Saturday, May 3, 2014

How do you do it?

I get asked this question -- not because I'm awesome -- but because I've taken a serious stab at changing my family's diet and we've stuck with it for the long haul. I'm not always {read: ever} perfect but I try to keep my goals and practices fairly consistent.


I get asked this question not by my large internet fan base. Because it doesn't exist. I get asked this by people in my cube at work, girlfriends at church, long distant facebook friends...people who are just trying to figure out to MAKE IT HAPPEN. That's the biggest thing.

You know how when you lay in bed at night you can solve all the world's problems {or at least your own}? You craft the most eloquent responses and dream up the best DIY projects.

Then you wake up.

Yep. I'm right there with you. My paleo story began on November 29, 2011. Cold turkey. I had been experiencing daily morning headaches, achy joints, and digestion woes. I assumed my headaches were caffeine related but as I phased out artificial sweeteners, I realized I was addicted to the sweeteners. My pre-paleo research led me to articles about inflammatory foods. My husband has chronic back problems and we both had knee pain (we thought from years of sports and running) so I started out researching anti-inflammatory foods. I woke up on November 29, 2011 with a debilitating headache and decided that was IT. ENOUGH. We cut out grains, processed foods, and refined sugars immediately.

Ok, this is supposed to be about how we do the paleo-thing with our family. Not my paleo conversion. But they are related so now you know what caused me/us to make the switch.

How do we do it? You should also know a little bit about our family landscape. At the time of our switch our kids were 4yo and 1yo. Thankfully they were used to real food -- they were used to eating veggies and fruit and home cooked meals. We were not in the habit of eating fast food or ordering take-out. If you are, that's a habit you have to change. Don't worry, we had plenty of other bad habits to work on. We are emo-eaters. Happy? Sad? Excited? Bored? Let's eat! We also have TERRIBLE late night eating habits. My husband works till 10pm on weeknights and 8pm on weekends so we end up chowing down too late at night. So, these are some of the things we deal with regularly. I say all this to let you know that we are REGULAR people. My kitchen is average sized, my fridge is totally gimp (broken light, taped-on door shelves, off-track veggie drawers...), and our budget is meager. You can probably relate to something in this paragraph.

Well, now that I've told you how we screw up and the obstacles we face, let me tell you how we try to get the paleo-thing right. The real-deal paleo bloggers {whom I love/stalk} have bright, airy kitchens and large, cavernous sinks. They live next door to organic farmers and butchers. They always set the table before a meal instead of grabbing whatever flat, clean object they can find for their dinner. Well, not really. But when they stage their GORGEOUS photos for blogs and books, it can seem that way.

When I am browsing paleo cookbooks or blogs I never notice a 3yo boy licking the immersion blender after making mayonnaise or swirling his fingers in the quarts of bone broth before the lids get screwed tight. Not that either of those things happened in my kitchen this morning...

Well. If you somehow found your way here...don't worry. My photography sucks. I've never staged a photo in my life. The lighting in my house is terrible. And ground meat {a main protein staple} doesn't photograph well when the previously mentioned factors are present.

I'll also tell you, though -- without those perfectly perfected perfectionist paleo blogs I WOULD BE LOST. I have serious crushes on Michelle Tam, Diane Sanfillipo, STACY TOTH OHMYWORDILOVEHER, Haley Staley, Danielle Walker...I could go on but those gals are my ...oh! and Liz Wolfe... main crushes.

I can't offer you a weekly meal plan or a schedule or a grocery strategy that is any different that the bloggers above have already offered.

My main advice is KEEP IT SIMPLE. 

1. You only have in your house what you buy at the grocery store.
2. Plan and cook ahead.
3. Be consistent.

Here's a week-in-the-life type of thing.
Saturday and Sunday: Thaw meat, hard boil eggs, make a new recipe because I have extra time, grocery shop, make tuna salad or mini-burgers {or something like that for lunches}, make bacon {why not?}, prepare thawed meat into ready-to-go meals {leave uncooked}
Monday -- Thursday: Eat prepared food. Make a few quick meals with fish or pull previously frozen/prepped meals like meatballs or meatloaf. Leftover = lunches.
Friday: Try a new recipe because we are not on the school-night/bath/bed-time crunch.

We mostly eat chicken thighs, ground meat, pork roasts, beef cubes, and white fish. Lots of veggies and salads. AVOCADOS. Eggs. Eggs. Eggs. Some nuts. Fruit. The kids eat organic/full-fat dairy, rice, and potatoes in moderation.

Here is what my Saturday morning looked like today. This, folks, is the glamorous side of paleo living.

First, I made some Maple Breakfast Sausages from Food for Humans by Michelle Tam. Noms. I also cooked up some spicy sausage to add to some butternut squash soup I made and froze a few weeks ago. 

Meanwhile, my sink was full of sippy cups and my counter was littered with various cups, thermal lunch totes, and tisses {every surface in my house contains a box of tissues}. And across the room my dining room table is the scene of seed sprouting, little girl hair-doing, kindergarten reading books, yesterday's mail, and all the other papers we don't know where to put.

 Meat thawing.

All while sipping coffee in my pilled, fleece lined legging, my husband's high school cross country sweatshirt, and crocs. Bring it. 

This is my version of paleo. It's always a work in progress, as is all of life, but we are healthier and better for it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My old frenemy: food

Food is a funny thing. You need it to live. You can love it. You can hate it. You can blame it for your shortcomings. You can laud it for your successes. It’s sort of like parents in a way. Over the years I have needed my parents, used them as a crutch, blamed them for who-knows-what, praised them but ultimately I’ve come to terms with the full spectrum of influence – good and bad – that they’ve had in  my life. If only I had come so far with food. 

The past month has been a microcosm of my lifelong battle with food. It’s been a snapshot of what my relationship with food has looked like over the years. My first “dieting” memory is on the middle school bus. How my hopes for my own daughter are so drastically different from the tumultuous ride I’ve lived through. Thankfully, I’ve never been in a life threatening situation but I think many people {men & women} can relate to feeling trapped, angry, hopeless, hopeful, elated, balanced --> repeat…all because of food.

I love food. It is a source of creativity, it’s a hobby, and it is the most tangible way that I can love my family. It can also suck me into a vortex of self-loathing and obsession. I’ve never had the body I always wanted. Mostly because my genes won’t allow it. Also because my workouts often consist of lifting a fork to my mouth. More often than not, however, I blame food. It makes me do things. 

Like eat too much :-)

Anyway, this month has been a doozy. I have always been somewhat rebellious to authority. When I am told I have to do something, I sort of want to do the opposite. I have, over the years, learned to manage this behavior but it is still part of my nature that I have to deal with routinely. Strangely, I even seem to rebel against myself when I tell myself, “Self, you have to do ___.” I experience much higher rates of success when I let things happen naturally but the truth is that there is a time for self-discipline. There is a time to introduce new structures and discipline into life. 

We decided to hop onboard with the 21-Day Sugar Detox to sort of reset after the holidays. We’ve been mostly-paleo since November 29, 2011 {it was a cold-turkey switch…for another post} so doing a 21DSD didn’t seem like an epic lifestyle change. 

Apparently my emotional side didn’t get the memo. 

Without going into the detaily-details of my day-to-day life – there were just a lot of emotional ups and downs. We are emo-eaters. Feeling good? Let’s eat! Feeling sad? Let’s eat! Feeling excited, triumphant, frustrated, bored…let’s eat! Normally, with planning and an ounce of self-control, this can be managed. Unfortunately, the remnants of holiday snacks, food gifts, and poor planning gave us plenty of fodder for our emotionally driven feasting. 

Well, I guess on the bright side, all the junk food is gone.

And don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Diane Sanfillippo so don’t be thinkin’ that the 21DSD is a flop. It is a great tool. Her book, Practical Paleo, gave us a great education and plenty of tools for whole, clean eating. It is my go-to cookbook for weekly planning.  *And my kids love to read the section about poop*

I think I need to break up with food for a little while. I just need to focus on planning and prepping the foods I know we enjoy and keep it simple. 

I serve and love a God who carries all my burdens including the demons of disordered eating. For me, this is nothing less than a spiritual battle taking place in my daily routines. And doesn’t that happen to all of us in some way? We all have a “thing” like food…maybe its cars, fashion, child-rearing, crafting, work, cleaning or organizing…whatever. It’s still a thing that binds us. Holds us captive. Maybe you don't believe in God but I am willing to bet you've got something you need to break up, give up, or let go of. For me, this month, it was my old frenemy food. 

*It's already been 6 days since I wrote this and things are better. Taking a step back always seems to do that. I am on sort of a food-hiatus. Don't worry. I'm still feeding my family but mostly stuff that was prepped/frozen weeks ago and thankfully there were 2 nights that we ate away from home. And already I feel less rebellious and emotionally driven in my eating. We'll probably have breakfast for dinner tomorrow and I will be hailed as the best mom on the block for the most unoriginal meal idea EVER.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's for lunch?

People are always making comments about my lunch at work.  Some of these comments are rooted in jealousy.  I mean *seriously* my lunches usually look pretty darn tasty.  Sometimes the comments are born out of misunderstanding.  Take the following conversation into consideration:

Co-worker:  What do you have for lunch Trisha?  Probably a big salad!
Me (smiling):  I have my big salad and some sweet potato and steak.
Co-worker (as she pulls her McD lunch out of its bag):  Wow, that’s a heavy lunch.  

Here’s what I didn’t say: Ha! I am sure my real/whole/balanced lunch will really weigh me down. Let me know how that McD lunch works out for you.  

In all seriousness, though, people are often curious about what I eat for lunch. No bread??? That means no sandwiches!!! No crackers or pretzels or chips or soda or granola bars or Special K bars or…???? How do you do it??? It’s actually fairly simple. Dinner = Lunch. I would say that 90% of the time, I eat leftovers for lunch. Rarely do I create something altogether new for lunch or use convenience lunch foods. I also usually make what Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo calls "emergency protein" which is ground beef or turkey with whatever veggies are in the fridge and seasoned however I feel like it. I occasionally take lunch meat or tuna salad but usually I pack up last night's dinner!  

Here’s a glimpse into what I take to work for lunch. Paleo focuses on plants and protein. That’s how I build my meals. If I get hungry, I eat more plants and protein. And I drink lots of water. It doesn’t have to be fancy-gourmet-artisan-exotic-ethnic-whatever-fare. Just real. Hopefully you can be inspired!  


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Oh Saturday...a day ripe with potential and rotten with reality

Today's post is not really how I imagined returning to my little world of blogging.  I was hoping for something with a little more oomph -- if you know what I mean.  My last post was a few months back so you'd think I would have a real whammy for my big comeback.  You'll have to really scroll down a ways to get to paleo-relevant things. I think what will end up happening here, though, is more of a fill-in-the-gaps sort of thing.  Today is Saturday.  So full of ambition. So lacking in realistic perspective.  Here is a little picture journey of the day so far.
  insert: MAYHEM!
 insert: CHAOS!
 insert: DESPAIR!
 insert: REVOLT!

Yep, we're still a mostly-paleo family. 

Yep, holiday-eating was a big de-railing event just like it was for most of America. 

 Nope, no New Year's resolutions this year.  Just tryin' to stay the course.

That pretty much brings you up to speed :-)

Like many of you, I am a working mom who is {unsuccessfully} trying to DO IT ALL.  This isn't a major psychological thing for me like it can be for many women and -- believe me -- I feel for them.  The weight of our burdens can be heavier than those last 10lbs will ever be.

For me, it's more of a tidal wave of ideas that trickles down to a few drops of actual getting-it-done.

I've taken on a lot more DIY types of things around the house this fall and winter. Food, skin care, and cleaning products have been the main areas of DIY-ness.

I have successfully made vapor rub, luxurious {that's what the recipe said, not me, although it is} lotion, no-(sham)poo concoctions, detox baths for the cave-kids, drinks for colds, and a cough medicine drink.  Most of this stuff I put on Pinterest so that's where you can find links {Trisha Gudeman is my Pinterest name. And my actual name}. 

Here's a glimpse into the glamorous life of making your own skincare products:
1. Wait till the kids go to bed.
2. Shower!
3. Clear a spot on the stove so the burners are available for use.
4. Melt stuff {in this case beeswax, shea butter, avocado oil, and coconut oil}.


We {by we, I mean me} are attempting to make more of our staple foods like mayonnaise, ketchup, bbq sauce...all of which we {meaning I} have done but we {I} can never keep them stocked so it is sort of a rotation of homemade-->storebought-->homemade-->storebought--> Presently, we have homemade mayo, organic storebought ketchup, and death-in-a-bottle bbq sauce.

We got a dehydrator for Christmas!  Yay!  Scary!  I am not really a small-kitchen-appliance type of girl.  I am pretty loyal to by stove/oven and refrigerator and dishwasher.  But in the name of reducing our consumption of storebought snack foods, this could be a great thing.  The cave kids love dried fruit, jerky, and I am hoping to bring them over the veggie-chip-loving-dark{bright}-side.  The cave-girl has big plans for fruit leather!  Our first dehydrating project was KIWI! It was cheap at Costco and it's full of vitamin C {more than an orange!} so it seemed like the right thing to do. At least that's what my dehydrator-moral-compass was telling me.  I'll see at 6pm if it was right. We filled that strange looking machine up with every tray full of kiwi slices, cranked it to 135*, and stared at it for a few minutes before normal life resumed.

We also made our own gummies last night and they are A.W.E.S.O.M.E.  I used the recipe from Balanced Bites and fiddled with it just a wee bit.  I used the blueberry variation which ended up being mixed berries because that's what was in the freezer.  It was going to be rather sour as far as the sweet/sour ratio was concerned so I reduced the lemon juice to about 3/4 c. and added 1 c. water.  I think the recipe calls for more gelatin than is necessary so I'll reduce that the next time {and YES, there will be a next time!} I make them.  The Great Lakes gelatin says 1 Tbs gelatin /pint of liquid.  After some inter-webs research I was reminded that a pint = 2 cups.  The recipe calls for more than this ratio so I am going to use the container recommendation as a guide next time. I got gelatin at Amazon.

So, that's how our paleo life continues.  Both kids have made hilarious paleo-related statements recently. Here's a sampling...

Me: We aren't going to eat the snacks they have there, we'll bring our own.
M (3yo)(hands on hips, disappointed-parent-face): Are they gonna have gwians?

Me: Ok, we are going to try making these gummies.  We'll see how it goes.
G (6yo): Are they paleo?
Me: Yup.
(displaying a completely inappropriate amount of excitement for the actual event taking place)(although the gummies were pretty fun to make)

We started a 21-Day Sugar Detox on 01/06/14 and it's been really terrible.  Not the detox program!!!


It's been a crazy/crappy/normal/wintery/gray week and routine never set in.  Christmas break hasn't really ended for the kids because THEY KEEP GETTING SNOW DAYS WHEN IT ISN'T SNOWING.  Since we already eat mostly-paleo this is not a great tragedy but it does seem to point to the fact that we really do need a reset. We have always been emotional eaters, especially in the winter {blerg}, so a reset can be really helpful after a particularly emtional {good or bad} time.  So, rather than quitting we'll keep on keepin' on. 

The nice thing is that we've eaten all the junky food in the house this past week.

Until next time {which hopefully won't be sooooooo long}!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Be a Prepper

Going paleo has taught me a lot about being prepared.  Not in a hoarder/prepper/conspiracy-theory kind of way.

More like in a if-I-don't-I-won't-survive-the-week-and-I'll-eat-crap-when-things-head-south kind of way.

So in true paleo-it-forward fashion here are a few things I've learned and how it looks for me.  Remember --> you don't have to do things my way.  Just find a method/madness that works for you and go with it.  

1.  Prep ahead. If you have your whole, real foods ready to go for breakfast/lunch/dinner, you are more likely to eat them for breakfast/lunch/dinner.  Freezer meals.  That's right -->  make it, freeze it....days go by....thaw, cook, EAT!  This is my biggest lifesaver in terms of staying on track with eating paleo. 

2.  Don't keep CRAP in your cupboards.  Sometimes I bemoan the fact that there's no junk food.  Then I am glad because if it *was* there I *would* eat it.

3.  Think about what you DO have, not what you DON'T have.  You get to have all the plants, proteins, good fats, and nuts/seeds {in moderation} that you want!  Plus water, coffee, tea, and throw in a little dark chocolate here and there...what more could you want?!?!?!?

4.  Snacks are what you make of them.  We snack on leftovers, raw veggies, fruit, homemade trail mix {read: whatever is in the cupboards...sometimes just raisins and almonds but, hey, let's get fancy and call it trail mix}, anytime cookies {a Paleo Parents recipe from Eat Like a Dinosaur}, bacon, veggies -- oh, wait, I already said that.  People are so keen on "breakfast for dinner" like they are the first ones who thought of it.  Well, not to be a jerk, but it's been done before by EVERYONE.  So, take the same idea of eating-something-at-the-wrong-time and apply it to snacks!  How about "leftovers for snacks" or "whole fruit/veg for snacks" or "real food for snacks?"  

Now for a few examples:

This was early in September.  In one day I made 7 dinners and froze them.  This is A LOT for me.  Go me!
I made 2 steak meals, 3 beef cube meals, and 2 chicken thigh meals.  I think we still have one steak meal frozen and the last beef cube meal is thawing for tomorrow.  

Another weekend I was slightly less ambitious but still made some good stuff to fuel us during the week.  Please bear in mind than ground meat NEVER photographs well.  Try not to gag.  First I made 2lbs of taco meat for taco bowls, salads, lunches, breakfasts, or whatever.  I also made spaghetti sauce {which we are using some of on our spaghetti squash tonight!} and I baked off one of the frozen chicken dinners from the last freezer meal prep.

Today I am feeling sort of under the weather.  Sad.  I mixed up a giant meatloaf -- you can find the recipe here.  I also made some red cabbage from Practical Paleo and I have a pork roast and korma curry beef cubes thawing. Remember what I said about ground meat...

Two things to note:
*I use Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillippo for many of my go-to recipes.  They are easy, don't have weird ingredients, and always taste good. 
*I am a Wildtree rep so I use a lot of my fave Wildtree seasonings for paleo eating. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Paleo mayonnaise...or just real-actual-truthfully-true-made-from-food-not-chemicals mayonnaise.

This mayo isn't really paleo per se.  It's just homemade.  Real food.  Which semi-by-default makes it paleo.  The point, whether it's paleo or not, is that it is made with whole foods, we determined our ingredients, and used our (and by that I mean my husband's) own manperson-power to make it.

Eggs.  Oil.  S&P.  A squirt (sorry, I had to say squirt) of dijon mustard.  Boom...or actually...Blend.  MAYO!  

This was a first-go for us at making mayonnaise! It's one of those things that we'd like to stop buying at the grocery store because there are A TON of additives and junky stuff in most store-bought mayo.  Bummer.  I have a running list of things I want to start making myself (or have my cave-man demonstrated below!).  Maybe sometime I'll share it with you.  If you're lucky.  Or if I ever get around to it...

Thankfully there are quite a few places on the inter-webs to learn how to make your own mayonnaise!  I started here with Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo (btw: I wish I could look as cute as her in pig-tails) and ended up using the recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl.  

I'm not going to lie.  We weren't in love with our homegrown mayo AT FIRST.  After a few ham-lettuce-tomato-mayo-roll-ups and some tuna salad -- we are sold!  The recipe and directions were spot on, we just want to play with the flavor a bit.  Possibly a different type of oil?  I'll keep you posted.  Because I know you are on the edge of your seat.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cave-kid snacks & the grocery budget results

I think my cave-kiddos' favorite words are, "Can I have a snack?"  And when one hears it, the other instantly appears echoing the request. 

It's the itch that never gets scratched.  The job that's never quite done.  The mission that is never complete.  Oh snacking, why do you plague me so?  One day they love raisins, the next day they don't.  Have you ever tried reasoning with an almost 3yo about how just the other day he LOVED broccoli and hummus?  It's no use.  I love hearing how pineapple is SO GROSS when just yesterday the juice was dripping from their chins. 

Um, ok. WHATEVER.  I will not let their obviously-calculated-attempts-to-make-me-look-crazy bother me whatsoever.

Here's my {ever-changing} list of cave-kid snacks:
Raisins or other dried fruit*
Almond/raisin/whatever-I-can-find Trail Mix*
Fruit -- their current faves are bananas, apples, mango, pineapple {ahem...}, and peaches*
Veggies and dip {hummus, homemade ranch dip}*
Hard-boiled eggs
Leftover meat
Cottage cheese {here are some brief explanations about by cave-kids & dairy}
Banana muffins
Apples or bananas with almond butter or peanut butter {my older cave-kid is NOT enamored with almond butter}
Lunch meat roll-up

*These are my go-to snacks*

Other things that make snacking less-painful...
~My kids have their own drawer with all their plates and bowls so they can always choose
~They have jars on the kitchen table with the kid-size-cutlery --> more of the do-it-yourself-spirit!
~They can't reach any of the snacks on their own {at some point that will change for my own sanity but we are establishing the snacking-norms so, for now, they must ask}
~We NEVER buy boxed or packaged snacks so it simply isn't an option
~We always pack a snack and water whenever we go somewhere for more than an hour so that when hunger strikes {and it always does} we are prepared
~Let them play with their food
~You'll notice I have a few not-so-paleo snacks on the list...that's life.

In the spirit of transparency...IF I offered my kids pop-tarts and chocolate cookies along with their cave-kid options THEY WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE JUNK.  I see my job as the *purchasing agent* for our family as my opportunity to make real-food-snacks the ONLY OPTION.  It's definitely not a democracy in our house. 

We came in slightly over our $400 goal but the rare pantry staple purchases and a few impulse purchases are the clear budget-offenders. Ha!   At the last update I had $8.96 left and I spent another $37.34 more...making me over-budget by $28.38.  I accidentally bought a pumpkin pie.  It was for a special occasion.  Bad choice :-(  I paid dearly in lost sleep and a puffy face.  Not to mention the sugar cravings that kicked in the next day.  BUT OH. EM. GEE. COSTCO MAKES THE BEST PIE.  

So we spent $428.38 last month {including pantry staples and impulse purchases}...not bad!  I won't bore you with the details of September's grocery budget but I'll keep you posted on the overall excitement of being paleo-on-a-budget.  I did a big shop on September 1 because I'll be out of town for a few days and I wanted to stock up on Freezer Meals.  Whew!  A big chunk of change gone early in the month but I'll see it pay off when I don't need to shop much in the next week or two.

Coming soon...freezer meals, navigating the holidays, and recipe round-ups.  Anything you'd like to know about our paleo-family-life?