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Thursday, December 20, 2012

You've got a lot of nerves!

Literally, the human body has over 7 trillion nerves that make up our nervous system.  It's no wonder that nerve disorders are so hard to diagnose and treat.

The sensory nervous system is so complex that it takes time to diagnose a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD).  In fact, the evaluation process can take as long as 4 to 6 months in a respectable practice, although treatment continues during this time.

So what is going on in my children's nervous systems that has them so "out of sync" with the rest of the world?  Well, interestingly enough, my kid's SPD manifests as direct opposites of each other.  Brayden has an under responsive nervous system.  Basically, it takes him a very long time to bring his body to an aroused state where he can interact appropriately with others, tend to his basic hygiene needs, and learn.  Certain things can speed this up such as loud music, exciting activities (think Disney Land), sour foods, and prolonged physical exercise.  On a typical day, he can not get dressed and ready for school on his own unless extensive efforts are taken to arouse him.  As a parent, it is hard not to label this behavior as laziness or defiance but once you arouse him sufficiently, you see that he is quite capable and willing.

Teagan, on the other hand, has an over responsive nervous system.  Her body is always on hyper alert mode. If you tickle Teagan, it is extremely painful to her.  She can't tolerate light touch.  She also tunes into every bit of sensory information coming at her.  So if the teacher is reading a book and her friend is tapping a pencil and someone else is coughing, she can't remember the story because she is tuning into everything at once.   So to calm down her system, Teagan needs cold drinks through a straw, tactile stimulation that she can initiate, and tight hugs.  I can't give her a light peck on the forehead good night. She needs a big ole smooch!

Can you imagine the fun my household is with these two opposites?  This is just one part of their processing disorder that we are learning about.  Much more to come!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blog Directional Change

So several months ago, like back in August, I decided to change the direction of my blog.  I wanted to write about something I am passionate about but also something that might help others.  Like most moms, I am passionate about my children and helping them grow to their fullest potential.  Since choosing to become a stay at home mom, I have often felt that I was failing at this.  Through the help of a wonderful professional, I have learned that I was not the one failing, rather it was their little bodies that were not working to their fullest potentials.  That led me to learning about my newest passion.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder that manifests with difficulties in processing the sensory information that our body takes in every day.  Consequently, the body's response to sensory information becomes problematic for that person.  Both Brayden and Teagan have SPD and it is my passion and mission to help them be the sensational children that they are every day.

My new blog direction will focus around the trials and tribulations of living with this disorder. I believe that if we had known more about this when they were younger, we would have clearly seen the signs and given them earlier intervention.  I want other moms to learn from this and know the signs and symptoms of this disorder.  I also want to be a support for other parents going through this journey with me.  Children with SPD can be incredibly difficult to parent but also incredibly remarkable in their way of navigating life's challenges.

My initial plan was to go into a complete history of each of my kids to show where this possibly began.  I've decided that is a task to huge to accomplish and it is more important for me to write and process what is going on with them now rather than in the past.  So if you decide to follow this journey, you will learn tools for dealing with my kids and other children with SPD when they struggle but also the fun they have when attempting to cope with this disorder.

So whose with me on this journey?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coming back...

So I've taken a break from blogging as I reorganize my ideas.  I just bought a new camera so now I feel like I can do a bunch more here! Now I just have to figure out how to use it.  Since the kids are back at school, I write a bunch more specifically about some experiments I'm doing.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just a little update

My goodness I forgot I had a blog!  Well, not really but that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  We spent 10 days at my in-laws on beautiful Lake Michigan. While I thoroughly enjoy the lake, it is never easy to be away from your home for long with your kids.  Plus, they don't have wireless internet there (gasp!) or cell phone coverage.  I know, it's like being back in caveman time.  I actually really enjoy the peace and quiet but it takes me FOREVER to get through my google reader, Facebook and emails when I return.  Then there is laundry...need I say more?

Our crazy world just turned crazier this past Friday.  We received the results from Brayden's allergy testing and found out he is allergic to wheat, egg whites, peanuts, soy, rye, gluten, coconut and I'm sure there is one I'm forgetting in there.  If you've been following along, you'll remember that he is our carboholic that we can not seem to convert to Paleo. It is interesting that most of what he is allergic to are foods that are not in the Paleo diet.  Of course coconut and egg whites were big bummers.

We have really struggled to find anything he'll eat. I was hoping knowing about his allergy would get him to try more things but it doesn't.  He'll either refuse to eat or have yet another bowl of corn flakes.  Hopefully in time his gut will heal and he will enjoy healthier foods.  Until then, stay tuned as I try out more paleo baking recipes on him.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guiltless Apple fry

Lucky for you, I'm very sleep deprived today which makes me crave something sweet. So I came up with this yummy apple dish that tastes very much like apple pie to me. I'm calling it "Apple Fry" just to make sure no one gets upset when they see no crust around this yummy dish.  Enjoy!

Apple Fry
1/2 cup walnuts
1 apple (I used Fuji)
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
butter (optional)

Melt the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Add the nuts.  Cook until they start sizzling and then reduce to medium low, stirring frequently.  Continue to cook for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, peal, core and dice apple.  Toss cinnamon with diced apple until evenly coated.  Add to walnuts and stir until well combined.  Continue cooking over medium low heat until apples are soft (about 15 minutes).  Add a large pat of grass fed butter.  Don't be afraid.  Butter is not your enemy.
Enjoy! (Serves 1-2)

*Again, I apologize for the lack of pictures but I'm still searching for that darn cord to transfer pictures.  Perhaps I should clean my hording daughter's room tomorrow?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Whole 30- Day 6 and Blackberry nut recipe

I am almost at the end of my first week and what a week it has been.  I think eating healthy really hardest when we are plucked out of our daily routines and/or sleep deprived.  I had both this week.

On Thursday, my two oldest had outpatient surgeries.  For two nights before the surgery I fretted and stressed surrendering to little sleep. Then, being stuck at the hospital for over four hours and watching my two children deal with the pain of surgery was really taxing.  In the past, we would have went through a drive-thru on the way home, but we drove past the urge and made it home.  First temptation passed!

Brayden had his tonsils and adenoids out so I bought him three different types of ice cream.  The only time I am really tempted by ice cream is when it is hot out. It happens to be approaching 100 here this week so some ice cream would be great!  To add salt to the wound, Brayden has been wanting Orange Leaf frozen yogurt everyday and frankly, after what he went through, I am sucker for anything he wants.  Somehow just knowing I can't have it though has been enough for me to say no.  Temptation two passed!

Today posed one final challenge.  It is hot, our air conditioning is not keeping up, and ice is falling short with all our water consumption.  Simply put, no one felt like cooking. I looked high and low for a take out that could accommodate Whole 30.  I do not believe it exists.  So I made myself a salad while the rest of the crew indulged in some pizza, my absolute favorite food.  Then they all headed to Orange Leaf to cool off while I stayed with Brayden.  Temptation three passed!

This has simply showed me that if I can make it through these situations, then there is no reason for me to fail.  I am still functioning on sleep deprivation as Ellie has a double ear infection and Brayden's nights are difficult.  For me, that is the biggest hurdle in making healthy choices.  It takes a great deal of will power and an occasional yummy recipe.  So here is a quick little yummy snack for you!

Blackberry nut delight (serves 1)

1/2 cup total of walnuts and pecans broken into little pieces
1/4 cup blackberries chopped
1 TBSP coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 banana sliced thinly

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add nuts.  Saute until fragrant but watch for burning.  Reduce heat to low and add blackberries. Stir and cook until juices have sufficiently leaked out.  Turn off heat.  Add coconut milk and banana slices.  Stir until warmed, about 30 seconds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Whole 30 progress

So today was day three of the Whole 30 plan and it hasn't been too bad. I know my Paleo head start has saved me from the dreaded carb flu that can happen when you first get rid of those villians.  Part of my struggle though has been the lack of convenience foods. With a busy toddler around, it's often difficult to cook something three times per day.

On the plus side, I have been including both Ellie and Teagan in meal preps.  This has been amazing. Teagan tried four different types of lettuce before declaring them all gross while Ellie decided cucumbers were actually yummy.  They both eat much better when they help me cook.

So what have I been eating lately?  For breakfast, I've mostly used a ground meat (bison or pork), topped with salsa and an egg.  I'm struggling to find a non-egg dish for breakfast as I don't want to eat them every day.

For lunch, I either have a salad with chicken or a stir fry.  Ellie loves stir fry so I try to make it frequently, plus it is so quick and easy.  The other day I was in such a hurry that I shredded all my veggies in my food processor, including broccoli before stir frying. It was like a big bowl of noodles!

Dinner is easy as we always have a protein with two or three veggies and a fruit for the kids.  I do miss my cheese though and can't wait to incorporate it again in a few weeks.

Anyone else giving this a try?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sugar experiment- the results!

So if you've been following my blog for awhile, you'll know that back in April I switched over to a primal lifestyle. I eliminated all processed foods, grains, legumes, and unrefined sugars.  I conquered my addiction to pop, baked goods and milk chocolate. I learned to bake with nuts, honey, and dark chocolate, all considered acceptable in a primal diet.  That, my friends, is where I messed up!

Sure, I experienced mental clarity, increased energy and fantastic cholesterol readings, but I didn't shed any body fat.  I was frustrated as to why all my hard work was not paying off.

Last week I purchased the newly released book "It Starts with Food" by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig.  Back in 2009, this couple founded the Whole 30 plan which is basically a more restricted primal diet.  Through the years they have tweaked their plan to near perfection.  Their new book goes through the science of eating primal and why it works.  Most important for me was the sugar section.

After reading their section about sugar, I couldn't help but relate sugar to heroin. Yes, sugar and heroin are related. Scary, I know!  I have been counseling and educating drug addicts since 1995 so I know a little bit about heroin but nothing about sugar.

In order to see how heroin (and other narcotics such as Tylenol 3) works, bear with me through a brief explanation.  Your body is equipped with pain receptors.  Without these receptors, you would not know to pull your hand off the stove when your getting burned among other things. Heroin fills up these receptors numbing you from the sensation of pain. This works well if your in chronic pain but not if your a drug addict.  You see, once you fill those pain receptors, your body starts to make more receptors.  So over time, you require more heroin to get the same effect since you have more pain receptors to fill.  Sugar works much the same way.

The more sugar we eat, the more we get acclimated to it and crave more.  Artificial sweeteners are even worse as they stimulate your taste buds to a sweetness not found in nature.  Do you ever wonder why you can eat a whole bag of cookies but you couldn't eat a whole chicken?

The book "It Starts with Food" does an excellent job explaining satiety and satiation.  I'm not going to go into details here but basically the protein in meat signals to your brain that you are full.  Sugar does not have any nutrients in it to signal fullness so you can keep eating it until your belly is physically full.  That is why you get that "I'm going to puke" feeling after a food binge.  The scary part about all this is that over time, the consumption of sugary foods rewires our brain!  My experiment proved this to be true.

The Experiment

After being free of refined sugars for so long, I wanted to see what happened if I ate them again for a few days.  I started last Wednesday with a single Nature's Path Organic toaster pastry.  One pastry has 20 grams of sugar in it!  That pastry was heaven in my mouth so I had another.  Before I knew it, I had eaten three of them and started to feel guilty.  I reminded myself that I was experimenting and ended my day with a trip to Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt.  By the end of the day, I felt quite full and content.  No problems.

So Thursday, I started my day with another toaster pastry (yeah, I have a real problem with those).  Shortly thereafter, I had a sugar crash.  I felt paralyzed.  I quickly ate some protein which helped a bit.  I ate PB & J for lunch and by then I was downright cranky.  My poor kids didn't know what happened to mama.  I had no energy to do anything and needed to pack for our camping trip.  I went to bed early but couldn't sleep.  I was so hungry at night.

We left Friday for our camping trip which was full of smores, ice cream and chips.  My stomach was a wreck and I was hungry all the time. I found it really hard to stop eating sweets and wanted them all day long.  By Sunday, I was completely depleted and exhausted.  My body demanded a healthy dinner so salad and meat it was.  That night I still craved sweets really bad but I was ready to go back to no sugars.

The Results
So what did this tell me about myself?  I think it is obvious that I have an addiction to sugar.  Any sugar addict can use will power to temporarily stop eating sugar for awhile but the minute you go back, it becomes even harder to stop.  I never binged before as bad as I did those few days.  I never felt satisfied after eating.

Although maple syrup and honey are natural sugars, they still have a sweet taste that leads to over consumption.  I was using these sugars, along with coconut palm sugar to make baked goods for my kids.  They never liked any of them so guess who ate them?  Me.  This led to craving more sweets and now I know why.

I hope my sugar experiment taught you a thing or two about this addictive substance that has no place in our diet.  Perhaps you can have the occasional sweet without any repercussions but I know I can not at this point in time.  I am excited to continue my Whole 30 plan and conquer this horrible substance.  Anyone interested in trying it with me?  It's only 30 days of your life.  I promise you will benefit from it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sugar experiment

Another weekend is fast approaching and we are getting ready to head out on our first camping trip of the summer. I am so excited to experience this with my kids as this is the first year Ellie is old enough to enjoy it.

Right now I am in the middle of a sugar experiment. Sounds fun doesn't it? I recently purchased and devoured the book "It Starts with Food"  I was feeling like I wasn't getting the whole benefit from a Paleo diet but was not exactly sure why.  This book has really been an eye opener for me and I strongly recommend it for everyone.  In fact, I shipped my dad one for Father's Day.

On Monday, I am starting a Whole 30 plan. It is much like a Paleo diet only stricter.  Basically my body fat percentage has not been decreasing and I think this plan will jump start that for me and show what foods I'm most sensitive to.

Stay tuned for the results of my sugar experiment and more details on the Whole 30 plan.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Zucchini boats

So my garden is exploding with zucchini and I couldn't be happier. It is such a versatile vegetable.  I thought I would share our new favorite meal with it.

Zucchini Boats
2 zucchini's cut in half and inside scooped out
1lb of ground meat
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tomato
mozzarella and parmesean cheese (optional)

Preheat your oven to broil and put the rack on the 2nd shelf from the top. Microwave zucchini face down in an inch of water for 2-3 minutes depending how soft you like it.
Brown the meat along with the garlic and italian seasoning until done.  Evenly distribute the meat into each zucchini boat. Add 2 slices of tomato and cheeses if desire.  Sprinkle a little salt. Broil until starting to brown (about 8 minutes).  Enjoy.
*Tip: Cut a slice off the bottom of the zucchini boats so they don't rock on your pan.

I apologize for the lack of pictures lately but we are having camera issues. Heck, I can't find the darn download cord so it's really my issue!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Paleo on a budget

I often hear complaints in the Paleo community of how difficult it is to eat Paleo while on a strict budget.  Although it can be challenging, it is definitely possible. I thought I would do a short series on eating Paleo, or any diet for that matter, on a budget.  For each post, I will give you a budget saving tip and a budget friendly recipe.

My first tip for any grocery budget is to make a list and only shop from that list.  If you plan your meals for the week, you should be able make a complete list that you can conquer in one trip.  After all, every time you go to the store, you are spending money so try to shop only once per week.

Today's recipe is a quick and friendly Spaghetti squash with ragu sauce.  I pair this with budget friendly broccoli and a salad.  This makes enough for 4 of us to have two meals, dinner and lunch the next day.  For $15.54, I bought the following with some leftovers for other meals. I'm going to assume you already have the basic spices.

Bionature strained tomatoes (Whole Foods) - $3.19
Ground turkey dark meat (Whole Foods) - $4.74
Spaghetti squash (from Kroger) - $2.72
Broccoli (Aldis) - $1.89
cucumber (Kroger) - .50
organic lettuce (Whole Foods) - $2.50

Brown the ground meat in a large pot.  Add the strained tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning, 1 tablespoon Oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 leaves of basil (I grow my own), 1 teaspoon pepper and a whole garlic clove minced. I actually add the spices to my meat first.  I also rinse my jar of tomatoes with about 1/8 of a cup of water and add that.  No sense wasting any of it!  Let this cook for at least an hour so that is seasons nicely.  Steam broccoli and prepare salad.  About 10 minutes before your ready to eat, cut your spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the insides, and place it upside down on a dish with 1/4 cup of water. Microwave 7-9 minutes until the inside easily pierces with a fork.  Scrape the insides into spaghetti noodle like strands.  Pour sauce over top and enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mistakenly good crackers!

Since going Paleo, I've really been wanting to make paleo crackers so I decided today was the day. I was planning to make the cinnamon walnut crackers from Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy meals but as I glanced over the ingredients, I realized I didn't have most of them. So I improvised and was quite pleased with the results.  If you want yours sweeter, then add more honey because they aren't really sweet at all.  After making these, I decided to put cashew butter and jelly on it for Ellie. She wasn't interested it so I ate it and OMG!  It was so yummy. We use Bionaturae strawberry fruit spread because it does not have any sugar added to it.  So without further delay, here is the recipe I adapted from Sisson's recipe.

Almond Sunflower crackers

3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sunflower butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line an 8x8 dish with parchment paper.  Mix all ingredients and spread on prepared pan. The spreading takes some time so be patient with this step to get it even and smooth.  Bake 12-15 minutes until browned on the edges.  Let cool mostly before cutting.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's all in your perception

Recently I've been having some "whoa's me" moments about my body not changing fast enough. I've been doing the Primal diet since mid-April and thought I would be a lean machine by now.  Of course that was not a realistic expectation but I was still hopeful.  The reality is that I have lost three pounds and since I only had 10 to lose, and I'm gaining muscle, the number actually means nothing.

After complaining to my husband yet again about hating how my clothes look, he suggested that I go buy a couple things that look great. Not just "ok" but great.  Of course I'll never turn down a shopping opportunity but I'll admit I was a bit scared to meet that "great" expectation because frankly I haven't been feeling great about my body.

A good friend of mine joined me on my venture for new clothes and together we worked out two outfits.  I was still expecting these outfits to make me suddenly look like a lean machine when in reality, they were just what looked good on my body.  After our shopping trip, this wonderful friend said something to me that really put everything into perspective.

She had stopped working out after gaining weight from her workouts and was feeling defeated.  She was wearing clothes that were too big to hide the curves she wanted to lose.  She then noticed an acquaintance of her at a gathering and noted that she looked stunning.  This woman's body was no different then her own but she was not afraid to show it with nice fitting clothes.  It then occurred to me that by wearing baggy shirts and frumpy pants, I was making myself look very unattractive not only to myself, but to others.

We can't always change our body makeup overnight but we can embrace what we have while going through the process.  The size of our clothes and the number on the scale really mean very little compared to how we feel.  Frankly, eating a primal diet makes me feel full of energy and clearer in my thinking than my pre-primal state.  I could have easily sabotaged my primal journey by letting my lack of weight loss get me down.  I now realize how important perception can be in maintaining a good sense of self-esteem.

How about you guys?  Anyone out there ever sabotage their fitness goals based on poor perception?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The best Paleo brownies ever!

Warning!! These are super moist yummy brownies.  There are many recipes out there claiming to be the best Paleo brownie and I'm pretty sure I've tried most of them.  This recipe is not only the best, but it is nut free, dairy free and gluten free. It can be easily adjusted to be vegan as well. It packs in 3 grams of fiber for one piece and only 15 carbs!

A friend of mine recently sent me a recipe for fudgy brownies. It utilized almond butter which my palate has not quite adjusted to yet.  More importantly though, I'm making these for my kids as I generally don't crave sweets other than fruit anymore. I figure if I can get Brayden to eat his sweets Paleo, then I'll be off to a good start in transforming him.  On to the recipe.

I decided to use sunflower seeds as I wanted to make them nut free for purposes of taking them to school and possibly bringing them to my nephew next weekend who has a nut allergy. I was so excited at how great these turned out.  Here it is:

Paleo Brownie Bar

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs, tempered (optional, see below)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk, room temperature or warmed 10 seconds
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/3-1/2 cup of carob or cocoa powder (I used carob powder)
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar (*this is key to a rich caramel flavor and can be found at Whole Foods)
Optional add ins: chocolate chips, shredded coconuts, nuts, dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8x8 pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper.
In your food processor, ground the sunflower seeds until thickened about 3 minutes.  Stir in the coconut oil until smooth. (You could alternatively use sunflower seed butter from the jar). Add your tempered eggs (microwave for 10 seconds), milk, vanilla, and salt.  Stir until smooth. Add cocoa, sugar and any add ins.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool before cutting.

To make these vegan, increase the sunflower seeds by 1/2 cup. They will be chewier than this version.  I prefer eggs in mine.  The reason you have to temper your eggs and warm your milk is because of the coconut oil.  You can mix a different oil with your sunflower seeds to skip the warming part or if you use the jar version of sunflower seed butter then you can skip it.

Let me know what you think.  I'm having trouble not eating the whole pan!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paleo Freezer Cooking

Since changing our life over to a Paleo diet, I have struggled with the need to constantly cook and dirty yet another pan. Gone are the days of McDonald's drive thru and easy jars of spaghetti sauce.  Most pre-made foods have sugar in them. I'm not sure why food manufacturers think everyone needs sugar in their dinner but they do.

So my solution to give my cooking a rest on occasion is to stock pile my freezer with some meals. Now anyone with a toddler around knows that you can't just take an entire day and cook.  I decided that instead, I would triple my recipes each day for a week.  I figured that would give me one week of miserable daily cooking in exchange for two weeks worth of food in my freezer.  Without being repetitive, you can assume these are all paleo recipes. So here is the menu plan:

Monday: Meatloaf

Tuesday: Grilled chicken (I will probably more than triple this since we like extra for salads)

Wednesday: Sloppy joes (serve these in lettuce wraps or on paleo buns)

Thursday: Rats on a stick (adapted from the Eat Like a Dinosaur cookbook)

Friday: Spaghetti sauce (serve this over spaghetti squash)  - I use a Betty Crocker version recipe or make it up as I cook

Saturday: Cauliflower pizza

Sunday: Shepherds pie

There you have it. Lots of yummy foods to save you on a day when things are just not going right but you don't want to search yet again another restaurant menu for paleo options.

Now this can be rather expensive as the paleo diet over all costs more initially while you restock your pantry. I may not make these all in one week. In fact, I may just pick one recipe each week to tackle but at least there is a plan with 7 recipes.  If you tackle at least one freezer meal per week, you will still have a nice stockpile of food in your freezer.

I suggest freezing in ziploc baggies laid flat.  Cool everything in your fridge first until they are cold, then freeze them. This reduces freezer burn. Happy cooking!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

21 day end

Well, I have finished the 21 day transformation exercise portion thereby completing Sisson's book. It has really given me some clarity as to what exercise to focus on and I'm starting to see muscles bulging from where the fat likes to hide them (please try not to visualize this). So what is next?

We are continuing to work on Teagan. We are so proud of her good choices lately but sometimes she struggles with what is good and what is convenient.  Hopefully overtime I can find some easier snacks for her that she loves other than fruit.  A few we have recently used include cashews, pepperoni (nitrate free), and broccoli.  Odd I know, the kid likes broccoli as a snack.  I have noticed that she is no longer feeding off of Brayden's gagging from food but we have also taken the focus off of him at meals and put it on her.  Since she is a performer of life, she enjoys this spotlight and will devour a chicken leg just to see our smiles.

Ellie loves her big sister and tries to copy whatever she does. We are trying to show Teagan how it is important to be a good big sister so Ellie continues to make healthy choices.  I'm amazed at how Ellie's palate has grown since going primal. She now loves more vegetables then ever before and I think it is because she sees them at EVERY meal.

As for me, I'm going to continual my primal eating and exercises.  I have set a target date as July 1st for revealing a before and after photo.  Aren't you excited???

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 17 - paleo

Well, my fast went great. I lasted 14 hours without any problems.  The odd thing that happened to me though was yesterday.  I suddenly crashed.  In part, I was sleep deprived compliments of my almost 2 year old.  My husband however believes that we occasionally need to reload our carbs.  He does a carb reload weekly.   I believe the thinking out there is that if you continually keep your carbs low, your body will adapt to that and you will no longer burn fat as easily.  If you occasionally "reload", then your body doesn't get used to the low carb count.  I plan to continue looking into that.

So yesterday, I did a cheat day and carb reload.  I ate a bunch of no paleo stuff all day.  It helped me get through the day but by 8pm, my stomach was killing me!  It just reminded me of how I really didn't want to eat that way.  Another interesting thing that happened was that no matter how much I ate, I was continually hungry. Every carb that went into me made me crave more of them.  My carb craving had been very low for the past few weeks to this was fairly eye opening for me.

Well, today is day 17.  I did a great work out.  There are only 4 more days left in this challenge but when it ends, my life will continue much the same.  Why change what works?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Paleo update

We had a fantastic weekend here with beautiful weather.  I've been following the workouts and although I missed a day, I'm now caught up.  They seem to really be a rotation between the Primal Essential Movements, aerobics, and intense workouts.  Tomorrow is another intense day.  Tonight my challenge is to stop eating by 7 and see how long I can go tomorrow until I feel definite hunger.  The funny thing is that today, I only ate an apple in the morning and then lunch at 1pm.  I just wasn't hungry.  That was a first for me and a very nice feeling.  I was suppose to track nutrients again today but I totally forgot so I'll postpone that for a later date.

On another note, I ordered the book Eat Like a Dinosaur written by the Paleo Parents.  It is actually more of a Gluten free, dairy free book but they are paleo so it gives information about transforming your kids.  Their kids are a bit younger than mine and I really don't feel their approach is appropriate for my older two but I loved the story inside the book that you read to your child.  I read it to my older two this weekend and I could see the wheels spinning in my 5 year old's mind.  I then decided to eliminate gluten from her diet for the weekend.  We have been at our wits end with her lately and I figured it couldn't hurt.

I am pleased to say, she was a different child this weekend!  She needed very little correction and she controlled herself all weekend.  Tonight, she begged for toast with jelly for her snack.  I gave it to her but explained that it was not what a dinosaur would eat.  Shortly after that, she was back to her out of control self.  I couldn't believe it.  I took her aside and asked her to think about what she ate and how she was now showing poor behavior after such a great weekend.  I was planning to transition her June 1st but I think I'm going to stick with gluten elimination and see how our week goes.  I'm so excited for her to possibly have a solution to her attention problems.

Also this weekend, my husband finished building a playscape for the kids in the backyard.  They were so excited and my 7 year old continually thanked my husband.  It really was the icing for the weekend's cake.
So how was your weekend?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tracking your nutrients

So yesterday I tracked what I consumed for a day.  I'm so glad I did this exercise as it is eye opening.  Since I'm trying to burn fat right now, I wanted my carbs to be between 50 to 100 grams for the day.  This is what I ate:
2 eggs, bacon
coffee with cream
3 apples (yeah, it's a problem)
macademia and almond nuts, raisins, honey (granola bar I made)
lettuce, tomato salad
chicken stir fry with mushrooms, onions, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and yellow squash

This totaled 2,010 calories, 111 grams of fat, 89 grams of protein and 177 grams of carbs.  I was shocked to find out how loaded with carbs raisins are.  If I cut out the dried fruit and limit my apples to one per day, I think I'll be there next time.

If your interested in tracking your food for a day, head over to and enter your food for the day.  It is a free website.  Let me know if you do!

Monday, April 30, 2012

21 day physical challenge continued

Well, our weekend was beautiful and we spent most of it outdoors.  On Sunday, we went to the Arboretum and took advantage of the numerous logs to climb.  The whole family had a good workout there.

Today, it was back to the grind with sprints. I actually enjoyed doing this. It is my kind of work out; quick and effective.  I'm hoping I feel a little soreness from them tomorrow.  At least that means it is doing something.

Tomorrow will be a tough one.  I have to move every 30 minutes all day long.  Hello?  I have a toddler. It would be more of a challenge for me to sit down every 30 minutes.  Seriously though, tomorrow I have to track what I eat.  Ughhh, I don't do "diets", tracking or anything of the sort. I find them very food focused; however, I do see benefit in doing this so I will.  I'm hoping it will show that my carbs are right where they should be.  Wishful thinking.

So tonight I was really craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I made one for my daughter earlier in the day and that just set the cravings off.  So instead I took some leftover paleo buns, see the recipe here.
I toasted them, put a little nut butter and honey on them and I was in heaven!   I love these paleo buns because they do taste so good and serve a variety of functions.  Give them a try!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Days 3 and 4- Going Paleo

Wow am I sore!  Days 3 and 4 were much harder on my body than the first two days.  The PEMs do not seem very hard when you start them but boy do you feel it.

Today is day 5 and I had to do an abbreviated version of the PEM. My body screamed "no" but I did it anyway.  Tomorrow is an hour long aerobic adventure.  I'm not sure what we will do.  If we have good weather, then the options are endless.

I put together a quick recipe today and it ended up tasting like french toast!  The best part is that it only requires 3 ingredients.  I'm going to name it "Paleo French Toast" and I hope you'll give it a try.  I dipped mine in unsweetened applesauce but if pure maple syrup is allow in your diet, then it would be awesome.  My husband ate it plain.  The following recipe is enough for two people so double it if you have more.

Paleo "French" toast

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
pecans (optional)

Boil the sweet potato until you can easily pierce it with a fork then drain.  Heat coconut oil or other oil in a frying pan over medium.  Mash the sweet potato in a bowl (slightly lumpy is fine).  Add two eggs and cinnamon. Wisk until well combined.  Add pecans if desired, and wisk to combine.  Drop by heaping spoonfuls into the hot oil.  Flip after 1-2 minutes. They should flip easily.  If they are falling apart, they need to cook longer.  They cook quicker toward the end.  Serve while warm.

Let me know if you give this a try!  I think I'll try it next with some shredded zucchini.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Transformation Update

Well, I've finished days 1 and 2 of the exercise portion from Mark Sisson's 21 Day Transformation.  I have to be honest, it was easy.  The first day was simply doing two activities.  It was really windy out so I chased the Beaner around the mall.  Our second activity was doing leg lifts where I propel the Beaner on my feet.  She loves it and I feel it in the legs.

Today (day 2) was 20 minutes of cardio.  The hardest part of this was that I had to do it in the morning before my hubby went to work. I'm not a morning person.  I still forced myself to the gym and did 20 minutes of biking.  I like to think of that as the lazy cardio since you get to sit the whole time but it gets the legs moving.

I have been doing great with the eating part with today as an exception.  In celebration of our 8th wedding anniversary, me and the hubs went to Red Lobster for dinner.  You know those sinful rolls they put in front of you?  I quickly learned if something I really love is in front of me, I can quickly justify the splurge.  You see, the primal principal encourages going at least 80% primal.  That means in any given week, you eat non primal food for four different meals.  Now I plan to do this 95% but I will occasionally jump off the band wagon for special occasions.  So, the cheddar garlic rolls are sitting like a rock in me right now.

Tomorrow's exercise is what Sisson calls the PEM workout.  It goes like this:
5 minute light cardio (means chasing the Beaner around the backyard)
2 sets of maximum reps of pushups, squats, pull-ups, and abdominal planks. You can do whatever version, assisted or not, that your capable of.  Frankly, I've never been able to do a pull-up so a chair will be close by.  I know the Beaner will love doing some pull-ups too!

Anyone want to try the PEM workout tomorrow and see how many reps you can do? It will be nice to see if my numbers increase.  Let me know if you give it a try.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Paleo challenge- Take 2

So as you may recall, I previously attempted the 21 Day Transformation from the popular blog Mark's Daily Apple.  I did quite well with the food portion but miserably failed the physical part.  Well, I am ready to try again, only this time, it will be "mamma's way!"

For the past week, I have been eating a paleo diet almost 100% of the time.  In fact, the only time I strayed was at two school functions where there were not paleo options and I was very hungry.  I did not indulge, just ate a few bites to curb my hunger until heading home. Previously, I would not have done this.  So what's the difference?  Folks, it's called Emotional Eating.  I capitalize it because it deserves a title.

Emotional eating is so common that I bet most of you reading this engage in this behavior.  You eat for some reason other than hunger.  For me, my triggers for emotional eating were boredom and fatigue.  I love my job as a stay at home mom but seriously, there are times when Elmo gets a bit boring.  I've known about this weakness for a long time and never did anything about it.  It takes a mind set to conquer emotional eating along with some determination.  You also need to know where this eating comes from.

Emotional eating often starts in early childhood.  Your whining and your parent shoves a snack at you so they can finish what they were doing.  Come on, admit it, we've all done this at some point in time. I always take snacks to the grocery store even when my kids just ate lunch.  Then you start school and your given candy and sugar laden snacks as rewards.  You learn that when your happy, eat.  You fall down and scrape your knee so your given a popsicle to make it better.  Perhaps your parents let you eat while you watch television?  That too becomes a habit.  So you see this eating can often start at a young age by well meaning parents who might be emotional eaters themselves.

This is where the primal way of thinking can really help you conquer emotional eating.  In the primal world, you eat because your body needs fuel and perceives hunger, not because it is time to eat.  During the 21 day challenge, your encouraged not to eat at your normal times rather wait until you perceive hunger.  In order for me to do that, I had to keep me and my little Beaner busy last week.  That really worked wonders for me.  We had many play dates, trips to the park, and walks around the block.  This also helped curb my hunger for sweets which is a big part of emotional eating.

So that was my big win for last week.  I also stocked up on a bunch of primal food and cleaned out what I could of our pantry.  Tomorrow, I start day one of the 21 day transformation.  This time I'm focusing on the physical activity part as I feel I have the eating part down fairly good.  I will however be implementing knew strategies regarding the food portion as they come up if I find I am lacking in them.  One of those will be a carb counting day.

For tomorrow, our (and I say our because Beaner is in this whether she likes it or not) activity starts with just getting out for two activities.  So me and the Beaner will take a walk in the morning and then after school I will be taking the kiddos to the park.  Chasing the Beaner around our city parks is always a good work out.

As I go along on this challenge, my version will also include working toward a primal family.  I was ecstatic that my primal donuts were a bit hit with the kids today and I hope to find more primal foods that they will eat.  Even more than just the food though is the lifestyle itself.  We live in a beautiful community with plenty to do so I hope to increase our outside time by double.  With summer break fast approaching, I'm looking forward to lots of fun and exercise.  So wish me luck and stay tuned for more progress and hopefully some recipes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Going Paleo-Take 2

So you may recall a few months back when I embarked on Mark Sisson's 21 Day Transformation to a paleo lifestyle.  I was disappointed in some aspects of the challenge as I felt they were not suited for my reality.  Although I finished the food portion of the transformation, I did not do the exercise portion. Shortly after the challenge, I returned to grains and other unhealthy choices.  It took me a few months to realize how awful I have felt since stopping the challenge.  It has been like wading in mud everyday to get through the fatigue and weariness.

Recently, a friend of mine (you know who you are) began eating paleo.  She reports that she has an increase in energy and less stomach pains.  For some reason that really struck me.  If her diet, which was already void of sugar and quite nutritious in American standards, caused her stomach pain and fatigue, then what was our diet doing to me and my family?  So I started reading more about the paleo lifestyle.

In my reading, I came across a few different paleo families.  Reading their stories gave me new hope and motivation to try this change again.  Most striking were the stories about the change in their children.  Suddenly gone were the constant need for antibiotics.  Most recently, I read a success story on Mark Sisson's blog about a little boy Gabriel.  This child suffered from severe stomach problems, low weight and poor muscle gain.  Feeding him was torture for the parents.  They converted his diet to paleo and suddenly he has grown in height, weight and strength.  Sound like anyone in my family could use this?  Read Gabriel's story here.

I have been reading about how to transform your family to this lifestyle.  We live in a society where convenience and cute packaging is constantly thrown in our face. Our hurried lifestyles make it challenging to pack whole food lunches for school.  Even if you manage to do that, your efforts will likely be squashed by the never ending cookies or cupcakes brought to the class room.  So what do you do?

All of my reading has taught me that this transformation does not occur overnight.  Most importantly though, it must start with me.  Our children model what we do and if I do not eat paleo then they certainly will not.  So on Monday I stopped eating all grains, processed foods, and the greasy garbage of fast food chains.  I have to say I feel great.  Over time, our house will slowly get rid of the foods that our likely holding back our children from living to their full potential.  I tread carefully in this transformation due to the selective eating of my Rooster.  I am confident though that making this transformation will greatly benefit his health.

Stay tuned as I blog about this venture.  I plan to start my exercise portion soon. I hope to share recipes and exercises with you.  I always love to hear from you as well.  Do you have any health problems that you think could be "cured" from a paleo diet?  Are you willing to try it for 30 days?  Do you take medication that could be eliminated by this diet?  Dare to challenge yourself, you can only regret not trying.  Even if you have no interest in trying this, I hope you'll follow my journey.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Outdoor plans

I know I know, I haven't been around for a few weeks and for that I apologize. I think I have been totally overwhelmed with all the challenges parenting can bring.  My mind has been spinning with ideas for what positive changes our household needs to make in the next few months.  One of those ideas is really getting some good use out of our large backyard.  Last summer I told you about our new sandbox.  It hasn't really gotten the use we hoped mainly because the sand is quite messy.  My new outlook is, let's get messy.  Here they are having a blast because I agreed to let them fill it with water.

We recently added some stepping stones over by our big apple tree.  They are great for developing balance, agility, and coordination.  They are also great to sit on while you eat your popsicle.  My husband strategically placed them to make it easier for the kids to climb the tree.  You can see Rooster perched happily up there.

We also added a tether ball to work on hand/eye coordination and upper body strength.  I think me and the hubby may be enjoying it more than the kids.  You can see it way in the background of this picture.

This appears to just be the first steps in revamping our backyard.  Right now I'm working on deciding the how and where of a mud kitchen.  Won't that be fun for the summer?  I bet you can't wait to come play!

Friday, March 9, 2012

All parents have to be superheros!

It's 1am and I am startled awake by a frantic cry for help from my 6 year old.  I leap out of bed and sprint to his room at the back of the house as if I were a natural born runner.  I arrive at his side and witness tears of fear as he shakes and points to his curtain saying "there is somebody hiding behind my curtain."  Without an ounce of fear I whip the curtain back ready to engage in hand to hand combat with this intruder only to find that I left his window open from the warm spring day.  I return to his side after showing him it was the wind that moved his curtains and snuggle him back to sleep.  I'm fairly certain he saw the invisible cape I often wear!

As parents, don't we all wear the cape?  Sometimes it is to eliminate a scary bug in the house and other times it is to sooth a fever with the right remedy.  Do children ever stop thinking of their parents as superheros?  I think not. I can remember times as an adult when my father rescued me from a broken down car or my mother made some delicious soup to "cure" my cold.  They are still my superheros.

So what happens when you can't save your child from the evils of the world? The times when they are subjected to mean actions at school? The times when they realize they don't have curly hair like their best friend?  Or in my case, the times when their minds and bodies are inflicted with a disorder that a cold wash cloth or a dose of medicine can't cure.  How do you play their superhero?  They expect it.  They don't worry about it because their superheros always keep them safe.  That is one of the biggest challenges of parenting.

So what do I do as I wait for professionals to "cure" my son? I guess my answer is to pray, advocate and educate. Instead of diving into my next book (the Art of Racing in the Rain), I am diving into books on resistant eaters.  Instead of scouring Pinterest late at night, I am researching treatment approaches.  And instead of splurging on that Starbucks, I'm looking for jobs I can do while caring for my Beaner because good treatment is not cheap.  It's amazing how our children can change the course of our lives suddenly and require us to re-evaluate our capes.  After all, no matter what challenge they throw at us, we have to find a way to be their superheros.

As parents, we are often

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A broken heart - "momming" the finicky eater

I debated for a long time about whether to post this because it is not a cheerful post. Like many who blog, most of my posts are about the awesomeness of family life but there are times when life is not so good to us.  In deciding to post this, I realized that if someone else had posted this somewhere, it might have saved my broken heart.  Therefore, I am posting this not to solicit well intended sympathy but rather to help others learn from my mistakes.

The birth of my son, my first born, was an event I had waited for my entire life.  I had spent years working with children and finally I would have my own.  Despite my years of schooling and working with children, I was blinded to the early signs of my son's sensory issues.  I was assured that severe acid reflux was common in babies and something he would out grow; and he did.  Although we questioned why he held his ears when driving by traffic, we never thought his early rejection of food was anything other than normal adjustment.  When he began choking on solids as a toddler, we were assured that it too would pass; and it did.  Then when he refused to eat his vegetables, we were assured it was normal preschool behavior.

During my son's early years, I worked full time and he was mainly cared for by a nanny during the day. I always planned his meals and snacks, making sure each food group was covered.  In some ways, it was the only thing I truly had control over while away at work.  When his sister was born, she too suffered from reflux, normalizing his history in our eyes.  At this time, I began to work part-time to meet her needs.  As she grew, we had a taste of what normal eating was for a baby. She enjoyed foods and ate adventurously. Despite this, we still believed our son just going through the age two to five stage of picky eaters.

After moving to Lexington and working full-time again, we decided to have our third child.  I was determined not to miss anymore of my children's daily lives and quit work after the birth of our little Beaner.  I decided to try homeschooling.  Midway through this adventure, our little Beaner became a very high need baby, much like her siblings.  I no longer felt I could educate my children at the level they required to excel and made the difficult choice of sending them both to public school.

As for as eating, I felt like there were improvements during our homeschooling days.  We did an in depth study of nutrition.  I finally had time to cook and became the "sneaky chef".  My son was gaining weight and eating muffins with everything from spinach to cauliflower in them.   His pickiness continued but I was assured by his doctor that as long as he took his vitamins and ate what I baked for him, he was fine.

In the fall of 2011, our son began kindergarten, along with his sister.  It was a tough decision to make him repeat this grade.  I felt like I had failed him as an educator.  He was socially immature and we knew he needed the extra guidance kindergarten would provide.  After some initial  resistance, our son started to excel academically.  His giftedness as an artist really developed and he suddenly just "clicked" with reading.  The down side was that he was also suddenly catching every virus available.  The colds and strep throat incidents were relentless.  Around Thanksgiving time, we began to notice even more resistance in his feeding.  I still had my magical muffins to give him, along with some good old fashioned peanut butter, so we really didn't worry.  Everyone assured us he would out grow this so we just waited for this to happen.

In January 2012, something drastically changed.  I don't know if it was the disruption from traveling during the holidays or the distraction of a priveleged Christmas, but it seemed like there was very little we could find to feed him.  He continued to contract viruses and with each one, he refused to eat.  Then suddenly my muffins were no longer palatable. He begged for Entemann's Little Bites and other processed foods.

Let me back up a little to say that we had come a long way in educating ourselves on how to feed our children.  We had eliminated high fructose corn syrup, processed goods, additives and food coloring.  We bought mostly organic or natural products.  Processed foods were only given as a "treat" when traveling or by someone other than us.

By the time February rolled around, we noticed some weight loss in our son.  Every time he became ill, he would eat less and less.  Then his snack and lunch bags started to come home full.  I talked with him and his teacher about eating while at school but he always had an excuse.  Sure, he would nibble a cracker or drink an applesauce pouch but that would be it for the entire day.  We decided enough was enough and contacted an agency for food aversion therapy.  We had long before requested the assistance from his school as he was already in speech therapy.  We were denied stating that it did not impact him academically.  I don't know about you but I surely couldn't focus on an empty stomach!  Anyway, we were put on a six week waiting list for therapy!

Last week was a turning point in our lives.  I say this for several reasons.  First, me and my husband never really agreed on the severity of our son's eating problems.  My husband was also a selective eater growing up.  His parents frequently reminded me that they would make him milk shakes and PB&J sandwiches because it was all he ate.  Second, therapy is not cheap and we had sacrificed a large income for me to stay home.  Therapy is hard for some people to see value in especially if they have never had it themselves.  We obviously would have given our son our last dime to make him healthy but we had always been assured that he indeed was healthy.  Therefore, there was no urgency so we figured we would wait until I decided to work again if it didn't improve by then.  Third, I finally saw the whole picture of my son's life and the events that led to where he is today.  That really helped me understand why he struggled with foods so much.  This is what happened last week:

On Friday, our son came home from school complaining of a headache and sore throat.  He had a fever and reported that he couldn't eat all day.   By Saturday, he was incapacitated and miserable. He refused pain relievers (since he can't tolerate the taste) and although probably better for it, that made it impossible to relieve his discomfort.  Throughout the weekend, he deteriorated more and more prompting us to take him to the doctor Monday (one week ago from now). I talked him into taking a bath (it had been 5 days) but that required that I lift him in and out of the tub as he was unable to walk.  I don't normally see him completely naked and when I did, my heart just sank.  He was all skin and bones.  In a matter of weeks he had significantly dropped several pounds. I was scared for his life at this point and couldn't get to the doctor quick enough.

Once at the doctor, he was put through the torture of a strep test (torture for someone with a strong gag reflex),only to find out it was a virus.  I told the doctor I was fearful that he was becoming malnourished so the  doctor assessed his body mass index (BMI).  When he showed me the graph on his computer of a straight line down well under any acceptable range, my heart just broke.  After hearing over and over "he won't starve", my little boy was doing just that.  Our doctor directed him to drink two boost per day and return in one month for a recheck.

As soon as I got home, I called the therapy place and explained his current status.  They were kind enough to accept him for an evaluation the next day.  His fever broke that night and the next day his energy level started to increase.  We talked about the importance of drinking his boost while we try to figure out why he can't eat like everyone else.  In an effort to quickly add weight to his body, we have caved into any requests for "junky" type food.  Suddenly our house is filled with Cheetos, Fruit Loops, and Rice Krispy treats and the kids are in heaven.  It's hard to tell our girls they can't have these treats all the time but their brother can eat as much as he wants.

After a week of drinking his boost and eating lots of Fruit Loops, it appears that he is gaining some weight back.  He surprised me today by trying a cashew (this earns him a check mark toward a toy).  Our priority is getting food into him to gain weight and then trying to retrain his eating into healthier foods.  I was happy when he agreed to try my muffins again and then ate three of them!  I made them extra fatty with thick coconut milk.  The road for our son is going to be long but he is such a wonderful boy and we know he will persevere through this challenge and hopefully learn to find joy in eating healthy foods.

I recently read an article in the March addition of Parents magazine about the fear of new foods (neophobia). In the article, they sited that one of the first steps to take is to rethink conventional wisdom.  These are thoughts we have continually heard from doctors, parents, and family through the years.  They are:

1)  "He'll grow out of it"  - 25% of kids do not!
2)  "He's just being difficult"  -kids really aim to please and many of the reasons for selective eating are innate
3)  "He'll eat when he's hungry"  - our son really proved this to be wrong

So I write this to you as I know there are mothers out there reading this and struggling with the guilt we feel when we can't get our kids to eat.  I also know that my close family and friends read this and may wonder why we are suddenly eating different.  Or perhaps you've noticed how skinny our little boy suddenly looks. I write this so each of you will understand what our son is going through.  One thing I have learned through my years of work as a psychologist is that the more people and resources a family has, the better their chance is for success.  It does no one any good to keep your problems a secret.  We all have them and the blogging world is a great place to learn how to conquer them.

Meal time should not be a battle time and I refuse to have battles at our dinner table.  It is a time for our family to be together and enjoy each other's company.  Over time and through the help of professionals, we are confident that our son will share this joy with us.  For now, I'm just so glad to see this wonderful boy active and smiling again!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No plan week!

Well, this past weekend was nothing like I had imagined.  Despite the beautiful weather, I was inside all weekend taking care of a very sick six year old.  We are talking a fever that requires a fan, no shirt, ice packs and cold water with no relief.  A horrible headache and sore throat.  The poor guy was just a lump of misery on the couch. He couldn't eat, barely drank and couldn't tolerate any noise.  We thought it was strep but it ended up being just a virus.  Don't you hate that diagnosis?  Here is my $$$ doc, now tell me "just a virus" please.  Anyway, needless to say, there is no menu this week. We are just making whatever comes to mind.  I made the chicken lemon rice soup but I can't say it was anything spectacular.  I was hoping to share the recipe with you but really it isn't worthy of repeating.  I'll try that one again another day.  Of course if you have a recipe for one, I'd love to hear it!  Today, my little buddy is finally himself.  I'm keeping him home one more day to gain his strength back.  This week has been a blur so far so maybe it will start looking clearer tomorrow.  Are you staying healthy with this constant changing weather?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday menu

Just in case your wondering what I'm working on this week, my 6 year old is obsessed with Entenmanns's Little Bites. Those are absolutely horrible for you! Talk about processed garbage, it has every mother's nightmare for ingredients.  If you've ever had a child with a food aversion, you'll see that they fixate on certain foods and right now it's little bites. I've made several mini muffins this week but they aren't close to the heavenly taste of those Little Bites so I will keep trying and let you know what I come up with.  Meanwhile, here is our menu:

Monday:      Burgers, sweet potato fries and salad
Tuesday:     Slop, cauliflower rice, brussel sprouts

Brown a pound of ground meat and onion.  Add 2 cups of broth of your choice and bring to boil.  Mix 2 TBS of flour with 1 TBS of cold water in a mug.  Slowly stir this into the broth meat mixture.  Add a Tsp of rosemary, 1/2 tsp of sage, salt to taste, 1 TBSP of worcheshire.  add any other seasonings you may want.  Once thickened and simmering, add a cup of frozen peas.  Cook until peas are soft.  Serve over rice or in our case, shredded cauliflower.  I play around with the seasonings each time so I just estimated my common concoction.

Wednesday: Chicken cordon bleu, asparagus

Cordon Bleu
Preheat oven to 400.  Pound out some chicken breasts or buy them flattened as I do.  Lay a piece of Hormel's nitrate free ham on each breast and a piece of swiss cheese.  Roll up tightly and insert a toothpick if needed.  Preheat a pan with about a half inch of olive oil.  Beat an egg in one bowl.  Place a cup of almond flour (or pankos if you wish) in another bowl.  Dip each breast in egg and then flour.  Fry in pan until brown (about 3 min each side).  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Check to make sure done.

Thursday:    Brats, turnip fries, salad
Friday:        Chicken casserole paleo style
*recipe to come

Saturday:     Eat out
Sunday:       Chicken lemon soup and greek gyros

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pizza soup and new menu

This week we are sorta flying by the seat of our pants. My in-laws came to visit on Sunday and I made this wonderful soup that I have named Pizza Soup.  I love to throw ingredients into a pot and hope that it tastes good and this one did.  Now, before you get all excited for pizza, it doesn't exactly taste like pizza.  Only pizza tastes like pizza but it does smell like pizza!  So here it is:


1lb of ground Italian sausage
1/2 small onion diced
3 gloves of garlic minced
2 cups of broth (I used chicken)
16 ounces of tomato juice (I buy a 6 pack of cans for this purpose)
14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt (more to taste)
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 zucchini sliced and quartered
1 yellow squash sliced and quartered
1/2 cup barley

Brown the sausage and when still slightly pink, add the onions.  Add garlic now or later (it retains more health benefits the less you cook it).  Once the meat is brown, add broth, juice, diced tomatoes and seasonings.  Add two cans full of water or about 2 cups.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Add barley, reduce to simmer, then cover and cook for one hour.  After one hour, add zucchini and squash continuing to cook for another 15 minutes.  Add mozzarella cheese and serve with bread sticks if your really feeling like pizza!  We just enjoyed with some brats.

So that was Sunday.  On Monday, my father-in-law offered to buy us pizza and well, I'll never say no to a free meal and certainly not to pizza now that me and the Beaner can eat cheese.

Tuesday:  Spaghetti on top of spaghetti squash, broccoli
Wed: Shrimp and sausage stir fry over cauliflower rice
Thurs: Sloppy Joe (Pioneer Woman's recipe) on top of Paleo buns, shredded brussel sprouts
Friday: Chicken
Saturday: Left overs

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday menu

Well, last weeks menu plan went fairly well with one hitch.  The Beaner became very ill and on Tuesday, all I could do was hold her the whole day long.  When life throws you a bunch of curve balls, order pizza!  Nothing Paleo about it but life without pizza is just not fair so we had pizza.  We then continued with our meal plan through the week.  We skipped meatloaf on Friday though as the weather was calling me outside to grill. Grilled chicken took it's place.

This week, I'm lucky enough to have my mom here so that me and my hubby were able to grocery shop together. We decided to take Bear with us as that girl just soaks up the attention and we rarely get to give it.  She is so fun when given that one on one time.  Aren't they all?

On another note, I've received several comments about being a short order cook for my kids both here and on our playgroup message board. I've listened and as someone suggested, we are going to put out what we are having, along with bread and butter/or peanut butter and if they don't like what we have, that is what they get. Mom is getting tough here!  I'm so stressed trying to find something Rooster will eat only for him to refuse it half the time so why stress?  It is only one meal!

Here is the menu for the week:

Monday "Happy Birthday to me!" :  Mom's homemade cabbage rolls with mashed potates
*who wants to eat Paleo on their birthday?  yes, there will be a very small cake too

Tuesday:  Grilled salmon with cauliflower styled "rice" and asparagus spears

Wednesday: Meatloaf with salad and broccoli

Thursday:  Grilled burgers with paleo buns; sweet potato fries, grilled asparagus (it was on sale this week)

Friday: Grilled chicken, broccoli, Wild rice, and salad

Saturday:  Junk day = pizza!

So there it is!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu planning- save your health and your budget

If you read a blog about saving money your likely to hear how important menu planning is.  The same holds true for eating healthy.  If you "wing it" day after day, your more likely to eat what is easy and not stick to healthy choices.  Our family has tried menu planning and failed several times.  Well, we are trying it again!

We are determined to cut our food expenses down and continue to eat a mostly Paleo diet.  As for our kids, they are getting pickier and pickier and I believe in part it comes from not always having a plan for their meals and just throwing together something easy. I don't expect them to eat how we do right now but they definitely need some healthy fat and calories to get some meat on their bones.  Our casein and gluten free attempt did not go too well in part because it cost more and in part because it made an already picky eater even pickier.

This week we did quite well by coming up with a menu and staying in budget shopping for it. I thought I would share our menu with you. I can't promise I will do this weekly but I can promise to make that effort.  I'll try to put some links to recipes if I use them but I'm really a "fly by the seat of your pants" type of cook.

Lunch each day for me, my husband and Beaner is left overs. For the other two, it is still whatever I can come up with but always produce and yogurt.  I have also been making Rooster hot chocolate with Thai coconut milk and a tempered egg in it.  I plan to bake spinach brownies and animal crackers.

Here is our dinner menu:

Monday:  Bison (me) and Beef (hubbie) burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli, Manhatten clam chowder, pizza for kids

**paleo buns:

Tuesday:  Pork Chops, cauliflower stir fry, salad  (ravioli for kids)

**The cauliflower is shredded and then fried with soy sauce, eggs, peas, garlic, onion

Wednesday: Brats (nitrate free from Whole Foods), Rutabega and Turnip fries, broccoli, silly noodle soup (kids)

**My silly noodle soup is character noodles (whatever Whole foods has) added to chicken broth with a little chicken. Just like chicken noodle.

Thursday:  Grilled chicken, shredded brussel sprouts, quinoa (grilled cheese for kids)

**I shred the brussel sprouts and then cook them with some coconut oil or butter and spices in a skillet. It brings out the sweetness of them

Friday: Meatloaf (I use Betty Crocker's recipe), whipped cauliflower, roasted veggies, veggie soup

**For whipped cauliflower, you cook them just like potatoes and whip like mashed potatoes

Saturday: This is our declared comfort food day- mom's homemade lasagna (she will be visiting)

Sunday: Out with my hubby for my birthday!

So what do you think of our menu? Did it give you any new ideas? Do you have any favorite dishes you want me to try to convert to Paleo style?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Days 17-21 End of transformation

First I have to apologize for leaving you hanging for a week! Some times it feels like the days disappear before they appear. You know what I mean?
Anyway, I finished up the 21 day transformation.  I won't be featured on Mark's Daily Apple's Friday success story anytime soon as my results were nothing to speak about. I didn't really follow the plan as it pertains to the exercise as it just did not work for me.  My biggest accomplishment was totally eliminating pop.  That nasty yet yummy liquid that gobbles up your daily calorie allotment in one sitting.  It was hard. I won't kid you.  There were days when I really craved it.  In fact, one day, after visiting vital records for a birth certificate (as if that won't push someone to drink), I craved it so bad I had to stop by Starbucks for an overpriced latte.  A girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Another accomplishment was a fairly decent change in my eating habits.  For example, tonight we had spaghetti because my mom spoils me every Christmas with jars and jars of her homemade sauce.  It is wonderful, but pasta is not.  Not paleo. Not good. Not needed.  So, I used spaghetti squash instead of noodles and I was in taste bud heaven!  You have to give that one a try.  Another favorite substitute I discovered was using cauliflower as if it was rice.  You stick a whole head of it in your food processor and it suddenly looks rice like.  I stir fried it with soy sauce, peas (although not paleo), onions, red peppers, garlic and an egg.  My husband agreed this was so much better than rice.  We served it with chicken and a salad.

My final accomplishment was making it to the gym.  A dear friend of mine has been sending me motivational quotes for exercise and they have really helped.  I have found that my only struggle is actually getting to the gym. Once I'm there, the atmosphere transforms my mind into exercise mode.  I've decided to head to the gym every Saturday, Sunday and one weekday to start.  Even if I only do 10 minutes (which I always do more), it is better than not going at all.

The 21 day transformation ends with a few more fasts. I'm not a huge fan of starving but I have found that I can wait much later in the morning to eat if all I'm doing is hanging around the house.  Although there were no earth shattering before and after pictures, I'm confident if I continue to eat 80% paleo and work toward strengthening my muscles, that photo will be in my future!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Days 14-17

Day 14: As I mentioned before, this was an exercise rest day. I played with the kids most of the day and did house work so no resting here!  I'm trying not to think about tomorrow's morning fast.

Day 15: This morning your suppose to fast and see how long it takes until you get hungry. I did this on this day and Day 16 and found that anywhere between 9:30-10am is my "so hungry now" time. Coffee in the morning seems to tide me over for quite some time.

Day 16: On this day your suppose to go buy some local foods from the Farmer's Market.  Not practical for winter here plus I took the kids downtown to the children's museum. We had fun just being "kids".

Day 17: Today I was suppose to wake up and expose myself to sunlight right away.  Well, I woke up to gusting winds and dark clouds!  There was a patch of sun briefly and it did feel good to stare at it.  This day encourages you to eat out all day and try to stay primal aligned.  Although I didn't feel the need to do this, I'm confident that I easily could.

A brief update on the kids.  The transition has been slow but I think I've made good progress on eliminating gluten from their diets. I made gluten free cauliflower cookies that they loved and gluten free dark chocolate chip muffins.  Rooster is really the only carbo maniac of the kids and he appears to like the gluten free products.  I have also successfully diluted their milk with coconut milk and they haven't noticed a bit.  Next is an attempt at a super sneaky veggie cookie!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Days 11-13

Day 11: So my primal recipe was very basic. I took some polish sausage, sweet potato, parsnips, and sauwercraut (how the heck do you spell that?) and threw it into a pan for an hour.  It was very good!

Day 12: Tells you to repeat your recipe if it wasn't perfect but since mine was, I made Chicken no noodle soup.  I boiled a whole chicken with onion and celery to make a bunch of broth. Froze parts of it and returned the rest to the pot.  I added zucchini, yellow squash, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, and carrots. This soup was very yummy and tasted like a mix between chicken noodle and vegetable soup.  Sisson also encourages you to go "coco" with coconut products on this day. Since I use these daily already, I didn't feel a need to do this.

Day 13: Today Sisson challenges you to acquire food ranked at the top of the spectrum in each food category. Again, not a practical challenge due to the expense involved. I already try to do this as much as our budget allows.  He also stressed the importance of sunlight and Vitamin D.  Given how cloudy it has been lately, I think I'll take a Vitamin D supplement.  Tomorrow Sisson finally puts in a rest day from exercise.  Since I haven't been following his exercise regime, I won't be resting!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Days 8-10

Day 8, which was Monday, encourages you to take a No Label challenge. This means avoiding any foods that have a label on them.  I actually found this incredibly easy as I have struggled to find any prepackaged primal foods.  I made more primal muffins and actually made my own almond flour this time and the rest of the ingredients were bulk or produce.  Your also suppose to try to go barefoot today.  This was also easy for me as I do that often anyway.  I also have some nice new Merrell glove shoes that are very close to being barefoot.  I managed to get outside some today but still lacking in the exercise discipline.

Day 9: On this day, your suppose to track your macronutrient intake.  I for one am not a tracker. If I have to think that hard about what I eat all day, it drives me crazy.  That is why I just don't do diets.  So I didn't complete this exercise although I thought it would be interesting.  I also decided on this date I was going to take the 20% non-primal indulgence that Sisson talks about.  I've been so drained and hungry that I really can't continue this way.  My kids had a school function at Gattitown.  I did well with a huge salad and soup but also took a few nibbles of pizza.  Earlier in the I ate a homemade chocolate chip cookie that I had made for the kids. Actually I ate two.  Honestly?  Well, three.  Actually who counted?

Day 10: I am actually feeling a bit better now that I gave myself that 20%.  I had two bites of the Beaner's Gluten free oatmeal, Pankos in the meatloaf, and a few crackers.  Sisson recommends slowing down your eating today which is really hard to do when a one year old is fighting for every bite of your eggs.  It doesn't matter how many I scramble, that kid can eat them!  Me and the Beaner did some Wii Nickelodean Fit today which was fun!  Tomorrow I'm suppose to create a primal recipe.  Since I haven't decided what to make for dinner yet, I might have to get creative.  I'll let you know!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Days 4-6- 21 day transformation

Day 4: On this day your suppose to eat when hungry and stop when full, rather than an empty plate.  Like many people in my generation, I was always told to finish my plate.  Through the years I have learned to take smaller portions and go for seconds if I want more.  So on this day, I tried to eat smaller portions and only when hungry and it went pretty well.  I also did the primal workout routine with the Beaner and we both had fun doing it.

Day 5: On this day, Sisson suggests dining out for a meal and seeing how well you stay primal aligned.  We ordered carry out on Day 6 instead and it was tough. We ordered Asian from our favorite Asian restaurant but it definitely wasn't primal aligned. Even the side of extra veggies I ordered came covered in some mystery sauce.  On Day 7 you get to eat a non primal food so I counted this as that.  Your suppose to note how you feel after eating it.  Frankly, my stomach hurt but I was full much longer.

Day 6: We had a great exercise this day.  It was suppose to be the primal feast so as noted above, we ordered out.  It was a beautiful day so we ran outside with the kids for hours in addition to a trip to the gym.  Victory day for me.

Day 7: Today was suppose to be an anything goes type of day to see how you feel.  Since we did the Asian food last night, I stuck to primal foods today.

So at this point, I want to be honest. I feel like I'm on a diet which is not how it is suppose to feel. It seems that you have to cook every meal and I just don't have time to cook all day long. I often feel hungry and struggle with what to eat.  I do want to finish the 21 days as I think it will get rid of my constant carb cravings but so far, I still have those strong cravings.  I also have very little energy which was my main purpose for doing this challenge. So let's hope the energy surge begins soon!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 2 and 3- 21 Day Transformation

Well Day 2 shopping went well at Good Foods Co-op and I managed to stay in budget.  The book suggests an all out shopping spree but that is just not my reality.  I failed miserably at the work out portion for yesterday.  I was suppose to do a moderate duration aerobic work out.  Only 20 minutes and it just didn't happen.  Day 2 also suggests a screen curfew (saying good bye to you guys) which I did yesterday.  Sometimes it is my only free time so that one will continue to be a challenge.  I did fair with the eating portion.  Probably 80% but my cravings were torture for me.

Day 3 went much better.  Well, actually I failed the exercise portion again but my cravings weren't as bad.  The book suggests planning a primal celebration dinner for Day 6 or 7.  That too is just not my reality.  I have three kids I can barely figure out what to feed to I'm certainly not going to try to feed my friends this first week.  Maybe me and the hubby will have a celebration meal together.   Day 3 also suggests boycotting industrialized food.  I really don't think this will be too hard as there aren't any fast foods out there that I truly crave.  Today I was suppose to do a full length primal workout.  I've decided to move that to tomorrow as I will be home all day with no car.  I was also suppose to take a spontaneous play break and given that I have a one year old, there were many of those today.

So maybe your wondering what a typical day of primal food looks like?  I thought I'd run down today's menu to give you an idea.

Breakfast: 2 eggs over medium with bacon

Mid morning snack: Veggie surprise - this one I made up as I went. I started by cooking onions in butter and then added broccoli and frozen brussel  sprouts.  I added water at this point as well.  I let that cook for about 8 minutes and then added spinach (cooked another minute), garlic, red pepper (I like it crunchy), tomatoes, kalamato olives, sea salt and a drizzle of vinegar and oil dressing.  I let that cook for about 3 minutes and this is what appeared:

The flavors were heavenly! Even the Beaner couldn't stop eating it.  Yes, that was a snack, I know looks like a meal but I was hungry!

Lunch: A jar of my moms homemade spaghetti sauce.  It is very meaty with little sauce and was like a soup without noodles.  Beaner fought me for this one too.  We also had melon with lunch.

Snack: Apple slices

Dinner: Grilled chicken, California veggie mix, bacon-walnut-cherry salad, and Paleo pumpkin muffins.

I was a little skeptical about the muffins but they were heavenly.  Take a look:

Aren't they beautiful?  They truly tasted like pumpkin pie and there is no flour, wheat or other bad carbs in these!  Who wants the recipe?  Just comment below and I'll add it.

So this is what dinner looked like:

So what do you think?  Looks yummy doesn't it?

Tomorrow's focus will be on exercise so let's hope for a warm motivating day!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 1- 21 day Transformation to Paleo

Well, today is the day I start my transformation and I am as sick as can be with a sinus infection.  This is a good reminder of why I so badly need this change.  This transformation should significantly increase my immune system.

One thing I really like about Sisson's book is that there is no drastic overnight change.  Every step seems reasonable.  I debated whether I could start today given how I felt but then I looked at what I had to do.  Today, I get to do the kitchen and pantry purge.  This is going to be soooo difficult for me!  I was raised not to waste food so to throw a whole bag of sugar and flour in the garbage goes against my "save everything"  mentality.  I have a full bottle of Pepsi to throw away. Oh how I love that stuff but oh how it hates my body.  Farewell to boxes of cereal, cans of beans, granola bars, frozen waffles, popsicles, etc.  My husband told me I really didn't have to get rid of everything but I'm under the mind frame that if I don't, I will eat it.  If the flour is there, muffins will be made.  For the kids, I plan to pick up a few gluten free snacks tomorrow that they can have at school.  I'm trying to increase their produce in their lunches but also want to make sure they have food that will sustain them.  Luckily, Bear likes nuts which is a good source of protein for her but Rooster is another story.

Also on the agenda today are two forms of exercise.  Short and brief.  I decided a shopping trip was a perfect way to get a lot of walking in.  What can I say, I love the after Christmas deals!  My second choice will be to attempt a few pull-ups on my hubbies pull-up bar. 

My final task will be to put together a shopping list for tomorrow's grocery stock up.  I've really thought long and hard about the best approach to this.  For the longest time my goal was to grocery shop once per month as the less your in the stores the less you spend.  This simply won't work for a primal diet.  A primal diet utilizes in season produce and local or organic meats.  For the past year, I have grocery shopped once per week on Fridays.  I found that by Tuesday, we were not only out of food but out of our grocery funds for the week.  My new approach is to split this and shop on Tuesday and Friday.  That way I have a smaller list and fewer days to plan for.  It will also allow me to take advantage of mid week sales.

So thats it for today.  Sounds reasonable doesn't it?