Thursday, February 28, 2013

Not quite the bounty I was expecting

I have let quite a few days pass between my last post and this one. I have really struggled with what to write. Reviewing something is quite the responsibility. I know this because I have done one whole review and it led to quite the increase in sales for that particular book. (Granted it was my Mimi buying one for every single female in my family...but still it was all from my amazing review.) Since I have a good review under my belt I guess it is time to attempt a not so good review. And I just want you to know this sucks because a lot of my friends and readers have recommended this particular service to me and I hate that I didn't love it as much as they do.
If you have been reading the blog regularly you are aware that I am still trying to figure out this paleo/busy schedule/budget thing. I am the kind of girl that likes to plan and my menu plans every week are very detailed and thought out. I am trying to relax a little bit in this area and I've done that by making this week's menu consist of no recipes...just a planned meat so I know what to have thawed and a veggie or two. This made the perfect opportunity to try out the highly recommended Bountiful Baskets.
I was really nervous when I went to the website to order my organic basket. I read every FAQ and printed out a bunch of stuff that was just a big waste of paper. I ordered the organic basket for $25 and added the Mexican themed basket for an extra $8.50. The first time basket fee was $3 and handling fee was $1.50 for a grand total of $38.00. I spend about $130/week on produce so I knew this was not going to cover all my produce needs but I was still hopeful about getting some good local produce.
And that is where I think I am confused. It isn't local produce. I don't think. I couldn't find on the website where it said that it was but for some reason I had that impression. I liked the idea of supporting local growers but most of the produce had grocery store stickers and the new potatoes even came in a bag from Earthbound Farms. Without the produce being local I question what the appeal is?????
So anyways....I had put off buying any produce because I knew we had almost $40 of produce to pick up on Saturday and I didn't want to buy a ton of kale if my box was going to be full of it. This was inconvenient because I grocery shop on Thursdays or Fridays and now I had to do it on Saturday or Sunday which is the absolute worst! But whatever, I was still excited about my box of organic produce.
Saturday morning came around and Levi had to pick it up because I was in the middle of throwing a shower for my dear friend and my her sweet baby Grace. I told him to pay attention to every detail and give me a full rundown of everything he experienced. He came back with the comment, "It was okay." After a bit more prodding he did say that it was a bit crazy but he found the lady with the clipboard and she helped him figure it out from there.
Below are the pictures of what our box entailed. Now intially when I was unpacking everything to get a good look I was really excited because it seemed like a lot! 

In the Mexican Theme basket (which I'm pretty sure wasn't organic) was...

  • 6 green onions (2 of which were slimy and broken and immeditely chunked)
  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • 2 avocados
  • bunch of cilantro
  • 1 very small onion
  • 1 grey squash
  • 4 small but juicy limes
  • 5 poblano (I think)  peppers
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • and this thing...

  • I haven't figured out what it is yet...maybe a papaya? I don't even know if it is ripe or not. But I was pretty impressed because I could add some fajita meat to this collection of veggies and have a whole meal for pretty cheap. But everything was ripening at different times. So my peppers were getting soft but my avocados are still green. Plus I still needed a few extra items to finish off the meal such as tomatoes and a few more onions. But for $8.50 I was satisfied.

    In the organic basket was...
    • 1 teeny tiny head of broccoli that was already soft and bendy
    • a bunch of radishes which I was excited about because I love them dipped in caulihummus
    • 1 head of lettuce
    • 1 bag of Earthbound Farms new potatoes
    • the biggest thing of fennel I've ever seen...unfortunately we are not fennel fans
    • big bunch of celery...the best item in the whole box because it is near impossible to find organic celery in Greenville right now
    • 1 small bag of Brussels Sprouts (not enough for one person)
    • 5 oranges
    • 5 Fuji apples that were bruised and soft but still edible
    • a miniature bunch of bananas
    • small container of blueberries that had opened in our box and spilled everywhere leading to a bunch of them being smooshed and ruined.
    It seems like a lot right? Except that the amount of variety misleads you. There were 11 different items but not enough of any one item to make a complete side dish from any of them. And out of that organic box the only things I feel are necessary to eat organic due to their ranking on the dirty dozen list are the lettuce, celery, apples, and blueberries. Everything else I buy cheap because I don't need them to be organic.

    Even still all things considered maybe this isn't a total bummer but after about two days the produce started to go bad and fast. I'm sure there are those of you who are thinking, "what you should do silly girl, is blanch all of your produce and freeze it to use in stews and casseroles." And thank you so much for that helpful thought except I don't want to do that. I want my produce to last 7 days in the fridge and if I buy it fresh I want to eat it fresh.

    So I'm probably never going to order a Bountiful Basket again. I have heard lots of people say that the regular basket has a lot better produce options and amounts which sounds lovely except I am really particular about certain "dirty foods." And lets be honest, our local grocery stores carry quite the section of non-organic produce and all I have to do is jump in the car during my regularly scheduled grocery shopping time and buy the foods that look fresh and not bruised, soft, smooshed, or bendy.

    I am so sorry to Bountiful Baskets for my less than fortunate review. I think what you are doing is cool but it just isn't a good fit for my family and our needs. To the rest of you I encourage you to check it out if you are interested but if you aren't thrilled with your basket don't say I didn't warn you. I'm sure the boxes vary in excellence according to the season but I'm just not willing to gamble my money or my time on this particular area.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    Split Personality

    When God made me He must have had big plans because I am something special. You see, I seem to possess very odd characteristics that don't always seem to agree with each other. I'm pretty much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But I know the direct causes of my split mom and her mom, my Mimi.

    My mom is this bubbly, bouncing, sunshine shining out of her booty, ball of whimsy. She is a hippie at heart and definitely moves to her own drum beat. She is this tiny little thing that loves her giant truck and cute boots. When she and I are together I know my abs will be hurting later because we laugh those really big belly laughs that usually lead to hiccups and tears. I get my quirkiness from mom. We share the same weirdness but that is okay because we understand each other because of it. She is not a planner but she is a doer, if that makes sense. What I mean is she just kind of takes life as it comes one step at a time but when there is a hurtle in front of her she will tackle the snot out of it. She is pretty much the most amazing woman I know.

    I received my second best compliment (that's right, I rate them) of my life the other day from two other very special women in my life. They said I was a mixture of Princess Diana and Martha Stewart rolled into one little me. Which by the way is so funny to me because inside this head things are more like Wayne's World and that cute conservative blond on The View that nobody but me seems to like. But I do possess some ability to organize and plan and aside from God, I would give all the credit to my beautiful and talented Mimi. She is my idea of royalty and grace. My Mimi is a planner.(When the zombie apocalype happens I guarantee she will be prepared.) She plans down to the minutest details. She recently made my landscaping plan and I want to just frame the actual plan it is just so beautifully done. I admire my Mimi's drive to always be learning and I love that she always saves for me the articles and information that I would find interesting. Details are important to my Mimi and I have learned that it is the details that take something that is regular and turns it into something spectacular. God put lots of detail into my Mimi because she is spectacular.

    So I share DNA from both of these incredible women which makes me what I would imagine the love child of Phoebe Buffay and Monica Geller would turn out like (despite always wanting to be Rachel.) But here's the deal...We all have a passion in common...nutrition, health and preventative medicine. The Sunshine Shoppe was originally started by my great-grandmother, Nena and my Mimi almost 40 years ago. My mom raised me in the very store I am owner of now. I grew up taking cod liver oil and liquid garlic and actually loved it. (which freaks me out because my kids are the same way now.) Supplements have always been a part of my life and when I found the paleo lifestyle I was a little worried about where that would fit in.

    I've read a lot of paleo articles that state that supplements are unnecessary on a paleo diet because you should be getting all the nutrients you need from food alone. Some even go as far as to say pregnant women can forgo prenatal multivitamins. Then there other paleo lifestylers that say you don't need to supplement vitamins and minerals but if you get sick you should stick to more natural supplements to treat the issue. I've been asked a lot lately where I stand on this. I try to not be biased but I'm not sure that is possible considering my business is in supplements but I am honest and the choices I make for my family are based on self-education, experience, and my mommy super-senses.

    FOR MY FAMILY we have continued to take our supplements despite eating a very nutritious diet. I am very much a planner and I make a weekly menu that is very detailed BUT I cannot plan everything and so I fall back on my "supplement insurance". I am pretty sure we are not always getting enough minerals into our diet, or omega-3s, or vitamin d. When I plan our menu I am considering factors such as costs, seasonal produce, the time available to prepare, what sounds yummy. I probably need to try to figure out a way to make sure we are getting the nutrients we need in the amounts we need them in but despite sharing DNA with two super-women that is just not feasible for me right now. So we take our supplements to fill in the cracks.

    So here is what I take.
    • Probiotics-I'm sure you have all seen the "active cultures" label on your yogurt. Those cultures are a good bacteria that help our bodies with digestion and immune function. Bacteria seems like a bad thing and it can be if there are more bad bacteria than good. Check out the awesome Ted Talks video by Bonnie Bassler a molecular scientist (so she must be smart). She does a great job of explaining how bacteria communicate and that every bacteria's vote counts so we want the good bacteria to outnumber the bad. It is a very interesting talk even if you aren't a nerd like me. I like Nutrition Now's PB8 because the price is good for the amount of cultures per capsule. I take this probiotic for maintenance. If I was to get sick I would take a probiotic with 50 cultures instead of just 14.
    • Multivitamin-I am pretty picky when it comes to multis. I don't want to waste my time and money on a cheap product with more filler than nutrients. I LOVE MegaFood's Once Daily multis for men and women. This is the perfect multi for someone that eats healthy. Usually I am not a huge fan of a one-a-day multi because most people are not getting many vitamins and minerals through diet and therefore they need to supplement but even a one-a-day usually won't fill in the cracks for someone on the Standard American Diet. But for those of us that are eating all those delicious and colorful vitamins and minerals from our plates we can fall back on this WHOLE FOOD multivitamin. See how WHOLE FOOD is in caps. That is because it is an important factor. This little tablet comes from the very foods we should all be eating. There are no synthetic vitamins in this multi. And the best part is it can be taken on an empty stomach without experiencing any yucky nausea because it is just FOOD! Pretty cool!
    • Vitamin D-So I just recently added this to my little handful of pills. Vitamin D packs a pretty good punch when it comes to cancer prevention and immune strengthening. It also plays a key role in the absorption of important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. There are some studies that show that vitamin D can help with depression too. I am taking 4000IUs by Carlson. I like this brand because it is clean and the company regularly test for freshness, potency and purity by an independent third party.
    • Omega-3-This supplement is getting more and more important as our foods get more and more processed. Inflammation is this really bad thing that isn't just found in the joints of elderly people. In an article in the Huffington Post, Mark Hyman, M.D. says, "What few people understand is that hidden inflammation run amok is at the root of all chronic illness we experience -- conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, depression, cancer, and even autism." Omega-3s help counteract excessive inflammation. You can get omega-3s in foods such as salmon, trout, anchovies, and sardines. I try very hard to make sure we are eating fish at least once a week but that isn't enough therefore we take Nordic Naturals Omega-3. I actually take 4 of these a day even though the "recommended dosage" is 2 a day. There is a history of auto-immune disease in my family and I'm going to do whatever I can to prevent it from becoming a part of my body and therefore I take a little extra.

    These colorful bottles are the supplements the kiddos take.
    • Vitamin C-The kids take vitamin C to keep their immune systems strong. At one point I was told that both kids have allergies and that I should put them on Claritin or something like that. I did some research and found that vitamin C works as an antihistamine too and so I started giving that to the kids and we haven't had issues since. (I really feel like I'm jinxing myself here.) Plus with Jack's little tummy troubles vitamin C is great at keeping things moving...if you know what I mean.
    • Children's DHA-This is the kid version of my Omega-3...kind of. This one comes from cod liver oil which is really awesome because it provides more vitamin A and D. Omega 3 breaks down into DHA and EPA. DHA is SUPER important for kid's brain development. Children with ADD and ADHD have been found to be deficient in DHA. My kids love the way these little "fish balls" taste. They are small and are great for kids to start practicing swallowing pills but they can also be chewed. Mmmmm...cod liver oil.
    • Multivitamin-Once again this is a WHOLE FOOD multi. I have tried out at least 10 brands of multivitamins on my kids. They never liked the taste until I found these by Bluebonnet. Their favorite flavor is the cherry so that is what I keep in stock at the shop but they also come in orange (second fav) and grape.
    • Kids Probiotic-these are kid friendly probiotics. They are only 3 billion cultures and taste like candy. During cold and flu season I double up on these babies and make sure the kids get at least two a day.
    So there you have it. I am a "Plan A, B, and C" kind of girl like my Mimi. We like to be prepared and have a plan. These supplements are my plan. But even if you are more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl (or guy) like my little momma  you will benefit from taking a proactive approach to your health. You don't have to choke down two fistfuls of pills every day. My thinking is that if you cover your bases now you wont have to juggle all those prescription meds in the future. I am so glad that I was raised to value health and to treasure it and I am grateful to the two women who blessed me with the skills to plan and organize what I learn and to then make it interesting and funny in a quirky blog.

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Valentine's Indulgences

    We are not big Valentine's Day fanatics at our house. I think all the hearts and pink and red are super cute and I love seeing all the cute facebook posts of everyone's special day but it just makes my life feel like too much and to be honest I kind of hate fighting the sugar temptations ALL DAY LONG. On top of that I know my kids are going to be CRAZY! But what can you do?
    I thought I was being balanced by trying to keep Valentine's Day simple but still sweet. I had planned paleo blueberry muffins for breakfast and frozen yogurt after CrossFit. I was so proud of my plans that were still fun but not overloaded with sugar. I even made gluten-free snack mix for Jack's school party which was just stupid because all the kids ate were the cupcakes and cookies. My good intentions got out of hand fast...and to be honest kept going until Sunday. But we all survived the binge. The worst part is that we have all had some major sugar cravings in these last two days. After kissing the kids last night I walked through the kitchen and saw that Levi had made this huge bowl of Enjoy Life chocolate chips melted in Sunbutter with apple slices to dip. SOOOOOOO STINKIN GOOOOOOOOD! But it has to end. Unfortunately these cravings are strong and I know the next few days are going to be a fight. BLAH!!!!
    To be honest I'm a little disappointed about our first paleo holiday. I really thought I could stay in control of this sugar thing and that most definitely did NOT happen. But there will always be more opportunities to practice celebrating with a healthy balance. I'm up for the challenge and I know it will get easier on all of us with each passing sugar-filled holiday...Right????
    In preparation for this candy-heart holiday I ordered the recipe book, Paleo Indulgences by Tammy Credicot.
    This book is not for the everyday. These recipes are for those special occasions where you want a treat but want to stay in control of your food choices. There are some mouth-watering recipes in this book. I am super excited about the cookies...Pecan Sandies, Some-More-Ahhhhs, and Skinny-Mint Cookies (like the Girl Scout cookies...heck yeah!)
    I have made only one recipe from this cookbook and if the rest are as good as the Blueberry Crumb Muffins then this book is a winner! Levi has never been a blueberry muffin dude. But he has changed his tune all because of this recipe. He has already asked for them again and the other night he seriously talked about them for about 15 minutes. He makes me laugh.
    Blueberry Crumb Muffins
    1/3 cup coconut flour, sifted (recipe says sifted but I didn't have the patience and it still turned out YUMMY)
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/8 tsp cinnamon
    4 eggs
    1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup maple syrup (I used honey b/c that is all I had)
    1/4 cup coconut milk
    1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen, after thawing them)
    Topping Ingredients:
    2 TBSP almond meal
    1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pumpkin, walnut, sunflower, and almonds...basically every kind I had)
    1 TBSP maple syrup (I used honey)
    1 TBSP coconut oil
    Pinch salt
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Whisk in a medium bowl coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut milk and blend with a hand mixer. Slowly pour in the coconut oil and blend well.
    Fold in blueberries.
    Spray muffin liners with Kelapo coconut spray. Fill 3/4 full with batter.
    Mix topping ingredients together and top each muffin with 1 tsp.
    Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Store leftover for 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
    I doubled this recipe and it made 16 muffins.



    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    Musical Fruit

    So what is the deal with legumes? This may seem like a simple little question but I kid you not, I have had an incredibly difficult time getting on the "legumes=bad" team. I don't particularly LOVE legumes. They're alright. I like them in chili or on a salad. They make good dip. But I don't HAVE to eat them. But are they really as bad a the paleo Gestapo would have us believe? Hmmm....that is still up in the air for me.

    If I have learned anything from going paleo it is that everything you read and hear is not always true. Some of it may be true but that doesn't always mean the conclusion drawn is true. Most health studies are epidemiological, which means that the conclusions are based on patterns that correlate with the population studied. So if you looked out on a busy street (in New York where people walk...not Greenville where only the dude that swings the Walmart sack around and swats at imaginary bugs walks) and saw that 100% of the people were carrying umbrellas and it was also raining you could conclude (if you were an idiot) that it rains when people carry umbrellas. Now that is a silly example but sometimes the wrong conclusion gets drawn and that is why the incredible edible egg was at one time considered dangerous to our health and red meat led to high cholesterol.

    So with that in mind lets talk legumes. It's all about that musical bean that makes us toot. (Well not me because I magically don't toot and if I did it would smell like lavender with just a hint of vanilla.)   When I look at the fiber content of beans such as black beans, or chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) it is pretty high and I'm a fan of fiber because I believe pooping in important. Beans also have protein which is cool but it isn't really that much (8.9 grams for an entire cup of cooked black beans.) Another bummer is that legumes are way more carbs than they are protein. Minerals are also found in beans but here is where things get funky.

    Along with the very essential minerals is this antioxidant compound called phytates which are considered anti-nutritents. These little boogers make it near impossible for our bodies to then absorb the minerals found in legumes. Boo. But according to some people including Dr. Weil, it isn't worth worrying about because we get plenty of minerals elsewhere and phytates can be a good thing because they normalize cell growth and can slow cancer cell growth. And by taking the extra step of soaking your legumes you can decrease the phytates by quite a bit.

    But there is more. I think, if I understand correctly, lectins are the biggest reason to hate legumes. Lectins are a type of protein that bind to cell membranes. They can cause some serious damage to our gut lining. So the idea is we want good stuff to get through the gut lining but we want to keep the gross stuff contained, right? Well when we eat, our food can sometimes cause damage to the intestinal lining but that is okay because our bodies are made to repair the damage quickly. But the problem arises when lectins get in the way because they slow down this repair which means bad stuff is going where it shouldn't and good stuff isn't getting absorbed.

    So now we are all totally convinced legumes are evil because who wants to deal with a leaky gut? Not me. Except here is the wrench...a lot of paleo approved foods contain lectins and phytates. But don't freak out yet...legumes and grains are by far the two food groups that have the most. But I'm not quite sure all of these scary lectins and phytates are so bad that they should be eliminated completely. I'm probably going to be my own experiment soon and try to add a bit of legumes into a meal and see what happens. Because I eat very clean I am confident that by adding something back I will know whether or not it works for me. I won't have to wonder whether or not it was also the grains or the dairy or the sugar.

    Sometimes I wonder if people think I'm wishy washy, indecisive, won't pick a side because I won't say legumes are most definitely evil. I have noticed paleo is almost like a religion to some and if you don't adhere to the paleo commandments then you suck. But I have most definitely picked a side. I am on my side. I am on Levi's side, Jack's side, Addie's side. We are going to make health choices according to our individual needs. I did not start this blog to say, "Look at me. This is how I do things. I'm awesome and if you do this exactly the same way you too can be awesome." Heck no! I write this blog to say, "We are trying too. We are making mistakes too. We are learning too. Let's do this together." If you have a better understanding of legumes and why we should run from them please post a comment. I am very eager to understand more.

    So back to that really long word...epidemiology. Research is fallible. Studies are imperfect. I love the research. I think it is really useful and gives us understanding into some hard to explain issues. BUT...for me and my family we are going to be our own study. We are going to do do what is best for us despite what the caveman did. I actually think it is kind of ridiculous to base your diet and lifestyle on some hairy dude in the past. Here's what I know is true. When God created man he gave him everything he needed to sustain life and serve God's purpose. I'm going to stick to food God made. I don't care a lick what Encino Man ate. And it just happens that the diet closest to this idea is paleo. I guess you could say we are paleoish.

    Now by saying all of this I'm sure Robb Wolf and Dr. Cordain's groupies are going to be coming after me. Bring it on groupies! But let me warn you, I'm all crossfitty now and you add that to this feisty spirit and I am the ULTIMATE WEAPON. Just in case you don't believe me check out the following video of me kicking some spaghetti squash butt!

    But real quick...I say the word "shoot" in this video. It doesn't sound like "shoot" but I promise it was "shoot." But seriously Groupies, I'm mean and tough and you do not want to mess with this. You have been warned.

    Anybody have any neat tricks for splitting a spaghetti squash easier?

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

    I give it five stars

    I am such a review nerd. I will waste hours reading every review before I try out a recipe or purchase a product. But what I hate most in this world (that was a little extreme...maybe not most but a LOT) is stupid reviews. Like when someone gives a recipe 2 stars on but they changed 90% of the ingredients. That's not fair! You can't review something you didn't even try! Or when someone reviews a shop vac (do you even know what that is? I didn''s a vaccuum cleaner men use in the garage.) and takes off two stars because it isn't cordless. The shop vac never claimed to be cordless! Some people, such as Levi Pope, want a corded shop vac because it won't run out of battery and you just mislead his wife into thinking it was bad and now his surprise gift isn't nearly as awesome as it would have been! If you are going to take the time to leave a review then do it right! Review the product for what it is.

    Whew...I had some major pent up feelings over that I guess. Well, anyways....I said all that to lead into my very first book review of Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan.

    I would consider myself an expert reviewer of cookbooks despite my total lack of experience in ever writing a review. I own over 50 and give them away often so I am constantly getting new ones. I LOVE cookbooks. I read them from cover to cover. I love to feel like I know the person that devoted so much of their time and taste buds into this book. If I feel a clash of personality I will most likely not like their book nor will I be willing to try their recipes. I feel very bonded to my cookbooks and they look well loved. I use them repeatedly and make notes in them of how I will do it differently next time. The corners are bent and sometime smudged with a listed ingredient. So now that you know I have a weird cookbook fetish I will move on.

    Well Fed has made its way to the top of my favorites list. I usually lean toward thick hardback cookbooks but despite its small and flimsy shell it is packed with so much to love. I honestly feel like Melissa Joulwan and I are best friends now. I read her blog, The Clothes Make the Girl, regularly but she also does a great job of letting her personality shine through her book's pages. My new best friend Melissa grew up in family-owned restaurants and surrounded by family members that had a love for cooking. She talks about how the process of cooking...the visualizing, shopping, chopping are all sources of joy. Throughout the books she reminds you to smell the combination of spices or to be creative and find a way to make her recipes your recipes. She encourages you to do it differently, play around with the flavors, use different combinations of ingredients. I honestly adore that. It is the way I cook and it doesn't always turn out perfect but it is fun along the way and I learn something new in the process.

    My bestie is a real person with real health issues and she goes into detail about why she chooses to eat paleo and also gives a quick and dirty lesson on paleo basics. One really cool section I liked was "The Weekly Cookup." I really hate the idea of giving up an entire day of cooking but after reading this section I realized I could do all that I needed to do in 1 hour! She is awesome at breaking it all down and explaining how you can make paleo be creative and not just a set of rules. The first 30 pages of this skinny little book are packed full of cooking tips and hints. If you are the type of person that can watch the Food Network for hours without moving and are awed by the way Giada cuts open an avocado then this is the book for you!

    The recipes are very intriguing. I get stuck in my American, Mexican, Italian rut and forget that there is amazing food in all nationalities. Mel (I call her that sometimes) is great at mixing it up. In a turn of a page you go from Greek Beef Stew with Orange Gremolota to Waldorf Tuna Salad. I had to add quite a few spices to my collection because she uses so many! And all of the recipes seem so fancy but when you actually make them you realize they are so simple and for the most part use very few ingredients. She packs each recipe with other creative options and bits of her personality and heritage. And even though this shouldn't matter but it is actually a deal breaker for me...her pictures rock. There is a picture with every recipe and they all make my mouth water....except for the Scotch Eggs recipe. That one looks like an eyeball wrapped in meat.

    The one and ONLY negative I have to tell about this lovely cookbook is it is falling apart at the seams! I know I love it a lot but I had barely turned the first page and it was already turning into the Velveteen Rabbit. So far 26 pages have fallen out. Boo. But you know what? It was going to look like that eventually because I L-O-V-E the snot out of it...and apparently the binding.

    I have made a few recipes from it so far and all have been excellent! Earlier in the week I made the Shepherds Pie which rocked because I needed to make it ahead of time because we now have to fit in the joy of abusing our bodies at CrossFit. I was able to throw this hearty meal together, store in the fridge and then drag my aching tired body over to the oven and heat it up for 20 minutes after our workout.

    Shepherd's Pie---Except I think mine was technically a Cottage Pie because I used ground beef and not lamb.


    1 batch Mashed Cauliflower (basically steam and blend in the processor a bag of frozen cauliflower and add coconut milk, garlic, salt and pepper.
    1 1/2 TBSP coconut oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 carrots, diced
    2 cloves of garlic
    2 pounds ground lamb or beef
    salt and pepper
    1 TBSP tomato paste
    1 cup beef or chicken broth
    1 tsp coconut aminos
    1 tsp dried rosemary
    1/2 tsp dried thyme
    3 egg whites
    paprika for garnish

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt coconut oil in large skillet and saute onion and carrots until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add meat and brown. Season with salt and pepper.

    Add tomato paste, broth, coconut aminos, rosemary, and thyme to pan and let simmer for 10 minutes. Set pan aside and let cool. Meanwhile scramble egg whites and blend into meat mixture. (hmmm...I'm pretty sure I left that little part out when I made it. Oh well. It was still yummy and it saved me some eggs.)

    Pour your meaty mixture into a baking dish and cover with mashed cauliflower. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

    I made her recipe on pg 69 called "The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat" tonight except not really. The whole point of this recipe is to use some brining method which I had absolutely no time or patience for despite spending an extra $15 on spices so that I had the stuff to do it. But the chicken turned out okay. But then when I added the amazing Moroccan Dipping Sauce it turned these little chicky breast into a vacation in my mouth. (Sometimes adjectives are hard for my brain to find.)

    The Best Okay Chicken You will Ever Eat Because You Left Out the Brining Method

    Mix the following spices together:
    1 TBSP ground cumin
    1 TBSP curry powder-I usually leave curry out of recipes because it smells like stinky armpits but it was good in this recipe.
    1 TBSP chili powder
    1/2 TBSP ground allspice
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 TBSP pepper

    Melt 2 TBSP coconut oil and mix with spices. Then rub all over your chicken breasts. Pop in the over at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

    The Moroccan Dipping Sauce That Totally Makes Okay Chicken AWESOME!

    Mix the following together and wisk:
    1/4 cup of lemon juice
    1 clove of garlic
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    1/4 tsp paprika
    pinch of cayenne pepper
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped super small
    1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped super small

    Pour all over Okay Chicken. Now that's yummy!

    I hope you all go check out Melissa's book, Well Fed. It seems pricey, $29.95 for its small size but it is packed full of great recipes and awesome tips. Plus it will make you fall in love with cooking for the first time or all over again.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Paleo on a budget

    Money has been quite the issue lately because I went a tad bit overboard on grocery spending. You see, our church does this thing called Awakening where everyone (maybe not everyone but a lot of people) fast for about a month. I spend spent in the recent past quite a bit of my time shopping, in stores, online, on my phone, in catalogs. So I decided that I would fast shopping and give that up for the month. My plan was to use all this extra time and energy to focus on plan didn't work. I just basically got rid of one idol and turned to Shopping for groceries became my new focus and I threw a lot of money at it. There were a lot of lessons learned in this situation, the least of which was reinforcing the need for a a real, on paper budget. So after opening up Excel and having a lot of fun creating a spreadsheet with bold headings and formatted cells I finally came up with a really scary budget. It really sucks to see on paper just how very little money is leftover at the end of the month!

    After the tears and moaning in despair, I looked at one very important number...$250. That is the amount I decided would work for our grocery shopping per week. That means $1000/month, and an average of $11.90/meal, $2.98/person/meal. So I know $250 a week seems rather pricey but less than $3.00 a meal for each person is incredibly reasonable especially when we are talking about grassfed meats, organic produce, and specialty foods. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to afford a grocery budget of $250 but I know that everyone has different incomes, expenses, number of family members, etc. So if $3.00/person/meal is just not going to fit all is not lost. There are lots of ways to make paleo work with your budget.
    • Maybe grassfed meats are not budget friendly. That doesn't mean you should throw paleo out the window. Save your dough and just don't buy grass fed meat. Easy peasy. Or plan for more recipes with meats that go further like ground beef or roasts. Or buy a cow and stick it in the freezer, after it has been slaughtered and processed of course.
    • Plan loosely. If you had asparagus as your Tuesday veggie side but squash is on sale then get the squash.
    • If you see a meat on sale buy it and freeze it and then go home and google a paleo recipe for that type of cut of meat. Put it on next week's menu.
    • Do not waste food. If you buy 6 oz of tomato paste but only need 3oz then scoop the remainder in an ice cube tray and freeze for later. Or if a recipe calls for egg yolks hold on to those whites and add them to your breakfast in the morning. Eat leftovers.
    • If a recipe calls for expensive ingredients then substitute with cheaper ingredients. Who knows, you might actually improve the recipe. Or you may be able to just leave that ingredient out. So if you want to make omelet muffins that call for asparagus, sausage, sun dried tomatoes, and mushrooms (Mmmmm) then pick two of those four ingredients and keep it simple. It will still taste super yummy.
    • Buy larger quantities. You usually (but not your math) save a couple of bucks when buying a larger size.
    • Reading a store's sales flyer is also really helpful in saving money.
    • Only focus on buying organic produce if it is on the Dirty Dozen list.
    • Know what produce is in season in your area and plan accordingly. Check out this cool chart  to find out Texas seasonal produce.
    • Check out Bountiful Baskets for your produce needs. I have these wonderful intentions of doing this but have yet to actually do it. But I have heard good things about these neat baskets of healthy goodness.
    I am not very good at this whole bargain shopper thing. There is so much I need to learn. I went through that whole stage of cutting out coupons and sticking each one in its own little baseball card sleeve and then ending up with 84 free toothpastes. It's been almost 5 years and I haven't had to buy a single tube of toothpaste yet! But I don't have the time nor the storage space for this money saving effort any more. I really respect those of you that provide for your family by just isn't my thing. But I would love any money saving tips you use in your family that doesn't include hours of cutting on dotted lines.

    I tried to save money the other day by going to Big Lots to buy generic Ziplock baggies. I was so proud of myself until I stepped on over to Brookshires and they had the real deal Ziplock baggies on sale and cheaper than my "bargain buy." Super disappointment. But I'm learning with each mistake and hopefully I'll make them less often eventually.

    So I know you're thinking, "well sure, $250 works for you because you own a shop where you are doing most your shopping and I'm sure you get a really awesome discount." Well you are right...but I'm not including my discount in my budget. For the sake of this blog I have decided to forgo the discount so that I can learn how to make paleo work for non health food store owners too.

    I do want to note that the $250 does not include anything other than food. So things such as foil, laundry detergent, shampoo, trash bags, supplements, etc are not included in my $250 grocery budget.

    So what does $250 get me? Here is our family's meal plan for the next week:

    Friday (I start on Friday because I grocery shop on Friday): Eggs/Sugar Free ham......Tuna Salad, raw carrots.....Eat out at Shogun (ask for no sauce or rice and you are good)
    Saturday: Paleo Chocolate Waffles, bacon, eggs....CauliHummus (See recipe below), veggies, turkey rolls....Meat Lovers Paleo Pizza
    Sunday: Eggs, bacon, leftover waffles....Broccoli Coconut Cream Soup....Baked Chicken w/ Moroccan dip and roasted butternut squash
    Monday: Eggs, paleo oatmeal....Leftovers....Chocolate Chili(Yeah...not too sure about this one)
    Tuesday: Fried eggs over sweet potato hash.....leftovers.....Asian Lettuce wraps
    Wednesday: Omelets.....Chicken Salad, raw veggies....Spaghetti Squash and Meatball (Double batch to freeze)
    Thursday: Eggs, sausage....Kids' valentine's party food (Gluten Free snack mix).....Bacon Bruchetta Chicken Breast and roasted Brussels sprouts

    I was able to successfully buy all the groceries needed for these meals in Greenville, TX. I spent $112 at Brookshires and $134 at the Sunshine Shoppe. I could have saved some money by going to Costco. But I choose to keep my money in my community when I can. But it is very important to do what is best for your family. If going to Costco or Sams makes it possible for you to make healthier meals for your family then do it. I do want to say very quickly that it is so important to me that EVERYONE be able to have the option of healthy foods and that is why I am patiently wrestling working with the state to set up the Sunshine Shoppe to start taking food stamps. I know this hardly includes everyone but it's a step in the right direction.

    Okay. Enough money talk. Lets get to that CauliHummus recipe.

    This was pretty stinkin good and once again I am amazed at this simple pigment challenged vegetable and its many uses.

    1 bag frozen cauliflower, steamed according to instructions
    5 TBSP Tahini
    1/2 cup olive oil
    Juice and zest from 1 lemon
    1 TBSP Cumin
    1/4 or more Cayenne pepper
    2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Stick in everything but the oil in the food processor and blend. Pour oil in slowly. Scrape sides and blend until it looks like white hummus.

    Enjoy with bell peppers sliced thin, sliced radishes, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or raw broccoli. This is great for a quick cold lunch and is what I ate today in the car on the way to my dear sweet friend/little sister's bridal portraits that are going to be GORGEOUS!!!!!

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    It just hurts so bad

    I survived CrossFit! I'm thinking about getting that tattooed on my new bulging bicep. But I just barely survived. We got there a bit early just to see what we would be doing because neither Levi nor I know a whole lot about CrossFit workouts. I'm still not quite sure I understand it all completely but yesterday's workout was the MISTY? and it was a benchmark day so Levi and I only did the hard stuff for 10 minutes. I totally thought, "Ten Minutes? I can run for hours so I should knock this out easy peasy." I wanted to cry after 6 minutes and the last 4 minutes were the longest minutes of my life. The 50 hour labor of my son was a cakewalk compared to these last four minutes! I could not have titled my last post any more appropriately because after our CrossFit experience my legs were shaking like a cold chicken! I could barely walk to the car. But the pain didn't stop there. Just bringing my arms up to wash my hair was near impossible. Somehow that workout made my arms weigh twice my body weight each.

    But despite all the pain and shaking we are going back. Levi LOVED it! It is exactly what he wants in a workout. But of course he loved it, he was good at it. I can't even squat correctly. But I was really impressed because form was a big deal and Heath, the owner, took the time to work with us on it. I've read that there have been a lot of CrossFit gyms/boxes? popping up but not teaching proper form and people are doing more damage to their bodies.

    What I really loved was the people. Everyone was so encouraging and friendly. Not at all the scary, grunty, thick neck, bulging red eyed monsters I'd imagined. The entire environment was very family friendly and there is even a room for kids to hang out in while mom and dad are getting their workout on. There was even the absolutely cutest pregnant little momma there with her adorable baby belly that made my heart flutter. She was kicking everyone's butts and did that workout for the entire 20 minutes! I was amazed.

    I'm not sure how we are going to make CrossFit work in our family schedule. It is kind of pricey but worth it as long as you are able to go regularly. I'm just not sure we can go often enough to make it worth the chunk out of our budget. If the decision was left to me I would probably just decide to not add one more thing to our overly full schedule. But Levi loved going and loved me being there with him (I think it was the spandex) so we are going to experiment with these next two weeks of free CrossFit and see if we can add it to our routine without losing our minds.

    I hope all of this workout talk has made you hungry because I have some awesome recipes to share.

    I think my biggest reason for not going grain free in the past was my fear of giving up pizza. Pizza was always on our menu weekly. It is so versatile. You can make BBQ pizza, Thai pizza, BBQ Thai pizza, meat lovers, veggie lovers, pesto pizza, Margarita pizza, taco pizza, etc. We love to make homemade pizza and it is just the natural counterpart to family movie night. So our little family was overjoyed when we discovered the secret of cauliflower crust! I'm telling you, if I ever crash on a deserted island I hope I crash with a huge crate of cauliflower. You can make mashed fauxtatoes, rice, pizza crust, use it instead of breadcrumbs in meatballs and meatloafs, and probably more that I haven't even discovered yet! We were once again pleasantly surprised at the yumminess of this weird little paleo twist on pizza. Pizza is once again on the menu! YAY!

    Pope Paleo Pizza-I took a combination of several recipes and made up our own. We loved the finished product and the name.

    For the crust:
    • 2 cups raw ground cauliflower. ( I buy one head of fresh cauliflower a week and grind it into a rice like texture in my food processor and then store in an airtight container. It makes about 5 to 6 cups. Then I just use as needed in my recipes throughout the week. If there is any left at the end of the week I just cook it with some coconut oil and salt and pepper and it makes a great side dish.)
    • 3/4 cup almond flour (I actually added a couple more tablespoons to the mixture because my "dough" was a little too wet. Just use your own judgement and add more if you think it needs it.)
    • 3 large free-range eggs (Which by the way are now available at the Sunshine Shoppe and are cheaper than Walmart's!)
    • 1 heaping tsp Celtic sea salt
    • 1 to 2 heaping TBSP chopped fresh rosemary or any herb that smells yummy to you.
    • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
    Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mush with your hands (just because it is fun) until well combined.

    Don't freak out because it doesn't look like dough. It will look like a slimy eggy lump.

    Spray some Kelapo coconut spray on your pizza pan. Then dump your slimy eggy lump on the pizza pan and pat it out towards the edge to about a 1/4 inch thickness, maybe a bit thinner.

    Pop that baby in the oven at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes. If you are adding toppings that need to cook for a bit then only cook your crust for about 15 minutes before adding toppings and then stick back in the oven for the remaining time.

    For the toppings: (Be creative here. I would love to hear different topping combination ideas from you. But the following is what we did.)

    In a food processor combine and process the following:
    • 1 cup of walnuts
    • 2 cups of fresh basil
    • 6 or more sun dried tomatoes stored in oil.
    • 2 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    Spread this incredible pesto over your now solid (be amazed) pizza crust. Top with sliced tomatoes, roasted chicken, sauteed mushrooms and leaks. We added a bit of goat's milk cheese to our pizzas even though it isn't perfect paleo. We don't have issues with dairy and didn't experience any issues after adding this tiny treat to our pizzas. You choose what is best for you and your family.

    Then, as if pizza isn't the absolute highlight of our weekend we made waffles Sunday morning. I found lots of recipes that are "paleo approved" but I wanted to keep my ingredients basic without having to add tapioca flour, guar gum, or arrowroot powder. Those ingredients aren't bad but they aren't staples in my kitchen and I HATE buying an expensive ingredient all for the sake of one recipe. So I settled on this lovely waffle recipe from The Unrefined Kitchen. We spread some ooey gooey softened coconut butter and drizzled maple syrup over these delightfully delicious waffles.

    On a quick a happy note I just wanted to share that I am loving hearing from all of my friends and readers about your health successes. I have heard from several of you that you have started taken baby steps to paleo or something like paleo. I think that is just so cool. Progress towards making healthy food choices sometimes comes in stages. Maybe your diet is all over the place and you don't even know where to start. Well I encourage you to choose one thing and conquer it. It could be just limiting your fast food meals to only once a week. Or choosing to no longer drink any type of soda. Or maybe you just cut out grains in the morning. Pick something and figure out how to make that one thing work in your world. Once that new thing becomes your norm pick something else to conquer. And keep letting me know about your success! I have a dear and precious friend who had hit a weight loss plateau despite making healthy food choices. The one area she hadn't quite conquered completely was grains. But she just sent me the message that she finally made that last step and cut out grains and has lost 6 pounds in one week and is feeling awesome! I just love that!!! It makes me want to do a happy dance...if only my entire body didn't hurt so darn bad!

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Shaking in my Merrells

    Today is just absolutely beautiful and I intend to play outside with my family all day long. But I wanted to take a quick second while in the car on our way to and from church to post a couple of things.

    First of all, this weekend we made paleo pizza and paleo waffles and they were crazy awesome! Ill post on those recipes in the next couple of days so keep watch for that.

    Secondly, I am going to get crossfitty! I'm not sure that Crossfit will be a good fit for me but I'm going to give it a good try before judging it. But I am quite literally scared out of my mind. I am not all, in any possible way. I am having major flashbacks to high school PE and those are not good memories. I am still the same gangly uncoordinated wimp I was back then. But I'm going to endure the embarrassment once again for one reason...I want to be strong. I am not so concerned with having a six pack or decreasing the size of my booty. But I want strength. I want to be tough but in a feminine, lady-like way. So if you have been thinking about trying out Crossfit but didn't want to be the worst one there you should come to Crossfit 454 tomorrow at 5:30pm. Ill be the one crying in the corner.

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Excessive paleo

    Yesterday was such an exciting day! Our community had a robbery and a bad dude on the loose which led to the schools being on soft lockdown. As scary as that is, it was so assuring to know that my children are in wonderful, loving hands. I am so grateful for Greenville Christian School and Wesley United Methodist Parents Day Out, the administrators and the teachers. And I have heard from friends some fantastic and moving stories about other teachers in the community at other schools and I just wanted to take a second and just say that I really appreciate all of you who are not only teaching our children but also protecting and loving them. Thank you.

    The day continued to be exciting in a not so scary kind of way because it was our first day of actual just paleo and not Whole30. So I took full advantage of all this new food freedom and really overdid it.

    I have new neighbors. Yay! But I had kind of slacked on my neighborly duty to welcome them to the neighborhood with a baked good. So this was just the perfect opportunity to try out a paleo desert recipe. So I made FUDGY BROWNIES from PaleoOMG!!! This recipe blew my mind. First of all it is basically just figs, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, and eggs. There are a few other ingredients but not much. Secondly, I made it all in my food processor. I didn't once dirty up a mixing bowl, except for the small one I used as double broiler to melt the chocolate chips. But Addie cleaned that one by licking it so it is okay to just put it back in the cabinet, right? (I'll let you worry about that one.)

    Are you wondering where do you buy dried figs? I bought mine at this sweet little health food store called Sunshine Shoppe. You should check it out. The owner is pretty awesome. She's crazy, but in an awesome kind of way. There's a difference.

    While you are picking up your figs you can also grab these dairy, nut and soy free chocolate chips! One stop shopping!

    Okay, so you can click the link to get the actually recipe. I didn't have the cool liners Juli was talking about on her blog so I just sprayed a regular brownie pan with some Kelapo coconut oil and mashed that sticky wonderful brownie goo into the bottom. The first batch I cooked the entire 20 minutes and it was good. (Sorry neighbor. That is the one you got, but only because I made the other batch later.) But the second batch I only cooked for 12 minutes and it was seriously the most amazing thing ever. Now that might be because I haven't had any deserty kind of food for 30 days but I don't think so. These were so fudgy and yummy and man I wish we had some left because I would really like one now. But sadly they are all gone. We ate an entire pan of brownies in 1 day! I'm pretty sure I ate 2/3 of the pan by myself. The kids loved these and never once said anything about them tasting different from other brownies. I did notice that they have a little crunch every now and then but not in a bad way. You know, its kind of like when you eat a fig newton. But try this recipe. Even if you aren't paleo I think you would like these. In fact, if you aren't paleo I would love to hear your review on this very sweet treat. By the way, I didn't post of picture of the finished product for two reasons: 1-we ate them all before I could grab my camera. 2-They kind of looked like poop. Really. Some food is pretty, some is not. This one in on the already digested side of ugly.

    On our walk home from dropping off the brownies at our sweet neighbors the UPS truck met us and gave me my amazon package filled with my three new cookbooks! I haven't had two seconds to even browse these yet but I will soon and I will post a review on each. But I did take the time to do a little happy dance when I opened the box. It is just so exciting when the delivery is something for me and not a computer or truck part for Levi.

    My day kept getting better and better. I was on a role. Brownies, books, and then WINE! I was about two-thirds of the way through my wine when I started to feel kind of yucky. You see 1 cup of dried figs has about 71 grams of sugar and that delectable brownie recipe called for 1 and half cups so we are talking 106 grams of sugar. And I ate only 90 of that, maybe a smidge less. Enter wine...alcohol interferes with glucose and the hormones needed to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. So by 9pm last night I was feeling shaky and gross. It was obvious my blood sugar levels were not stable and my little tummy was NOT happy.

    I poured myself a glass of Braggs apple cider vinegar and water and sipped on it a while. It helped but I still felt puny all night long. So once again I had to learn the hard way.

    Lesson of the day: Just because it is "paleo approved" does not mean you should eat or drink it, especially lots of it.