranberry juice
    • I wanted to eat more, but I was feeling pretty gross/tired.
  • Lunch: pork, kale, and onion stew and some more creamy tomato soup from yesterday (I think it's meant to be eaten fresh; it tasted a little strange today. Maybe it was the container...)

The make-up picture from being preoccupied last night when I actually made it. I will get better at this.

First paleo recipe! I can't promise it will turn out perfectly, but you'll get the gist, I hope. Not for folks who are anti- garlic and onion!

Pork Loin, Kale and Onion Stew

5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 med. White onion, diced finely
(I just used the grating blade on my food processor)
Approximately 5 cups organic vegetable broth (TJ's)
Approximately 1/2 bag o' kale (also from Trader Joe's)
1 pre-cooked tarragon & salt pork loin, cut into cubes
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A bit of coconut oil


  1. In a 4 qt. Soup pot, melt the coconut oil over high heat and brown the onions and garlic (about 10 minutes)
  2. Deglaze pot with about 1 cup of broth, making sure to scrape all the tasty bits off the bottom that you can.
  3. Throw in the kale and allow the pot to return to a bubble. Don't forget to occasionally tamp down and stir the stew to get the kale covered.
  4. After returning to a bubble, cut the heat to medium low or low, dump in the pork loin cubes, and cover. Stir occasionally to keep things from sticking and allow to simmer for anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple hours, depending on how powerful you want the taste to be.

Biggest things to stress:

    • Have on hand salt, pepper, and more onion and garlic, whether in powder form or fresh.
  • The broth WILL dilute the original pungency.
    • Depending on what you like, you'll likely want to kick it up a bit.
  • Be careful not to over-season in your zeal for flavor.
    • More can always be added, but it's a heck of a lot harder to calm flavors down, once added. 

It isn't pretty, but it was food.

Ok, so the final result tasted REALLY strange, and I think this was largely due to the boxed Trader Joe's veggie broth I used. BUT! I found that juicing a lime into the stew made a world of difference. It magically ironed the weird out.

I think I'll try my hand at making pork stock and then trying that with above recipe. I'm sorry, but don't use Trader Joe's boxed broths. Overall, they have been a disappointment. I'll let you know if I do find good stocks that aren't loaded with chemicals and questionable substances. I'm sure they exist outside of homemade.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paleo eats, day 24

Sarah here...
Yeah, yeah... I know I haven't done a proper paleo diet post in a looong time. So, I figured I'd best get crackin', what with 30 days of good paleo coming up. But let me do a bit of catching you all up on what's been going on.

I found out that I am no longer allergic to salt! Wondered about that one from the beginning... yesterday I tried cheapy-cheap $0.37 Harris Teeter salt, and no reaction.

Evidently me and buffalo are good as well. Plus it was possibly the best burger I have consumed in quite some time. Or maybe that was just because I was craving burgers. More on that below!

I'm really starting to wonder (Luke is too) if all of this allergy nonsense was just one big, protracted allergic reaction to the stupid omaha steaks hot dog that I blithely ate without scanning the ingredients. Last time I do that. It does seem more than a little improbable that it was just the one thing that did me in, but this whole hypothesis could be a bit more believable if I was actually continuing to touch off the original reaction with other trigger foods. What are said trigger foods? I have no idea.

Regardless, I haven't had an allergic reaction in a little over a day! So I don't know if my hormones just normalized, or if the allergen was un-bugged for long enough that things calmed down, or what, but I'm feeling much better not being constantly in a quasi-stupor from benedryl.

I have also been a very good girl, IMO, in regards to not eating any cane sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, or even potatoes for the past 24 days. IT HAS NOT BEEN EASY. OR FUN. However, I know that I'm also eating for my baby girl, who I hope is benefiting from these sacrifices I've chosen to make.

So, on with the foods!
Breakfast: scrambled egg whites with Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute and sea salt (as a challenge; worked fine ^_^)
Snack: salad with romaine, spinach, strawberries(as challenge; result fine), orange slices, and sunflower seeds (also challenge; result fine)
-- I wanted to put some of the nommy looking balsamic vinegar on there, but to ease Luke's frazzled nerves, I ate it dry. *pouts*
More snack: some apple-sweetened dried cranberries and more sunflower seeds
Lunch: bison burger seasoned with sea salt and 21 seasonings (challenge; result fine) and more romaine. Lots of romaine.
-- I love bison. THAT is some crazy-tasty stuff.
Snack: macadamias
Dinner: pork loin with tarragon and salt
Creamy tomato soup (as a challenge for tomato; result fine!)
-- this soup was nirvana-like for comfort-food-starved me. With only minor changes to the recipe (more coconut milk, tomato paste, basil, and vegetable stock), it was perfect. Bless you nomnompaleo! Link to site
Dessert: ummmm... yeah. Tasty, but jeez, seriously ugly. I dub it... banana almond "dump cake". More on that in another post. Heh. All in all, a pretty rockin' day for mostly allergy free. Yay!
It was definitely a blue sky kinda day.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Resigning myself to the way things are

I tried beef as a challenge once more, and found(not surprisingly, but unfortunately) that I at least have a sensitivity to beef, if nothing else. Symptoms: heaviness in chest, swelling of face, itchiness all over that won't quit. 
This is thoroughly depressing. Of course I want to eat beef, salt, egg yolks, and all kinds of other not-so-fabulous-for-you things. It barely needs mentioning that I want to make and consume every "paleo" dessert out there. Yes, I am pretty flippin' angry about the nasty hand Life has dealt me. Sure, I want to peruse tons of recipes and feel sorry for myself about what I can't eat and lick my wounds and have people baby me and say "oh poor you"...
There is a SERIOUS problem with allowing myself to continue this line of thought. This kind of thinking evolves into a lifestyle- one of a constant search for pity, because people feel Life has victimized them in some way or other. Because they feel they are a victim, they become embittered or depressed. The bitterness and depression soon act as a poison to those around them, and they develop this kind of black mark so that people start staying away from them, due to how preoccupied they have become with their less-than-wonderful circumstances. Thus, they are left alone to stew in their own unaddressed unhappiness. This would be an extreme case, but I imagine all of us probably know someone who fits at least some of the above.

I have had some incredibly shitty things happen to me, perhaps even enough to justify being bitter. However, I have fought negativity, the victim mindset, and self-pity with basically all I am. Sure, I'm human and I need a good pity-party kind of cry every now and then. The difference is that I choose to pick myself back up, re-address the situation, and move forward- turning suckitude into a learning experience and looking up, knowing that things will get better. Whether it's immediately, in the near future, or years down the road is up to God, not me. 
So, all of that previous, quasi-soapboxy diatribe was said for this: I'm not happy with the serious limitations that have been imposed on me, but I think I recognize three important things:
1. I need to be creative and work within my limitations
2. I do NOT need to torture myself with what I can't have but wish I had
3. I need to recognize that I am forming a new "normal" and take it easy on myself, recognizing that this is a journey, and I am making new discoveries about myself, the world around me, and how I interact with that world.
That said, I think I will learn to be happy where I am, thankful for what I have, and accepting of the challenge I have before me- I will purpose to do my best to make the most of the Life I have been given, as I only have each moment once. I'm sure I'll be looking at this little pep talk quite a few times, but I believe I am strong enough to follow through, with some help from Above and from those around me.

A new day is dawning for me, and I need to be here now.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Food challenge crankiness

So, it seems my body has, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make me not just paleo, but pretty hard-core paleo. Supremely annoying, that. I don't mind being paleo at all, mind you. In fact, I pretty much love the amazing variety of paleo-friendly recipes you can find within fresh meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils, and seasonings.

I do, however, start taking it personally when my body decides that basic things like egg yolks, beef, salt, and very nearly any hot pepper are no longer cool to eat.
I have drunk more fruit/egg white protein shakes, eaten more avocados, and annihilated more bananas in the last 2 weeks than I have in all my previous 26 years.


Like I wake up from a brief nap and I come rambling into the kitchen with a crazed, desperate look in my eye, and the thought in my head of "I could eat a bacon burger with mayo and cheese, AND thick-cut, seasoned steak fries, AND a healthy helping of pickled okra, AND a caesar salad, AND a Goodberry's chocolate pecan concrete and that would just about do it... oh, and a tamari-sesame seed rice cake to top it off."

Either it's the preggers craving thing, or the fact that I went Paleo cold-turkey (basically), or I am WEAK. Regardless, I'm going bonkers with these cravings floating around in my brain. WHY am I torturing myself with these thoughts? Do I need to just cave and eat the stuff just so my craving ravings will shut up? I really don't know.

Being a good little Paleo is bloody hard when you're preggers. And when you're severely limited in your ability to eat as you like. DO NOT WANT.

Cold and hungry.

Picture by  James Marvin Phelps 
Not our supposed cave-dwelling forebears, me - for the last few weeks. It's not that paleo is a "diet" that restricts how much food I can eat, leaving me hungry. I just seem to always be hungry. I can't seem to prepare food fast enough to get full for very long. And when I get distracted, I can get really hungry without noticing it.

I'm also cold an awful lot. The weather has been mostly chilly on balance, and my job generally involves sitting down all day. I'm still a hotbox when I'm in motion, but sitting still I find myself reaching for a sweater. When I was about 25, I went through a metabolic shift. I remember it because before, I would go to a dance and come out with a little perspiration, and after, I would soak through two shirts at a dance (literally had to bring multiples). I wonder if that change is reversing now that I'm on paleo. I've never heard anyone talk about either of these things happening, but then, I haven't really read that extensively.

I started paleo mostly to support Sarah, but also because I noticed that I tend to seriously drag in the afternoon. I prefer to have energy, and I noticed that if I ate a proper paleo breakfast (especially) and lunch, the afternoon went a lot better. So I welcomed extending it to the full day.

I would like to lose the belly fat, too. Not that I'm really obese, but I put on some pounds after college and especially with the baby, and it mostly went right to my belly. I was well north of 180 for quite a while. Recently I've been between 170 and 180. I got on the scale this morning, and what do you know? 165 - haven't been there since college. So, I may be hungry for now, but I'm also lighter. I notched my belt one more with ease - may have to get some new pants in a while. Maybe even exercise to have some muscle :)

Wouldn't mind having some of the other benefits people have reported from paleo, like relief from allergies, insomnia, and depression, and better concentration and energy. We'll see about those. My insomnia does often seem better, as long as I practice not letting my mind race after Aria (inevitably) wakes me up in the morning.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Food Challenges

So yeah, haven't been terribly active on here recently due to the fact that my food allergies have gone nutzo. I've been challenging foods and so far, I can eat the following:
Egg whites
Frozen peach slices
Frozen mango chunks
Carrots, and
Romaine Lettuce.
Woo. Exciting list, there.

The things I probably can't eat?
Egg yolks
Cane Sugar
Sea salt (this one's a certainty).
I could cry. I want some real food so badly it hurts. Hey, at least we finally got rid of all the non-Paleo junk in our house so it doesn't keep staring at me and saying, "you know you want to eat me". We gave it to a couple of friends of ours who just got jobs after a pretty long dry spell, and they seemed happy enough. :)

Also, the wonderful Luke will be taking off of work today to help me be all scientific-like with my challenges. And help me buy more food. And help me with Aria. And get some important errands/chores done. W00t. So it isn't all bad. And at least I'm not eating stuff that's hard on my system. :)

Challenges du jour are as follows:
Orange juice
Black pepper
Regular salt
Olive oil
Pork or Chicken.

It's kinda doubtful that I'll get through all of these (awesome if I do, though!), but at least that's what's on the slate. I'll report back tonight with how the day went, hopefully with more foods I know for certain I can/can't eat.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter eats

Just a few snapshots from the day...
The mandoline in action making zucchini chips.

Laying out the chips on the tray...
... in the dehydrator. One zucchini made more than one tray.
After they've dried out. This was the "super-thin" setting which I think was too thin. Many of the chips stuck to the tray and broke apart when removing.
Aria ate these things like candy. I never would have thought a kid would love vegetables so.
Trying to make zoodles. It's hard to get it to hold the zucchini sideways, and they come out really thin.

Oh yeah, I made ribs, but neglected to take any pictures until we had eaten most of them. Dry rub, roasted with water in the oven for three hours until the bones would pull right out.

Leftovers for tomorrow!

First post - Kitchen gadgets review

First post from Luke here... We bought a bunch of gadgets lately. What can I say, I'm a geek. Also, we really need these!

Clockwise, we have a dehydrator (for fruit/veggie chips, jerky, etc.), a slow cooker (for set-and-forget all-day cooking), and a mandolin (for several variation on slicing things thin and regular, e.g. aforementioned fruit/veggie chips). We've had a chance to try them all out now and make a preliminary report. (The headers are links to the product on Amazon... we love Amazon.)

Nesco/American Harvest FD-80 Square-Shaped Dehydrator

This is about as simple as it gets, without being too simple. Four trays to hold the things we want to dehydrate (we may buy more) and a dial on the top to control the temperature. The first thing we tried was zucchini chips. Slice up the zucchini, lay out, add salt/spices, and plug it in. I put it out in the shed because we didn't really want the house smelling like garlic and onion. The next morning, they were chips. Way too much "flavor" added, but the concept was there. We did it again today with super-thin zucchini slices and light sea salt, and Miss WOC gobbled down nearly a whole large zucchini worth of the chips. We're working on some sweet potato chips now.

Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6qt Slow Cooker

This comes highly recommended and seems to work just fine. It has a probe you can stick through the lid and have it stop cooking once it reaches the right temperature - pretty cool. Only has high/low/warm for heat settings - I hope that's more accurate than my previous Walmart slow cooker that always cooked too fast. First batch of stew came out fine.

Progressive International HGT-11 Folding Mandoline Slicer

Always wanted a mandoline, and at this price ($20!) and rating, couldn't pass it up. It's not something you'd want to use in a professional kitchen, but it's pretty useful for our purposes. The good: sharp blade and safe operation, stores in a nice small space, can slice several ways including julienne. The bad: the blade isn't really serious enough for something like sweet potatoes which get hung up too easily. The holding piece (which keeps you from risking your fingers) doesn't hold much, so this is really only suitable for small loads. Also, it's not a replacement for the julienne peeler for making zoodles; the julienne settings are too wide or too thin for that purpose. And little bits tend to get stuck at the edges of the blade. Still, a pretty good purchase for the price.

Paleo eats, day 13, part two

So, where was I? Right.

Luke had already started to brown the meat in olive oil when I realized he should have just dumped the meat into Buttons, then put toasted sesame oil in over the top. The recipe called for 14oz. diced tomatoes, and I'm pretty sure we put 28oz. It asked for one medium onion, and all we had was one ancient shallot. We used 1cup of kale as opposed to the frozen spinach it called for in the original recipe. We didn't have any cilantro, but we did have the rest of the seasonings, and we got the meat right, at 1.5lbs. Basically, we made our own version.
Yay experimentation!
So, as mentioned in the previous post, I was STARVING for beef. My hubby, being the resourceful man that he is, ladled out some of the beef stew that had been percolating in Buttons for approximately 4 hours (it was cooked, trust me), and handed it to me.
The result?
The meat was really tender and well- cooked, but the surrounding elements tasted more like they should have been blended and put on some veggie noodles- namely, the zucchini variety we call Zoodles. Oh well. It's a learning process. We tried.

On to dinner!

I wanted either a grass-fed burger with bacon (no bun!) Or I wanted beef pho from the local pho joint. Took me long enough to figure out which I wanted (much to poor Luke's chagrin), but eventually I went with pho.

In the interim I discovered aforementioned wack food combo of guacamole and green beans.

So the pho finally arrived. And, oh... it was glorious. Phogasmic, even. The broth was fragrant and deeply, richly flavored. The beef was cooked to fatty perfection... hey... wait a minute! Why's my nose plugging up? Why am I having such a hard time breathing?

As you may have guessed, I had a massive allergic reaction to my lovely and long-awaited pho. But at least if I had to give up pho, I now have the memory of the best pho I ever consumed... even if it did try to kill me. Stupid, hateful allergies. It was probably the half ton of fish sauce (read: ingredients were fremented anchovies, salt and-you guessed it- sugar) that almost did me in.

The hubs had a time opening the adult-proof, wrap-rage-inducing benedryl packaging and in his haste actually broke one of the capsules. This, I believe was my saving grace, as it was in my system instantaneously and may have made the difference between me sticking myself with an epi-pen then visiting the ER and sitting at home and watching Glee with the fam (the latter is what I actually did).

Scary stuff. Hope tomorrow turns out a lot better for me and my food interactions. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Paleo eats, day 13

Day 13, Challenge
-- I am allergic to something. I don't know what. But it's driving me nuts!
Breakfast: a ton of carrots
A few zucchini chips
-- they were the first things we put in our shiny new dehydrator. We put way too much onion and garlic powder on them. Need to work on proportions.
Zucchini fritters
-- I think that these may have caused some kind of reaction. I don't really know, though. Sooo... looks like annoying food challenges for me for a while.
-- at least THAT didn't cause problems. I think.
Lunch: burger patty, brown mustard, romaine, terra chips sweets & beets
-- that didn't seem to hurt anything. I just want some more beef. Seriously. Jerky, steak, burger, stirfry, something.
Snack: a banana-avocado-coconut milk smoothie
-- definitely needed more banana. Most unfortunate, but the avocado needed to be used, so better in my stomach than wasted in the trash.
I had 1/2 of an avocado left, so I threw together some onion and garlic powder, lime juice, and salt in with the half avocado, and mashed it up. Upon tasting it, I decided to add some water, in hopes of evening the flavor. Kinda worked, but I still had no idea what I would be using it with. Then, I saw it...
I know, I know- it sounds freaky, but man, did it hit the spot. Evidently it was satisfying to Miss Aria as well, as she inhaled both the quasi-guacamole AND the green beans.
We finally got our slow cooker! Yay! Luke was in a hot hurry to try the thing out, along with the mandoline and the dehydrator, and I can't really say I blame him. We had ground beef, stew beef, ribs, oxtail, and beef soup bones that were just begging to be used up. I started wishing that we had gotten two slow cookers instead of just one. Perhaps later.

Anyway, the Hubs left it to me what should be used in ye slow cooker, so I leafed through the multitude of tabs (he always has so many open on his Laptop; it drives me a little nuts, but that's another can of worms.). I finally decided on a recipe I found on Robb Wolf's site:
The beef stew recipe looked simple enough, except for the fact that Luke seemed dead set on searing the meat before dumping it into the cooker. Hmmm... cooker needs a name... and henceforth, you shall no longer be known as "the slow cooker", but as Buttons. I love naming inanimate objects for some weird reason. I think I will continue Day 13's shenanigans in another post, as this one is getting to novel-length proportions.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Paleo eats, day 12

Breakfast: well... brunch technically. It was 11.
Bowl of frozen mixed berries with sliced almonds and walnuts. Really good.
-- had a rebound reaction (I hope, anyway), so I kind of think that I must have some sensitivity to cane sugar, which is depressing, but not really paleo anyway, so it should be out in any case. I just hope I'm not allergic to almonds. THAT would be REALLY annoying.
Lunch: celery with plain crunchy almond butter (seemed fine to me) and honey
Snack: frozen mixed berries with sunflower seeds (on the off-chance I am actually allergic to almonds), shredded unsweetened coconut, and unsweetened coconut milk.
-- it was VILE. Especially the shredded coconut. It was like eating bits of paper. Oh, and the milk froze everything together. It was incredibly unappetizing looking, but I was starving and we didn't have a bunch of stuff just made up, so I didn't have a ton of options.
Dinner: ersatz(I just love that word. I sound like I know things.) Shrimp po'boy
-- it's like this; I wanted a shrimp sammich, but clearly bread is a no-go with paleo. So I boiled up my shrimp, doused them in ice, dried them off, threw some old bay on them, got out some romaine, slapped some canola mayo on the leaves, piled on said shrimp, and Bam! Heaven.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paleo eats, day 11

Paleo eats, day 11
Early snack: peppermint tea
2 mineola oranges
Bowl of Ciao Bella Blood Orange sorbet
-- also has cane sugar :(
Breakfast: paleo egg drop soup
-- my lovely hubby made this for me on request. I probably didn't do right by paleo (depends on whose definition your going by) adding all that tamari in the soup. It helped it tremendously, though.
Terra chips Sweets & Beets
SO delicious coconut "ice cream" in toasted almond chip
- NOM. AND NO SUGAR ADDED- only stevia. :)
Snack: onion and garlic soup
-- we had heard from a friend that both onion and garlic are good cold fighters, so Luke kinda threw a large onion, 5 cloves of garlic, and some bouillon beef base together for a few hours, and ended up with a super tasty soup.
Dinner: once again, the hubs made foods. I love that man. :)
Steak w/pan sauce
Dessert: almond dream praline crunch, after which I had a nasty allergic reaction, itching all over, lips swelling, nose plugged up. :(

Thoughts on sweeteners and other addictive foodstuffs

Should I do away with all sugar substitutes in general, and even my precious tamari soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, even terra chips? I think I may need to in order to keep the nagging guilt complexes at bay. After all, the entire freaking point of this exercise was to get my body as clean as possible to give it the best chance of working properly, and I have this sense that I'm only doing a half-hearted job, which is what I'm trying to avoid. 
Challenges. Are. Supposed. To. Be. Hard.
Observe the stringent, no-nonsense requirements I am considering adhering to in the Whole30:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Paleo eats, day 10

Breakfast: frozen fruit (mango, raspberries, blueberries)
A lot of crushed ice
-- It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, I come up with today, since I feel like the black death has come to visit.
Lunch: beef bouillon and a banana
Dinner: quasi-steak habanero lettuce wraps
-- lemme 'splain. I had ground beef that needed to be used up, so I seasoned that up with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic. Yes, the meat was originally intended for putting in the remainder of the puttanesca sauce. However, I saw the jar of Frontera habanero salsa in the pantry, with the steak taco recipe on the back, so... there you go. It was decent.
Snack: --did a snack run to Whole Paycheck. Probably not terribly wise, but oh well.
Almond Dream praline crunch "ice cream"
-- it was actually a little too good, and yes, it had cane juice in it. Kinda like giving a recovering crack addict another hit. More on that later.
Celery with almond butter and honey
-- felt a little better about eating that, but not great. Starting to notice I'm still using sweeteners fairly often and wondering if I should cut out all sugars, with the exception of fruit in moderation. Hmmm...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Paleo eats, day 9

Breakfast: 3 egg omelet seasoned with chili powder, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper; topped with Frontera habanero salsa
-- It was really amazingly good. I came up with this all by myself. :)
Avacado banana smoothie
-- Also my invention. Well, a riff off a few other recipes I've seen. Very tasty, but a bit pudding-y, so I added some unsweetened coconut milk. It helped tremendously.
Snack: 2 attempts on paleo chocolate pudding
-- attempt 1: Ugh. Just adding the rest of the ingredients to my smoothie mix was NOT SMART. It tasted really weird and was an unfortunate waste of ingredients.
-- attempt 2: Nailed it. 1/2 cup of honey was way sweet, so I cut it with 2 heaping spoonfuls of plain crunchy almond butter, and voilá! Luke has since deemed this "mudbutter" and it will be going into a tart for Easter dinner.
Lunch: kinda graze-y due to how the little bit of pudding filled me up- 3/4 of a red pepper, 1/2 head of romaine, and tahini, with a smidge of mudbutter to top it off.
Dinner: Honey-Mustard-Pecan Chicken
-- After cooling, I cut the chicken into bites which we used in romaine leaves, along with diced apples, dried cranberries, slivered almonds and balsamic vinaigrette or honey mustard. It made for some butt-kicking pecan chicken lettuce wraps that tasted like something from a restaurant. Very pleased with not only cooking, but also cleaning the kitchen, washing all the laundry, and folding it. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Paleo eats, day 8

Breakfast: nut porridge
Mushrooms and kale with tahini 
Snack: last of the mushrooms
Frozen mango chunks
-- had a rebound reaction from the stuff I ate last night, so after taking more benedryl, I slept through lunch and into the afternoon.
Snack: blueberries
Dinner: last of the bacon-wrapped soup
Pickled okra
Final snack: creamy celery soup 
Banana blueberry almond milk smoothie

It was a rough day. Don't hate on my lame post

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thoughts on Paleo living, week 1

Wow, a week already! *pats self on back* I feel like I have done a pretty decent job of not caving to the cravings(rice cakes, chocolate, ice cream, potatoes). I have one emergency chocolate bar to remind me of the challenge I've decided to take, and my family along with me. 

I have been more creative in this one week with food than I have been in years, and it's really satisfying and exciting. It's hard, but I feel the result will be so worth it.

Paleo eats, day 7

Breakfast: scrambled eggs and a pear
-- every meal doesn't have to be inspired and different. The number of times I've listed leftovers is proof of that.
Snack: a bit of bacon-wrapped beef stew
Lunch: nut porridge 
-- stomach was feeling squirrel-y and was having some weird crampy nonsense. Definitely helped with the nasty feeling.
Snack: kale and mushrooms with tahini dressing
-- I know, I'm strange; I eat kale raw. But it's so tasty with the dressing!
Dinner: 1 hotdog. From omaha steaks. Gave me a wretched reaction and I had to take a bunch of benedryl. Not fun. Tried to eat and drink something else to mitigate the effects of the hotdog. Worked pretty well.
Creamy celery soup
Lots of water
Final snack: apple slices with honey almond butter
Mango and blueberries
Unsweetened coconut milk
After 100 milligrams of benedryl, I am under the ground exhausted. Night all.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Paleo eats, day 6

--I went grocery shopping for food hungry. Always a dumb move. So I ended up snarfing the tasty food at Whole Foods. I had a little of everything!
Brunch: Grilled portabella, Bison ribs, bacon, scrambled eggs, oriental almond-cabbage slaw, steamed broccoli, a bit of mixed greens, blueberries, blackberries, and the last of the strawberries. Om nom nom.
Dinner: zucchini fritters- he calls them "cakes".
Apple-cinnamon creamed cereal
-- I call it "nut porridge", as it is made from walnuts and macadamias. We were lazy and threw in some apple butter in place of the apples and cinnamon. Turned out super-tasty. Extremely filling and a really good energy source.
Kale with Mel's magical tahini dressing
-- a ridiculously easy, great-smelling, and yummy recipe.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Paleo eats, day 5

Breakfast: beef bouillon
Snack: frozen mango chunks
--I finally got my nausea meds! Maybe I'll be able to actually eat some fat, protein, and veggies the rest of the day! *hopes*
Lunch: "bacon-wrapped sirloin" with kale beef stew
-- I came up with this myself, and I am sooo happy with the result. Then again, it's difficult to do too badly with a full package of bacon in the mix. :)
Zucchini with tamari and sesame seeds
--should have been good, but I drowned it in tamari and I didn't sear/brown the zucchini properly. Must work on this skill, as I have a feeling I'll be using it a LOT.
Snack: multi-berry and chocolate almond milk drink
-- this works waaay better when the berries are frozen, not defrosted
Dinner: more beef stew
-- it got better as it set. Mmmm...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Paleo eats, day 4

Breakfast: creamy celery soup
One Strawberry
Snack: coconut pancake
Beef bouillon
Lunch: more creamy celery soup
Mango chunks with powdered ginger
Snack: more beef bouillon
Dinner: grass-fed beef patty with bacon
Whipped sweet potatoes
Collard greens
A ton of pickled okra
-- I finally had my stomach calm down enough to eat a proper meal! Yay! (This lovely food courtesy of Lucky 32)
Final snack: pan-fried garlic-lime shrimp with browned mango and watermelon jam. Came up with this mix myself, and holy crap. Sooooo good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paleo eats, day 3

Breakfast: leftover maple glazed pork loin
Fresh strawberries
Snack: coconut pancake with honey
Lunch: a ton of shredded carrots
A whole head of romaine
Crispy zucchini cakes-- SOO GOOD!
Leftover pho
--what can I say? I was starving.
Dinner: creamy celery soup
--put in a full can of coconut milk, the last zucchini, and it was a perfect stomach settler.
Dessert: chocolate coconut "ice cream"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paleo eats, day 2

Breakfast: leftover curried chicken w/ romaine
No snack, felt gross
Lunch: "Jamaican" ribs
Crispy zucchini chips
Bombed the chips, but going to try again once I get a dehydrator. Don't know where they got the "Jamaican" bit from for the ribs, but with a little extra salt they were quite tasty.
Snack: the last of the beef jerky
1/2 banana
Dinner: pho from tangerine cafe--splurge! No noodles, though. I was good.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Paleo eats, day 1

The run-down of food from DAY 1:
Breakfast- beef jerky
blueberry-choco almond milk smoothie
Snack- pecan coconut date rolls (
Lunch- maple glazed pork tenderloin (
savory coconut pancakes (
almost a full head of romaine (it's a preggers thing)
Dinner- paleo coconut curry chicken (
steamed asparagus
Dessert- Fresh Strawberries 
In short, pretty flippin' delish. :)