August 28, 2012

The Secret to Keeping Up with Laundry (and Dishes)

I learned this tip by observing my mom.  When my mom visited me when I was a newlywed she would always ask if she could turn on the dishwasher when it was only half full.  It used to drive me nuts!  It seemed wasteful to run it half empty!  A year or so after I was married, I went to her house and was struck by how she has never has dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and there is never a pile of dirty clothes in front of the washing machine.  I finally made the connection.  She doesn't have dirty dishes and clothes everywhere because she runs the machines when there is only a little bit to wash!  The key to staying on top of laundry and dishes is to wash smaller loads.  Don't wait until you can load it completely full, because then chances are, there are other things that need to be washed that won't fit!

August 26, 2012

How My Husband Stopped His Chronic Nosebleed

Ever since I've known him my husband has been susceptible to nosebleeds.  Randomly, it will just start gushing and it won't stop until it's done.  It wasn't so bad in Texas, when we were in college, because there was alot of humidity.  But now we live in a very dry northern state.  He started rubbing petroleum jelly in his nose during the winter months.  And then this summer it started bleeding every day.  Two or three times a day.  I was afraid to touch his face for fear of bumping his nose and setting off the geyser.  We blamed it on the drought.  He took 2 showers a day for the humidity.  He was oiling his nose three or four times a day.  I told him to take multivitamins in case he was missing something.  And still it kept happening.

One day I had enough.  I was ready to send him to a naturopathic clinic 4 hours away to get some answers.  We started doing a little research while we waited for the clinic to call back.  We compared notes and came up with a plan.  He read that multivitamins have fillers in them that can cause nosebleeds.  He quit them as soon as he read that.  He also read that if your body is used to a certain level of Vitamin C and then you suddenly decrease your intake, your nose can take the hit.  We were in the middle of a pantry challenge, and had run out of the bottled stuff.  I started making it from the frozen concentrate again, a chore that I previously despised, but that was now a necessity.  I read that Vitamin K, found in dark leafy greens, is good for blood clotting.  I started adding spinach to the scrambled eggs I made him for breakfast.  We decided to switch from the petroleum jelly to a natural oil.  I was out of coconut oil, which would have been my first choice, but he tried grapeseed and extra virgin olive oil.  He settled on the EVOO because he likes the smell.  He also thinks it cleans AND moisturizes, whereas the Vaseline only moisturized, which he believes makes a difference.

Within a few days of the new regimen, his nose quit bleeding at the drop of a hat.  Now it has been several weeks since his last nosebleed.  The clinic never called back, which is fine with me, because we found our solution.  Just another example of how good nutrition and natural remedies really do work!

August 25, 2012

Off the Rails But Still Rolling (and a Meatza Recipe)

Well, I tried to stay on track, but I am just off now.  I'm somewhere on the prairie (heheheh).  I've accepted the fact that chocolate is always going to be a part of my life.  I just have to be satisfied with the really dark stuff.  Yes, I have eaten chocolate every day for the past week.  Okay, week and a half.  Whatever.  *Sigh*  I just have to keep pushing on and looking at how far I've come instead of how far I have to go.

Recent Eats
I think our meals have been very random this week, in part because I have been so busy reading all three books in the Hunger Games series that I have been neglecting some of my duties!  I have been bringing alot of meals down to our warehouse because the men have been hard at work on a big project.  One day I made a "meatza" (see recipe below) and served it with green beans and corn.  I thawed out a frozen Paleo Lasagna (uses zucchini instead of noodles) and baked that along with some corn.  I really didn't care for it because the zucchini had taken on a pickled flavor but our new hired man said it was good.  One day I brought down sausage and fried potatoes.  Another time I brought grilled pork chops and creamed new potatoes with peas (definitely not paleo).  Last night I grilled burned some pork patties, so the dogs had a treat.  I served those with, you guessed it, corn!  Yes, I have cooked alot of corn this week, because our contractor brought out several bags from town.  While I have abstained, I don't have a problem serving it to the family because it is a naturally gluten-free, whole food.  Plus it is only available for a short time, so might as well indulge and enjoy!

Paleo Successes
 My hubby has seen the light on starting his day with a primal meal!  He used to eat a breakfast burrito every day.  I would stuff it with bacon, egg, cheese, and avocado and tomato if we had those.  The past few weeks he has been happy to eat all the fillings without the tortilla!  Now I have 2 big packs of tortillas sitting in my fridge, unopened, but I am so excited he has seen the wisdom of starting his day with protein alone, without the carbs.

Another success: getting the kids to eat "vinegar salad" with me.  I have long enjoyed my spring mix salad greens with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  I got my son to eat it with me a few times and told him he was my "salad buddy" (because I was the only one eating it before that).  I think that made it something special for him to share with me, and helped me convince him to eat it when he thought he didn't want it.  Now that my daughter is old enough to eat the lettuce without choking and she wants to eat whatever my son does, she has also been eating salad with me.  The past two days we've enjoyed vinegar salad topped with canned salmon.  I am so pleased that my kids eat veggies!

We harvested 2 cucumbers from our sad, dry garden.  They were actually really good!  We split one at lunch and one at dinner.  We have also started harvesting potatoes.  I am not eating them but my family has enjoyed them fried, mashed, and baked. 

And the biggest success, for me, is that I recently realized it has been a LONG time since I've had any Diet Coke.  I used to drink 2 or 3 a day!  I finally decided to quit because my son always wanted to drink it, and I knew it was horrible to give that to a 3 year old (he's 4 now, so that tells you how long it took me to quit).  I am so proud of myself for giving it up after years of being addicted.  Next up is coffee, but that is a loooong road too....

 I made beef jerky last week and it molded before we ate it all.  So sad!  Also we haven't been eating as many veggies as we should.  But that is going to change!  I have a few zucchinis that need to be used, plus 2 big bags of baby carrots (I'm thinking skillet-roasted carrots, yummo!), and some kale.

serves 6

2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
2 TBSP coconut flour (optional)
spices such as garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt, pepper
jarred spaghetti sauce (preferably gluten-free) or homemade pizza sauce
toppings: cheese, pepperoni, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes,  olives, etc

Mix ground beef, egg, coconut flour (if using), and any spices in 9 x 13 cake pan.  Pat down into a "crust".  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until meat is brown and done all the way through.  "Crust" will have shrunk considerably.  Drain grease.  Spread sauce over all and top with any toppings desired.  Bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve warm, with a fork. 

Happy Paleo Eating!

August 16, 2012

Temporarily Derailed

Heheh, so in my last post I wrote about how I wasn't craving chocolate.  And then, life happened.   An emotionally stressful weekend left me feeling bummed, and I needed wanted chocolate.   I had been fighting the urge to eat some sugar for a couple days, and then I just snapped.  I went to get some water at my in-laws' house, and I thought, 'I need chocolate'.  Without too much self-questioning, I grabbed an ice cream cone.  Yeah, it even had gluten.  After a few bites my stomach started to feel "rumbly", but I finished it anyway.  And I finished my daughter's cone too.  The good thing was, I was in the middle of a painting project, so I couldn't just stand next to the freezer and eat the whole box.  So I guess if I'm going to go off road, the best time to do it is in middle of working, so I can't go too far.  I felt a little guilty about cheating, especially during my 30 day challenge, but I am confident it's not going to throw me off track forever. 

The Sugar Dragon

Of course, going off road always reawakens the sugar dragon, so to speak.  Eating that stuff makes me want to eat more of it.  So that night I let myself have 2 peaches after dinner.  Yesterday I was home all day, and we do have some chocolate around.  I thought about eating it, but instead I made one of my favorite paleo meals for lunch.  I used the Everyday Paleo Pizza Crust recipe, then topped it with tomato sauce, pepperoni, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and summer squash.  Can I say, amazing?  I've read that after you go off your diet it's important to eat something diet-legal you really enjoy to help you get back on track (at your next meal of course).   I continued that theme by eating more peaches yesterday.  I cooked one in lots of butter and added cinnamon and walnuts for my afternoon snack.  And then again after dinner.  Technically paleo legal, but definitely not something I should be doing every day.  I also 'treated' myself to something I really enjoy: planning my grocery list!  I sat down at the computer and clipped some online coupons and checked out my local store's weekly specials.  Got my shopping list all done, and now I have something to look forward to.  That helped me resist the urge to cheat again.


This temporary derailment has shown me that I am making progress.  My "trouble time" has always been the afternoon, especially while the kids are napping.  I can sit there and stuff my face with sugar for 2 hours straight.  In the past, I would have eaten all 4 peaches in the fruit bowl for my "afternoon snack".  I'm proud that I stopped at one, and I did really enjoy it.   I was also able to satisfy the urge to cheat again by doing things I enjoy, namely cooking a yummy meal and planning a shopping trip.  I've found something that works for me, and I will definitely implement those tactics in the future (hopefully before cheating). 

Another good thing that happened was my husband spontaneously complimented me last night.   He said he was so glad I had found Paleo.  I asked him why and he said it's because I look so good now.  Coming from someone who is very reserved with his praise, it meant alot because I knew it was sincere.   

Other Recent Paleo Eats

Last night for dinner I cut up a whole chicken to stew.  I stewed it with sweet potatoes, summer squash, white potatoes (for the kids), onion, and broccoli.  Spices used: cinnamon, ginger, cumin, garlic powder.  It was similar to Everyday Paleo's Rockin' Moraccan Chicken.  I wasn't home to babysit it, so the veggies were a little over done, but it was comforting and delicious.  For breakfast this morning I made Everyday Paleo's Tomato Egg Houses for me, and some Turkey, Egg, and Spinach Muffins for the hubby and kids.  Today I'm hoping to grill some lamb steaks (I think they are shoulder or arm steaks), after I finish deep-cleaning the bunkhouse.  A new guy is coming tomorrow, so I've got my work cut out! 

Happy Paleo eating everyone!

August 13, 2012

Cravings? What Cravings?

After two weeks eating strict paleo, my chocolate cravings have greatly diminished.  On Saturday my kids made a chocolate cake with a guest and I frosted it with chocolate frosting from the can.  As I frosted it, I had no thoughts of eating it!  The cake has sat on our counter all weekend and I haven't thought about it at all!  It helps that the cake pan has a lid, so I can't see really see it or smell it.  Back in May I did a 30 day challenge, and my son's birthday cake tormented me for a couple days because I smelled it every time I walked into the kitchen.  I finally just threw it away.

Weekend Eats

Another really busy weekend has come and gone.  Friday for lunch I tried to grill pork chops and broccoli.  The propane tank finally gave out, so I had to finish everything on the stove.  I tossed the broccoli into the pork juices.  So good!  Saturday I made a huge roast in my crock pot.  I cooked it on low all day (about 11 hours).  At lunch I put some potatoes and carrots in a foil pack and nestled that on top of the meat.  About 30 minutes before eating, I defrosted some frozen broccoli in the microwave and stirred it in.  We have discovered we love the taste of the broccoli cooked in the meat juices.  I ate my meat, carrots, and broccoli over a bed of fresh spinach. 

Sunday morning hubby requested Breakfast Paleo Pizza.  I made enough for 2 days of breakfasts for the whole family.  I made stuffed peppers for dinner.  I just stuffed them with a mixture of cooked hamburger, onion, garlic, and spices.  I topped all but 2 peppers with cheese.  I ate my pepper with salsa on top.  Salsa, I've found, really helps me avoid cheese because it adds moisture to my eggs or meat.  I also cooked some kale in bacon fat.  Yum!  Makes a great side dish at breakfast too! 

This week I'm looking forward to a cool front blowing through.  I have been craving a chicken and sweet potato stew (butternut squash would work well too).  I might use this recipe as inspiration (but I'll use olive oil instead of that inflammation-promoting canola). 

August 11, 2012

A Truly Paleo, Fun, Summertime Dessert

Many people in the Paleosphere would consider "paleo" and "dessert" to be oxymorons.  However, I have found a way to get a hint of sweet without breaking my 30 Day Challenge rules.  I was inspired by this post from Simple Bites to try grilling a peach.  I halved a peach, buttered some foil, laid the peach cut sides down on the foil, and cooked it slowly for about 20 minutes (the grill was on high but I put it on the warming rack up top).  When it was done I sprinkled some cinnamon over the cut side.  The end result was a juicy, warmed peach that was comforting and filling, but didn't leave me with a tummy ache.  I also tried this in my oven last night with good results.  Even my husband (who hates cooked fruit) ate one. Sometime when I'm not in the middle of a Paleo Challenge I'll sprinkle brown sugar on the foil and put the peaches on top of that.  I'm also excited to try this trick with pears and apples come fall. 

August 7, 2012

A Big Weekend and a Recipe for Grilled Broccoli

I haven't had time for updating much the past few days because we have been so busy!  On Thursday I took the kids into town to spend the weekend with my mom.  I did eat at a steakhouse, and I asked them to substitute sauteed spinach for the baked potato.  Friday we butchered the rest of our meat chickens, and for lunch I cut up some leftover grilled chicken, sauteed it in olive oil with fresh spinach, canned artichoke hearts, minced garlic, and a few sundried tomatoes.  It was so good I made it again Saturday.  Friday afternoon I cut a round steak into strips and threw them into the slow cooker with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  When I got home, very late, my husband and I feasted on the meat, avocado, tomato, and corn for him.  The next day for lunch, after a big cattle drive, I served him the same meat over a bed of fresh spinach.  He loved it!  Sunday we picked up the kids and hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law in town.  We served pulled BBQ beef and buns, fresh fruit and veggie trays, and many non-paleo goodies that I did not partake of.  Yesterday, at lunch I grilled a salmon fillet, potatoes, corn, and some fresh broccoli (see recipe below).  I also made a paleo caprese salad- sliced tomatoes and basil with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper.  Yum! 

The point is to show you how easy and delicious paleo food is.  There are endless possibilities, if you only give your imagination a chance.  Also, you don't have to eat the non-paleo food around you!  It is possible!

Grilled Broccoli

fresh broccoli, stalks removed, and cut into florets

Heat your grill to high.  Rub butter on a piece of tinfoil.  Put broccoli on tinfoil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold the tinfoil over to make a packet, and crimp the edges so it stays closed.  Grill about 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

note: You can do this with frozen broccoli too.  Just steam it or microwave it to thaw it out, and grill for just a couple minutes per side.

My Personal Paleo Story

I first discovered Paleo late last summer.  My mom had lost a lot of weight very quickly by following the Dukan Diet, a very low carb diet.  I started researching low carb diets because I was having trouble getting rid of the baby fat that came along with my daughter who had been born a year earlier. I read quite a bit, especially on Sarah Fragoso's site, Everyday Paleo.  I was already eating just eggs and bacon for breakfast, no breads or anything like that, but I usually had cheese on the eggs and milk in the coffee.  One morning I didn't have any dairy.  I noticed immediately after breakfast my stomach didn't feel so heavy.  I decided then and there to try going Paleo for 30 days.  That was in October.  I had a really rough time the first two weeks.  The "low carb flu" left me irritable, and I did cheat quite a bit.  I finally started using dark chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth, and I managed to stick to it for 30 days.  A month after I started eating this way, I had my blood drawn for my endocrinologist.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, my midwife had found a large goiter on my thyroid.  The endocrinologist did ultrasounds on it, and even biopsied it after my daughter was born.  He also ordered several blood tests over the two year period.  The goiter was benign, but my thyroid stimulating hormone was always extremely low, way out of normal range.  The last blood test was in July of 2011.  TSH was very low (around .1, and the low end of normal is .45).  After eating Paleo for one month, I had my blood drawn again.  My TSH had jumped all the way to .42!  I had also lost 10 pounds!

I went home for Thanksgiving and my parents were amazed at my energy levels.  Around that time I started eating some gluten-free treats, but I mostly stuck with real food.  In January I started a 30 day challenge but only lasted two weeks.  I lost 5 pounds.  Throughout the spring I maintained the weight loss and ate gluten-free, mostly real food.  In May I did another 30 day challenge, and I lost another 5 pounds.  This summer I've been pretty lax, what with the pantry challenge and all, and I've gained back 3 pounds.

This month (August), I am trying to get back to the state I was in during May.  I really didn't have many food cravings (which begs the question of why I fell off).  I feel so much better when I'm strict.  My skin clears up, my mood improves, my energy is steady, I don't fall asleep while putting the kids to bed, and I can deal with my husband and kids more rationally!

What's really kept me going this past year has been a strict adherence to gluten-free.  I have eaten glutenous foods on a couple of occasions (usually after consuming alcohol), but for the most part I have stayed away from obvious gluten-containing flours.  So even when I cheat, it's with ice cream or milk chocolate candy, not with cookies.  And maybe those things do have a little gluten in them (in the artificial flavorings perhaps) but to me there is a difference between having a bowl of ice cream and having a oreo.  Staying gluten-free has been great for me, and going Paleo has been even better!