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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!